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Summer 2018 

Hardwick Park 

 

From her rooftop perch, Wadjet watched the girls down below through binoculars, occasionally stopping to make notes in the notebook she'd started carrying. Los únicos que quedan son los que no fueron con Mouse, ¡estúpido! ¿Crees que a la Mara le importa una mierda que no corras? She was writing down names and faces now, the names of girls she'd grown up with, wondering when they were going to find themselves in the goddamned graveyard. Once she was sure she had all of them, she and Anna were going to pay them a little visit and get them to get the Hell out of town. This group of four, the oldest of which couldn't be more than sixteen, was eating pupusas and obviously working themselves up to steal the silver Porsche 911 that some dumbass whiteboy had left parked here in a corner of the neighborhood near Wolverton, where the cops usually didn't bother patrolling. She didn't really care about what property crime they were about to commit, but if she could catch them in the act, it might be a weapon to use to get them the hell out of this neighborhood - this neighborhood where dreams went to die. 

 

 

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The Porsche had been put there by a whiteboy, although perhaps a silver boy was more accurate, and technically he was the Porsche. Chromium was sitting watching the girls shaped as the Porsche 911 he was bonded to, he even had the keys sitting in the cupholder and the doors were left unlocked. He didn't want them to try and damage him, but he did want them to get in and drive him to their chop shop. He was 'investigating' one of the many crime rings set up by the Mara. That said AEGIS had refused to teach him anything about working a case, or hunting down criminals, no he was too young he had to go to Claremont and learn to control his powers. Well he hadn't, but he had learned to control his powers, and now he was out doing good in Bedlam...or at least trying.

 

So here he was, sitting in the gray gloom that was Bedlam's weather, a set of Porsche keys in his cupholder, his doors unlocked and four juvenile criminals slowly building their confidence to try and break into him. He struggled with patience, and it was all he could do not to turn the radio on, but he sat and waited....very impatiently.

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Finally, a skinny girl named Lucia went for the Porsche, Esperanza taking careful notes of everything that was happening.  Once she was in the car, Lucia waved and grinned, getting the attention of her friends and getting them to join her in the vehicle. Esperanza cursed inside her head. Evidently starting the car was no obstacle, which meant that Lucia and her friends were the luckiest girls in Bedlam or more likely this was a sting and they were all about to get jumped on by Bedlam cops. Don't be stupid! They'd stop Latin girls even if it was their Porsche! And that left out the possibility of this being a front by someone else in the city entirely. Finally letting herself emit a sigh, she worked the handle of her paintball rifle and took aim, firing a single projectile that struck just below the left rear tire of the car - and meanwhile, just as all four of his targets were climbing inside him, Chromium heard the sound of impact - and suddenly tasted smoke as a thick, oily cloud erupted from behind him and covered his entire automotive frame! His passengers, newly aboard, shrieked in surprise and began to pile out under cover of the smoke. 

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Chromium cursed, coming out of his speakers of his radio as he did so,  as soon as the last girl was out he started shifting. Letting the smoke cover his rapid transformation he reached for the oldest girl, attempting to at least capture one girl he could question as he did so he realized the smoke was not from some fluke but meant there was someone else causing trouble for these girls. Shaking his head, his body completly silver and sculpted like a statue of a man made from chrome he glistened as he emerged from the smoke ready to capture the oldest of the female gangsters.

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Madre de Dios! thought Wadjet, it's some kind of fucking space robot! Not sure exactly what would hurt the humanoid abomination down at the street level, she fired a shot that whizzed past its face and began burning an acid hole in the pavement behind it - the better to both set herself up for a more accurate shot and to make her opponent think she was an amateur. "Get the hell out of Hardwick Park!" she declared from her rooftop perch as the Furies girls scattered, sensibly running as fast as they could from the-wait, no, that wasn't a robot, was it? She'd picked up the habit of giving warnings from Anna, who'd pointed out that it made you look more like a hero than a thug - even if you were mad as hell and armed to the teeth. 

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Chromium was reaching for the oldest of the Furies when something went whizzing past his head confirming he was not alone. His silver eyes flickered up to where the woman yelling at him was crouched and he shook his head...what was that? She was all dressed up in some kind of fancy costume, clenching silver fists he tilted his head and frowned,"What are you? You trying to be a hero with your...." He glanced at the weapon she was pointing at him, then back at the smoke and the acid sizzling away on the sidewalk and frowned,"Paintball gun? Really?"

 

Cursing he turned away,"Now I have to start over...damn it. I was so close." Mostly ignoring the armored woman he walks over to a nearby ally and pulls a large duffle bag out of a garbage can and starts pulling clothing out, starting with a dark colored trench coat.

Edited by Tarrakhash

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Though instinct told Wadjet to retreat and find her much more powerful mentor, something in the robot-man's tone pushed her towards confrontation. A secondary instinct said come down behind him and surprise him. But she didn't have the range on her line to get across the street - so by the time Chromium had turned around, she had slid down a line on the other side of the street. Does this happen to people in Freedom City? she wondered irritably as she reloaded her gun. Not one for loud confrontations, she started stalking across the street, ready to give him a piece of her mind when she got to the other side. 

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Out the corner of his eye Chromium saw the car coming, guns ready, and realized that the woman in the mask was about to be run down, shot or both. Growling he grabbed hold of the dumpster next to him, silver fingers creasing the side of the dumpster as he lifted it and with a grunted,"Watch out!" he hurled the dumpster through the air trying to get it to land between Wadjet and the car hurtling towards her. He was positive the car would have to stop with a dumpster screaming along the tar towards it, and then he could deal with the thugs. He felt his metallic muscles ripple as he hoisted the dumpster, it was heavy but he was hoping his enhanced muscles were up to getting it over the extra distance.

 

Even as it flew through the air he left his trench coat floating to the ground as he started towards Wadjet, he needed to make sure she was safe before he stomped this idiots. She was just a kid in a mask with a paintball gun!

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The fiery Latina women of Esperanza's mother's soaps would have cursed, or even screamed, as the silver man picked up a fully-loaded dumpster and threw it into the middle of the street! Wadjet was largely silent, though, hissing under her breath as the action happened almost too fast for her to react.

 

The dumpster hit the car a glancing blow, sending it skidding into a wild spin and smashing abruptly against a brick wall. The boys inside had not been wearing their seat belts, and were in no shape to fight as Wadjet ran for the car with her gun leveled. She threw open the left passenger door, an Uzi clattering to the ground at her feet, and pulled out the passenger there - a boy about her age, tattoos on his face and bleeding from a blow to the mouth he'd taken when the car had made his abrupt stop. 

 

"You son of a bitch!" she hissed at him in Honduran Spanish, "What were you trying to do? Hit the stores? Hit _me_?

 

Her suspicions were confirmed when the Mara spat at her feet and said "No - nobody cares about you, witch - want the other girls...

 

She looked back at Chromium and took a gamble. "Hey. You speak Spanish, man?

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Chromium flexed his silver arms, smirking as the car slid to a halt, walking casually up to the car he watched the masked person working although his eyes narrowed when the Uzi fell to the floor. Having watched enough movies to know how this worked he moved a little quicker grabbing up the gun and taking a bite out of the front of it, chewing on it as he ripped open the back door with the other hand hauling out occupants and taking their weapons from them as he did so, gathering up a pile of things he planned on disposing of but he didn't expect a question from the masked person.

 

Frowning he chewed on the barrel a little longer and then swallowed, his eyebrow raising slowly,"Sorry, buddy, I have no idea what you are saying...I'm afraid I don't speak Spanish."

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Esperanza stared at the man from behind her mask, doing some rapid calculations about what she was witnessing. "...these are the Mara. It's a bad gang; worse than the cartels." Which was certainly true, she thought, as she listened for the sound of approaching sirens that would mean the police were timely for once - or the screeching of tires that meant the Mara had sent another hit squad. How was she going to take them down, keep Los Furies from getting killed, and maybe make sure Silver Guy here was a friend and not an enemy? "I know where one of their houses is, but I can't bust their asses on my own. You want to help me out with this?

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Chromium looked the masked stranger up and down as he chewed up the one gun and took a bite on the second, his silver eyes starting at her for a moment,"I'm trying to figure out who is behind all of this crime that's going on locally, but I'm kind of sucking at it, maybe you can help me and I can help you." He paused and stamped on one of the other guns, crushing it under his weight and then held out his hand,"I'm Chromium, what's your name?"

 

 

Once the introduction was over he smiled,"So where are we going and what are we doing exactly? Just smashing the place up or trying to catch some of them?"

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He'd given his supername, so she gave hers - "Wadjet." Esperanza wouldn't have enjoyed sharing her real name, anyway. "Wisconsin cops won't take anything from supers - so you do it through fear. Break down their front door, bust some heads, and make sure they know it'll keep happening if they come to our neighborhood." All of that was true, in a sense. Staring at the man, she took a gamble. "I'll get on your back," she offered, "and steer you there." There was a time in her life when riding inside a giant Transformer would have been the highlight of her day, but she was almost twenty - she wasn't a kid anymore. "You'll take down a Mara house, be a big hero...maybe get yourself chrome rims." She still wasn't really sure of his story. He didn't sound like he was from the neighborhood, which meant taking down a Mara cell probably wouldn't get him killed. 

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Chromium blinked, tilting his head and listening to her talk, he nodded as she explained what she wanted to do once she got there and grinned at her request,"Well....it's more like you're sitting in my arms than on my back, and steering is fine, just know I'll take over if you try any funny business. If we get pulled over it's on you...my plates are legit." His eyebrow rose at her comment and he chuckled again,"A big hero? Ooo, do I get a festival too?"

 

Smirking, his silver lips curled sarcastically he shook his head,"I'm just trying to help a little. Normally I do work over where the Mafia holds sway but it's been getting hot over there so I thought I'd try and work a little this side. Not very welcoming to Superheros here in Bedlam, you know?" His smirk faded as he processed her words,"What do you mean your neighbourhood, you a ganger too?"

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Esperanza worked the slide on her gun, considering her options and fighting the urge to see how tough the car-man actually was. "...new plan," said Wadjet, processing this situation like a chemistry problem in her laboratory. "Going to meet you there." She turned, gesturing with the hand that wasn't holding the paintball gun. "Left turn at end of road, right at bodega, then drive to dead-end street. Red house, thugs hanging out front - go in back once you go in front. Can't miss it." She flipped her gun down and fired a shot at her own feet, sending out another cloud of foul-smelling smoke. When the cloud was gone, so was she. 

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The strange marked superhero vanished in a puff of smoke, tilting his head the smoke curling off of the mirror finish on his metallic skin he frowned not sure what had triggered the change of plan. Shaking his head he stepped back and breathed out a little shakely, it always struck him after the adrenaline wore off how he'd risked his life again. Yes he was tough, yes he had powers but there was a good chance the masked stranger Wadjet had something special too....but only by assuming he could beat everyone could he keep on going. At least that's what the AEGIS psychologist had told him, apparently he blustered his way through life.

 

Snorting at the thought of that particularly annoying individual he transformed back to a car and slid onto the driving relatively carefully as he followed her instructions. Pulling into an ally near by he  transformed back into a silver man, watching for a moment from the shadows counting bad guys. No matter what he always took a moment to assess what he was getting himself into, as long as he didn't lose his temper he tended to be pretty collected.

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The house in its general shape looked like any of the other brick rowhouses around - homes that might once have sheltered Polish and Italian families now giving space to Latino families. But it didn't look like families lived in this particular house - not with the bright red arcane symbols painted on the brick, winking third eyes weeping blood, and gory Aztec symbolism like something from an 80s metal album from south of the Border - the impression was amplified by the carefully-painted over windows, and the muscular young men in tight, fashionable clothes casually loitering around on the stoop. Chromium knew enough about crime to know that smart criminals didn't flaunt their true profession; and these men didn't look stupid either. One fellow appeared to be checking his phone, another was casually whittling with a sharp bowie knife. A third was on high alert, actually watching the street as people passed by, scowling and turning to his peers to say something Chromium couldn't have made out even if he understood Spanish. 

 

On her perch on a nearby rooftop, Wadjet methodically loaded her gun, waiting from beneath cover as she watched a shiny Porsche head down the street through her binoculars. Good. Everything was happening on schedule. 

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Chromium moved out of sight, shifted into his humanoid form and glanced around, frowning as he realized that he was going to be charging into the unknown. The symbols and the obvious manner of the gangsters gave him pause. He wasn't sure what he was getting himself into here, tucking his bag of clothing out of sight he surveyed the scene spotting an old rusting Pontiac Grand Am he smiled, that old car wouldn't be missed by anyone he was sure.  Moving up to it, keeping low and as out of sight as he could, he squatted down by it's side his fingers sliding under the rocker panels as he searched for purchase on the undercarriage.

 

Now Chromium had many different powers, but the one he revelled in the most was the sheer brute strength he could exert. His silver muscles flexed, the scientists had mumbled on about myomer fibres and quantum energy but he didn't understand that hogwash anyway. Growling he felt his body adapt to what he was asking it, ripples of silver energy crackling across the defined muscles of his frame as in a massive burst of energy he launched the car into the air, bits falling off of it as it careened towards the door.

 

Arcing through the air not only would it provide a battering ram to open the way, and a distraction for the guards, but as he rumbled in behind it his heavy foot falls ringing clearly as he sped up to a run, it also covered him from sight should these mooks pull guns on him....not that those would do much to slow him either. A grin creased his lips, and he was sure they were going to be learning that the hard way today.

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From her perch on a nearby rooftop, out of immediate eyesight of the house, Wadjet smiled at the sound of the car crashing into the front of the Mara house. Good. Run in there and let them shoot at you. She was reasonably sure Chromium was bulletproof; he certainly seemed to think he was. She processed the risks. Ricochets - could happen, but that's why you end it fast. Innocents in the building - acceptable risk. Chromium didn't seem particularly hard to her, so she was reasonably sure he wouldn't punch off some teenage gangbanger's head. And if somebody's mother was in the building, well, it wasn't her doing it - it wasn't her fault. As she heard commotion from inside the building, and on the street outside, Wadjet fired a zipline at the gang house's rooftop and readied a swing for the opposite window, trusting her armored costume to absorb the impact from the glass. 

 

From the street, Chromium saw the impact as the thrown car smashed through the house's front doors - and saw the house exploding with curses and screams! Whoever was in there, they knew he was there - and they didn't like it. At least all the violence had the locals on the street retreating, making the coming fight a little more fair. He was certainly getting the action he'd wanted! The lookouts had already made a break for it around the sides of the house, evidently choosing discretion as the better part of valor. For now.

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Smirking Chromium continued to move forward, heading towards the door, his silver muscles crackling with a golden energy as he kept his eyes open. For all intents and purposes he was immune to small arms, at least that was what the Aegis Agents had told him. He was also aware that there were creatures, people and things that had powers like his but they were...he hoped...less likely to be involved in small time crime. Which is why he had targeted it, he needed to hone his skills of that he was positive, but he also knew that he could afford to intimidate with the powers he had and chase off as many goons as he could.

 

He wasn't sure what was in this that interested Wadjet so much but he was sure to try and find out. He had to start learning somewhere if he was going to improve Bedlam, one metal muscle at a time. He walked towards the door and through it to try and assess the level of risk and what he needed to beat to get them in.

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Bullets ricocheted off Chromium's body as he made his way inside the building - and also passed through the walls and bounced off sidewalks as he entered. The Mara members were not trained soldiers like the AEGIS agents the teenager was familiar with; their accuracy seemed to be quite limited. They were showing some discipline, though, backing up and staying out of his immediate reach, shouting at him in vigorous Spanish that he didn't understand a bit. The inside of the house was cleaner and more orderly than you'd expect a gang headquarters to be but the signs of a Mara stronghold certainly were all there from what he'd heard; elaborate and gory Mesoamerican art on the walls, heavily-armed young men, and quite a bit of money and drugs visible in the room opposite where he'd just busted in, where three or four Mara members were hastily shoving both into bags. 

 

Meanwhile, Wadjet entered through the window she'd picked out and scanned the upper floor - good, the guys in charge of credit card fraud should be up here - away from the business of the gang, where they could do their work in peace. She frowned a little at the sounds of violence coming from downstairs; there were a lot more guns down there than she'd expected! Oh well, she was fine as long as no ricochets or stray shots came her way (and she was fearless enough not to care about that) - and Chromium would probably be fine too. Still, it was a mystery - what was everyone doing here? 

 

""¡Idiota! ¿No sabes quién está aquí?!" declared one of the men who confronted Chromium downstairs, a big guy with a custom chrome Uzi, standing in the middle of the hallway while others of his gang fled past him. 

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Most of the bullets bounced off of his metal skin, a few simply vanished, leaving a ripple as though firing into a silver pond, it was random as to which was which as the metal man looked around the gangs house, he saw all the drugs and money and smirked he could take care of a lot of problems if he could destroy those drugs. Striding forward he stopped when he saw the gangster with Chrome Uzi. Perfect silver teeth were reveled as he looked at the weapon, and the man holding it,"Nice Weapon, pity I do Chrome better!"

 

Moving forward as far as he could he suddenly raised a fist, golden energy crackling along his right arm and building at the fist till he brought it down in a massive strike that sent shockwaves of energy shuddering through the floor. The massive blow shattered the floor as it's shockwave passed, sending splinters of concrete flying into the air along with any men caught in it's flow. Standing slowly Chromium looked around trying to determine who was the biggest threat now that they were scrambling to their feet...at least that was the plan.

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Upstairs, Wadjet staggered briefly as the entire building shook again, the way it must have when the truck hit it. Jesuschristo what he is he doing down there? That thought was interrupted by a man stepping out of the upstairs bathroom, who had time for one startled exclamation before she spun and smashed him in the head with the butt of her gun, then kicked him in the throat while he was still staggering from the first blow. She threw him back inside the bathroom, acutely aware now that something was very wrong here. There was supposed to be a whole operation on the second floor, including the man she was here to terrify - but where the hell were they? If the whole crew was downstairs the way she thought they were, she hoped the silver guy could handle himself better than she thought. 

 

Down below, Chromium's blow had done its job, knocking men to the ground like so many toys but without doing any of them serious injury - sure enough, the display had the thugs pulling back rather than continuing to engage, some into side doors and others out open windows in the old-style house. But his antagonist with the chrome Uzi didn't run; instead, something unsettling happened. He clutched the side of his head, teeth clenched beneath an impressive mustache as the man's eyes visibly glowed and then - he spoke in a hollow, echoing voice that was clearly not human. 

 

"So. I was hoping for the pretty blonde or her girlfriend with the tattoos. But you'll do nicely."

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Chromium paused, just for a moment, and if he had normal flesh he would have been shuddering with the chill invoked by something he couldn't explain at all. Something was definitely up, he was no longer up against normal gangsters anymore. Those were all fleeing out of the windows and running down the streets to get away from the silver man, he swallowed audibly, watching the glowing eyed man with more than a little trepidation as he clenched a metal fist. Shaking his head he steadied himself with a deep breath before he gave the glowing eyed man a brilliant silver smile.

 

"Wouldn't we all like a blonde and her girlfriend. You've been spending too long on the internet, buddy! Come here let me smash you into whatever hell you crawled out of and maybe I'll get a girlfriend!", with that he bounded forward, his muscles crackling with energy again as his massive fist headed towards the Uzi wielding man, who may or may not be possessed by some kind of Aztec spirit.

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Silver titan and possessed thug traded punches, hard enough that the house shook around them with a mighty vibration with every blow. It was a good thing the building was basically structurally sound (despite its age and ill-use) or the whole thing would have come down on their heads. "Rrr...stupid child! Don't you know who I am?" Up close he stunk of something other than human sweat, as if even his physical presence was partially overlaid by some hidden inner power that smelled distinctly of blood and animal feces, like standing close to a slaughterhouse floor.

 

Feeling the ground shake beneath her feet again, Wadjet decided to get the hell out of the second floor of this building before the fight below knocked it down beneath her feet. She ran, fast and hard for the stairs, and came down to find Chromium in hand-to-hand combat with "...the goddamned Jigsaw Man!" she shouted aloud, sounding equal parts angry and alarmed. Why him? Why here? There was no calling Anna in on this one, damn it, not this late. It's just me and the jodido Transformer here! 

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