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Mechanics Alley. Dom and Sofia peeled off at his berth, looking to repair his car. It remained structurally sound inside and out, so there ought to be no problem. The engine was idling, oddly enough. “Letty, you a’ight?” Dom asked his car, as if it would reply. Yet, it did, kind of. The engine rumbled softly. “Let Sofia take a look at you, okay? You’re tough, but something important might have broken. Sofia?”

 

His sister nodded. “Take a seat and let me work my magic, Dom.” Her tools were masterwork, and her skill was nothing to sneeze at.

 

*****************************************************************************

 

At the other end of Mechanics Alley, a few mechanics held court, answering questions and performing some basic diagnostics and maintenance. Their clothing/gear clearly gave away their corporate sponsors and their expressions/body language clearly gave away how little they wanted to be here helping the amateur and sponsorless. As such, they weren’t really sporting any more than basic tools. One ad-hoc bay, however, was different. It was set up nicely, like a real mechanic’s bay despite actually being a few parking spaces. And unlike the others, there was no sponsor logo all over everything. This was where Daria Stavros (better known to our heroes as Dewstar), did her work. And indeed, a pair of short skinny legs stuck out from under the lifted car in the ad-hoc bay. The nervous owner of the car hovered nearby. He spoke to the legs. “Can you get her running again, Daria? I don’t know what I did wrong.”

 

Dewstar spoke loudly enough to be heard from under the car, but not forcefully enough that she seemed annoyed or anything similar. “You? Nothing. You should fire your usual mechanic, though. Lazy work he’s been doing. Some of these bolts weren’t tight enough, and I’d have replaced a couple of these hoses at your last tuneup.”

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Rev

 

Lexa tagged along with Sofia and Dom, and prepared to get her hands dirty. Oily, greasy, and dirty, just the way she loved them. 

 

Of course, she gave her hands and arms and legs (for that matter) a quick spray with SFX's synth-skin concealer first. There! As good as new! her limbs once again looked human. Unless one looked really close!

 

Lexa tried to be proud of who she was, but still, she was glad that she didn't get stared at by everybody. 

 

Unfortunately, no fresh pair of shoes. It was hardly as if being barefoot (given her feet were steel now wrapped in synthetic plastic) was problematic, but it certainly odd looking. 

 

"Say, you got any spare shoes?" she asked Sofia, as he peered over her shoulder to look at the Engine of Letty. 

 

"I can help, if you would like. I'm pretty good with motors!"

 

 

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Chromium gave Rev a long hard look, looking at her limbs and her body and frowning, there was something tickling his mind as he looked at her limbs but the murder of famous people took priority as the fluid steel man turned away from the others and headed off in the direction of the criminal...although one who wo,"uld just give themselves up made him consider more was at hand than what was obvious.

 

This was of course reinforced once he spotted his 'quarry' with her legs jutting out from under a car and clearly not in any rush to go anywhere. He crouched on his haunches, looking over the magical woman a little more. His silver body and obvious metallic construction sure to attract attention soon enough as he pondered the way things had gone so long, deciding to use the fake name he cleared his throat,"Daria...do you mind if I speak to you?"

 

His hand slid of it's own accord, grabbing an empty oil can out of the trash and putting it up to his mouth where he took a large bite out of it, chewing slowly without any real thought as he waited for her to respond, the sound of metal on metal coming out of his mouth as he took a second mouthful.

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For his part Alex appreciated the mechanical engineering, he had a rudimentary grasp of it but he understood that it was an ancient and integral part of human history, culture and society.

 

He opted to stick with lexa and simply hover,. Though it seemed little more than a conspiracy theory he'd cooked up on his own he couldn't shake the feeling that there was more to this than met the eye as strange as it already was.

 

"Lemme know if you need any super mimic tricks " he chimed at the end of revs offer of help from his position.

 

"I'm a pretty adaptable guy, heh!"

Edited by Exaccus

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Raven gave a polite nod to Dom, Sofia, Lexa, and Alex. He took the lead in front of Chromium, positioning so that the metallic hero was slightly behind and to his left. He stopped several feet away from where Daria was under a car, standing such that his arms (most importantly, his hands) were concealed in his cloak. His eyes were shining white, despite all the lights around them. For several moments, he just stood there. Then, he spoke; his voice seemed simultaneously a whisper, and loud enough for at least this entire pit to hear. 

 

"Daria Stavros. You are considered wanted on several counts of murder. Today that list has been added to with a count of attempted murder. Please step out from underneath the car and surrender yourself, to be turned over to custody of the Freedom City Police. Please come quietly."

 

Raven waited patiently for her reply. 

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Sofia nodded at Rev. “Sure, there’s work enough for two or three. Check underneath the rear, make sure everything’s okay under there. You-” She pointed at Facs. “-can replace the damaged outer panels. Extras are over there.” She pointed at an oversized cabinet behind Letty. “They snap right on, so you shouldn’t need tools except to get a bent one off. Let me know if you do. Don’t just tear if off. Letty will feel it.” She looked at the car. “All right, open up. Let’s see what you misaligned and broke.” She paused a second at the hood popped open on its own. “Oh, right. Leave the wheel the arrow’s in alone for now. I’ll get it in a bit.” She buried her face and torso under the hood, tool belt at her waist.

 

**********************************************************************

 

Dewstar slid out from under the car, wiping her hands with a rag. She was as calm as ever, wearing a tool belt as if she was born with it there. “Sure, Warboy. We can talk for a while.” She’d put her vibrantly orange hair up, exposing ears pointed far behind anything human. With her hair out of the way, her face didn’t look quite human, either. Too narrow and angular. She pulled off the scrunchie, shook her head, and her hair slipped back into place. “So long as Dark Paladin over there understands that my freedom is worth more to me than the physical well being of everyone in the Tri State area.” She sat on the car’s hood, waving away the driver’s objections. “I’m like a hundred pounds. It won’t dent. And I’ll wipe off any smears.” She returned her attention to the heroes. “Now, I assume you have something to ask me that isn’t “will I peacefully go to prison” because I just answered that one.”

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"right oh." Facsimile responded as he pushed him self away from his wall and strode over towards "Letty" running his hand over the panneling curiously, maybe his enhanced sense of touch could tell him something his eyes might miss.

 

Regardless he got to work, first finding the grooves and testing to see if any of the bodywork was bent onto the frame within.

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Rev

 

"Peiceacake!" said Rev, happily, picking up the panels with ease. Despite her strength she was not clumsy. At least, not usually. "Don't worry, I wont drop it. Or rip anything in half" she assured Sofia. "Just dont put me near a magnetic field, it gives me bad vibrations" she explained. "And probably best if you don't give me an electric shock either..." she added for good measure. 

 

She looked at the engine carefully. She knew her way round any motor very well. 

 

"Look, I don't want to mess up your gear here. But..." she said, cautiously. "If you want, we can rig it for speed. I can use my cybernetics to give it a real boost. Like an emergency cord" she said. "I'm not saying we cheat, but if Dom is really painting a target on his back, and needs to get out quickly, he might need the boost...."

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Chromium's silver eyebrow rose slowly at her name for him and he chuckled,"Warboy? Well, that's a new one...."

 

His words trailed off as she let her hair loose and he spent a little time studying her features, it wasn't that she was unattractive on the contrary, it was just something was off about her. Reaching up he scratched his silver chin, looking over his shoulder at the 'dark paladin' he turned back to find her perched on the car hood, a 100 pounds? He'd eaten things that weighed more than she did, smirking at that thought he tilted his head slightly,"You like being cryptic, so I'm not even sure if asking questions will help. What's making you hunt these people? Are you being paid or are you being forced?"

 

Yeah, subtlety was not the silver man's strong point.

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Raven's eyes narrowed behind his mask at Dewstar's threat to the entire Tri-State area. As far as he was concerned, she was already pushing on being a "call in the Freedom League" threat, because he had less than no patience for that sort of thing. But then he really noticed what she was, the nature of her existence. The little clues, adding up and clicking together one by one. 

 

"When did you Turn?"

 

Dewstar could hear the way he emphasized that last word, and knew he didn't mean direction. 

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Facsimile’s hands detected the usual damage one might expect from an automobile hitting a concrete wall at over 100 MPH. With that much raw speed, one would expect an inoperable wreck, suitable only for the junkyard. And yet…the actual underlying structure was largely unharmed. It was…harder, somehow. And Facs got the distinct impression that the car could feel him touching it.

 

Sofia considered Rev’s proposal. “I’ll need the details of what you have in mind.” She pulled her body from under the hood, a bit dirtier than before. “Letty’s not constructed the usual way. Any modifications need to be tuned for her unique powertrain. Ain’t that right?” The car’s engine rumbled softly, as if agreeing. Sofia looked at Letty. “You didn’t break anything important, Letty. Not under the hood.” The engine emitted what could only be described as a prideful growl. “Yeah, yeah. You’re tougher than those other tin cans, I know.”

 

Dom was smirking. “You worried my girl can’t handle a little extra speed, Sis?”

 

Sofia glared at him. “The engine can handle it. I said I’m worried about the powertrain. You two cracked a brand new drive shaft and stripped half the gears in the differential the last time you went turbo boosting. You do that much damage again and I wash my hands of both of you.”

 

**********************************

 

Dewstar just looked at Chromium. “I don’t like being cryptic. I like being direct. So here, in this place masked by cold iron and the processed corpses of long dead animals, I can be direct.” She inclined her head at the Raven. “I’m sure he’s told you by now. I’m a thief and an assassin. I steal money, material items, and lives. I steal them for both the challenge of the act and getting away with it. And also for large amounts of money.” She paused for a moment. “I said it before. I only do what I want to do, and nothing else. I make no excuses. I steal money, valuables, and even lives because I choose to. Good, evil, right, wrong. I don’t care. People like you two get all…annoyed by that.” She paused again, almost as if this bothered her in some way. Then she spoke again. “This…the racers being killed. I didn’t choose to do it. Didn’t want to, either.” Then she was silent, which was where the Raven posed his question.

 

Almost shockingly, this provoked an emotional reaction. Dewstar smiled, lips curving upward in sheer amusement. Her voice was genuinely pleased. “And there I was thinking you are merely a child pretending.” She got down from the car’s hood and formally bowed. “I apologize, Raven. For both underestimating you and the implied threat to the Tri-State. I take the threat back, but the words themselves I meant. But you asked when I chose” She indicated her sharply pointed canines. “this. That is…complicated. It’s both over two hundred years ago and scarcely five and a half. Interdimensional travel and the hand of a god can have...interesting effects on the flow of time. But that’s beside the point.” She turned around and pulled up her shirt to reveal an obviously eldritch design covering her back. There was a very faint glow, for one. “This is the work of an…ally…of mine. It is a geas, strong enough to control anyone who doesn’t have a very powerful will. She’s…a sweetheart, really. Innocent. Smart, but not wise at all. I don’t think she knew it was for me.” She pulled her shirt back down and turned around. “I know where she is, but I can’t leave the festival. Not until Dominic Cortez is killed in some spectacular fashion. Like the other two. I don't want to, as I like him and his sister. They're fun.”

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Rev

 

"Better to have the option and not need it, than need it and not have the option" said Rev. She was biting to put the booster cylinder in, and hoped it would be used. But that was her heart speaking. 

 

She looked at Dom "Am I right?"

 

"Look it may well bust the engine. Use it carefully. But putting it in and not using it wont be a problem. At worst, a few extra pounds of weight. But trust me, if you need the speed, it will be there for you to use"

 

"The harder and longer you push the engine when - I mean if - you pull the switch, the greater the risk. But you would only pull it if the risk of hanging around was greater. Whaddya say?"

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"woah, that's neat...well beyond the pale too huh, Letty?" He mused as he rubbed his chin.

 

Where on earth did they get the technology for something like this? He knew they were famous but this was like ArcheTech grade stuff.

 

Ah well it probably didnt matter, he hung out with other teenagers who had tech like this hanging from their walls in shop class.

 

"Yo, took off all the panneling that'll come off without forcing; I'll go take all this and grab replacements whilst you Wiz em off with ya tool." 

 

That this brought him over towards the raven and chromium was an added side benefit.

 

Mimicking the metal of the plating itself to give him sufficient strength to manage the task with ease and strolling over with a clank in his step.

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Chromium listened, intently for him, but didn't understand a lot of what was going on,"So the cold iron and dead animals blocks someone who can listen to you  or control you...the cool tattoo, is not so cool, made by someone who knows you and is being used by yet another person who I suspect is the one forcing you to do what you don't want..."

 

He shook his silver head,"Man, if I got even half of that right that's messed up....so how do we stop it? Find the one who made the tattoo?"

 

"What's her name and how do we find her?"

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"I am not 'annoyed', Dewstar. You are a self-admitted murderer. One who has no remorse for the lives she's taken. One who'd have committed some of these murders with no remorse or guilt, even had she not been chained. Your geas does not absolve you of the guilt of your previous crimes. And your refusal to acknowledge good and evil do not change the fact of their existence."

 

He stops for a moment, taking a calming breath.

 

"I get 'annoyed' at traffic. I get 'annoyed' at too many trailers in front of a movie. I get 'annoyed' at someplace over-charging for simple food items. The things you have done? They go far beyond 'annoying' me. But."

 

He took a single step forward, his body otherwise motionless.

 

"I am feeling generous. You like freedom of movement? Well here's a deal. You refrain from seriously injuring or killing anyone in this entire dimension, and when we free you of this geas, you leave. You leave this city, this state, this country, this continent, and this world, and you never darken its door with your blood-spattered murdering self, and I won't lift a finger to stop you leaving. You stay gone, and I won't call down the entire Freedom League to ensure you end up staked to the sunny side of Mercury with blessed silver and cold iron. I don't care that you don't want your freedom taken away. You lost that privilege when you became a murderer."

 

He crossed his arms over his chest.

 

"That's my deal."

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Dom looked at his sister inquiringly. “Sofia?” Letty’s engine rumbled equally inquiringly.

 

She literally threw up her hands. “Fine, do whatever you want.” She then picked out her prying tool and got to work on the stuck panels with an acknowledging wave at Facsimile. “If you use it and break anything, get someone else to fix it.” With a grunt, she popped the first one loose but not free. “I mean it, you two. You’re on your own.” And then to Rev. “Be careful in there, all right?”

 

**********************************

 

There was a frozen, breathless moment. A moment where anything felt possible. A moment where two (three, one supposes, counting Facsimile) heroes looked at a female humanoid under five feet tall and weighing less than hundred pounds. Up to this point, she had been just that. Undead, perhaps, but completely nonthreatening in bearing and manner. But for that one frozen moment, those two (three?) instinctively understood that she one of the most dangerous beings on the planet. “Ah, little Raven.” She spoke softly, but with an edge of menace that had been entirely absent before. “Do you really think I’m afraid of anyone on a world that needs a Pact to protect it from its gods?”

 

And just like that, Dewstar was merely a tiny woman again. “But you know, as deals go…it’s a reasonable one. If you’ll help me out of this jam, I promise I won’t hurt or kill anyone if I can avoid it. And when it’s over, I’ll leave. The problem is, I can’t promise to stay gone. I can promise not to come back by any knowing action I might take, but I can’t speak for the actions of my allies, my enemies, or any troublemaking deities. You know how it is. So if I ever find myself here again,” She smiled, but it was cold as ice. “I’ll owe you a favor before I find my way out again.” She leaned in, uncomfortably close. “I’ll do whatever you want.” Chuckling, she took a few steps back, and hopped back onto the hood of the car. She reached into a pocket and pulled out a folded notecard. She tossed it to Chromium. “Here you go, Warboy. Her name is Illona. She ought to be at that graveyard, in the biggest tomb you can find. Or one with underground access. Dunno, really. Oh, and be careful. She’s…how does that saying go again? Beloved of the dead? Eh, something like that. Basically don’t surprise or try to hurt her, and you’ll be fine.”

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Rev

 

Rev died gleefully into the engine. This was where she was most at home. The rest of the world almost seemed to fade out. She loved the sight, the sounds, the smell. It was like a toy. A glorious, dirty, oily, toy. She felt like a kid playing in mud, without a care in the world. 

 

But there was a job to do underneath it all. And there were lives at steak. Even so, this felt more like a dull echo right now, something that was there, in the back back of her head, but muted. Like the volume had been dialled down. 

 

From her fingers popped a number of tools; a drill, a welder, a spanner. It was, in more senses that one, handy. 

 

Next to the engine she allowed a little of the mechaphage, that strange half alive bacterium that had transformed her, to flow into a welded small cylinder. Now, it was full of fuel and power. And then she threaded a line to below the steering wheel. 

 

"DO NOT PULL EXCEPT IN CASES OF EMERGENCIES. OR IF YOU JUST FEEL LIKE DRIVING REALLY REALLY FAST" she wrote on a note. Then, she attached it to the nozzle lever that she had placed there. 

 

"Enjoy!" she said to Dom. 

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"You assume the Pact exists solely to protect us. And our world has driven back the Terminus. Multiple times. Including Omega. Multiple times. You're a two-bit juiced-up assassin. You're a dime a dozen in this city alone. Point is, you don't scare me, Dewstar. So with that out of the way."

 

Raven takes a half-step back and slightly relaxes. Dewstar can feel him roll his eyes at the "whatever you want" line.

 

"Yeah, well, that'd be easy, since what I'd want would be 'leave again'. Anyways."

 

He frowns thoughtfully at her description of this individual.

 

"Is there a word in another language that you're translating? I might be familiar with it."

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Chromium watched the interplay between Raven and Dewstar, feeling a little like there was something he didn't get he couldn't see why the girl was a problem there were plenty of murderer's in Bedlam and he didn't see Raven trying to banish them all but it wasn't his place. Waiting till they were done he grabbed the notecard she gave to him and opened it having a look at it before focusing back on the woman and nodded,"So find her, try and figure out how to stop the tattoo of mind control or whatever and then go from there...sounds like a mission. Raven, you got a car?"

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For his part facsimile remained totally unaware of the plot thickening around him like rich cream being whipped frenziedly with a whisk of intrigue!

 

He'd only just got back with the replacement panneling for the smart car "so what'd I miss?"

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Dewstar only smiled mysteriously at the Raven. “Dunno, really. You should ask Illona. She’s good with languages. Me, I only know what I’m told.” She hopped down from the car and pulled herself back under it. “You got it, Warboy. Tell Illona and she’ll fix it. Now if you’ll excuse me, you’re the ones on the thirty-ish hour deadline.” She was silent for a moment. “The Raven has always had a car.” Only legs to be seen, and somehow it was glaringly obvious that an amused smirk was now on her face. Right as the heroes left, there was a barely audible comment from her. “No remorse, huh? If only.”

 

************************************

 

Sofia was still frowning while pulling loose the bent panels. “Only your friend doing heaven knows what to my car.”

 

Dom was smiling from his seat in the corner. “Relax, sis. Emergencies only, remember?”

 

Sofia shook her head. “Yeah, yeah.” Then to Facs. “Like I said, those just snap on.” Next to Rev. “Lend him or I a hand and we’ll be done in a hurry.”

 

Dom straightened. “Hey, the other two are coming back. Can’t see the Raven’s face, but he looks a little tense. Also, they’re not carrying a shackled assassin. I’m…concerned.”

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Rev

 

Rev smeared some of the engine oil on her white t shirt. Only it wasnt white anymore. Full of grease and oil. Just the way she liked it. This was her element...head inside a car engine. 

 

She was half tempted to detatched an arm and hand it to Sofia upon her request for a hand. But somehow she resisted...Sofia didn't look like she was in a laughing mood. And for that matter, neither did Dom at the moment. 

 

"Maybe the assassin is locked up" she said, positively. But it seemed unlikely. Still, no point in getting on a downer. Besides, she was rather pleased with her engine work. She kind of hoped Dom would have to pull the emergency lever. She would love to see that boost in action!

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"eh no need, I'll have this done in a jiffy, don't even rank in the top 5 heaviest things I've lifted today." He commented off handedly as he started to slot the snap on panneling back on to the frame carefully as he hummed to himself.

 

Looking up at the mention of the ravens return and rather foul mood he clicked his tongue.

 

"Hate to say I called it but it seems things are more complicated huh?" He asked as he wiped his hands off onto his metal trousers.

 

"What and how many are we dealing with?"

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Raven watched Dewstar for several long moments, then finally looked over to Chromium.

 

"Yeah. I have a ride. I'll bring it out in a second."

 

He turned and began walking away, back toward the others. He pushed a couple of pieces on one of his gauntlets, then a couple of buttons on his belt. Somewhere in the distance, an engine roared for a second.

 

"What's the address for the graveyard? We need to get moving. I want this done, and Dewstar off this planet, as soon as possible."

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Chromium frowned as Raven spoke to him,"I have no idea, I'm not from around here. You got a phone? I can look it up for you while you drive? She didn't say which graveyard, just the biggest...or one with underground access."

 

It may not have been obvious but Chromium had no pockets, or clothing for that matter, he was just a silver steel being and his form was just given to him by his memory of his old self with changes made for modesty sake and nothing else.

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