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Stesha stood along with the others, reaching into her belt and pulling out a handful of seeds and scattering them in a single, practiced gesture. It could be an attack, it could be some new hero or villain looking to make a splash by crashing a press conference, or it could just be some of Freedom City's never-ending weirdness manifesting itself, but it never hurt to be prepared. She didn't bother to add her voice to the others already calling for an evacuation, but mapped the room with her eyes, looking for the best place to put a portal if it became necessary to dump the whole population into Sanctuary. 

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Gaian Knight and Gabriel hadn't spoken a moment too soon.  As the press and observers hastily made their egress the low rumble began to be felt by even those without the heroes sensitivities and Velocity had to catch more than one stumbling reporter as the crowd edged toward panic.  The warning and efforts of the experienced heroes proved enough and the last of the civilians dashed to news vans or the shelter of surrounding streets and buildings just as the first rotting hands and arms thrust out of the suddenly moist and muddy soil.  Cameras were already rolling at the relative safety of the periphery as the first of the zombies pulled itself from the ground with a sickening squelch,  the corpse was riddled with vines and fungus, an entire leg replaced by a mass of moss and driftwood.  Moments later more and more of the zombies pulled themselves from the soil, some more plant than not, and began shambling slowly toward the fringes where the last fleeing civilians were escaping and slowly filling the recently evacuated press conference.  Thier march slow but inexorable.

 

A larger rumble sounded, an immense grey hand draped in swamp moss thrust out of the ground followed by the bulk of the long thought vanquished Tom Cyprus.  His own tattered form patched with the living swamp he called home and apparently was bringing to downtown Freedom.  The hulking brute cast his head back and let out a guttural bellow of raw rage arms raised threateningly.  At his call roots and vines shot forth from the ground showering the area with muck and dirt as twisting writhing masses flanked the nigh immortal creature the twitching branches and vines lashing out at anything that came near.  Clearly the creature or spirit had grown in power and anger during its long slumber since the Centurion had last vanquished him here decades ago.

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Velocity

 

Having helped guide the reports and other attendees clear of the grounds, Velocity came zipping back near her teammates in time to see the zombies begin to tunnel up from the ground, followed by the large form of Tom Cyprus. The speedster glanced over toward Gabriel. "You had to bring up zombies earlier." She lightly teased.

 

Then she was a blur of motion, as sped forward, darting from zombie to zombie and even towards Cyprus himself. As the speedster went, her fists shot out at each enemy she passed, the sound of multiple cracks from the mini-sonic booms. All around the law of Freedom Hall, the zombies that had just pulled themselves up from the ground were knocked down, at least for the moment,, although a number had already moved out away from the main law and were still moving toward the sidewalk beyond. The masses of roots and vines that were near Cyprus managed to avoid the speedster's attacks, but Cyprus himself was unable to, as Velocity delivered a supersonic punch into his gut before speeding away and ending up back near where she had started.

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Undead flesh and swamp muck alike collapsed beneath Velocity's barrage of blows.  The speedy hero was not so much seen as her handiwork, where the blur of her motion went swamp zombies collapsed into the muck unable to avoid the rapid strikes of their fleet footed foe.  In practically a blink of an eye the zombies seemed driving back to the ground, felled if not finished.  As she rebounded off their apparent master Velocity could feel the crunch of bone and sinew knowing her blow had more than struck home the enraged madman bellowing in pain and anger.

 

It seemed for a moment that this doomed assault would be over before it even truly began, the zombies though twitched and slowly began to rise once more in their intractable flood.  Reacting almost as an extension of Toms Rage a mass of vines launched toward the speeding heroine barely finding purchase on one ankle at first but once contact was made and her movente arrested more tendrils of plant matter enveloped her slowly pulling her through the muck toward the hole the vines had erupted from.  The other mass of vines studded in torns lashed out seemingly at random biting into Comrad Frosts parka and sending downy feathers up in a cloud to settle into the muck as it scored his undead flesh.

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Stesha's eyes widened as she felt the sudden surge of plant matter around her. She'd never encountered Tom Cyprus before in person, but every hero and villain in Freedom City knew who he was. He was even more disgusting in person, and stank to high heaven. Stesha could've forgiven that, could even have forgiven his eternal hate towards Freedom City for its crime of existing where there should be only nature. It wasn't as though she'd never felt uncomfortable about the city's extremely lackadaisical approach to conservation, but there was a time and place. Throwing a zombie-fueled tantrum that was liable to get a bunch of civilians killed was pretty much last on that list. Tom Cyprus might not be killable, but he could be stopped. 

 

She released her control on the plants she'd been growing, letting them coil quiescently around her feet as she extended one hand. "You come into my house?" she muttered, locking eyes with the monstrous plant controller from across the room. Suddenly the air was full of autumn, the crisp smell of falling leaves and brown grass contrasting oddly with summer heat pouring in the open doors. The masses of plant life that had been menacing her colleagues were suddenly shot through with lines of brown and russet and yellow, leaves curling and vine-tips crumbling away. The plants continued to move, but now they were jerking spasmodically as parts of their structures fell off, leaving them curling in on themselves. The effect was even more unsettling on Tom himself, with some off the mossy patches that seemed to make up parts of his body turning black and shriveling like a sped-up video of rotting vegetables. Fleur  kept her eyes up, her hand out, not looking away from what she was doing. 

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Gabriel laughed at Velocity's ribbingabout the zombies; it was a sound far too delightful for this morbid battle.

 

"I don't believe in such jinxes!"

 

He turned his attention to the foes at hand, and his expression sobered. He floated a few feet into the air, and pointed one finger at Tom Cypress. His voice rang out, deep and clear. To everyone besides Tom, it simply had a deep, bell-like quality to it. To Tom, it was like being slammed by the surf on the beach.

 

"Away with you! You should not be waking! Eat earth. Dig deep. Drink water. Go to sleep. Away with you!"

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The moment he had disentangled himself from the vines that sought to throttle him, Comrade Frost disappeared in a puff of freezing white mist that whipped about on the stage for a moment before reforming behind Tom Cyprus. Frost actually had tangled with the American supervillain before, back in the days when it turned out he was just a rampaging monster and not someone who could be persuaded to destroy certain capitalist industrialist facilities for the right price. "Remember me?" he asked, laying a hand on Cyprus's back and reaching within to find...nothing at all. Well damn and blast! he thought irritably. "Don't hold back!" he called to his allies. "He is more than he was!" Not that you need to be told _that_, he thought.

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Cyprus bellowed in outrage as the plasts of sound and cold reverberated off his corpsen shell, the plants inside his form just as dead as the rest of him, infused with the swamps power and anger with even less of the man that once was.  The writhing vines sickened and cracked drying under Fleurs defoliating potency releasing their victims to withdraw back on themselves defensively.  Velocity was left in the muck but freed as the vines around her broke under her strains and those with some life yet in in them retreated.

 

Ice crusting his back though not slowing his assault Tom roared and the earth shook as he charged toward the floral heroine that had undone his pets.  Mud splashed from his footfalls as he bor down on her rearing up to smash his fists down upon her.  If not for light feet and a steady eye she might have been struck a dangerous blow as earth sprayed up inder the titanic force of his attack.  Missing seemed only to further feed the beasts rage as he thrashed about looking for his next target.

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"Hey! None of that," admonished the Gaian Knight, reaching out one glowing hand; the spray of Cyprus' attack slowed to a halt. He made a fist and it churned back into motion, reforming into a series of blunted earthen spikes that reversed their path to plunge into the face and shoulders of their unliving opponent. "I would really like to know what brought him up here today," he said, casting his eyes around the battlefield. Velocity was always too much to keep up with, but at least he could track her good work. Their little arena seemed clear enough, but what about.... "Tiamat, get the perimeter! He really does not seem like the sort to schedule an ambush. What are the odds, bad timing or provocation?"

 

Tiamat snorted, but she couldn't disagree with the logic - her great dragon mass peeled away from the core of the fight, snaking out along the far edge of the pavilion and demonstrating a distinct lack of empathy for her zombie opponents; the ones that didn't get swatted back into the fight were on fire, and the ones on fire did not make it far. The ones that got swatted didn't always get back up. "Horrid little mice," she hissed, tail curling in to knock a few would-be escapees back. "It is my city and you may not infest it."

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Chunks of corpulent meat were torn from Toms frame by the stoney shards unleashed by the earthen knight.  Tom took a step back to bellow his outrage at the attack.  Given his temperment in general and tactics seen now it seemed likely that Gaian knight was correct, this did not seem planned on the swamp zombies part though it would not be hte first time the beast was roused to wreak havoc as cover for more astute criminals.  Regardless of cause the League had to keep his minions contained and minimize hte damage he might cause in his rampage before they sent him to his rest once more.

 

Around hte perimeter the zombie front crumbled before Tiamats fiery onslaught none getting out of the perimeter the dragon had build with claw and flame.  Despite her attack and the furious assault by Velocity however still more of the swamps dead rose, some not quite dispatched rose broken but mobile or crawled still toward the heroes or further afield.  They were legion and likely would not be stopped before Tom was put back in the ground.  The shambling horde rose and continue to press forward once more a danger to both the League and those beyond if any managed to evade Tiamat

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Velocity

 

Velocity had felt a slight grip of panic as one of the mass of plants had managed to grab ahold of her and drag her down. She had just been about to start trying to vibrate her molecules to free herself from the plant thing's grasp when Fluer provided assistance in dealing with the thing and loosening its grip on her. With a quick kip, the speedster was back up on her feet, though her yellow costume was now smeared with mud splotches.

 

The speedster did not even have to turn her head thanks to her goggles, which gave her a three hundred and sixty degree view of the area around her. While she had stopped the plant zombies for the moment, they now started crawling back up from the ground, reforming.

 

"Well, guess I will just have to keep them down." She muttered to herself before once again launching into motion, the yellow blur again streaking all around where the League was battling Cyprus. Once again Velocity's flurry of blows beat back the reforming zombies, but this time she was unable to land a solid hit on Cyprus himself, nor could she connect with the two vine creatures.

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And in an instant the gathered zombies were once more laid low and driven back, for the moment at least.  Until the force animating them was bested they would rise once more broken and battered but driven to unnaturally shamble toward destroying the living.  Now at least the League was free their predations for a few moments longer.  The vines withdrew and coiled inon themselves tightly a brackish green glow suffusing the damaged matter as they entwined slowly reinforcing the wilted and dying tendrils with hints of new growth.  The process was slow but if not stopped they'd regain their strength soon and once more be a threat.  Of course they likely wouldn't have that chance what power remained within them was soon going to be spent if they did not recover.

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Fleur pursed her lips as the vine monsters backed off and began to regroup, feeling the pull almost physically as they tried to siphon energy from the earth to speed their own healing. With her hand still extended, she closed her fingers into a tight fist and made a single hard ripping motion, as though jerking on an invisible leash. Instantly the glow around the vines died as the smell of autumn grew stronger, rotting leaves and the rich smell of mulched earth as the plant creatures shuddered into inanimate stillness. She waited a moment to see if they would get up, then looked around with a nearly-incredulous grin. "I got them!" 

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"Hah!" Comrade Frost couldn't help but laugh as Fleur de Joie tore the plant monsters apart with a flick of her hand. "They came to wrong house!" 

 

He took a moment to adjust himself - pulling his greatcoat out inside his parka to provide another layer of insulation, then vanishing again into a cloud of mist that  washed over Tom Cyprus's body like the chilling touch of winter itself. He was no longer holding back now, and the icy mist that was his form glowed and hissed like a frozen fire as it sucked the very life energy from the plant monster. The gates of Hel were open - and business was good! 

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The writhing masses twitched and twisted new growth sprouting and just as quickly shriveling and drying to dust.  The knotty roots drawing deep of the earth to fight off the Fluers defoliating might but to no avail and with finality they withered and returned to the loamy soil from which they had come.  Patches of Toms meaty fram froze in the Icy winds of Hel unleashed by Comrade Frost flesh cracking as it froze solid and the mighty not quite dead creature continued to move nonetheless.   Fissures revealing the rot beneath black ichor oozing to crust and cake across the icy rime coating his hulking frame.

 

He swung uselessly at the icy cloud roaring his frustration and leaned to heave a massive block of paving concrete overhead.  Wounded but undaunted Tom hurled the massive block in a crude arc sending it sailing through the air to crash meteorically down upon Gaian Knight!

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Gaian Knight had a split-second to choose how to defend himself, and he'd never know how the other choice might have gone - he threw one hand up, willing the concrete to halt its path. And it did, heeding his command as all earth must...at least, until the stone aggregate tore its way out, slowing much faster than the more-processed and less-rocky cement surrounding it. His efforts might have saved him a block of solid pavement to the skull, but they'd earned him a shower of lesser chunks and dust that were only somewhat better.

 

This was, as were all things, entirely unacceptable to his partner in anti-crime. Tiamat issued a low noise that mammals had not quite forgotten to fear, lashing around with awful speed to bring one clawed hand directly down, bouncing Tom off the hard ground like a mouse beset by a great cat. "DO NOT."

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The Dragons scythe like claws rent flesh bone and vine alike asunder as Tiamat's vicious attack sent the undead fiend staggering back with the force of the blow.  The Zombies continued to rise but ther pace slowed further still as the source of their power was diverted to the greatest of their number.  Cyprus was barely holding himself together but still a danger to both the League and the city.  What had roused his anger once more was a mystery but it was not yet spent though the battle turned further against him by the moment.

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For his part, Comrade Frost tended to take a rather low opinion of American monsters - who could turn to crime around all this wealth and so many heroes? He made a dead run at Cyprus, disappearing into mist just before he struck the  beast, and grabbed him from behind again. At his touch, dead flesh froze and living plants withered, the plant creature's body stiffening and cracking as deathly cold suffused its frame. Frost dived away from Cyprus rather than press the fight to the finish - he didn't want to be at ground zero when the other members of the League opened fire. 

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