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At that moment, there was a flare of rainbow light behind USArcher that was certainly distracting in the small space, and a wash of electrostatic that briefly blocked any hopes of Ashley calling anyone. Resplendent as a rainbow sun, Daystar sounded distinctly apologetic. "Ah'm sorry, Ashley, Ah couldn't just leave you here without any help, and nobody was answering mah-oh mah gawd!" Judy backed up, her hands raised automatically, but there was only so much distance she could get while inside the Panera Bread meeting room. 

 

Ashley took a mental note to have another talk with Judy about how she was supposed to stay away when she was working, but for the moment she concentrated on the hostile target in front of her. She was between Luke and USArcher, which meant that arrow was pointed right at her.

 

Her pepper spray had been replaced, in USArcher's moment of inattention, with her blaster pistol, and it was aimed at him too. As if she was reciting from a script, she said, "If you do not lower your weapon, I will consider you a hostile meta-threat in the presence of a protectee and use authorized force to stop you. This is your final warning." It was Secret Service-speak for a threat to do something that went beyond the things done by metahumans in their conflicts with each other, and her posture and body language told USArcher she was going to do exactly that. 

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GM

 

"Wha-?" U.S.Archer whirled to the side for a brief moment, staring at the rainbow lightshow that was Judy, before his attention was drawn back to Ashley... who was now holding a blaster.

 

He stared at Ashley, his face obscured behind his mask. From his body language it was clear that he understood what she was saying and what it meant.

 

"Look... how about we both put away our weapons and talk? I'm not here for Cahill's kid, the dragon kid or you." He was speaking slowly. He lowered his body, slowly loosening the string, maybe as a show of good faith. "The cyborg is a dangerous fugitive. I am here to make sure that he doesn't hurt any good American citizens. Stand down and let me take him into custody, and we all walk away without trouble."

 

On the ground, Matt was starting to move, ever so slightly. 

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Luke smirked when he saw that Judy was back in the game and that her presence was enough to distract Mr. Archer guy and let Ashley go for the artillery.

 

Dunno, I kinda got the impression that we are gonna be the ones asking questions and you lowering the weapon and doing the talkin’.” He grinned, yeah, three on one, he liked this odds. His eyes flashed gold, revealing for a split second the monster beneath.

 

Now this ‘cyborg’ is named Matt and he is not gonna hurt anyone.” He remarked. “At least not by his own will… I…” He lowered his eyes. “I think that someone is messing with his head.” Maybe this guy could help? Perhaps, but even if that was true he was not gonna let him drag his friend to some black ops government facility or something of the like.

 

And again, he is not coming with you alone and not before you do some explaining anyway… What’s going on man? For real.

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Ashley breathed in, then breathed out. Keeping Judy there was the easiest way to ensure they could beat this guy if necessary, but she couldn't keep her ward in danger. "Daystar. I need you to teleport to the bugout office. Tell the agents there that a man calling himself USArcher has identified himself as a government agent and attempted to take a teenager into custody. He has been acting irrationally and I believe he may be dangerous. Do it now." To her credit, Daystar did just that without more than a worried look, teleporting not back to Claremont but to the Secret Service field office in Freedom City where Ashley's backup team was waiting. Not that they can actually do much if this guy really is a damn superhero, but at least she's safe. 

 

As soon as Daystar was gone, Ashley said cooly, "Put your weapon on the ground and kick it over to me. You need to demonstrate to me that you are not a threat to these children before I holster my weapon. ID or not, we are in a city with shapeshifting demons, aliens, and vampires and I am not going to let you carry lethal weapons around once I've seen you point them at civilians." 

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GM

 

U.S.Archer looked between Ashley and Luke. Bow still in hand, he barely afforded Luke a glare. No, he was fully focused on Ashley. 

 

"The adults are talking." It was clearly directed at Luke, even if he didn't look in his direction. Right now, his eyes were entirely focused on Ashley and her weapon. "Matt Wagner", U.S.Archer put emphasis on the name, "is not a civillian. He is dangerous. Odds are that he was sent here to assasinate Miss Cahill." While he spoke, he lowered himself to the ground and placed his bow in front of himself, then stood up straight. "I've been tracking him for a while. From what I've gathered, he disappeared from the hospital a while ago, then turned up looking like that a short while later. He's been connected with several attacks on U.S. soil in the last few months." He paused. His eyes looked towards Matt briefly, before returning to Ashley. "He's hurt children. And yeah. Someone has obviously done something to him, probably against his will. He's got some kind of switch or something. Turn off Wagner, turn on the bad guy. He's hurt kids, for crying out loud, so yeah. But sure, if you want me disarmed, then whatever he's going to do, that'll be on you."

 

Placing his foot under the bow, he kicked at it, sending it sliding across the floor towards Ashley.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Luke ignored Archer’s remark, he was not a kid anymore and besides, it was not like not being one had ever deterred him from participating a conversation. 

 

He shook his head as he listened to the smug government agent explaining the situation. He could see where his line of thinking was coming from, he had 

 

No. Matt Wagner is a civilian and actually the guy who needs our help.” He replied forcefully. “The actual criminal that has hurt those children is the guy who has been forcing him to do this.” God, that was messed up. A lot. Freakin' Children...He wondered if Matt could remember what he had done while he wasn’t in control, that would be a freaking nightmare wouldn’t it? He didn’t look like he could, at least from the short time they have been together that morning, but still… 

 

Luke frowned, his gaze shifting back toward his downed friend, barely registering Mr. Government Guy throwing his weapon away. 

 

Now is there anything you can actually do for him? Except make him disappear into some freakin black ops facility of course.” He tossed.”That’s not gonna happen.

 

What if we bring him to the headmistress, I bet she might know a way to help.” He addressed Ashley this time. Yeah Ms. Summers looked like she could handle any situation way better than any shady government agent types. 

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"Hell no!" said Ashley, showing more emotion at the thought of calling in Callie Summers than almost anything else they'd encountered that day. Just what I goddamn need, Raven showing up at my day job and judging me! Maybe she'd send Alec too, and Charlie the sidekick, and the whole world would get to see her holding a gun on someone who might actually be working for the federal government. "But you watch him, and you tell me if he blinks." 

 

"Okay. My protectee is out of the way. So let's talk like adults." Her face curled in a smile behind the mask. "This is one of the most protected cities in the world, and Judith Claudia Cahill is protected by the best protective service in the world. If you thought a cyborg assassin was stalking my protectee, your responsibility was to tell the Secret Service, local law enforcement, or the Freedom League." The League certainly knew about Judy now, in a conversation that had been...complicated. 

 

"None of those things happened. Which tells me that either you, your boss, or your boss's boss is off the reservation right now. " She took a breath and lowered, but did not put away her weapon. "Judy's backup team is calling AEGIS by now. They're going to be here soon. Am I going to be able to tell them you cooperated?" 

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GM

 

"Really? You just assume that we're gonna take him away like that?" U.S.Archer sounded almost insulted. "We're not the bad guys here. We had no idea that Miss Cahill would show up here, not like she's made any public appearances for months. We were just tracking the cyborg. Bring him in, deprogram him, try to get him back to normal."

 

"It was as simple as that."

 

He glared at Nightscale, but his eyes rarely left Ashley. 

 

"The only one going off the reservation here's you, babysitter. Call in AEGIS. See what happens. But I'm done wasting time while the cyborg might suddenly wake up. You've proven yourself more than willing to protect an enemy of the state."

 

U.S.Archer paused for a second, as he stared directly at Ashley.

 

"Kilo Oscar."

 

The bow at Ashley's feet let out a surge of electric energy at the code word.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Years earlier, a mentor had told Ashley that her strength was acting. Not in thinking, not in feeling - in acting. At the time, it had seemed like a grievous insult from the Raven. 

 

Today, she didn't think about the Raven.

 

Watchdog kicked the bow backwards, its electricity crackling up her leg in a painful spasm, putting it behind herself and Nightscale. The movement shifted her bodymass to the left a fraction and the archer moved with her, mistakenly.

 

And then she shot USArcher in the face, twice. The plasma charges hit his facemask and set it afire, sizzling tough plastic and Kevlar against unprotected skin. 

 

She did stop and think just then, that if she'd been carrying a standard loadout, the man in front of her would be dead. But only for a moment. 

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GM

 

U.S.Archer reeled back, yelling as he grabbed at his burnng mask. He was sputtering incoherently, stumbling into a table as he tried to tear the burning and melting fabric away, trying to do anything to alleviate the pain. 

 

A standard loadout might have left him dead, but maybe that would have been mercy.

Edited by RocketLord
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"Whoa Whoah Woah..." Luke gasped. That was at the same time awesome and scary. Truth is, the display also made him feel quite happy that Watchdog was on his side and not the other way around. 

 

"I'm sorry for this man, but you have been pretty rude so far..." He grinned before socking Archer in the face.

 

"That's gonna teach him manners." He smiled, but the euphoria didn't last for much. Matt was still in troubles. He turned toward his friend. "Don't worry man we are gonna fix this...

 

"We can bring him at Claremont... They can help him. I'm sure.

Edited by Nerdzul
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GM

 

The blow sent U.S.Archer flying back, hitting a wall hard

 

But at least the contact with his face put out the fire. A small mercy, maybe?

 

Matt had stopped moving. He was standing when Luke turned towards him, a vacant expression in his eyes.

 

In a flash, he moved forward, punching Luke's in the face with enough force to send even the dragon reeling. 

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Or he would have, if Watchdog hadn't stepped in and taken the punch, taking the hit inside her helmet hard enough to make her bite her lip. Maybe that was why her next series of shots went wild, chewing holes in the table behind Matt without actually making an impact on the rogue cyborg. 

 

This had the makings of a real horrorshow, but there was no way out but forward. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Yep, again Luke found himself extremely grateful that Watchdog was with him, especially seeing the more experienced hero tanking a hit that would have much likely sent the young man flying.

 

He didn’t have time to voice his appreciation though. With Matt back on the bad guys team. For now.

 

"Do you have anything that can like... scramble coms or something? We need to cut off the ***** who is controlling him."

 

Unfortunately though he had no idea about how this kind of things worked. Chaz would know what to do. Yeah definitely. No time to call for help though, it was just the two of them for the time being.

 

So, instead he just attempted a tackle Matt, trusting that the more experienced agent could have a solution at hand.

Edited by Nerdzul
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  • 2 weeks later...

GM

 

Matt looked somewhat puzzled at Watchdog as she took the hit, his head tilting slightly. His movements, while somewhat stilted, where fast. Mechanical perfection. He stepped back, out of the way of Nightscale's tackle, then raised his hand above his head.

 

The hand seemed to split apart, panels with plastic flesh moving aside to reveal the mechanical components underneath. It made a crackling noise, then shot chain lightning out across the room, lightning striking all around him.

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Watchdog flexed her right wrist and a fist-mounted taser popped out of her left sleeve. Wordlessly, she fired an electrical blast of her own at Matt, one that caught him in the chest, crackled, and did absolutely nothing at all. Without hesitating, she stepped forward and drove something into the palm of Matt's open hand, moving too fast for Luke to see what it was until he realized she'd just jammed a sharp, heavy-duty metal pen directly between two of the open panels inside his hand, hard enough that they didn't seem able to close anymore and something was distinctly leaking out. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

This can't be happening! Come On! Unfortunately it was not a nightmare, they were fighting his friend. Luke hesitated for a second as he saw Watchdog going at Matt. It was enough though to let the blast of energy that came out of the cyborg hands to hit him in the chest. 

 

He struggled to keep stay on his feet, as his body was inundated with electricity. He couldn't even imagine what would have happened he was a normal human. Fortunately though, he was anything but. 

 

He gasped as he saw Ashley attack his friend. Maybe I should stop her. No way, that was nonsense, given the situation. First thing first they needed to subdue Matt. 

 

Still fighting to shake off the dizziness from the discharge, Luke went again after the cyborg. This time, he pretended to try and headbutt it and when whoever was controlling his friend tried to dodge, Luke swerved at the last second, instead, locking the cyborg in a grip as strong as he could muster.

Edited by Nerdzul
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GM

 

Watchdog's attack seemed to stun Matt, at least for a moment. He struggled for a moment, looking at his hand where the metal pen was jammed in... and then noticed Nightscale moving in.

 

Before he had a chance to react, the dragon had gripped him tightly, holding him close. 

 

Matt blinked, his eyes glowing as he processed what was happening.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ashley shot him twice in the head, point-blank, carefully aimed blasts that peppered around his augmented eyes and overloaded his visual circuits. Then she reversed her pistols and smashed him on the sides of the head like she was ringing a bell once, twice, three times. When he stopped moving she cuffed him again, propping him up in Luke's arms so that his leg was cuffed to his wrist for maximum restraint. "There. You hurt?" she asked Nightscale shortly. Where the hell is my backup?

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"Hey.... you didn't need to.... F-" Sure Matt was attacking them, but he still couldn't take seeing his friend being pounded like that. Still, perhaps there was no other way.

"Stop! It's still... It's still Matt!" Yeah and he definitely didn't need a concussion, or worse. Unfortunately, busy as he was keeping hold on the cyborg 

 

"Nah... I'm ok..." He replied shortly thereafter as he leaned in to check Matt's conditions. Please be alright! Please be alright!

 

"We need to do something for him. I can fly him to the school." Yeah, someone should be able to help. For sure.

 

"Before anyone else arrives..." He tossed a glance toward the unconscious form of U.S.Archer on the floor.

Edited by Nerdzul
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GM

 

The hits, the visual overload, everything was simply too much, and Matt went limp, dropping to the floor, at least until Luke reached him.

 

"bastars... gon'..." U.S.Archer was muttering weakly on the ground, clenching and unclenching one his hands, while his other moved to his face. "... m'face..."

 

His open hand held a small star shaped emblem, one that was blinking with a red light. Ashley was pretty sure it was some kind of signal device. 

 

Would they stay and wait to see whose backup would arrive? Or leave while they could?

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Ashley took a moment to swear inside her head in French, then in VIetnamese. "You take him," she told Nightscale immediately, "you fly right to Summers' office and you tell her everything. The filters around the school should cover your landing the way they usually do." She looked down at USArcher and cuffed him, too, putting his hands behind his back and sitting at a distance where she could keep her sidearm at the ready. 

 

"I'll handle this, uh, buddy," she added. "Judy owes you a thank you." 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Luke nodded, giving his friend's unconscious form another worried look. "Sure thing. I'll get him there." Ms. Summers will know what to do for sure. She must. The  only thing now was managing to bring his friend there safely (and hopefully before the angry cyborg could wake up again). 

 

"I owe you one too." He tossed hastily at the end, already darting out toward the school, gently holding his friend's unconscious form.

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  • 2 weeks later...

GM

 

Matt was heavier than Luke had expected, at least at first. Not so heavy that it was an issue for a dragon, but still. Flying across the city was, luckily, uneventful. Whatever U.S.Archer had done, it had not called in help to go after Luke and Matt, it seemed.

 

He all but crashed into the headmistress office. Summers looked decidedly unimpressed at the sight of the dragon and the cyborg in front of her. She put her pen down with a sigh and stood up, moving around the table. She looked at Luke, before quickly turning her attention to Matt. "Pick him up, and come along to the infirmary. Fill me in along the way, Mr. Landers."

 

---

 

Back at the dinner, U.S.Archer was still out of it, his hands behind his back as his head swung weakly from side to side. It wasn't long before three black cars came around, driving to a screeching halt in front of the building. Three men in black suits exited each vehicle, all with small flag pins on their suits. Four took up positions outside the building, the rest entered, all with weapons trained on Ashley.

 

"Stand down, Agent." The man that spoke didn't raise his weapon. He was a tall, broad shouldered man, shaved bald, his eyes hidden behind sunglasses. "Mind explaining what happenedh here, before we take you into custody for assaulting a federal agent?"

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Thanks god the flight went smoothly. Luke kept double checking the unconscious form of his friend the whole way, clutching him carefully in his claws, mindful not to hurt him more. We are going to fix you buddy, don't worry. There must be something that the people at the school could do right? After all the faculty was all made of freakin' superheroes.  

 

"Yeah." He nodded as he hurried to follow the headmistress toward the infirmary. "This his Matt, he is my friend..." He sort of introduced them. "He was... Well... Gangsters shot him and he got hurt bad..."  Yeah and it was his fault.  "but not like, turn into a cyborg kinda of bad, he was recovering." Or at least that's what he hoped. "Someone did this to him." He added, pointing at the robotic parts. "It's like, like they can control him through the implants, made him try to attack Judy at the demonstration before.... Ashley knocked him down... I hope he isn't-" The young man lowered his eyes. "Can you help him?"

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