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Geez3r

Power Check -- Malice

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Date: March 5th, 2009.

It was a difficult thing, this super business. You bring together a collection of individuals, who all have varied insights, skills, techniques, moral compasses and abilities, and then pit them against one another. Being a loser in one of these exchanges results in at least the humiliation of the party, where in the worse case scenario is death, and not merely your own. Furthermore, because of all these variables, the odds of running into 2 seperate encounters that follow the same general format are astrolical.

So there is a paradox. Every one involved in such an altercation wants to be sure that they are prepared for the encounter, but they never can be because of the erratic nature of these events. For all I know, Omega could try to destroy all of reality tommorrow, or the Freedom League could deduce my identity and come looking for me or even nothing could happen, it could be for all intents and purposes just another day. But the one constant in this world is that conflict is inevitable. So those involved in this little game are always trying to rise to new challenges, to expect the unexpected and ultimately be the ones standing on top of the pile; quite the tall order.

It was to this end that Eric Micheals, secretly the self proclaimed savior Malice, had built constructed a bunker under his own home. This bunker seperated his everday life from the life he had chosen to live for himself. He worked on upgrades for the Mantle of Freedom, researched his adversaries and generall just prepared for the inevitable. He had even built and programed a combat simulator to test and hone his abilities. However, after using the simulator for months, it seemed that the only thing he was getting good at was repairing the droids he repeatedly plastered over the walls.

So he abandoned the project for a time. He instead focused on upgrading the armor almost exclusively. Time passed, and upgrades were made, but there was always a nagging feeling at the back of Eric's mind. He realized that no matter how powerful the armor was, no matter how powerful he was, he always stood a chance of loosing. Omega, arguably the most powerful being in the universe, at the head of an army that was measured in millions, had been driven back by the forces of Earth, not once, but twice.

Power was not all there was to winning battles. There was experience, insight and sheer dumb luck. The third could only be prayed for, but the other two could be attained; but only if you worked at them. Finally putting that nagging feeling to rest, Eric began working on a new simulation for the combat training facility.

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Down in his bunker, Eric Micheals slowly closes a panel on a console, having just finished with the wiring. “Well that should be it then.†He walks a few steps over to his left where there is a large green button on the console, his hand hovering over it. “Here goes nothing.†He says as he depresses the button. For a moment nothing happens but then a low thrum is heard which builds in volume and power.

The buttons and gauges on the console slowly start coming to life. Eric looks over the console meticulously, observing every single dial, gauge, lever and button. “Power is steady, all systems are actually getting power, and heck, no explosions; that’s better than last time. Let’s see if my luck holds out.†Eric dug in his pocket for a moment and pulled out a key, which he put into the center of the console and turned it to the right. Eric’s eyes darted back and forth as he checked the console again.

Satisfied with the progress of everything. Eric flipped 2 switches, and pushed a blue button. He looked through the window as the lights in the arena came to life one after another. Eric then spent the next few moments systematically going through every switch and button, making sure they were all functional, all the while a big doofy grin plays on his face.

“Well, I suppose the sensible thing would be to stay up here where it’s safe and run a few test simulations to make sure everything is running properly…†His thoughts wander to the Mantle of Freedom sitting just one floor above him. “But where would the fun in that be?â€Â

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Now decked out in the Arms of Malice, Eric steps back into the elevator and can’t help laughing at the traditional elevator music on the way down. Well they do say the line between genius and insanity is blurred… Back in front of the console, Eric takes a moment to sync the controls in his suit to the console so he is able to control the console from his suit, in theory.

He descends the stairs into the arena, and pauses a moment to take in the view, hands on his hips. He then turns around and closes the blast door at the base of the stair case using the panel next to the door, and also does a double check to make sure the door opens again, before shutting it for good. He runs for a moment before taking off and doing a few practice laps to get a lay of the land.

Setting down in the center, Eric opens up a small panel on his arm. Hitting a button or two he brings the system to life, “Alright, lets start off nice and easy." He waited a moment while the systems came to life and the simulation started...

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"Initiate Phase One: Targeting System Calibration", the computer's voice intoned.

Panels in the side of the room slid down, and what at first glance appeared to be a woman ran out, followed by a rather brutish thug. Micheals knew they were his combat drones, cloaked in holographic projections, though a part of his mind registered that they were of a noticeably better quality than what he had designed. Perhaps he did a better job than he thought?

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Malice paused for a moment wondering about the quality of the holograms. He quickly pushed the thoughts out of his mind, there would be time to admire his handiwork later. Knowing that he was simply trying to hit the targets, which weren't going to attack him back, Malice shifted his stance, focusing on his offense. "Command: Weapon: 2nd Amendment - Alternate fire - Semi-Auto" No use in wasting bullets, yet.

Slowing his breath, Malice took aim at the first target and neatly puts a bullet in the center of mass.

Allowing himself a small smile at his marksmanship, Malice sighted up the next opponent. The next shot comes as easily as the one before it.

There is a bit of a pause as the two droids exit the arena and are replaced by two new droids. The next two droids cause Malice to give a little start; they share an uncanny resemblence to Captain Thunder and the Raven respectively. "Fricken holograms." Malice takes a moment to measure his opponents and decides he'll leave Raven for last, as she'll likely be the hardest to hit.

He follows the fake Captain's movements through the air, looking for any flaw in his defense. From all the videos he had watched of the Freedom League's fights, he knew that the Captain favored his right side, so all Malice needed to do was wait for the Captain to change direction and take his shot. A success.

Feeling quite confident in his skills, turned his sights on Raven. Out of the entire Freedom League, he had the most respect for Raven. She was a self made individual, and had gotten to where she was through her own determination and desire. She limited herself to strictly non lethal means, and yet could still prevail. He considered her a misguided ally rather than an enemy. But be that as it may, if he ever needed to take the shot, he would, and and he did striking her in the leg.

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"Phase One: Ended. Calculating results...", the computer's voice intoned.

Eric had barely worked up a sweat, so his thoughts turned back to the droids. Not only were their holographic skins better than he'd expected, that last one, of Raven, moved far more fluidly than he thought his droids should be able to.

"Phase One results complete," the computer's voice interrupted, "All systems operating within optimum tolerances. Initiating Phase Two: Energy Transferal and Damage Capacity."

The panels slid open, and again more droids appeared, looking eerily life-like. They moved slowly, their purpose to test how much damage Malice could dish out.

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Alright, this is seriously creeping me out... Malice internally remarked at the appearance of the droids. Figuring that it wouldn't be a proper test of the suit's capabilities if he simply filled the droids with lead until they stopped functioning, and that he wanted to get a closer look at the droids, he decided to get his hands dirty in a manner of speaking.

"Command: Weapons Array - Primary Setting" Feeling the power surge through his suit, and hearing that serene hum produced by the strength enhancing systems, Malice charged at the first droid and promptly put his fist through the face of the droid. Pulling his fist out he remarked "I never do get tired of that sound."

Malice then made his way to the ironically slow moving Jonny Rocket droid. Pulling back his punch, Malice had a sudden thought Wait. I can do much better. :twisted: Malice snatches one of the fake Jonny's ankles with one hand, before grabbing the other with his free hand and wish-boning Johnny Rocket. And just like that, Malice doesn't mind the very realistic holograms so much anymore.

In high spirits, Malice flies in a few circles around the room before delivering a strong uppercut to a girl he should really know, but can't place right now. He makes a mental note to go over his files when the session is done.

And then there was one. This one bearing a striking resemblence to Eldritch. Malice really had no way to truly judge this man. In effect, he used a science that was entirely unknown to him. Malice wasn't sure if it was easier, or if it just looked more powerful, but what he did know what he did know however was that a dropkick still did the trick, and Malice had to take a moment to remove his feet from the torso of Eldritch.

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"Phase Two: Ended. Calculating results...", the computer's voice intoned.

Eric had worked up a considerable sweat this time, feeling a deep but good burn in his muscles. Examining the droids, he found nothing unusual... which was unusual. The hologram emitters in the droids are the same ones he'd installed, and they should not be able to produce holograms that detailed. And the servos and motors look standard, so the Raven one should not have been able to move so smoothly.

"Phase Two results complete," the computer's voice interrupted, "Weapons system designate: Righteous Riot operating at maximum efficiency. Error! Weapons system designate: 2nd Amendment untested. Error! Weapons system designate: Liberation Cannon untested. Processing.... Initiating Phase Three: Threat Analysis Matrix and Warning Systems."

The panels slid open, and again more droids appeared, looking eerily life-like. They moved smoothly, drawing weapons on Malice.

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"Oh shut up! I'll test those weapons when I'm good and ready!" ... And when I was sure I wasn't being watched. That was the only explanation Eric could come up with. Someone had messed with, or is messing with his technology. They had either put in some new hologram emitter to make the droids look more realistic (and make them look more agile than they really were) or someone had blanketed the area in some sort of mass illusion. Whoever it was was very good.

Or were they...?

If whoever was doing this was using technology, they would had to have the technical insight to know what my droids were capable of, so either they got careless or wanted me to know. But that doesn't help me. Alright, let's assume they're using something other than technology, like magic or mysticism. For that stuff they'll usually need line of sight, they can't control what they can't see...

"Alright round 3, let's make it a little more interesting." Eric pressed a button on his arm console and turned off the lights in the combat simulator, making it pitch black. The night vision optics on the suit sprang to life, allowing Eric to see undeterred. How's that for killing two birds with one stone? Any illusions made by a mystic should go away now (unless they can see in the dark too), anyone spying on me in a mundane way probably can't see anything because they probably wouldn't have though about me fighting in the dark, and to top it all off, I never got around to putting night vision on the droids.

================

Feeling incredibly confident in himself, Malice settled into a defensive posture, and got ready for the shots fired by the droids. The first droid, looking like a generic mook with a gun is unable to hit Malice through a combination of bad aiming, darkness and Malice keeping on his toes.

Malice was feeling pretty cocky until one of the droids got right in Malice's face and pretty much stayed there getting another shot in. Note to self, learn to duck.

Then the droid that had resembled Captain Thunder opened up with a salvo of lighting. Forunately for Malice, in the dark room, the bright lightning gave him warning enough to avoid most of the shots.

The last one against the Bowman droid was quite pitiful for Malice, getting beaned several times.

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"Phase Three: Complete. Calculating results...", the computer's voice intoned.

Eric was really weirded out now. He knew the droids weren't equipped with nightivision sensors, and the quick examination he did on them showed that his was still the case. Yet he was sure that when the Captain Thunder and Bowman droids hit him, they were looking right at him, as if they could see him clear as day.

"Phase Three results complete," the computer chirped. "Threat Analysis Matrix operating at 78% efficiency. Warning Systems operating at 58% normal. Suggest re-routing power from circuit 121-B-7 to circuit 740-B-8, and...."

The computer continued to list suggested fixes for a good five minutes, unless Malice tells it to stop early.

"Filing suggested alterations for later perusal. Initiating Phase Four: 'Preparations and Solution'."

The room reconfigured slightly. Tables rather than droids slid out from the wall panels. Most were covered in assorted electrical and mechanical components, but one held several monitors and display screens on it, showing footage of something that made his eye twitch a bit.

Well, a bit more.

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Eric made a mental note for the system to show the results of the test in graph form, he could look at the nitty gritty later. But right now, Eric had more pressing matters to attend to. The droids could see me, I know they could. That settles it, someone has messed with my droids somehow. Although they maintain the outward appearance of my handiwork, they are certainly not mine. Either someone is controlling them remotely (while enhancing their abilities) or these are not the droids I'm looking for.

And then the tables appear. Okay, seriously. They're not even trying at this point. They're making me build gadgets in a COMBAT SIMULATOR. Hrmmm... Alright, if this is the game they're going to play, might as well milk it. If they're going through all the trouble of setting up these tests for me, might as well use it to my advantage. Though I loathe to admit it, I couldn't have come up with a test this in depth. Besides, if they truly have control over my systems, they would have just set everything to "kill" once I walked through the door.

Malice took his seat down at one of the tables. Eric didn't recognize the first meta he was shown, which spelled trouble. Whipping up a device when you know its weakness is one thing, flying blind is another. Malice thought of the HUD in his helmet with an idea brewing...

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PART 1

After sitting in the dark for a moment, not because the lights were off this time, but rather because Malice had messed with the HUD display, Malice had finished his handiwork. A quick little rework and the broad array of tools in the HUD had been dedicated to scrutinizing the surroundings.

With the modifications made, Eric sat down to work, feeling a little odd doing this in the suit, but he didn't want to take off the helmet until he knew who or what was watching, not that it really mattered at this point. The first meta was a no-name fire manipulator. Spotting the weakness was easy enough, no flames equals no powers. Figuring out a way to counter-act the meta was also easily achieved.

The first and more lethal method was installing a fire retardant paste (the same used in the fire prevention systems here) into the tips of bullets. The revised thin shell of the bullets would burst easily at higher temperatures, spraying the meta with the paste (and the shrapnel from the bullets) making it harder for him to use his powers.

The second invention also used the paste, but in a different way. It essentially shot the paste out of a water gun, but the paste now was much more like a fast drying concrete. It was more effective than the previous design, but it had a much shorter range.

The fabrication process while a little sloppy, did the trick. Eric did the due diligence and mounted the devices on the suit, and did a test run or two. They worked admirably.

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PART 2

Feeling pleased with his success, Malice took off the newly designed weapons and got ready for the next task. The next one shown was Hiroshima Shadow. Aww nuts... was the first thing to do through Malice's head, and rightfully so. But after replaying the clip a few times Malice notices something amiss. In the clip, Shadow had recently escaped from custody it seems. He was raiding a nuclear facility. Malice noticed that his attacks were significantly more powerful, after he had absorbed some radiation from the surrounding environment.

So the question was, how to keep Hiroshima Shadow from absorbing radiation? The answers came quite easily to Malice. He has been dabbling in the idea of nuclear power for his base, specifically before he implemented it, he wanted to be sure he had a fool-proof "OH S---!!!" button, in case things got out of hand.

The first was a compound Eric had devised that could hypothetically halt the chain reaction process of a nuclear reaction. It worked much like the concept of a control rod in that it stopped all the particles from running into each other. The reason that Eric hadn't marketed it (and made millions) is that it was an all or nothing deal that only worked some of the time. If it worked, no more reaction (for a while) and if not, then you are wasting your time. Not really something you want to do in the case of an imminent nuclear meltdown. But could work quite well as the tips of bullets against a radio active madman. Bullets were of course no use if you died before you could use them. That's why Eric developed a radiation shield of sorts. It was made of a sort of hard light generator that made a near invisible field of energy that would minimalize the damage done by radiation, at least in theory. Again, Malice had little trouble bringing his inventions into the 3rd dimension.

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PART 3

This is where things started to get a little interesting. The exploits were getting a little harder to notice but still doable. This meta was someone from Eastern Europe. Her name didn't quite translate into English that well, not at least with Eric's mastery of other languages, but it roughly came out to mean "the mesmerizing fury". Which was quite an apt description. Eric had gathered that her ability was to shapeshift and alter her form. Curiously, she could only change into forms of mythological creatures, such as minotaurs, sphinx (sphinxes ???) and vampires. Even more curiously, she seemed to also possess the mythological abilities of the creatures she transformed into, such as a hydra's ability to regenerate it's heads (much to the surprise of her adversary). But what Eric had noticed is that she possessed the same weaknesses of those creatures as well.

Now the question was how on earth one could defeat someone who change their abilities on the fly? Thankfully, Eric was struck with inspiration and figured out a way around that particular issue. The idea was of course to change the arsenal as she changed her forms. To that end, slapped every single thing he could think of, with the exception of maybe the kitchen sink, on the weapons. He added a modulator that could change what electromagnetic signature it had, from infrared to visible light to gamma radiation. It could emit various levels of heat, or lack there of. There was also a feature to load up bullets on various chemicals just prior to their firing. All of this extra junk of course made the weapon rather large and unweildy, and it kicked like an angry mule.

Now the main draw of the weapon was of course the fact that it could of course use nearly any sort of desired effect, but that was a moot point if you didn't know which effect to use. To that end, Malice constructed a program that would cross reference the appearance of the target with various databases to determine what sort of weaknesses it possessed.

The fabrication processwent fantastically well for the gun, everything came together without a hitch. But due to that success Malice got a little over confident in his abilities and didn't pay as much attention to the wiring of the visor and recieved a shock for his troubles.

After a string of explitatives, and a few paces around the table to calm his nerves, Malice sat back down at the table. Either fortunately or unfortunately for Eric, he had been the subject to various set backs when designing inventions so this particular set back didn't bother him too much and he was able to complete the task easily.

Pleased with his progress, Malice threw his hands up in their air in triumph "I rock. Let's see what else you've got planned for me."

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PART 4

The next task was one Malice was not expecting in the slightest. For this task, he had to try and find a way of taking down none other than Gigantasaur. How exactly would one fight a 100ft tall lizard? In all honesty, Malice had no idea what so ever. Far as he could tell, Gigantsaur was unstoppable. Malice had an idea for a moment, but it left just as he tought he was on to something. But just as he was getting desperate, Malice was struck by inspiration.

You see, it was really impossible to stop a 100ft lizard, but stopping a 20ft lizard is much simpler. The answer was a classic for a reason, a Shrink ray could solve a whole lot of problems. The second device that Malice envisioned was the answer to the question that he often asked himself. "How am I going to stop some big, mean mother Hubbard from tearing me a structurally superfluous new behind? The answer? Use a gun. And it that don't work, use more gun." Malice truly loved that philosohy, but it wasn't always applicable. You see the more you shoot at a target, the more they shoot you. This is not an advisable strategy if the opposition has more gun and/or can take more gun than you do. But Malice found the answer in the belief that they cannot return fire at a target that they don't know is there.

Coming up with the ideas was all well and good, but getting the ideas down on paper proved difficult. He was close on the cloaking device, but the shrink ray needed a lot more work. On his redraft of the plans, he made little progress on the shrink ray, but the cloaking device seemed like it would work. Now that the plans were complete for the cloaking device, Malice could concentrate entirely on the shrink ray and his determination was rewarded. On paper, Malice had just created a shrink ray. "I knew I was brilliant, but I'm surprising even myself today."

But the problem with paper is that it often lies, and makes things seem much easier than they actually are. The wiring for the devices proved to be insanely difficult. After scratching his head for a few moments on how exactly to go about doing it, Malice thought of a new way to approach the problem and his ingenuity paid huge dividends. Still high on his previous success, Malice continued work on the devices but got careless at the very end suffering a demoralizing setback. Genius is a fickle thing. lamented Malice. After shaking out his hands for a few moments to regain his composure, Malice set to work again and completed the devices without further hiccup. "Am I awesome, or am I awesome?"

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PART 5

And that is when Malice's arrogance came back to bite him in the backside. The last part to this exam was none other than Argo the Ultimate Android. "Uhhh huh. Yeah. That's cool... crap." Malice stared at the monitors long and hard. He watched every move. He studied every advance, and every set back. He got a point where he really felt he knew Argo inside and out, and it was at that point that Malice exclaimed "I GOT IT!!!"

Malice went to work right away, grabbing several blank sheets of drafting paper, tape and a metal rod. In just a few moments Malice's work was completed. Truly, this was the greatest white flag that had ever been made.

After waving his latest creation around for a few minutes, Malice calmed down and set it down on the table, with a bit of a laugh to himself. Malice looked over the 9 devices he had made (he's counting the flag, it could come in handy) with great pride, but there was something nagging at the back of his head. Malice realized what it was with a start, and jumped a clear 10 ft away from the table. "There is no way I made all of those inventions, and did the other 3 tests in less than 3 hours. It is not possible! Who is doing this!?" Malice shouted at the walls now entirely fed up with the games that were being played here, and of the power one of the players assuredly had.

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"Phase Four: Complete,", the computer's voice cheerfully intoned, heedless of Eric's concern. "Calculating re-re-re..."

"Warning! Perimeter Breach! Multiple incoming targets! Prepare fo-"

Part of the ceiling ahead of Eric exploded inward, while a section of wall on his right and one on his left burst inward. Through these breaches poured several metahumans, most of whom he recognized. Some members of the Freedom League and the Next Gen were there, as were several of the newer crop of superheroes like Arrowhawk, Dark Star, Divine, Emissary, Geckoman, Nightrival, Quark, Red Star, Scarab, Tarantula, and Velocity, and several others he didn't recognize at all.

"You're coming with us, Malice," Captain Thunder's voice boomed. "First wave, go!"

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Prelude

And that is when Malice's mind exploded.

"How did they find this place?"

"Why are all of them here?"

"What the heck did I do to deserve this?"

"@#$$& - &%%$#!!"

" :shock: :o :shock:"

"Who was behind all of this?"

"Where is the nearest exit?"

and thousands of other questions all demanded to be answered simultaneously in his head. And for once in his life, Eric Micheals had no answers. Not a single one. Unable to think of a single possible action to take, Malice stood frozen for a moment, contemplating his impending doom.

There was nothing for it. He had to run away. He had to leave, he had to flee. He took a half step and turned to run away. He had to remain free. That is when Malice froze again. This was it. This is what all these years of training and suffering had been for. Hadn't he made this suit to combat these tyrants? Hadn't he dedicated his life to helping the common man? Would he turn his back now simply because he knew now that he was in the right? For what other force than the common fear of what Malice represents could bring them all here to do battle this day?

Would Malice turn and run? No. If he ran now, he would be turning his back on Freedom City, his friends, the nation, his mother, his father and everything he had ever believed in.

Now with his resolve strengthened, Malice planted his foot and turned to look at his closing adversaries. As his rocket booster ignited Malice bellowed "FOR FREEDOM!!!" at the top of his lungs, heedlessly hurling himself into the fray. The storm of his mind had quieted, there was only one thought in his mind right now Be the one standing on top of the pile.

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PART 1

As Malice closed with the first wave, he unleashed a salvo of missiles at his assailants, putting about half of them out of commission, far less than he would have hoped. The remnants of the first wave assaulted him on a combined front. He recognized only 2 of the survivors of the first wave, Red Star and Arrowhawk. Red Star got there first and delivered a straight punch to Malice's chest, but the armor absorbed the entire impact. In retaliation, Malice struck Red Star in the face with an open palm, ejecting a grenade right down his throat. Not even waiting for the *BOOM* Malice rounded to to face his next adversary.

It was one of those electrical controller types, he tried shocking Malice with an electrical pulse meant to stun it was a poor choice. He was dead before the shells even hit the ground.

But before he could even think of a next course of action, Malice was almost overtaken by a sense of vertigo for the smallest of moments. The blue eyes of a budding mentalist were full of guilt as Malice turned to face his assailant. Malice rewarded him by forcefully removing the guilt from his skull, and hurling his body at another of the heroes.

No sooner did some of the blood start dripping off of the suit, than Malice had to dodge a net shot by Arrowhawk. As his last act of retaliation, Malice blasted him with a concentrated dose of gamma radiation. The odds got a little more even.

Malice didn't take the time to brag or gloat, there were still a lot more bodies to be thrown at him. All he did was fire randomly at anything that looked like it might potentially move someday. There were so many of them he was bound to hit something.

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PART 2

There was simply no end to them. For every grenade thrown, every rocket fired and every clip unloaded, there were another 5 or 6 heroes waiting to smash Malice's face in. That wouldn't be so bad if they weren't so good at that particular task.

As Malice unleashed a flamethrower spray over the crowd, a spider-looking thing had snuck around Malice, crawling along the walls and took the opprotunity to spit some nasty junk at Malice, who was overcome by the noxious smell. Doubled up and hacking his lungs out, Velocity whizzed past Malice, and grabbed one of his arms, while she ran circles around him, spinning Malice like a top. It didn't exactly have the desired effect. Malice was able to maintain his sense of balance, but the high speed spinning had thrown the noxious chemicals off of Malice as well as bringing in some fresh air into Malice's lungs. Malice took the opprotunity to turn the tables on Velocity, grabbing her arm, and using her own momentum to hurl her through the air right at the spider thing.

Velocity was still in mid air when a piercing scream reverberated throughout Malice's skull. Malice was brought to his knees by the unnatural wailing. His mind was on fire, which is far more painful than it sounds. As Malice did his best to throw off the effect, the pain just intensified. In short order, Malice was at the mercy of this psychic scream.

With all the screaming going on in his head, Malice couldn't even see who or what threw an energy net at him let alone avoid it. More and more bonds were being thrown at Malice who could do nothing against their ensnarement. Even as the reptilian part of Malice mind screamed at him that he needs to get out of here it was far too late for even that to work.

But the heroes weren't done yet, Divine took the opprotunity to sock Malice right in the face with a right cross. As Malice staggered back from that blow, Nightrival took the opprotunity to leap over Divine's shoulders, and deliver a devestating drop kick to Malice's sterum, knocking Malice clean off his feet. Struggling to get to his feet, Malice is laid low from a blast from behind, he never even saw it coming.

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"On your feet, Eric!," Micheals heard, though he could not tell if it was just in his mind or an actual voice. The voice was familiar, but he could not exactly place it.

And suddenly he was back on his feet, seemingly refreshed, though still quite scuffed.

And still surrounded by superhumans.

"Third wave, go!"

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PART 3

Apparently, Eric Micheals' mind was made of explodium based on how many times his mind was blown today alone. Whoever was behind this apparently hadn't had enough of watching Malice getting beaten like a red headed stepchild. I'm going to have nightmares about this day, I swear to god. This must be what having high speed regeneration is like, when you're on fire.He desperately wanted to know who exactly was behind of all this, but the 20 something superheroes in the room left little room for thoughts beyond "KILL" "DUCK" and "OW".

To that end, it was time to fulfill the first one for a bit of revenge. Malice used a downed I-beam as if it was a bow staff to break about 14 bones between 3 supers before he had to chuck the beam at a long distance flyer because the beam had essentially become a boomerang. After throwing the boomerang, he unleashed a powerful sonic pulse nearly omni directionally, which was made a little more devastating because of all the shrapnel and debris around. Taking to the air, Malice used the elevation to his advantage and carved a line through their ranks with his brand spanking new chest laser. And then, well, things weren't so fun anymore.

Emissary barreled his way through the air, and delivered a devestating sledgehammer of a punch that knocked Malice all the way down to the ground, and his body bounced back up rather than leave a crater. Emissary then took the opprotunity to smash Malice into the opposing wall. One giant shoulder slam into the wall and Malice couldn't stand again.

Barely aware of his own steadily slowing heartbeat, Malice slumped down the wall, collapsing in a heap. But he wasn't done yet. Once Malice showed the bearest sign of life, a vile gas began pouring over him corroding his lungs. If he wasn't coughing up blood before, he sure was now. There was simply too much gas that was pouring through all the holes in Malice's armor. At least that's what he thought until a large piece of rubble fell on him, and landed with enough force to expel all the gas from Malice's lungs.

As Malice lay there, contemplating where the heck his legs were, he became aware of a round metal ball next to his head. He had enough time to mutter a defeated "Sonuva-" before being blown clear off his... well stomach at this point. Malice didn't even have time for his ears to stop ringing before a wall of fire washed over him. Althought his body was on the verge of death, his mind wanted him to know that he really shouldn't be here and that there wasn't anything he could do about it.

The now charred Malice then began to hallucinate; the surrounding landscape turned into a bunch of ravenous mouths "This won't end well." It in fact, did not end well. Hundreds of thousands of hungry mouths began nawing a Malice's body. And not only did it not end well it just didn't end until there was nothing left of Malice.

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"I said, ON! YOUR! FEET!," Micheals heard, again in the familiar but not-yet-identified voice.

And, again, he was back on his feet, refreshed but scuffed.

And still surrounded by superhumans.

"He's almost beat! Fourth wave, end this!"

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PART 4

If there was a God, he either had no sympathy for Malice or was taking a 5-er. As Malice was groggily brought back from what he was sure was the complete and utter destruction of his mind, body and soul - again - he thought about how earlier today he had just intended to do a trial run of the system. Maybe an hour long session, just enough to work up a decent sweat. But as it seems, Fate can deal you cards when you don't even know you're playing.

But as it stood right now, Malice was scarred, desperate and horribly alone. He didn't want to die here, not again, not ever. In a final desperate bid for survival, Malice emptied literally every last one of his ammo reserves into the room. Missles, rockets, bullets, grenades, fuel cells, saw blades, everything. But when the smoke finally cleared, Malice saw that there were still some standing. To be precise, the Freedom League was still between him and his way out.

Exhausted both physically and mentally, Malice dropped to his knees, defeated No... I've failed... Oh god. I've failed. But the League wouldn't let Malice wallow in his self pity. Daedalus dropped down in front of Malice and blasted him with a ray of sorts that created agony beyond imagining. It felt as if his innards were expanding fit to burst, and his very skin was constricting over his body. No matter how hard he tried he couldn't overcome the effect. Even as his most basic of animal urges to survive kicked in it was hopeless.

As Malice lay there, writing in agony, Captain Thunder saw fit to end this himself, with a viscious haymaker that could slay even gods, Malice didn't stand a chance even giving it his all.

Before Malice could black out, his mind was assaulted by a powerful force. Malice strained with all his might to stop the invasion, and almost did but almost didn't count. And utterly spent, Malice collapsed into a defeated heap.

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"Eric? Eric, wake up," Malice heard. The voice was the same he'd heard during the onslaught, though softer this time. And now that it was softer, and not a yell, he could place it: it was the voice of his mother!

Still very wary -- was this some mentalist trick? some form of emotional torture? -- Eric opened his eyes, and immediately noticed three things. One, he was in his bunker, but it was wholly undamaged, with no sign at all of any attack. Two, he was alone, or at least didn't see anyone in the immediate area. Three, he was looking with his own eyes, not via the suit's HUD. Eric immediately checked himself, and found he was indeed wearing his armor and helmet; the faceplate was up.

"Ah, good, you are up," his mother's voice said. "I must say, I am impressed: it's rare to see such spirit, such determination. It even made up for your little 'invention' for countering Argo."

Movement from the corner of his eye drew Eric's attention: a figure was approaching from the shadows. The figure's outline did not match Eric's mother's; in fact, it looked more like a long-haired man in a lab coat.

"And you actually made a Shrink Ray!," the figure said with a bit of a laugh. "You just don't see things like that nowadays. Shame, that."

The figure stepped into the light, and whatever unexploded bits of Eric Micheals' brain remained went off. It looked almost exactly like Eric's father, the face, the build, the posture, the clothes... except for the lab coat, the softly glowing circuitry-lined belt, and the long golden-blonde hair... and the voice that was a dead match for Eric's mother.

"Ah, where are my manners?" The intruder bowed a bit, "I am called Legend."

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