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Gizmo

Giant Dragon Bees! [IC]

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The swashbuckling hero known as Jack of all Blades rarely patrolled too far outside of the West End, but with the slow expansion of what he viewed as his personal protectorate, he found himself swinging through the more developed parts of Freedom City with increasing regularity. The brilliant blue summer skies had drawn him toward Liberty Park and its surrounding condominiums. Flipping through the air as he released his grapple line from one building and launched it immediately to the next, his acrobatics took him over the heads of the citizens below, royal blue greatcoat flapping behind him, and a fierce grin of sheer athletic joy fastened to his face.

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It was not a good day to be out patrolling, Erin decided as she leapt off a building and into the outskirts of Liberty Park. It was August-hot and humid despite the pretty sky, and her ears were still buzzing annoyingly after the recent auditory assault on them. Still, it was good experience, and it was better than spending one more minute with her calculus book. Since it was daytime and there were people around, she kept to the treetops, bouncing across the tops of the trees as she kept an eye out for muggers and purse-snatchers.

As she traveled the park, she noticed that the buzzing in her ears actually seemed to be getting louder. It wasn't just in her ears after all. That was weird. Checking her bat, she headed in the direction the noise seemed to be coming from.

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Somersaulting through the air several storeys from the ground, Jack landed nimbly atop a flagpole and cocked his head to one side. There was a distinct thrum all around him, and it seemed to be getting steadily louder. The hum could have been the sound of rapid wingbeats, but there was a higher pitched element to it as well. Trying to discern where the noise was coming from, the swashbuckler grappled up and over the room of the building next to him, coming down in a crouch on the rooftop a moment later. Standing, he blinked is surprise.

Rising up from behind the towering condominiums were a trio of bees, each easily the size of a tanker truck. Massive wings, vibrating so quickly they were nearly invisible, carried the behemoths through the skies and toward the park, while bystanders on the street below began to look up and scream.

"...huh," Jack commented to himself before sprinting forward and readying his line once more.

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Wander gaped for a moment as she studied the bees, bees the size of tanker trucks, bees whose stings could impale a regular human. This was not good. She leapt to the nearest roof to study the approaching menace, pulling out and opening her bat as she went. She was trying to decide the best way to tackle giant bees when a soft paft noise on the roof behind her alerted her to the fact that she was not alone. She turned to see Jack of All Blades just landing from his grapple line, and resisted the urge to wince. She generally appreciated any backup in a fight, but the last thing she needed was a dismissive adult with a bad attitude. Fulcrum said he wasn't all bad, but she wasn't really interested in listening to a standup routine right now. She watched him, wondering what he was going to do.

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Jack pulled up short from his rolling sprint as he spotted Wander on the rooftop ahead of him. "Hey, Slugger! Nice. Was just thinking this was a 'super-strength' kinda job." The athletic young man, rubbed the back of his head as he looked over at the massive, advancing insects. "Nertz, I hate fighting fliers," he muttered before turning back to teenager. Opening and closing his mouth once as he reconsidered his next words, Jack sighed. "Look, chica, I know we kinda got off on the wrong foot that one time. It's been brought to my attention that I can come off as insensitive or whatever so, y'know, sorry about that." The swordsman seemed genuine enough, albeit unpracticed with apologies. Living with the rest of Interceptors had had a noticeable effect on his manner; not everyone, he'd come to accept, was comfortable with the way he typically expressed himself. Hopefully he could muddle through how to handle the high schooler without setting her off the way Dead Head had. "You Claremont types hold your own pretty good, though, so hows about lending a blunt instrument, huh?"

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Wander relaxed a little at his noncombative posture, and turned to deal with the matter at hand. "The park is full of people at this hour, we need to stop them before they get there and cause a panic. I need to get close up to have a chance of dealing with them." She looked at him and tried to remember what she knew of his fighting style besides "uses a sword." "Can you fight them from here, or do you want me to throw you at them when they get close enough?"

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"Throw...?" Jack raised an eyebrow in surprise at the teen's nonchalant offer. Before dismissing it out of hand, however, he glanced over at the massive bees, which grew steadily closer. "Tell you what, kid," the swordsman drawled, a fierce, predatory grin spreading across his face, "I got two words for you." Cracking his knuckles, Jack extended a hand to an antenna on the rooftop, which abruptly surged with electricity which leapt to his palm, solidifying into a cascading blade of raw energy. "Dartboard Special."

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Understanding immediately, Wander waited till he was ready, then quickly picked him up, holding him horizontally at shoulder level with one hand on his chest and one on his arm, like a big javelin. "Try to hang on once you get there," she reminded him. "I'll be right behind you, I can catch you if you fall. But it would be a lot easier if you didn't." She took a quick running start, then launched him straight at the leading bee, sure as a dart heading for the bullseye.

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"Let 'er ri~i~i~i~ahaha!" Jack shouted as Wander hurled him from the rooftop mid-sentence. Greatcoat tucked behind him, the fencer soared through the air, rapier extended rigidly before him, eyes watering behind his bandanna mask from the speed. The teenager's aim proved to be unerring, and the sword connected solidly with the closest bee, leaving Jack to reflexively twist his body as he strained to keep his grip on the exposed hilt of the semi-solid electricity. "Bet this is the first time a bug got a person stuck in it's grill, amirite?" he shouted at the skewered colossus as he twisted blade deeper.

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The massive bee Jack had punctured rolled backward in annoyance, trying to shake the swordsman loose as its six gargantuan legs awkwardly attempted to knock him aside. Only an iron grip on his electrical rapier's hilt kept his from plummeting to the ground. One of its compatriots buzzed over, taking a mighty swat at the tiny human plaguing its fellow bee. Working from a better angle, it managed to clip Jack, pummeling him with the sheer weight of its limb.

The final bee passed purposefully by the other two to focus on where Wander still stood on the nearby rooftop. Drawing back, the insect seemed to inhale before leaning forward in the air and spewing forth a torrent of bright orange flame that washed over the top several floors of the building.

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Wander was quite startled when the bee suddenly started breathing fire, but luckily the blast was dispersed enough not to do more than singe some of the blue and gold out of her uniform. She retaliated by leaping onto its massive furry back,right behind its giant antennae. With one quick motion, she reached up and snagged them both like a pair of reins, jerking on one of them to send the bee veering away from the downtown and in the direction of the bay. "They breathe fire!" she shouted to Jack. "Watch yourself!"

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"Gah, gerroff!" Jack managed as he fended off the assault of the second bee. A sudden twinge from his metamagi senses, however, caused him to turn his head just in time to see Wander bathed in brilliant flame. "Kid!" the swashbuckler bellowed, preparing to try against all hope to draw the heat away from the rooftop with his meager powers of energy manipulation. Instead, he watched as the girl leaped unscathed from the blaze and began wrestling with the gargantuan creature. "...huh. Her, I like."

Taking his cue from the high schooler, he leveraged off of the sword buried in the first bee's side and vaulted himself up onto its back. "Seriously, pal, how does something like you even come to bee?" he asked the creature rhetorically before delivering a flurry of slashes across it's fuzzy surface.

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Erin clung to the antenna of the giant bee, using them like reins as she tugged the creatures stumpy head around towards the bay. "This is how it's gonna go!" she shouted to it, not at all sure it would understand anything she was saying. "We can do this the easy way or the hard way. Easy way, you get your buddies to follow you and get out of town and find some really big flowers somewhere. Hard way, we beat you to a pulp and you spend your life in a giant zoo. What do you even want to do in the city anyway?" She looked back to see how the swashbuckler was faring, even as her bee looped away from the fight.

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The massive bee Wander perched atop made a plaintive, high pitched buzz, twitching its antennae beneath the superpowered teen's grip. Abruptly, the surprisingly nimble insect spun into a barrel roll, leveraging it's greater bulk to send Erin tumbling from it's back into the city's skyline.

Meanwhile, Jack of all Blades twisted and leaped over twelve angry legs as both the bee he was perched atop and it's peer attempted to similarly dislodge the swashbuckler, who was unpleasantly reminded of human's swatting at regular sized pests. By the barest of margins, he avoided the bludgeoning limbs.

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Well, so much for that idea, Erin thought ruefully as she tumbled through the air. She needed to stop trying to get creative and leave the fancy stuff to her teammates. All it got her was embarrassed. Straightening out her body, she landed on the railing of a fire escape and perched just long enough to eyeball a trajectory. The bee was a fast flier, but it was still well within range for now. Bending her legs and lifting her arms like a high-diver, Erin instead rocketed into the sky, bat held at the ready.

As soon as she was close enough to the bee, she smacked it once-twice across the fuzzy head, then dropped neatly back down to the nearest rooftop to reassess the fight.

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Jack caught sight of Wander's upward trajectory just as she caught her opponent across the head with a solid blow that had the bee reeling backward through the air. "You can fly?" he shouted over to her incredulously, raking his balde back and forth across his mount as he continued to dodge angry limbs, probing frantically for something resembling a weak point and cursing his lack of attentiveness in high school science. Okay, bugs. It's... spiders that aren't actually insects, right? Or am I thinking of scorpions? Well, when if doubt, stab everything... Logic notwithstanding, the plan seemed to work, and the semi-sized beast shuddered seizing up. The swordsman had only a split second to congratulate himself before the bee's wings stopped vibrating, and the pair of them began to plummet to the street below. "Aw, neeerrrtzzz...!"

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The remaining bee immediately dove through the air, executing the aerial maneuvers with astounding speed, given its bulk, and caught it's falling comrade, gently hovering back up to the remaining combatants. The pesky human with the electrical rapier was sent sprawling though the air to find his own means of arresting his fall.

Above, Wander's dance partner recovered from the head shot just enough to charge recklessly forward, attempting to slam into the teen and a considerable portion of the rooftop she was standing upon.

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Erin was still recovering her footing after her own attack, and didn't dodge quite quickly enough to avoid the massive bee slamming into it with a force far greater than any semi-truck. She tumbled across the roof, catching her arm against an old, rusty bit of metal sheeting as she went. It tore her sleeve and her skin, but by the time she picked herself up and shook herself off, the skin, at least, was already mending.

She was about to face off with the bee again when she saw her erstwhile partner tumbling through the air. Maybe he would catch himself with his grapple gun and maybe he wouldn't, but she hadn't been trained to take chances with peoples' lives. Running across the roof, she launched herself into the air once more, bulleting across the open space to wrap her arms around Jack of all Blades' waist as he fell. Her momentum carried them both across the street to yet another rooftop, Erin reflexively absorbing the landing with her legs and knees as they hit. "You okay?" she asked him.

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Jack took a moment to regain his balance as the pair landed heavily of the rooftop. "Okay, retrospect, yeah, stabbing the thing carrying you? Not a great plan." He brushed some errant bits of bumblebee fluff from his pants without a word before adding in a more serious tone, "Thanks for the save there, ki- uh, Wonder, right?" The fencer glanced over the side of the building. "Even I'd have trouble pulling off the 2-D look. Owe you one." Turning his gaze upward he watched as the massive bees regrouped. "So. Giant bees. That breath fire. That's a thing now."

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"Wander," Erin corrected absently, her attention centered on their massive foes. "Yeah, looks that way. Maybe the Beekeeper, but you'd think he'd have made some pronouncement by now. Maybe these got away or something? We need a better way to deal with them." She thought for a moment. "You seem to have a talent for, hmm, getting a rise out of people. Think you could get them to focus on you? If they're concentrating on you, I can pick you up and run with you, and we can lead them out of downtown."

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"Pick me up and...?" Jack slumped slightly, his royal blue greatcoat resting suddenly heavily on his shoulders as he sighed. "Well, dignity is overrated anyway. Let's do it up, kid. Just be ready to get us outta here." Moving to the edge of the rooftop, the swashbuckler took a deep breath and cupped his hands around his mouth. "Hey, Larry, Moe and Curl-bee! They kick you outta the hive 'cause you're so ugly, so fat, so stupid or some combination of the three? 'Cause I know I'd hate to have multifaceted eyes and have to look at that in the mirror every morning!"

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The bees, the ones who'd already taken a beating flying at a slightly canted angle, suddenly swarmed over Wander and Jack of all Blades in a near-deafening roar of gargantuan buzzing! The lead one, the one who'd given Erik the ride earlier, gave Erik an impenetrable look through faceted eyes and opened its flaming maw. And then, in a voice like a thousand synthesizers at once, the gargantuan insect spoke! "WWEEEEEE WEREEE ABBBANDONED BY THE MAZZZTER! HE ZAYZ WE ARE NO GOOD FOR HIZ ZCHEMEZ! AND NOW YOU INZULT UZ! YOU DO NOT KNOW ANYTHING! _I_ AM CURL-BEE! ZAT IZ BEATRIZ, AND ZAT IZ HENR-BEE! YOU ARE ZTUPID! WE PUNIZH YOU!"

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"Perfect!" Wander exclaimed to Jack. "Keep it up!" Grabbing him around the waist once again, rather like a giant stuffed toy, she leapt into the air, bouncing from rooftop to rooftop and heading out of downtown. With the bees close on her heels, she went east, figuring she'd rather fight over the suburbs or rural land than risk falling into the ocean with a missed jump. "Keep them following us! Say bad things about their queen or something!"

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Jack grunted at the sudden teenager-propelled acceleration as he incredulously observed the gargantuan bees in hot pursuit over Wander's shoulder. "...I'm being carried by a schoolgirl while fleeing giant, fire-breathing, talking bees. Dios. Where did it all go wrong?" he muttered to himself. Regardless, he continued to shout at the irritable insects. "Head the size of a taxi, and the best you can come up with is 'you're stupid'? Whatsamatter, I getting under your exoskeleton? Are you like giant bee nerds, can't get a date with the popular flowers?"

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"YOU ZHUT UP ABOUT THAT! YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IZ TO FIND FLOWERZ BEEG ENOUGH FOR GIANT BEEZ?!" Henr-bee waved a foreleg threateningly in Jack of All Blades' direction. Despite the bees' anger, though, and a truly fantastic speed they were setting as heroic duo and bee trio zoomed towards the edges of the city, it was obvious that Wander was just a little bit faster than they were. "WHY DON'T YOU GO INZEMINATE YOUR QUEEN AND MAKE BEEBIEZ! OH RIGHT, YOU CAN'T! YOU ZTUPID BIPEDZ! WE BEET YOU UP, THEN KNOCK OVER THINGZ TILL ZOMEONE GIVEZ UZ FLOWERZ!" A gout of flame whooshed by Jack of all Blades' head at that juncture, just missing sizzling him.

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