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Raveled

Weight of a Legacy (IC)

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The Freedom City branch of Eastern Seaboard Bank was an imposing building on Wading Way, virtually identical to any other Classicaly-fronted bank except for the mock lighthouse built onto one corner. At the moment of course, it was also notable for the number of police cruisers pulled up around the building, forming a perimeter and keeping out a gathering crowd of civilians. Smoke was leaking out the front doors and armored SWAT officers had assault rifles trained on the windows, but they seemed reluctant to move in. It was fortunate, then, that an eight foot Amazon with a long white cape set down on the pavement.

An older looking officer with a Kevlar vest over his suit waved Fulcrum over to a van. "Glad to see you made it," he said, craning his neck up at her. "Guy wearing leathers and riding a flying motorcycle smashed through the top floor of the bank about half an hour ago. Started blasting around with a shotgun and demanded to see you. Frankly, we're surprised he's stayed this quie--"

The peace of the street was shattered with several loud, resounding gunshots, coming in time with the glass in the double doors shattering to pieces and being blown out into the street. Deep dents appeared in the police cruisers parked just outside, and one officer was knocked off his feet. A loud voice called out from inside the bank, "I got that fly! You guys can stop worrying!"

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Mona knelt down in the shadow of the van and listened to the officer's briefing. Her normally stoic demeanor furrowed into full-on worry at the narrative. She asked, or began to at least, when the gunshots went off. She reflexively hoped up into a defensive posture, but just stood there dumbfounded at the, well, biker's apparent reason for blasting up a car.

As the officers attended to the their downed man, Fulcrum nodded and crouched again, her tone terse, "Did he make any demands? Hostages? Any other weapons?" Something about that shotgun sounded like it was not anywhere near a normal small arm. Which meant trouble beyond the norm, even for her. Thinking a moment, she added, "Does he have any insignias or tattoos? Swastikas? White Power or Hammerskin emblems?"

Once she had her answers, the giantess wasted no time in marching slowly toward the front doors. No flight. No superspeed. Just walked with her hands her side. Pushing open the now windowless double doors, she addressed the shadowed interior of the bank.

"I'm here."

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The interior of the bank was a wide open space, with columns around the edges of the lobby and desks between the columns. The biggest and heaviest desk had been pulled out into the middle of the lobby and a large, pale-skinned humanoid in biker leathers sat at ease behind it, a smoking shotgun held in one hand. With his free hand he lifted his sunglasses onto his head and looked Fulcrum up and down. Without warning he swung the weapon around and discharged it straight into the heroine's wide, muscled chest, watching the slug bounce off and clatter onto the ground. "Nice, honey. I'm Hombre, and if you want some free advice? Just sit back and let the Wolfpack do it's thang."

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Fulcrum knew she could dodge the slug, but she wanted to know exactly what he was firing. Turned out nothing unusual, which was kind of a relief. Even as he pulled the trigger, she drifted off into time and watched the metal slug slowly deform against the logo on her costume. The first of her time she spent parsing out the place, looking for hostages and others alike.

"Thanks for the advice, but was this trip really necessary? Please come along quietly." she replied calmly. Reaching out with her newest ability, to sense and process normally undetectable cosmic processes, allowed her to also examine the room and the man, Hombre, for signs of the Wolfpack. Regardless of the situation, she knew where this was going and decided to take the bait.

Crossing her arms, she asked, "Who is the Wolfpack and what will they be doing?" Oh, she had a pretty good idea what they would be doing.

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"Somethin' kinda like this!" The biker leapt over the table, discarding the shotgun and rushing at the heroine, one fist held high. She prepared to simply side-step the blow, when she found herself pressing against invisible hands that forced her back into the biker's path! The heroine didn't have time to formulate another plan, as the biker's huge fist slammed into her chest. "By the way. I'm Hombre."

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Hombre's huge fist hit an immovable object, aka Fulcrum. She looked down at his fist, surprise registering on her face. No, no, not the sudden attack. No, she was surprised by the sudden sensation of invisible barriers blocking her movement. In fact the feelings weren't much like telekinetic, or force barriers, but actual hands. Whether that truly was the case or not, she didn't have time to consider before moving on to other matters.

She doubted this confrontation could be resolved peacefully, but given the threat level presented by Hombre alone, giving peace the old college try wasn't the worst idea in the world. Looking up to him skeptically, she cleared her throat and said earnestly, "Fulcrum. Pleasure to meet you, if the circumstances were better. Please don't escalate this confrontation. What do you want?"

Just to hedge her bets, the greater swell of her bilious Terminus energy soaked into her muscles, preparing them for a major throw down. Overly optimistic or not, best to be prepared!

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Hombre smiled, showing a mouthful of crooked teeth. "I want to see how well you take a punch, of course!" Giving a hearty guffaw, he raised his fists high and brought them down on the heroine in a hammerblow. The invisible hands kept her from retreating so she reacted with instinct, bringing her crossed bracers up to catch and deflect the blow. It didn't work out quite as intended, as the heroine was driven to one knee. More worrisome, she felt the armor crack and weaken.

Liminal energy flooded Fulcrum's supercharged frame, spilling out in a wave and causing the long cape to ripple and snap. Hombre took a step back, but he didn't seem too worried. In fact, he was grinning wider than ever. "Nice light show," he said. "I've been better, though."

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Damn.

"Warning! Pri...primary absorption crystals damaged," chirped a nasally synthetic voice.

Please don't shut down. Please don't shut down...

"Elevated levels of Terminus radiation detected. Advise immediate containment procedures."

Damn!

What started out as a simple bank robbery, or hell, even a super-powered gang with an axe to grind, just turned into her worst nightmare. She'd long ago come to accept, even embrace, her rather caustic power source, but she didn't want it plastered all over the 11 o'clock news! Never minding that, the collateral damage to the officers outside could be horrible!

Quickly, her mind raced over the possibilities and facts. Once the initial panic past, she remembered her briefing with Viktor. Shutting down the dampers would momentarily result in a burst of radiation, but unless she exerted herself, the emanation rate would fall within in a minute or two. Check. That helped. She also knew the effective range of this radiation burst was limited compared to her normal output. Which meant the officers would be okay unless the fight went outside.

Which put things in perspective. She didn't believe Wolfpack or Hombre would go any more quietly if another hero or team came in to replace her. If anything they'd probably become more violent since they apparently targeted her specifically. Which left her in the unenviable position of being between a rock and a hard place.

As she stood up, she made up her mind, popped her neck and went with her gut. Which meant punching Hombre in the face. Hopefully going on the offensive would keep them from processing what exactly the dampers just said.

"Sorry," she quipped before taking a swing that would have taken off Hombre right off his feet, if it had connected. "to disappoint."

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Hombre easily side-stepped Fulcrum's, not penned in like the superheroine was. "Baby, I gotta say this is all sorts of disappointing." He quickly closed the distance with her and jabbed low, aiming his blow at her floating ribs and connecting with a crack. He backed off then and sauntered back to the desk he'd been relaxing behind. "Frankly, I was told this was gonna be all sorts of rough and tumble. Heck, Chamalia said I might even break a sweat!" He laughed at that. "At this rate, I'm not even gonna be breathing hard."

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The punch landed home all right. At least two ribs snapped as her chest caved. She grimaced before righting herself and snorting at Hombre. Wasn't even the punch, or the ribs, or even the insults that bothered her. She was no one's "Baby". Well, maybe Viktor's, as far as pet names went. She did, however, make a note of the name "Chamalia", and in the implications that she or he may be the leader.

"Okay, okay...," she said in mock exasperation. Holding up her right hand, she snapped two fingers together. A roar like rushing water erupted from her fingertips, carried on a shimmering shock wave that fanned out into a concussive cone big enough to engulf the far wall of the bank. Which meant it easily swept across Hombre! Loose furniture and fixtures blasted across the room!

Fulcrum then tensed her body, hoping to unbalance the force holding her, and deliberately pressed against her attackers in an attempt to walk forward.

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The heroine's super-powered snap tossed the unsuspecting Hombre through the air and into the back wall of the bank, cracking the stone edifice there and dropping the pale biker to the polished floor. He didn't seem to be moving, and Fulcrum strode forward unimpeded. At least, until she heard a sharp voice to her right swear and shout out, "Spectra! Multiplex! Hunger! Plan B, hit her!"

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"Radiation levels increasing," quietly intoned the artificial voice.

The flare of energy around Fulcrum crackled after the release of the shock wave, and her cape flapped vigorously. As she proceeded forward, her head jerked to the side toward the leader's voice. No doubt that must be Chamalia. Quickly power surged through her and fine-tuned her metahuman abilities. No way she was going to stay blind here!

Mid-stride she lifted off and ascended to just below the ceiling and corner of the room. Looking down on the floor of the bank, her senses nearly froze the scene in time, and she carefully searched the area for signs of Wolfpack. If they didn't show up now, then they'd likely show up in a second. She wasn't finished yet.

A massive inhalation of air proceeded an equally tremendous gale. This wind came with a surprise: an arctic blast of cold! Everything beneath crackled with frost and larger crystals of ice encased everything solid! Within a mere second, the temperature plummeted to subzero for anyone unlucky enough to be caught in the cone of cold! Sparkling sleet drifted in the air as the wind dissipated.

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The metahuman supplied cyclone tore through the bank, blowing papers off desks and creating a second blizzard as frost crawled across the walls and floors. As the temperature plummeted some answers finally became clear to Fulcrum; four snowmen marked the spot where she'd been pummeled by Hombre, and another was halfway between there and the biker's prone form. Once the heroine emptied her lungs, everything was quiet. Then the heroine heard the amplified click of a megaphone and the voice of the police officer who'd briefed her outside. "Fulcrum? How's it coming in there?"

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"All clear! They're in custody!" boomed Fulcrum, counting the villains. Sighing, she yelled, "We have six instead of one! Better call in some top-shelf containment like STAR Squad. A least one has invisibility, another super strength." Her relationship with STAR Squad was a rocky as any local hero's, and a little ego stroking went a long way.

Finally she had a moment to check the read outs on her dampers. Half a dozen red warning lights blinked menacingly, and judging from her aura, she needed to leave right now.

Damn.

The bank received one last sweep before she zipped around the place at hyper-speeds. After assurances that the villains were okay, frozen in place but not literally frozen, Fulcrum called to the police again while staring at the snowman heading towards Hombre. "I have to go! I'll be back as soon as I can, but this bunch should be frozen for quite a while!"

She hated to leave out of the blue like that. Doing that was a recipe for villain escapes. Protecting people from her emissions took top priority now. If they escaped, they'd be captured sooner or later and could only do so much damage. She'd read too much about what happened to people exposed to Terminus radiation. With another deep breath, she put another layer of ice on the Wolfpack.

Then, quite reluctantly, she zoomed out of the bank at top speed and banked for Hanover. If her calculations were correct, she could activate her old back up dampers and be back at the bank in under a minute.

Assuming they'd power up. Assuming her new 'aura' wasn't all over the tv cameras. Assuming...aw, forget it.

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