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They Came From Below! (IC)


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June 24th, 2011

Southside, Freedom City

Ezekiel Irons stood on the street corner, playing a cool tune on his saxophone to the passersby. His case sat in front of him, a few bills and coins having been dropped onto the red felt interior; not much, but he'd only started a couple of hours ago. And besides, he really only did this to cover patrols, anyway. Still caught some flak from the more established buskers, but eh; he could usually bribe them with a coffee or something.

He liked patrolling from streetside, actually. Daytime patrols let him see all the heroes go by, flying overhead, and he'd heard some pretty decent ones worked the South Freedom area. He was still new to the game, so making friends and finding comrades was a definite must. And hey, hero patrolling and earning spare cash playing jazz? Double score, man. He inwardly chuckled, playing a bit more of an upbeat tempo as a well-dressed fellow in a black suit dropped a ten-dollar bill into the saxophone case.

Of course, he'd only just started getting bigger bills from the passerby when the street started shaking.

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Joe was back in Southside, carrying his duffel bag and keeping his eyes open for the restaurant. He normally wouldn't cut across town just for lunch, but his mom had insisted. The time for Andy's college tour was approaching, and she wanted to make sure all the details were nailed down, and what phases Joe might be able to join them for. It had been a while since they'd been on vacation... and besides, she was paying for lunch.

Kinda wish she'd decided to come out to Greenbank, though, he thought. Not that I mind the commute. Just hope I can make it back before my hour's up.

In a prime show of cosmic irony, that was when the street started quaking. Joe quickly darted into a nearby alley and began pulling the pieces of his costume out of his duffel bag once he was sure he was alone. I don't even know why I bother to think these things anymore.

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Jay Xavier was testing a new piece of software: An iPhone app that synthesized input from a carefully-selected blend of RSS feeds and websites, to provide up-to-the-second information on wherever trouble might be brewing.

That was the theory, at least. Unfortunately, there still seemed to be a few bugs in the system, because the silly thing was indicating an earth tremor in Southside, of all places! 'Bugs in the system' was the most likely explanation, because there simply weren't any faultlines in the area, nor was there anything in particular which might serve as a target for subterranean assault...

Wait. Supervillains, as a group, were notorious for doing things that just didn't make sense to rational observers. So maybe there was a subterranean assault happening in Southside? Well, it wouldn't hurt to drop by and check it out.

And within seconds, Jubatus blurred onto the streets of Southside, zeroing in on the epicenter of the queasy little quiver his app had notified him of...

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Ezekiel calmly bundled his saxophone away in his case, picking up it and his own duffel bag as the shaking got progressively worse and people began exercising the usual Freedom City common sense; running as fast as their legs could carry them. Irons, for his part, began walking to a nearby alley, then turned right around when he noted that it was already occupied, heading to another one on the other side of the building. Cracks began to appear on different window fronts, a mailbox fell over from the vibrations, and one car with a particularly excellent suspension began to actually hop up and down. Then, just as the vibrations started, they simply...stopped.

And then a hole appeared in the middle of the street. And a large metal claw reached up out of it and seized the pavement. Followed by more metal claws. A large robot clambered out of the hole, followed by four others; the things were gunmetal gray, with red and black highlights, a swastika emblem splashed across their chests, one arm ended in a sharp claw, the other in a round cannon-shaped object. For a moment, the five Nazi robots seemed to be trying to get their bearings, looking hither and yon, before promptly bringing their cannons to bear and began firing upon the nearby storefronts and buildings, smashing cars and nearby objects with their metal claws as well!

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When the leftover Nazi hardware erupted through the asphalt, one thought crossed Jubatus' mind:

You've got to be kidding.

He squelched his disbelief -- the property damage alone indicated that this was no joke -- and rushed in towards the robots, making note of which bystanders were running in which direction as he did. Fortunately, most Freedom City residents knew better than to get involved with this sort of thing; the ones who didn't... could be a problem. Now, let's see if I can reach any vulnerable spots with my cutting torch, he thought as he retrieved the little gadget from its pocket in his Vest Of Many Things. Joints, eyes and other sensors, ammo feedlines for the cannons...

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Cannonade came sprinting out of the alley, and paused when he saw the giant robots -- but only for a second. Soon, he leaped through the air, landing on the back of a Nazi robot. Goddamnit," he yelled to no one in particular. "I am sick and tired of dealing with Nazis in this town!" He drove his fist into the back of the robot, aiming to punch through the metal and grab circuits. "Sick of zombies, sick of robots, sick of sorcerers, sick of boneheads! How many times do I have to kick you guys to the curb, before you get the goddamn message and realize this ain't your town?"

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As Cannonade yanked out something that looked vaguely important, the robot's lights and beeps fizzled; sparks flew as it raised it's arms to hit the hero on it's back. Which left it wide open to a very precise strike as an individual in a black and gold costume came roaring out of an alley, hopped on and off the top of a car, and shoved a plated boot right through the glass dome that made up it's head. Overclock let out a bark of laughter, yanking his foot out and backflipping off into a stance, reading another blow against the steel monstrosity.

"Same time the Crime League sits down and makes daisy chains with the FCPD, man!"

Unfortunately, that laughter drew the attention of the other robots, who promptly leveled their blaster arms and fired a volley at the two heroes who were obviously acting as a threat; Jubatus's examination seeming to go unnoticed over the more pressing combat. For the most part, the plasma volley flew by and struck the ground around the heroes; but one superheated blast apiece struck Cannonade and Overclock. For Cannonade's part, the blast simply splashed across his chest, melting a hole in his shirt and charring his jacket; Overclock was thrown by the plasma exploding in front of him, slamming into a car and stumbling to his feet, dazed.


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Jubatus noted the two other people who jumped into this altercation -- Big guy with Trojan helmet, check. Cannonade, he thought, based on various media reports he'd seen. Smaller guy in black suit with gold trim... no idea. Must be new. Tentatively assume he's on my side. -- in between avoiding the robots' various plasma bolts and claw-slashes. Since he'd Timeshifted his tempo up to 40 (that is, 40 times quicker than normal), he still had plenty of time to examine the murderous scrapheaps-to-be for vulnerabilities...

Got it! the feline thought. The lines traced out by the robots' power conduits were actually discernable in the far-UV wavelengths Jube was currently seeing by -- and their joints, not to mention the welded seams in the plates of their outer casing, were blatantly obvious to anyone's eyes. Downshifting to the normal tempo of 1, Jubatus called out, "Cannonade! Go for the sternum, spine, and hip-joints!", those being the parts of human anatomy that were closest to the weak points he'd deduced. Then he got back up to speed and lit up his cutting torch for a go at one of the still-intact robots...

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"Gotcha, Jubatus!" Cannonade said, driving his fist into another Nazi robot. He barely had time to take his surroundings into account; he was just trying to process everything the cheetah had told him. The life of a superhero, he thought to himself as he grasped around for a servo or something to rip out. As he did, he finally looked down and saw the hole burned clean through his shirt, pretty much destroying the cannon sigil. One of these days I am going to get this costume the morphic treatment. Should make it easy to carry, too.

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