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Date: June 17th, 2011 (Friday), later afternoon/early evening

Continued from ArchEvil: Terrible Bosses and News.

In one of the darker corners of the historic waterfront of North Bay lay a spooky old house, complete with a graveyard off to the side: the home of Jack and Taylor Faretti. In the middle of the seldom-used street which ran by it, a pinpoint of blue-grey light appeared, which exploded into a great sphere. Out of this strode a grim figure in black and blood red armor, followed closely by six figures of equally dark, though very familiar, mien (one notably taller than the others).

"Come along, Auffängers!," ArchEvil commanded. "This Doktor has a housecall to make!"

No! No! No!

You?! What are you still doing here?

ArchEvil stopped mid-step. "Auffängers," he said between gritted teeth, "secure the perimeter... and find the witch, the vampire, and their abomination of a child!"

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Colt followed very closely behind his new master. He'd never before known the wondrous release of pure obedience. He found he quite enjoyed it. Even as his master spoke, Colt was loading his rifle full of special bullets that he knew to be effective against the undead.

ArchEvil stopped mid-step. "Auffängers," he said between gritted teeth, "secure the perimeter... and find the witch, the vampire, and their abomination of a child!"

"Well, I reckon the ain't gon' be s'hard." Colt said, afixing a scope to the top of his rifle. He didn't even bother moving from his location. He simply peered through the scope on his rifle, and panned around in a circle. He gazed through walls and ceilings. He saw even through to the outsides of the house. Even the basement and the upper floors didn't escape his search.

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Fulcrum scrutinized the house blandly as Piscine!Viktor issued his orders. At his sudden change in demeanor, she slowly turned to scrutinize him. Eyes hidden between the unnatural red glow, they still bore in as if dissembling him in her mind. Loyal as she was now, the action had a predatory feel to it. The statue stillness continued for an uncomfortable moment.

Finally, she vanished in a blur. The front door shattered inward. Walls, doors, furniture: anything that impeded her movement met a similar fate as she sped through the house. From the top to the bottom, she relentless hunted her quarry. A wind whipped through the trees as she reappeared beside Piscine!Dok.

Brushing her fingers along his jawline, she answered, "No one, my love. They left quickly."

And love him she did. She loved him with all of her being, but then again, she'd felt the same before the mind control. This brand of undying love though knew no ethics, no mercy, no sense of conscience. This kind of love felt no restraint for her power save for the will of her love and master. The sense of love that would watch him for weakness, and a loyalty so absolute as to favor his annihilation over subversion.

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Like Fulcrum, Dynamo also set off searching the house, though he was quite a bit more subtle about it, he was a professional after all. There was no need to cause undue harm afterall, as this place could have a purpose in the new world, if their savior so decreed. His aim was to discover where they were, but where they might have gone if they were in a rush and left some clues behind. It was doubtful given their skill sets, but that was no excuse for not doing one's job. Casting a more critical eye on his surroundings, Dynamo was able to uncover more than a few secrets about the construction of this place. He jotted them all down on a note pad and handed them to Herr Doctor. "My report." he said, knowing that Herr Doktor's reading speed exceeded his listening speed.

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"Huh." Jack of all Blades sauntered about the first floor of the residence, not making any great effort to search for the home's owners. After all, there were members of the team far better suited for the task; one didn't use a finely balanced weapon to sift through animal droppings when following a trail. "So this is where they moved to. Cozy. Y'know, I once told Faretti we'd never come after his kid? He's gonna be tiiiiicked. Well," the fencer chuckled largely to himself, "more than usual. Angry guy. Doesn't even like--"

"Waffles," his sister supplied in an annoyed tone, taking a seat on the arm of the living room couch and examining her nails idly. "You've mentioned. Bored," Jill O'Cure sighed, swinging her feet back and forth. "They obviously knew we were coming."

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ImpGrim flitted about the abandoned house, her leathery black wings flapping as she swooped about; finally she settled on the mantlepiece and sighed a tiny sigh.

"No Jackvenger; I was so looking to repay him for his lovely birthday gift, too..."

A glass jar appeared on the shelf next to her, a small bloated object floating within the murky fluid; she playfully tapped the glass a few times and watched it loll about. Already bored with her game, she dangled a slender little leg over the edge.

"So, do we have anyway to follow them? Taylor could have taken them to another dimension in a heartbeat; after all, it's no big deal when she does it..."

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With one hand on Fulcrum's hip and the other holding Dynamo's notepad, ArchEvil glanced over the speedster's notes, his inhuman mind rapidly absorbing the info. "It would seem," he said, still through gritted teeth, "they left in a hurry. Someone must have tipped them off. Probably the mind-witch..."

Stop this!

'Stop this'? Or what? I am in command now, of this body and of your precious surrogate family!

But... but you need not do this! Have I not indulged you often enough, all those times I let you slip out?

Pfaugh! You thought to release me in pieces, as a controlled burn, but I am as unto an inferno, and I shall consume this world and all in it!

"Auffängers, assemble!," ArchEvil barked. "This prize may have escaped, but there are others. Scarab will be coordinating the efforts against us," he released Fulcrum, flipped open a panel on his left gauntlet and began inputting commands, "but I know where her little dung mound is. We-"

The six heroes felt a second tingle that night as the nanites altering their brains shut down, and were swiftly broken down by their own bodies natural immune system responses.

"No... what is-" he murmured to himself, then suddenly shouted "Auffängers, frei macht arbeit!" With those three words, the conditioning was broken.

No! This is not possible!

You are not the only one who can slip out!

They were themselves again -- the shutdown even undid the changes ArchEvil's nanites had done to their costumes, restoring their appearance as their minds were restored -- and they remembered everything.

I am done with your meddling morality!

Too bad, because I am here to *

I am Archeville. My will be done.

ArchEvil looked up at the Interceptors, baring his teeth as his helmet's faceplate slammed down.

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Rapidly, the color returned to Colt's face. Even as the color bled back into his coat making it brown instead of black he became himself once again. He dropped his rifle into his left hand and held it at his side. In one motion, he threw the cigar in his mouth to the floor with his right hand, and brought his pistol to bear aimed at Archeville, "Pah!"

"Auffängers m'foot," He stomped audibly on the cigar, snuffing it out. "Y'all should know, Doc. Reckon marriage're no, I am," He paused, and turned his head side to side, seeing his teammates arrayed behind him, all recovering from similar mind control, "'N'a always will be,..."

"An Interceptor!"

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Dynamo shook his head violently as he came out from under the control Archeville had placed them under. His eyes narrowed as he looked at the man he had thought to be his idol. "Dok, I don't know what the hell has gotten into you, but I know for a fact that I'm gonna beat it out of you!" he shouted before charging Archeville. Truth be told, he really didn't want to fight him. But the simple fact of the matter is that this was quite possibly the one scenario he didn't plan for, and if they gave him time to come up with a plan, they would be very, very screwed in short order. Unsure of this new Archeville's abilities, Dynamo played it conservatively, hoping to probe his defenses and more importantly, keep him on the defensive. He'd have apologize to Avenger and Phantom later for wrecking their place as he unleashed several uncharacteristically acrobatic high speed maneuvers as he launched dozens of punches and kicks at Archeville.

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Awareness returned to PixieGrim like a cold splash of water that doused her whole body; her tiny frame shook, and her bat wings fell away like flakes of ash, revealing her normal gossamer wings beneath. Her head was light and her vision blury, that is until she saw the grotesque object in the jar next to her.

"No!"

With an anguished grunt, she kicked the jar off the mantelpiece with both feet, and it shattered into vapor upon the hearth. The shapeshifter could smell the repulsive fish creature outside, and she desired to rip her way through to the back of his head. In a flash, she was airborne, flying faster than she ever had as she made a beeline for that hideous face, claws as sharp as diamonds at the ready.

"RRAAAAAAHHH!"

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The man they had once called friend snorted derisively as Dynamo and Grim pummeled him, to seemingly no effect. Colt's rapid fire seemed to do better, making him double over and stagger back - but he quickly recovered, standing tall and silently taunting him!

My vengeance shall be as lightning!

"Dolts!," he sneered, "this insolence shall not go unpunished, from you or my spineless counterpart!"

"I know everything there is to know about you! Your vulnerabilities!," the gauntlets shifted and shimmered into a spiked variety, and were now coated in black iron, which he used to swat the pixie-sized Grimalkin, then grabbed the tiny faerie like a ragdoll!

"Your weaknesses!," he pulled aback and tossed Grim at Colt, colliding the recently married couple into each other!

"Your reaction times!," in a flash the jets along his back and boots carried him to Dynamo, and his spiked iron fist into the speedster's face!

"You cannot hope to defeat me, so why do you oppose me? All I wish is to prune the weeds so the orchids may flourish!"

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As the battle swirled around her, Fulcrum stood there stupefied. The Interceptors could understandably wonder if she was still under the mind control, if not for her costume and coloration draining to normal. She felt victimized, horrified, humiliated, violated. Most of all she felt betrayed. A wound far worse than anything this evil Viktor could do to her physically. She didn't feel hate or anger, just a profound sense of loss and resignation.

Hearing her sweet, sweet Viktor's voice again, filled with such rage, brought her back to reality. She turned to look at him with the same neutral expression she wore just moments earlier. That tone, that poisonous personality, she knew all to well. The Other had returned, but if Its control had been broken prematurely, then some part of the good man she knew still existed down deep inside him. So much had been lost, but so much remained if she moved quickly. Her friends, her love, the whole world needed her now. Even if doing so meant striking her beloved.

Fulcrum knew this being's one greatest weakness. Pure ego dominated the Other, and supreme arrogance colored his every plan and contingency. He was prepared, yes, but never for this scenario. He relied on his technical mastery for his power, but he was still a man.

Fulcrum's jaw set. In one great stride she towered over him and raised a massive fist to strike down this armored foe.

"I will save you, Viktor," she said, her voice filled with sadness.

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Crouching slightly to support his own weight, Jack ran the back of one hand across his mouth for a silent moment before looking up and snarling to Fulcrum, "Then you'd better work fast." Without further preamble, he launched forward in a blur of royal blue, a spike of white hot flame appearing in his fist too quickly for those without accelerated senses to watch it materialize from the sparks flying from the black armor of his target.

The violent construct pierced those protective layers with a sickening sound of tearing and steaming metal. "We trusted you and you killed them!" Beneath his bandanna mask, the young man's face was contorted with rage as the fiery spike shifted into a curved slashing blade tinged at the edges with propane blue. If the mind control had stripped the swashbuckler of his affected joviality, this now was the embracing of a purpose forged over centuries of generations, a living weapon without peer. Slashes rained across Archeville's chest, peeling away armor and battering the body within.

The furious assault only paused when a second blade, this one a translucent blue construct crackling with bioelectric power and massive in scale, crashed into the corrupted scientist, briefly knocking him back and out of the fencer's reach. Toward the back of the chaotic melee, Jill's hands buzzed with light and energy as she manifested a force field claymore the size of lamppost and brought it crashing down like a sledgehammer. The medic's face was tight with determination and arrested emotion, but she said nothing as the glowing blade lifted into the air for another attack.

Shifting on the balls of his feet to coil his lithe frame for a renewed offensive, a cold, humourless smile touched her brother's lips. "'You know?' Cabrón, you don't know Jack."

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As the assaults rained down upon the Viktor Archeville, Fulcrum took a deep breath amid the crackles of energy and the lightning quick motions of her friends. All she needed was one, solid hit. Enough to rattle the man inside the machine. Break his concentration sufficiently and his plan would unravel before his eyes!

A decisive blow capable of shattering impervium Was it a killing blow? No, not even a crippling blow. Over the roars of battle echoed the dull thump, and she felt Viktor crumple under the force of the impact. This battle was over.

In that moment Mona realized she was his benefactor, his guardian. He had so much to answer, and for better or worse, he was alone now and vulnerable. As a heroine, she knew the right thing to do. Her head snapped toward the Interceptors and she met each of their gazes without shame.

"That's enough! It's done," she spoke with clear and absolute conviction.

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The flashing blades of the Espadas did more than just rend several plates from the armor of Archeville, more than disrupt systems of both the suit and the monstrous pilot. As sparks flew from the flurry of gashes, the armor shimmered and shifted, turning from red-and-black to a disturbingly familiar blue-and-gold suit: that of the French hero Chevalier! Was this yet another of Archeville's lies? If so, what more was there?

Those answers would come later, as Fulcrum's Terminus-charged punch landed square in his chest, knocking the villain flat on his back and out cold!

NOOO! This is not hooww iiittt iiisss-

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For his part, Dynamo was being quieter than usual. He had barely been able to dodge Archeville's attack, but he had picked up a few new techniques in the future, not all of which Archeville had time to witness. But that just made Dynamo confused. As far as he knew, this didn't happen. How could history have missed something as shattering as Doktor Archeville being some sort of primordial monster? No there had to be some sort of answer. There had to be. Unless his going to the future and coming back had somehow changed things. Maybe by entering that gravity well he had somehow shifted his relationship with the temporal anomaly. Maybe he was only supposed to be in the future for a short time, but it changed that, and because it changed him, he changed the past when he got back, which therefore changed the future. But the future he visited wasn't changed because it was operating on the assumption that he didn't stay in the future long, and Dynamo hadn't gone back to his initial present at the present time in the present-future, creating some sort of anti-prophecy, where events that are supposed to happen don't. And worse yet this could be a symptom of the time stream unravelling. That would explain how supposedly ancient creatures from the dawn of time made it to present day. But if that was the case then that mean that Dynamo was responsible for all of this. He had to change history some how, or unchange it. How was he supposed to do that? He knew of only one man that had a time machine, and that wasn't exactly an option given the current circumstances.

As the train of logic, panic and wild theory ran through Dynamo's head, there was only one constant: I have no idea what the $@#% is going on.

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As the evil Doctor Archeville charged into their midst, time seemed to slow down for Colt. The next thing he knew, his wife was being attacked, then being pitched at him!

Colt set his jaw and dropped the guns he was holding. Colt caught the pixie sized Grimalkin straight in the chest. He cupped his hand around her and the spot she'd impacted like a wide receiver catching a football, holding on to her tightly. Colt staggered back a foot or so grunting against the impact, but managed to swing her around his center of gravity while maintaining his hold on her. He'd prevented her from flying through the wall behind, and all he could do was hold on while Fulcrum finished the fight.

Noticing that the combined trauma of the gauntleted assault as well as having to plow into his own comparatively over-sized form had knocked his wife unconscious, Colt pressed his index finger against the side of her neck and felt her faint pixie pulse. Colt breathed a sigh of relief then moved forward and scooped up his guns and strode over to Archeville's fallen form all while cradling Grimalkin's unconscious form in his hand.

"Reckon I don't mean no disrespect, Mona. But whatever's goin' on here ain't 'zactly'a fifth-grade-readin'-level plot. Yer th'closest't him. Y'all know't's goin' on't'all?"

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Fulcrum sighed and turned to stare at the mad scientist's prone form.

When Colt approached, she turned back, "Yeah, yeah...maybe. You okay?" she asked him softly before addressing the others, "Everyone okay?"

Which of course was a rhetorical question. They'd just lost three members of their team, their family. Damn good people. The sting hurt her just as much, if not more, than it hurt the others. A glimmer of hope fought against reason that the three Interceptors had survived the implosion. The chances of Herr Doktor Archeville being that sloppy, however, seemed dismally small given his intellect. But right now he was gone, and the Interceptors deserved answers. Time to focus.

Fulcrum took a deep breath, "All I can tell you is the little I know and suspect. Dr. Archeville...Viktor...has mental health problems. Runs in his family. Every generation is a little bit smarter and a little bit more unstable. His illness manifested as a sort of split personality: a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde scenario. Ever notice that occasionally he'd tense up at something we'd say? That would be the two halves of his personality fighting for control," she began. Kneeling down next to him, she removed his helmet, or attempted to do so, and checked his pulse. She continued, "The good part of him we all love fought the other half, the evil ego, with every tool at his disposal. His reputation as a playboy and womanizer? 'Controlled release' of the Other's darker urges."

Her heart broke with every word, and her face looked ashamed at betraying his deepest secret. But the die was already cast, the evil side won out, and his friends needed this information to properly help him. Summoning all of her courage, she continued, "After I started dating him, the Other seemed to vanish. Even The Scarab couldn't find it hiding inside his mind. Apparently, it was fair more clever than we imagined. The blackouts, the odd experiments, that horrible portal incident...it all makes sense in hindsight."

"I don't know where this..fishy...appearance plays into this situation. But I know, I know, the Other is involved. That speech he made at the space station...is exactly the sort of thing I heard when he confronted me. It won, but something of the good man is still left in there or else we'd still be mind controlled." At her latter words, she cast her gaze up to each of the Interceptors.

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The Interceptors heard a rapid-fire series of explosions outside, as someone was carpet-bombing the entire city. Each explosion was closer than the one before it...

...No. Not explosions. Thunderclaps.

A gust of hurricane-force winds blew open what was left of the front doors leading into the foyer. They clattered against the interior walls for all of two seconds before the chill wind tore them off their hinges and raised goosebumps on the flesh of everyone gathered upon the Faretti's lawn.

"ARRRCHEVILLE!!!"

Thrude, The Daugher of Storms, rode across the Freedom City skyline upon a translucent horse-shaped cloud with lightning for eyes. She held her ludicrously huge battle axe high in front of her as she charged down to the ground in the blink of an eye. The cloud collapsed out from under her, evaporating into formless mist and depositing her directly in front of Fulcrum.

Standing before the Persian giant, resplendent in a nimbus of crackling electricity, Thrude glared into Fulcrum's face with her one good eye. "Stand aside, Jotunblut, so that I might send this traitor screaming into Hel's waiting grasp where he belongs!"

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Throughout Fulcrum's explanation, Jack's expression remained dark, his features and the violently flashing arc of fire in his hand betraying a barely contained urge to finish the fight with far more finality. "Fine," he snapped finally, "he can go to therapy in a body cast. Get out of the damn way."

"Erik..." his sister called quietly, staring down at her feet with one arm wrapped across her own stomach while the other remained lit with bioelectric energies. The young woman seemed to be keeping her composure through sheer force of will, but the momentary pause in the fighting has cost Jill a considerable amount of momentum.

"No!" the elder sibling snapped back without turning around. "I don't care what his damage is, he blew up our home with our friends inside!" The snarling edge to his voice robbed it of its usual melodic ease while he gesture angrily with his free hand. "Turned Vince into a suicide bomber! Thrude and Gecks were only there because he brought them in! And Willow..."

And that, perhaps, was the crux of his rage. Archeville hadn't been responsible for the dryad's presence in the Wreck Room. She hated being underground, in the metal rooms without any plants... Even with adrenaline pounding in his ears, he knew that was his fault, that he would have to live with--

The fencer was interrupted from turning his destructive fury inward as he realized that the pounding was coming from without a moment before the goddess of wind and lightning made her entrance. "Thrude!" he shouted over the noise of her storm. "You're-- The others! Are they alright?"

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Wrath arrived seconds after the Daughter of Storms, as Willow stepped out from a nearby tree.

The side of her face was decorated with dried blood and a deep purple bruise, her long white hair was nearly grey from the dust of the destroyed Brownstone, and her amber eyes were narrowed with anger. She charged across the lawn, and the tree that had so recently served as a transport conduit followed, violently ripping free from the ground and warping around the ancient guardian.

Her stride caused the ground to reverberate; her passing churned the earth at her armored feet and she surveyed the scene before her. "You do quick work, Aesir," she said, her voice cold as she noted the Abomination laying prostrate, huge rents in his armor. "But 'ware, his corrupted disciples remain standing. They must be purged."

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Right, so the smartest man on the planet has a permanent residence in crazy town, fan-friggen-tastic. he thought as Mona related her tale of Doktor Archeville's Other side. He was pacing back and forth, trying to figure out what to do. Given that the Interceptors breaking free from the mind control was simultaneous after Doktor Archeville uttered some more German and judging from the reaction to them breaking free, it would appear as if the Other wasn't the only one in Dok's head right now. Perhaps their relationship had swapped? Good Dok as the minor role and Bad Dok was the star. Their goal had to be getting Archeville out of the armor and searched for any gadgets; fish like appearance aside, the Other was likely not a threat without the armor. But that also had the drawback that Archeville was less protected from the team's baser impulses. And not to sound like a jerk, but Dynamo realized he was most likely the one closest to approaching the situation rationally. He had interacted least with the new Interceptors, and he didn't have a significant other on the dead or severely injured list. That's not to say he didn't want to see what happened when you kicked a scientist in the nuts at 500 mph, but he was resisting the urge right now.

And then came the thunder, and Dynamo's heart soared. Ok, now how to explain this? "Right, you're alive. That's great, don't get me wrong, but we've got a problem, that needs dealing with now. Archeville's has been possessed. He hasn't been in control of his actions. We need to get him out of his armor before he wakes up, and hit him if he wakes up before that, but keep his head on his shoulders; our Dok's in their somewhere."

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Thrude screamed and ranted, constantly turning back and forth between each of the assembled heroes and the prone form of Viktor Archeville.

"He is not 'possessed!' He is Evil! The latest scion in a family of butchers and tyrants! He played us all for fools! Yet still, you make excuses for him! Either his foul sorcery still binds your will, or you're just too ashamed to admit when you've been had!"

"He showed me, damn his eyes! He sat me in front of his books and his paintings and he made sure that I saw! Millions upon millions, slaughtered like cattle! A whole generation of young men, dead! Their corpses, littering every field, hill, and ditch across Europa! Women and children, robbed and beaten and violated and murdered by the thousands! Guardsmen and peasants alike, tortured just to see how long it would take them to die! And all in my name! My family's name, now forever bound up with his own! He made my father help, and he made me watch!"

"The people will never believe that I wasn't a part of this! Not unless I personally cleave his head from his shoulders and parade it through the streets!"

The Daughter of Storms thrust her fist into the air, stabbing her enormous battle axe into the sky. A pillar of azure lightning flashed down from the sky, cascading like a waterfall down upon Doktor Archeville.

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"Willow!" Jack shouted as the dryad appeared, the fiery blade in his hand evaporating into the air charged with static even as branch and root wrapped around the slender woman. "Wait, we-- gah!" His words were cut short as lightning poured from the sky toward the unconscious Archeville. The fencer ducked reflexively even as Fulcrum surged to meet the assault, shielding the intended target. "Sonova... Everybody! Stand. The Hell. Down!" The bellow managed to cut through the din of the storm, the wind whipping his greatcoat furiously.

"Thrude, park your you-damned daddy issues for five freaking minutes, alright?!" Pausing for a beat, Jack tiled his head briefly to one side apologetically. "Sorry. That... was pretty mean. Not actually evil anymore, just... tense." He aimed the latter assertion in Willow's direction, his weaponless hands held outward from his sides. "Look, the Dok's down for the count already, and if there's a chance he is being controlled -- like Thor was -- we have to give him a chance, whether we like it or not." The metamagi's mouth twisted in a grimace, but he continued. "And yeah, people are probably going to talk smack no matter what we do at this point. So what's it gonna be, ladies? You want to look good, or you want to be good?"

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The fencer was interrupted from turning his destructive fury inward as he realized that the pounding was coming from without a moment before the goddess of wind and lightning made her entrance. "Thrude!" he shouted over the noise of her storm. "You're-- The others! Are they alright?"

The sound of Jet engines roared to a stop outside the building. Willow appeared, and a moment later, Ferros strode through the front door as Geckoman shut down the pitchoo.

A good many faces turned his direction, "Yea, Jack, They're alright, ya know? Geckoman's outside right now. I'll keep the introductions short. I'm Ferros, Dok recruited me last week. I was supposed to show today and see if the rest of the team was cool with it. But when I was a block away, the Brownstone exploded. Thrude, Willow, and Geckoman are lucky I was nearby, I lifted the entire wreckage of the house off them."

The implacable steel mask on Ferros face shifted. It created an eyebrow above the right eye that was ever present, and in short order, the eyebrow raised itself. "Hey, now, I don't know what's going on, and I'm new so this may not even be my place." Ferros turned and leaned up against the door frame, "But I'm here to help, ya know?"

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