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Leave Only Wreckage, Take Only... (IC)

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April 1st, 2012

10:34 AM

Hunter Museum of Natural History, Freedom City

Liz Moya walked through the halls of the Hunter Museum of Natural History, notebook in hand. Langston Albright, the previous holder of the mystic Light that empowered her, was always pushing her to get out and see the world, to learn more about the planet she was living on and to get involved with more than school and superbattles. Liz frankly didn't see the point -- she had never lived in a single place as long as she had on Earth, it was true, but she had never considered settling here. There was just so much of the world to see, after all, that staying in one place her whole life struck her as foolish.

But her schoolwork did require her to do a little research that she couldn't do at the university library or online, so she found herself here. The towering tyrannosaurus at the entrance had raised her eyebrows, but she soon gravitated to the Egypt exhibit. It was extensive, showing off sarcophagi and murals, and even a recreation of the Sphinx and the Great Pyramids in all their glory. The young woman -- or rather, the alien walking around in the guise of a young woman -- examined the exhibits closely. She felt some odd connection to the austere simplicity of the monuments, something she couldn't explain but left her feeling... at peace.

Of course, in Freedom City moments of peace never lasted long.

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Jennifer Owens had just finished signing the paperwork after delivering the handful of archeological artifacts her father, his team, and she had unearthed. Admittedly she had been on the expedition primarily in case the experimental ground penetrating radar system she'd helped create broke down.

The Bolivian government had agreed to the offer of allowing the American-lead team to excavate and be the first country to display any artifacts before they went on a multinational tour with a final destination at the Bolivian National Museum of Archeology.

Her duties done, and her ride taking her father back to the lab, the young woman thought thought she'd take a stroll through the displays to pass the time. Passing a scale model of the Sphinx and the Great Pyramids she stopped and marveled at the detail that had been put into their construction. Looking up she noticed the other woman about a foot to her left. She smiled before moving to the next display featuring recreations of the obelisks of Luxor.

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Things weren't going so well for Baxter Bowles, mild-mannered teenager and attendee of FDR High. He'd been struggling through his classes, though more so now than ever with the advent of his latest hobby having begun to take its toll on his already slipping grades. But this latest thing - this 'second chance' his Ms. Reynolds had preached to him - would be the difference between failing his history class and thus doomed to repeat his current curriculum all over again, or be the deciding modicum that would push Baxter on to the next set of scholastic challenges. Both options were unappealing to the young man now poised in the heart of the Hunter Museum of Natural History, but if one were to choose the lesser of two evils, Baxter was all about getting it done, over with, and never spoken of again.

So here he was, having been given a week to write out an essay on the history of the Cenozoic period, staring down a large fossilized... something; history never was Baxter's keenest interest, and he didn't even know what he was looking at. A whole week, and only now on the day before the deadline did the young student even begin his research. It wasn't that he hadn't tried, merely that things kept cropping up. First, it was his driver's test. Then it was that meet-and-greet with his cousin Danielle. Saturday wasn't any better, when Baxter had decided to go masquerading in the dead of night as some sort of bee-themed lunatic in order to punch an armed goon in the gut during a break-in at Rocket Records. Suffice it to say that the budding hero had a lot on his plate as of late, no thanks in part due to this particular assignment.

The only thing keeping Baxter here, a sour look in his eyes and a bored expression etched upon his face, was the fact that if he failed - and, as it was looking, was becoming increasingly more obvious - he would have to repeat his Sophomore year. Also, there'd be an earful from his parents on that subject; and right now, Baxter couldn't afford another parent/teacher conference... not without questions being raised as to why he'd been gone for lengthy periods of time in the middle of class. Reaching into his backpack for his pencil and notepad as he stared at the fossilized human footprint, the boy's fingers caressed the familiar metal casing of another something in his pack; a something that, as far as he was concerned, had changed his life for the better despite all the bad reputation associated with it. It brought him a sense of confidence, in a way, reassuring him that anything was possible. And so, Baxter did what he'd come to do in the first place that fine Sunday afternoon: scratch out notes for a paper he should have had done a week ago.

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Liz looked up and noticed a few other people in the exhibit. A large, gaunt man in a hooded sweatshirt was going from display to display, studying the pieces intently and reading the accompanying plaques several times. Another woman in a large, frumpy sweater and large glasses was making the rounds with a clipboard, probably a museum employee. And a young black woman in casual clothes, who seemed genuinely interested in the displays. The pair of them arrived at one of the centerpieces of the exhibit, a scale model replica of the ancient city of Luxor, with tiny scale-model figures moving through the streets. There was a detachment of soldiers in armor and sporting spears, a religious procession carrying a falcon-headed idol through the temple district, and a marketplace with brightly colored awnings. "It's interesting," Liz said after a moment, "that we think of the ancient city as being a sterile, dead place. When there was of course so much life there."

Baxter Bowles slowly became aware of the young man standing next to him. He was tall and thin, with dusky skin and sharp features, and was dressed in a windbreaker and track pants. He read the plaque aloud, his tone suggesting the whole thing was a joke. "The Cenozonic period was following a time of increased global temperatures, as the planetary cycle swung back towards an ice age. It is known for a great proliferation of vertebrate and mammalian life." He glanced at Baxter and raised an eyebrow. "Bad timing on their part, huhn?"

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Jen looked up as the other woman spoke, "Indeed. Museums the world over are filled with relics and artifacts detailing so much of the lives of these people. Too bad most models of the ancient places don't have this much life put into them."

The young African-American woman looked a bit further down the line of displays, each nearly as detailed as the two next to them, before turning her attention back to the stranger, "I haven't done much work in Egypt but my father's been there a few dozen times helping restore or excavate various ruins."

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Baxter, having been engrossed in an amalgam of boredom and chicken-scratching within his notepad, was more than a bit grateful someone had meandered on over to his neck of the museum. The man was certainly a sore thumb by comparison to the teen in the grey Soul Stampede shirt and jeans, his height alone causing him to serve as a painted target as Baxter turned and looked upwards to meet his gaze.

"Yeah. Guess that's irony for you," the young man replied, unsure how to take the joke even as he feigned a smile out of some necessity to seem polite. It was plain on his face he didn't want to be here, but such was his life, now forced to lie in the bed he'd made himself. All of this historical significance - significant though it might be - was nonetheless boring the kid to tears. Jotting down a few more notes with his pencil, Baxter looked down at what he'd had thus far. For half an hour he'd been putting about in the museum, and all he had to show for it were three halfhearted sentences: current era, lots of mammals, ice age. This was shaping up terribly, and even as he glanced downwards at the insignificant amount of information he'd collect, Baxter couldn't help but sigh at his own predicament. He needed to focus; the last thing he wanted to do was repeat his Sophomore year over something so trivial as a single paper. But as soon as it was done, he felt confident he could make it through the rest of the year, tolerating those last few weeks with some grain of courage in that he wouldn't be a repeat.

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Liz frowned. "It was an amazing culture," she said, "but it was founded on evil roots. Those little figures down there carrying the palanquins -- they weren't paid to do that. They were slaves." It was an odd sensation that the alien-turned-human was feeling. On the one hand, she was the champion of liberty, of personal freedom. Slavery, especially an empire build on slavery, went against literally everything she existed for. On the other hand she felt an inexplicable attraction to the aesthetics of the era, at the very least. It was a odd situation for her to find herself in, and she fell silent as she pondered the apparent disconnect.

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Baxter's new friend stayed quiet for a minute, watching the young man write in his notebook. "You don't seem to be very enthusiastic to be here," he observed. He turned and leaned against the display, studying Baxter openly. "I'm not sure why you would bother to stay here, if you're not having fun." He grinned suddenly, teeth very white against his dusky complexion. "I suppose not very many people truly enjoy a museum, but usually when people are being held against their will their jailer is at least there with them."

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Jennifer nodded, "I won't disagree with you there. I've seen records recovered from the construction of a couple different pyramids, including how many slaves died from being overworked or in accidents. It wasn't pleasant reading frankly but it shed some light into how the monuments were built."

Looking over the tiny model of the city she nodded, "Admittedly, we can never find much on the day to day lives of the average citizen, mostly because such relics don't have nearly as much effort placed into their preservation by the Egyptians and partially because early Egyptologists started their excavations with dynamite." This last comment carried more than a bit of disgust in her voice.

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With a sigh, Baxter's hand found its way winding through his hair, face contorted into an appearance of seeming defeat. Lips furled inward, the scholastically unenthusiastic young man turned back towards his newly procured friend, again feeling insignificant in the wake of the figure's statuesque grandeur.

"Yeah. Guess you could say I'm sort of on parole or whatever," the youngest of the Bowles groaned, the irony in the analogy not lost on him. Staring at the fossilized footprint, the secret adventurer could only muster a blank, uninterested glance towards the ancient artifact in front of him. "I've got this history paper due, and if I bomb again it'll mean I'll need to repeat the entire grade. Not exactly having a blast here, but I guess that's what I get."

Shuffling a bit in place, Baxter gain tugged on his notebook with a slight grimace, returning to the mostly blank contents therein. Sure, he'd brought it on himself what with skipping classes, out saving lives in lieu of studying for the impending finale that was his semester at FDR High. How all those Young Freedom guys did it was a mystery to the young hero, their secrets all but alien to the teen struggling to balance his dual identities. Practice makes perfect, though Baxter definitely picked a bad time to do so! Once more, his hand finds its way to his temple, Baxter rubbing his skull gingerly as the stress begins to sink in.

"Now I've got till' tomorrow to get this thing all written up, and I'm still at square one! Geez."

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Liz raised an eyebrow. "Dynamite? I can't believe that. Why would people wishing to study the past start by blowing it to pieces? It seems that they would be the ones who wo--" Her observation was cut off when the large man in the hoodie pushed between the two girls, almost bowling Liz over. He didn't speak to them, and instead stared at the diorama. His face was slack and distant, like he was listening to a voice that only he could here. Liz, meanwhile, had barely caught herself on the edge of the table and was setting her feet, glaring at the man. She raised a hand to get his attention when he suddenly reached into the display and picked up the figure of a golden idol being paraded through town, a gilded man-figure with a falcon's head. "Idiots," he said to no one. "Sitting around a fire and thinking that meant that the darkness didn't exist." He crushed the model in his fist and dropped it, moving on to the next display.

Liz narrowed her eyes at the man. "Someone needs to teach that man a lesson in manners," she said quietly.

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Baxter's new friend put his head to the side and gave the youth an odd look. "If you don't want to do it," he asked, "then why are you? Trust me, no matter what other people say, only you can make yourself do something." He moved suddenly, jumping up on top of the plaque and balancing there. "Why, look at me. I didn't like my family, so I ran away when I was... well, not much older than you! And after that, I never listened to anyone who I didn't want to again." He jumped off and over Baxter, landing heavily behind the young man. He turned and bowed with the air of a performer. "So then, why are you really here?"

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As the odd man tumbled and leapt his way over Baxter, the incognito adventurer couldn't help but go wide-eyed at the entire spectacle. It was certainly a strange occurrence, watching the grown adult bound off of the small placard beside the priceless relics with all the concern typically found in that of a child. There was an odd air about him; his flourish of a bow an obvious moniker denoting his status as a showboat nonpareil, his skills well-practiced and sharp. Arching an eyebrow in skepticism, the dark-skinned youth couldn't help but feel a bit off-put by the sudden acrobatic display, the dusky man's nonchalant nature and equally alien question only furthering to segment the two apart in terms of acceptability. Simply put, this guy was being very, very weird, and Baxter was beginning to get creeped out!

"Right," hummed the teen, inflection of disbelief rife on his voice. It wasn't quite a mocking tone, but one of questionable disbelief, the young man's arms folding inwards on themselves as he continued to peer at the man now opposite the display. He'd half expected a security guard to come sauntering around the corner any moment now to reprimand the fellow for his antics, but in lieu of such, the struggling student mustered out his response, "I know why I'm here. I'm just here to get some source material, man. Sooner I get it done, the sooner I don't have to worry about it."

From beyond the enigmatic figure before him, something caught the boy's eye for a moment. There, standing by another display obscured by the gathered trio, were two women and a hooded man. Of them, one of the ladies seemed particularly upset. He might not have noticed it at all if the oddball next to him hadn't caused him to whirl around, but even still the sight beyond him felt very peculiar. It wasn't until he sauntered on to the next display after dropping something along the way that Baxter's interest had truly been piqued. What was he doing, and why did that woman seem so perturbed by his presence? This day was quickly devolving into something strange, and a pit had begun to fill the kid's stomach.

"So, what about you? Just here to check out the museum, or what?" Baxter roiled on, keeping an eye on the fellow further along the tiled path, only occasionally mustering a glance towards the out-of-place performer as he surveyed the curious situation abroad.

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Jennifer had to make a quick effort of will, altering her personal gravity field to keep from falling as she was shoved. She watched the man reach into the open topped glass display case, crushing the figurine. Putting a hand on her companion's shoulder before she could step any closer, "Yes, somebody should. There's bound to be a security guard around here somewhere. Please do me a favor and get one and bring them back here? I'll keep an eye on him, make sure he doesn't get a chance to run off."

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Liz checked her movement at the other girl's comment. She wasn't Starlight, not at the moment, so it made sense to look for the appointed security before trying to handle a situation herself. It just wasn't how she was used to handling things. Still, she gave a quick nod and stepped away, glancing around for anyone in a museum uniform. She spotted a pair of men in grey slacks and white shirts bearing heavy flashlights and zeroing in on the area, so she raised her hand to get their attention. "Excuse me, but there is a man over here who --"

"Yes, miss, we noticed." The guards marched past her, only to plant themselves before Baxter's companion! "We're going to have to ask you to leave, sir. This is a museum, not a gymnasium."

The brightly dressed man turned and smiled at the guards. "It could be a gymnasium. You have plenty of room. Put down some pads, put up some balance bars... you'd get a lot more interested visitors, you know!"

The guard who was doing all the talking -- his coworker was apparently fine with crossing his arms and looking mean -- sniffed sharply and grabbed the man's arm. "Okay, let's get going."

There was a blur, the sound of bone snapping, and suddenly both men fell down with bloody noses. The smiling man shook blood off the fingers of one hand and turned back to Baxter. "Well, now that those annoying bores are dealt with, where were we?"

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As the pair of flashlight toting men arrived on the scene, there came a small measure of reprieve from the struggling scholar. Their stern demeanor and confidence brought with it a chance for a peaceful resolution, and the sooner that happened the sooner Baxter could get back to what he was doing... or, well, as soon as he got rid of his newest attache', at any rate. But that hope for closure quickly shuffled its way into confusion as the guards made their way towards him. Unsurprising in hindsight, really, as Baxter furled his lips inwards. The man had been bouncing off of the walls near the displays; he'd just thought that if nothing else that the other man going around harassing the ladies would have taken precedence.

The chance for him to say something never came though as the unthinkable transpired. For a moment, Baxter was caught in an awkward position, unsure of what exactly had just happened. It was so quick, Baxter himself unprepared for the sharp response the bizarre man had just doled out, that it took a second for his brain to process the shocking revelation of the act. But as the guards slumped to the ground, their faces wracked in vivid pain and a trail of blood pouring from their nostrils, Baxter realized what had happened, and he too took on a look of horrific surprise.

"What did you do?!" shouted the boy, motioning both hands towards the downed museum security officers, eyes wide in horror. That familiar pit in Baxter's stomach suddenly felt all-encompassing, as if the very weight of the world had taken up residence there. His heart pounded in his chest like a machine gun, adrenaline rising as he moved beside the injured men the cocky acrobat had just laid low. He was fast; faster than Baxter could have believed, the blows having been all but unseen in that small fraction of time. Kneeling beside the injured officers, the latest in the Bowles line couldn't help but feel a twinge of uselessness. This guy - whomever he was - was way out of the Hunter Museum Security's league, if the swift takedown was any indicator. But even worse, without the Bee-Keeper Armor, Baxter was almost certain he was in the same boat.

"No, no, no, no! This can't be happening!" He needed a distraction; something to draw the man away so he could get somewhere more secluded. Calling for more help seemed like a bad idea to the boy, and even if he did it would likely end up that not only would those guards get their lights knocked out, but so would he! Baxter was in quite the pickle now; he'd never really considered the chance he'd be caught unable to assume his secret identity, and he couldn't just give that away in front of the girls over yonder and the now less-seemingly dangerous man beside them. Instinct told him to run, but something kept him planted there beside the injured men. Even as he looked down at them, a worried look on his face, he knew there was more at stake here now than just a bloody nose or two. The women could be in danger, and even the weirdo with them, but there wasn't much he could do about that now except keep the acrobatic assaulter's attention focused on himself... at least until the girls could get away.

"What's your problem, man! You just... are you crazy or somethin'?!" Baxter yelled, his face a mix of anger and disgust.

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Liz was surprised at the speed of the attack, but it wasn't anything she had seen before. She just needed to adapt to the idea that such things were common enough on this planet to walk around wearing awful clothes. She moved away from the emerging tableau as more security officers hurried over, looking for a secluded spot to transform so she could unleash the Light of Pharos.

The acrobat, in turn, frowned at Baxter. "What? I was giving them perfectly good advice and they moved to attack me!" He sniffed, indignant. "I thought you would understand. This place bores both of us to tears, I was simply trying to introduce some excitement into this dreary, dreadful place."

Whatever was happening the rude man in the hoodie ignored it, too focused on the objects on display. He stopped before a glassed-in case, putting his hand against the front of it. The item on display was a canopic jar, a ceramic vase used to hold the deceased's mortal remains -- at least the bits that the ancient Egyptians thought were important, and therefore scooped out of the cadaver to put in jars. This particular jar was squat and wide, and depicted a coiling snake climbing the side. The snake's open mouth formed the lid, and its forked tongue was a handle. The lid seemed fastened down with gold straps, which had gone dull with age but still seemed as sound as ever.

The man hunched in on himself and began whispering, though as far as Jen could see there was no one else around to hear him. "Is this the one? You said it was a snake, and this is the only canopic jar here... okay, okay. Just wait a little bit for Sirocco to draw off the guards."

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"You were trying to what?!" The acrobat wasn't just some loon with a mean streak; he was completely nuts! Just the explanation alone filled Baxter with a tangible rage, teeth grit in frustration and disbelief, eyes narrowed in disdain at the nonchalant psychotic. "You just... you hurt them because you were bored?! How can you just be okay with that?!!"

Looking down again at the bloodied officers, Baxter couldn't help but feel a twinge of guilt. Not in that it was his fault he was in this predicament, but rather, in the fact that he was currently at the mercy of his 'new friend.' It was a perilous predicament, and Baxter was powerless to really do anything. This guy - whoever he was - was way beyond his scope. He just had to wait for the right time to make his move. Soon enough, more guards were on the scene, their bulky flashlights and matching attire almost a welcome beacon of hope. Almost. The angry, unsettling pit in the boy's stomach was still ever present; what if they fell prey to the astoundingly nimble man? Baxter had seen first hand how aptly he'd dispatched the last two, and given that the guy appeared to have a few screws loose, there was no telling which way this would go.

Baxter wasn't going to take that chance.

"Thank god!" announced the dark-skinned teenager a bit bitterly, glancing towards the on-coming guards. "Watch out! This guy's crazy!"

And now Baxter played the waiting game. Hopefully, the guards would be able to put this whacko in his place. If they weren't able to though, someone else would have to take charge of the situation. There was no telling why this man was doing this; he'd given no rhyme or reason other than trite boredom. But whatever the reason - whatever sick motivation he had - he was hurting innocent people. Baxter might not have been able to do anything about that, but the Bee-Keeper sure could!

Waiting for his opportunity, the young student took the first chance he got to make a run for it; bolting across the museum's tiled floors in search of a nice secluded spot. It was time to suit up and take charge of this fiasco.

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Jen watched the security guards get taken down in seconds, a feeling of dread forming in her gut. Looking around she spotted a janitor's closet down the hall. Moving quickly she tried to keep to the side and out of immediate notice as she moved at a pace she normally reserved for escaping collapsing tombs or malfunctioning weapons systems.

She skidded to a stop before the closet, a gray metal door with black stenciled lettering on a white stripe proclaiming 'Employees Only'. Checking the door, she found it locked. With a sigh she reached into her pocket, looking for something to jimmy the lock.

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Liz didn't need to run far, with all the security moving in the opposite direction to surround the fast fighter. She scooted around a desk and dropped to one knee, putting her out of sight of the rest of the room. Then she concentrated and shifted, and Starlight stood up. The alien heroine took to the air and sped forward, shedding light ahead of her.

The security guards had surrounded the dusky-skinned man in a loose circle by the time Starlight arrived. She drew up short and hung in the air, radiating power. "Surrender, miscreant," she commanded, "or else face the justice of the Light of Logos!"

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Seizing his opportunity as the guards rallied against the clearly insane man back near the exhibit, Baxter made as quick a bee-line as he could muster towards the bathroom away from the scene. This was his one and only shot to do so amidst the confusion without giving up his biggest secret, and time was of the essence; doubly so with the injured guards and young women he'd left behind. Even as Baxter peeled against the nightly-polished floor of the museum, he couldn't help but feel wracked with guilt that he'd just left them there to fend for themselves. The fact alone that the strange gymnastic fellow had so handily dispatched the pair of guards trying to escort him away left a bitter pit in his stomach; a staunch remnant of fear plaguing his every step as he absconded towards the men's room, mind ablaze with the possibilities that might be unfolding in the meager seconds he'd taken to dart away.

It doesn't take him long to find the push-door leading into the well-maintained lavatory, its porcelain craftsmanship and bold stalls a beacon of privacy amidst a turbulent and delicate situation. Silently but with palpable haste, Baxter scoured the last bastion of solitude, peeking under every stall as he made his way inwards, stopping as soon as he reached the first unoccupied throne wherein he could do his business.

"Okay, gotta hurry, gotta hurry," the teenager mumbled to himself in flustered rapidity, plopping the backpack to the ground with a discernibly metallic thud. With a suspiciously familiar amount of aplomb, Baxter dove into the bowels of his tacky red-and-green pack, pulling out a smaller, heavier backpack from within; its paint a visible combination of black-and-yellow horizontal stripes with an odd looking honeycomb engraved on the back. The weight was still uncomfortable, and yet it felt right; like an iron gauntlet tailor-made for some brave knight. Unlike such an archaic relic, however, this particular model had a little more spunk to it.

Pressing both the release switches alongside the stern straps crossing his shoulders, the insectile suit hummed to life with the buzzing of a billion beating wings; like the sound of a small engine revving itself to life. Slowly but surely, the sturdy exoskeleton unfolded itself piece by piece, clasping and sealing itself around the dark-skinned aspirant with pinpoint precision; each joint and plate of armor clinking and clanking into place like a Swiss timepiece. It's only a moment before the eerily unflinching helm encompassed what was once Baxter's face, his visage now replaced by an antennae-sporting apian design. The whir of the tiny bee-bots buzzing about within the confines of the battlesuit was a comforting cacophony for the boy, the glow of the helmet's digital display lighting up green across the board as a particularly fat-and-sassy looking digital bee gave a thumbs-up; signifying the distribution of power throughout the bulk of the otherwise cumbersome armory of technological doo-dads.

All he'd wanted to do was brush up for his report; gather some much needed information to ensure his success in his scholastic endeavors and save himself from repeating the tenth grade. That was the plan: study and get it over with. But this? This was something else. Now here he was in the Hunter Museum of Natural History, armored up because some yokel wanted to start trouble. Strangely, Baxter seemed okay with this. There was something about putting on the suit - his costume, if he could even call it that - that filled him with a sense of purpose; that made him feel as though he were more than just some average teenager. It was, perhaps, an addiction; but whatever it was, he liked it.

For now, his homework would have to wait. As of now, Baxter Bowles had duly checked-out. Now there was only the Bee-Keeper, the Sting of Justice! Lives were at stake, and it was time to step up and put in some hours as a hero. The Bee-Keeper could only hope he wasn't too late for round two and more innocents wound up face-first on the floor.

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If Starlight noticed the young man slipping away in the confusion, she didn't react. Instead she raised her hands to ceiling, feeding her unique power into the air and shaping two large hands made of solid, golden light. She moved her hands and the constructs reacted appropriately, moving down to the ground floor and slamming together at, well, light speed. Sirocco, for all his speed, was unable to move in time and found himself neatly trapped, struggling in vain against the constructs. "Your crime ends here," Starlight proclaimed, her lipless mouth curving into a slight smile despite herself.

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Jennifer slipped quietly into the janitor's closet after popping the lock with the strategic use of her university library card. After a quick scan of the narrow storage space, filled nearly top to bottom with cleaning supplies and tools to keep the museum running, to be sure it was empty she started pulling her suit off to reveal her recently made blue and silver costume.

After changing and setting her clothes on a clean bit of shelf in the back, moving a box of light bulbs in front of her suit, she opened the door slightly to peer out. Seeing one of the people causing trouble already taken down she remained silent and still, waiting for her opening.

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Sirocco's eyes burned as he stared the alabaster alien hero down. "You may have me in a tight grip now," he taunted, "but can you hold the wind and the flame?" The burning spread to the rest of his body, and in a moment he was transformed into a dust devil, all blowing wind and dust and fire. He slipped out of Starlight's grasping energy hands, laughing as she swiped at him ineffectually.

Hooded Menace stepped back from the display case, and suddenly his shadow spasmed and leapt forward. The glass shattered under the impact of many dark tendrils, then the man's hand reached into the display case and carefully picked up the canopic jar. He turned to the whirlwind and yelled out, "Sirocco! We're leaving!"

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Oh no you aren't, Silver Spider thought to herself as she double-checked her wrist-mounted weapons, making sure a cartridge of Weaponized Epoxy Binding she had loaded was full. As the one seeming to be giving the orders started past she stepped out and let loose a stream of the chemical fluid towards his feet.

Unfortunately for her, he moved too quickly and instead of gumming up his feet she left a small pile of quickly drying goo that looked like a batch of cobwebs that had been piled in one spot.

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