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Bee Good And You Will Bee Lonesome (IC)

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Bee Good And You Will Bee Lonesome

August 10, 2012

First National Bank of Freedom City [Fens Branch]

You might think banks would get robbed in the Fens a lot, but the truth is it just doesn't happen that much. Criminals in the Fens don't have the kind of budget to plan and carry out a major operation like a bank robbery; they're generally more focused on things like making enough money to feed their family, or their drug addiction, via pickpocketing, panhandling, or the occasional mugging or low-level drug deal, than the kind of big score that a bank robbery would bring off. But it does happen, enough that First National's Fens branch has the bulletproof glass, metal detectors, and security guards you would expect from a watchful urban bank in this economy. It was good security, reflected bank manager Jan Freidman as she took cover under her desk. Good security most of the time, anyway.

All around her the bank was in chaos as coins, bills, and deposit slips spun themselves together in the air, sending patrons and staff alike fleeing for their lives as the currency transformed itself into some half-dozen humanoid figures larger than the statue of the Centurion (for historical purposes only!) in the front lobby, massive figures made of money itself! They moved with purpose about the bank, opening their 'mouths' and dumping in the contents of unanimated cash drawers, cracking open the ATM and shoveling in more cash into their already ample frames, one even going around and silently collecting the wallets of trapped patrons!

How do you stop a bank from robbing itself? she thought desperately. Luckily, she reminded herself after a moment, that wasn't really her problem. She reached down and hit the silent alarm beneath her desk, the big red one that made sirens ring in police stations and superheadquarters across the city. META-ROBBERY IN PROGRESS AT THE FIRST NATIONAL BANK IN THE FENS!

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Above the Fens, the Bee-Keeper soared through the balmy air, looking down wistfully towards the mundane city streets below him as he made his patrol. He was feeling pretty good about himself: Baxter was doing his best to make Freedom City just a little bit safer each day, even if it meant a few civilians shrieked in terror in his wake. Such was the burden of the Hero of the Hive, but for Baxter, it was a nominal token; a reminder now and then of all the hullabaloo his previous incarnation had caused. Frankly, he'd almost grown accustomed to this sort of celebratory status, a mixed bag of boons and banes that kept things fresh.

Though speaking of things being fresh, something caught his eye from above the lofty clouds. Craning his head awkwardly to one side as the buzzing wings of the suit pushed him back towards solid ground, it soon became obvious what all the excitement was about: police cars, lights ablaze in the familiar red-and-blue scheme, were racing off towards something! Clearly, the game was afoot! Taking advantage of his uncle's sophisticated communications array, the insect-like antennae mounted atop the envious armor's helm twitched and craned as they zeroed in on the police broadband, static swiftly shifting from a warm crackle into lucid instructions from dispatch.

"A robbery? Here, in the Fens? With some kinda super-criminal? Nice!" the young aspirant mentally cheered with glee. Behind the unflinching armored mask of the Bee-Keeper, Baxter couldn't help but smile in excitement as the news hit him. Sure, it wasn't a good thing that it was happening, and it was pretty cliche', but this could be his shot at really winning over the people of Freedom City! To set himself up on a high-note as someone more dependable and less deplorable! Besides, how hard could it be to stop a bank robbery?

Pouring on the speed, the Bee-Keeper roared through the air towards the First National Bank, wings aflutterin' as fast as their little mechanical servos would allow. It wasn't long before the building came into view, a familiar site that Baxter had passed by on more than one occasion whilst touring the more crime-ridden portions of this side of Freedom. From the outside, it seemed perfectly fine; you know, as far as banks spitting out screaming citizens was concerned. Even as he careened down towards the front door, Baxter's mind was already afire with images of rejoicing bank-goers, praising his heroic endeavors of liberation and justice! It wasn't long before the armored vigilante came crashing through the glass door, striking a triumphant (if not overly exaggerated) pose amidst the bank as he made his entrance; and if nothing else, a memorable entrance.

"Halt, evildoerzz! Your reign of beeligerent crime hazz come to an--" the yellow-and-black clad apiary began, though the fire in his modulated voice quickly died out as he surveyed the scene more thoroughly. He was expecting some guy in a tacky costume, or a gorilla with a giant brain and a ray gun. What did the Bee-Keeper get? He wasn't even sure what he was looking at as the animated bills took the spotlight of the heist, gobbling cash and silently rifling through peoples' wallets. He was stunned, his comical pose quickly dissolving as his heavy shoulders slumped.

"Really? I heard money wazz the root of all evilzz, but thizz izz ridiculouzz!"

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"The Bee-Keeper! I sure hope you're the good one!" somebody, maybe the bank manager, called from behind her desk. "They just came to life and started robbing the place!" The patrons who recognized the third Bee-Keeper seemed cheered at his arrival, but as usual in his predecessor's stomping grounds some bystanders were even more scared!

Meanwhile, at the sight of the superhero, one of the 'money golems' formed itself into a humanoid shape made of sacks of heavy metal coins and came right for the armored Baxter. A penny might weight nothing, but millions of pennies formed together into a fist was a threatening weapon indeed! The being of bags made a grab for the hero of the hive, and caught him about the midsection in a powerful embrace!

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Fleur didn't spend as much time in Freedom City as she had before she'd moved her base to Sanctuary, but it was still her home. It was also still the place she went to bank and get groceries and meet up with friends, so she found herself there on a regular basis. And when she was in town, she made it a point to help out where she could. She was actually a little excited to hear the call about a bank robbery when she was close enough to be of help. It had been a long time since she'd dealt with one of those! A touch of her fingers to the flowers in her hair brought her to the front of the bank, where frightened and fascinated people were gathering to rubberneck.

The first thing she noticed was that there was a great deal of commotion in the bank. Whoever was conducting the robbery seemed to have a lot of backup. It would be wise to even the odds. With a wave of her hand, Fleur had the young trees in front of the building pulling themselves from their patches of ground and standing up on braided-root legs. Shaking their branches like rousing sleepers, they climbed the broad front steps with Fleur just behind them, letting them clear the way into the lobby.

The sight in the bank itself was something to behold! Rather than the gang of desperadoes she was expecting, Fleur found a room seemingly alive with currency! And in the center of the mess, locked in an enthusiastic embrace with a giant sack of cash, was a very familiar face. Or uniform, anyway.

"Beekeeper!" she called, an unusually un-Fleurlike growl in her voice. "I should've known you wouldn't stay out of trouble for long! What is it this time, tiny invisible bank robbing bees?" Even as she spoke she was rummaging in her pouch, clearly preparing an attack against her long-time foe!

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Bombastic entrance aside, things weren't going quite as well as Baxter had envisioned. Now readily in the grasp of the jolly green giant of capitalism, pennies pinching at his armored hide, he'd inadvertently walked himself right into the maw of a much more dangerous situation! Despite his feeble attempts at resisting the animated cash's clenching mitts, he was unable to weasel his way out and away from the bizarre self-robbing villain. To make things worse, the one jostling his helpless apian physique about wasn't the only one the Bee-Keeper would likely have to worry about; five more of the denizens of dough still present and likely more than willing to sock him in the face with their meaty quarter-laden fists.

"Let go, you zztupid money-grubberzz!" the Bee-Keeper bit back, still squirming to liberate himself from the vice-like grip of malevolent moolah. If only he could get out of the creatures' grasp, then he might be able to turn the tides before things got worse!

Baxter's thinking was, unfortunately, cut short as a feminine voice rife with anger pierced the bank's lobby. Pivoting his head, the Bee-Keeper got a good look at the green-haired source of the voice at the door he'd just brazenly crashed through, caught quite by surprise that it seemed like she knew him! That's when it dawned on him, his brain putting the pieces of this peculiar puzzle together: it was none other than his uncle's ancient fixation accusing him of criminal shenanigans!

"Fleur de Joie!" exclaimed Baxter in his modulated voice, an amalgam of excitement, relief, and shock at the plant-controller's arrival on the scene as he continued to worm his way out of the monetary monolith's power-hug. "Thizz... uh... thizz izzn't what it lookzz like!"

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Despite the dastardly Bee-Keeper's denials, one of the money golems turned on the newly-arrived heroine with what looked to be sinister intent, for all that the tiny bees allegedly making it move had to be so tiny that they weren't even making any noise!. It was tough to tell the intentions of giant beings made of stolen money, but under the circumstances it was pretty easy to guess that they had a sinister intent in mind. A figure made of what looked to have been loose change and small bills, bigger than a person, advanced on Fleur de Joie and threw a mighty punch in her direction, one that only her Freedom League combat training helped her evade.

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Fleur dodged the blow one of the clumsy golems threw her way, most of her attention centered squarely on the mastermind in front of her. "Fight the golems," she instructed her trees, "but stay close." Pulling a seed from her belt pouch, she threw it at the Beekeeper, letting it explode midair a long, curling green vine. "I'm really disappointed in you, Barry," she told the squirming supervillain. "After everything you put me through last year, after I put myself and my baby in danger to clear you of that murder charge, I really thought things would be different. I really thought you were capable of change. And yet here we are again!"

The vine landed and snaked across the floor, grabbing hold of Beekeeper's ankles and climbing up and around his legs with impossible speed. "And bank robbery? Really?," Fleur demanded. "You're a lot of things, but you've never been obvious. But I guess we'll have time to chat about that when you're back in prison!" The vines took hold of his arms, binding them down to his sides, and wrapped him securely to the neck, till he looked like a green robot mummy.

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Before Baxter even had a chance to make his case, his situation quickly took a turn for the worst - or a turn for the best, given how one might view the appearance of the famous Freedom League heroine accosting him. All his squirming and wriggling was made for naught as the elongating vine covered his armored physique, binding his arms and legs as taught as... well, as taught as the Bee-Keeper had ever been bound, really!

"Hey! Lemme go! It izzn't like that! You don't underzztand!" the boy cried in the Bee-Keeper's familiar modulated voice, still feverishly trying to worm his way out of his multitude of bonds to no avail, watching momentarily as the small cadre of tree-troops marched along on their warpath to engage the other golems. "Thizz izz juzzt a... a cazze of mizztaken identibee!"

She seemed angry. And how could Baxter blame her? His uncle did have a bit of a reputation as being a nefarious ne'er-do-well amidst the community; and clearly for Fleur in particular. But now here he was, thrust into an incredibly odd scenario where on the one hand, hey, he got to meet a member of the Freedom League! On the other, she was probably going to tote him off to prison; and Baxter was far too pretty for prison! Thus, his thrashing continued, ineffective though hit might be when one is auditioning for the role of a plant-mummy for some sort of B-movie.

"Pleazz! You gotta beelieve me!" he pleaded as he tried to liberate himself, the threat of the looming monolith of money a dangerous enough reminder of his escalating predicament.

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As the battle was joined, two of the giant golems took the occasion to flee the scene! Two of the massive money monoliths turned and ran right out through the bulletproof glass at the front of the bank amid twin explosions of safety glass and shattering noise, leaving behind massive craters as they raced down the street! They were fast, very fast, despite their tremendous bulk, and soon despite the noises of crumbling asphalt and shrieking car alarms they left behind them (as well as the trail of coins and small bills!) they were gone and out of sight.

Of course, even with the holes in the wall and absent bad guys, the heroes still had lots to deal with! Another golem threw a massive punch at Fleur de Joie, only the quick action of one of her summoned trees helping her avoid that metal-backed punch, while another concentrated on the bound Bee-Keeper. It might have been Baxter's imagination, but as the nickel-fingered man-mountain tore him free from his flowery bonds with obviously hostile intent, he distinctly heard the eight-foot mighty money monster growling at him like an angry animal!

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As the sinister creature tried to brutishly bust Baxter in the brain-pan, a fortuitous thing occurred - it had haphazardly liberated the Bee-Keeper from his impromptu imprisonment! Oh, frabjuous day! Or it would have been, if the other dastardly dime-a-dozen dollarmen weren't absconding with all of the banks precious money; all over some ancient history between his insane uncle and the pretty green-haired Freedom Leaguer beleaguering him.

"Now they're getting away!" the detangled teenager whined, sounding more like a grumpy old man who'd just had his lawn trod over as the no longer penniless paupers blasted through the safety glass and wall beyond. With two of the golems beating a hasty retreat, that still left quite a few of them present in the bank, volatile threats capable of who-knows-what with the remaining bank staff still trapped inside with them. There came an awkward pause, the Bee-Keeper panning from the door to the greenbacked creatures surrounding him; if he didn't go after them, they might get away completely, which meant he'd need to leave the tellers and clerks behind and hope Fleur de Joie would be able to handle herself. Even with a member of the Freedom League present, the newest incarnation of the Hero of the Hive wasn't willing to risk that gamble.

"I don't have time for thizz nonsenzze!" the Bee-Keeper cried again towards his comparative colleague controlling the small army of trees as he clenched those metallic mitts of his. If he was going to clear his good - well, semi-good - name and catch the bad guys responsible for this really, really weird heist, this fiasco had to come to an end pronto. Servos whirring and nano-bees a'buzzin', the apiary avenger let fly a tactless flurry of blows, slugging away at the creature in front of him with all the gusto the suit could muster.

Silently, Baxter could only imagine the look on Mister Espadas' face at his poorly-executed attack. But, hey, it wasn't like he was being trained to punch money into submission! Desperate times called for wanton beatings.

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On the other side of the room, the trees joined in the melee as well, awkwardly swinging their branches at the golems in an attempt to knock them over, or better yet break them apart. Trees are not very good fighters though, and the only one they managed to break up was the one menacing the Beekeeper! Fleur rolled her eyes, but just then, another money monster came at her, already swinging! Before she could dodge or duck, one of her faithful trees lurched in front of her, taking the terrible blow itself! The trunk splintered with a terrible crack of wood, sending it toppling over to wreck upon the polished floor.

"Oh, that is it!" Fleur exclaimed wrathfully, pushing back the cowl covering her green hair. "I have had it with you! Cover your eyes!" she called to anyone who still happened to be in the main lobby, even as she fished a seed from her pouch. A flick of her wrist sent the tiny, innocuous pellet flying towards the money golem, disappearing between the rolls of coins and sacks of bills that made up its torso. The golem looked up at her, seeming almost smug, or as smug as a mindless creature made of currency can be. That only lasted a moment, though.

From the center of the golem, a massive hydrangea blossom the size of a yoga ball suddenly seemed to explode into existence. In an instant, the air was full of flying money as bits of golem rained down everywhere, plinking off the walls and rolling in crazy circles on the floor. "That's right!" she shouted, glaring at the Beekeeper and the other golem. "Now are you ready to stand down?"

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Awestruck by the audacious display of power against the dollar-based denizens previously accosting him, Bee-Keeper was struck speechless in the wake of the poor creatures' indemnification via agriculture, the featureless mask of the obfuscating armor hiding the dark-skinned kid's intense surprise. One moment the thing was right there, growling and otherwise being a menace to society, and then... poof! Coins and bills scattering everywhere like some kind of out-of-control blizzard. The lone remnant of the self-looting lucre seemed to share Baxter's disbelief, for as soon as the shock had worn off, the miserly monstrosity followed his bank robbing comrades by way of beating a hasty retreat.

"I... uh..." the Bee-Keeper began in the defense of the Freedom League member's accusation, though his stammering in the wake of Fleur de Joie's fury was cut short by the sight of the filthy lucre fleeing the scene. His attention, once again drawn away by the rampaging entities, quickly forced the boy to shift gears from giving a heart-felt explanation to saving the rest of the rapidly departing mobile money monsters.

"Oh, man!" the Bee-Keeper again bemoaned, a finger flying towards the escaping golem as he bounded its way out through the same hole its compatriots had only moments prior. "They're zztill totezz ezzcaping!"

This wasn't going well at all! Sure, all the beastly bills had been thwarted inside the bank, but the other three were still running for the hills, their animated selves likely looking for a place to stash their ill-gotten loot. Whatever they were - and, more importantly, wherever they were going - was where the Bee-Keeper needed to be. All things considered though, it was looking more like he'd be taking a trip to the loony bin before he'd get a chance to give chase; at least, given the way Fleur de Joie was glaring at him.

"Look, don't have a lot of time, and I know how bad thizz lookzz. Here'zz the zzhort verzzion: I'm good, they're bad, and if we hurry maybee we can zztill catch em' beefore they get away!" the boy explained in his very Barry Bowles-ish voice, gesturing wildly as he described the situation. Now was definitely not the time for division; expediency had to be the dish du jour between he and Fleur!

"Juzzt... juzzt put azzide all that other zztuff for right now and truzzt me. You've gotta beelieve me, Fleur de Joie!"

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Fleur gave the Beekeeper a scathing look, one that suggested she would be happy to truss him up in a flower now and ask questions later. Still, she had to admit that he wasn't acting like the Beekeeper she knew. Where were the weird innuendos and the braggadocio, and most importantly, why did he seem to be trying to stop the robbery? "All right, fine!" she snapped. "I'll sort you out later. See if you can track the money by air, and I'll follow on the ground!" With a wave of her hand, a vine rose up from the earth, undulating beneath her feet like a massive snake. She sat down and held on, even as it began growing at a tremendous rate, propelling her down the street after the fleeing monetary monsters!

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"I'm on it, bozz," the newest Bee-Keeper chimed enthusiastically, giving an overly cliche' thumbs-up as the green-haired heroine summoned her nifty looking snake-vine and took off after the rapidly departing money monster. It was quite the exciting turnout, what with Baxter having just met a member of the Freedom League and doing battle with giant towering denizens made out of dollars. Even he was having a problem believing all of this was happening; yet, here he was, wrapped up in what might be his wackiest escapade yet!

With Fleur de Joie already on the move, it was time for the Bee-Keeper to follow suit. Like the revving of an engine, the metallic wings atop the impavid insect-themed hero began to beat in steady rhythm, picking up speed until only the low buzzing echoed throughout the damaged bank and the armored apiary adventurer was floating above the tiled floor. Leaning forward slightly and giving a faux salute to the remaining bank staff, the young hero soared out of the hole the coin-slinging cutpurses had made, heading skywards to get an aerial perspective on the situation. He had to move fast if he wanted to catch these self-robbing bandits; as such, the Bee-Keeper picked up the pace, giving all due chase after the scuttling shillings!

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Speedy though they were, the golems weren't that hard to chase down given the narrow confines of city streets and the massive bulk that made them almost impossible to miss. Dr. Metropolis was going to have a field day cleaning up the dents they were leaving in the pavement; luckily the poverty in the Fens (if that could be called luck) was enough to keep many cars off the road. At least one golem actually exploded during the chase, running full-tilt into a concrete wall and sending showers of money (and exploding dye packets) everywhere. Luckily, both the heroes were too high up to be slowed down by the crowd that began to accumulate!

Eventually they cornered the two remaining golems by the water's edge, the two magical automatons looking briefly put out at the sight of the brown water of the river stretching out before them, the rickety old wharf groaning under their massive sack-feet as they looked around for an escape route. As it happened, their escape route presented itself quickly: in a puff of smoke like a bad Hollywood special effect, a black-robed figure in a golden skull mask popped to life floating over the water. Hero and hero alike both immediately recognized Malador, among the most famous and terrible evil wizards alive.

"So, heroes!" he taunted in a voice from the grave, only staring red eyes visible from his masked face. "Come to die, eh? Well, then grapple with the mystic might of Malador!"

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Fleur's eyes narrowed behind her domino mask as she took in this new contender. "Wow, and here I thought that seeing the Beekeeper robbing a bank was the most uncharacteristic behavior I'd see today," she drawled, even as her vine slowed to a halt. "I guess the economy is bad all over, if it's got even you turning to petty thievery." The bank might have disputed this characterization, but for a magic-user of Malador's capabilities, it was apt enough. "Let me give you something to help you relax." From the end of the tree-trunk vine, another vine suddenly shot forward, unspooling itself like it had a grappling hook attached to the end. Instead of a hook, though, a brilliant orange flower bloomed, its center a solid cluster of pollen-laden anthers.

In a moment, the flying flower had reached its destination, smacking into "Malador" with a harmless paff that released an enormous yellow cloud of pollen into the air. The villain barely had time to start coughing before he was quite overwhelmed, his eyes rolling back in his head as he passed out. And since he was right over the water...

Fleur muttered something unladylike, then raised her voice to the Beekeeper. "Catch him!" she ordered. "I didn't expect it to hit him so hard!"

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"Hey!" the Bee-Keeper interjected back at Fleur from above as he once again was insinuated as the would-be mastermind behind this plot, despite the less than stellar looking Malador now straddling the river alongside his magically-animated money golems.

Honestly, it was almost too easy to follow the literal money trail - one of them colliding with a brick building not withstanding - only to come face to face with one of the most infamous of Freedom City's criminal masterminds. Baxter was only mildly disappointed; not at meeting the man in-person, mind you, but that he seemed so much more intimidating on the cover of Adrian Eldrich, Master Mage #38. Not that he wasn't a horrifically terrifying sight, what with his skeletal physique and eerie air about him, but still... there was something just off about him. Maybe it was the overly chromed skull; perhaps it was the terrible lack of conviction in the would-be master sorcerer's voice, but whatever it was had rubbed the Bee-Keeper the wrong way - no way this guy was the real deal! He just felt too phony; like a miscast actor trying to portray an already memorable character.

Before he had a chance to blurt out this little factoid though, Fleur de Joie was already decking the halls with the miscreant mystic; poffing him square in the face with a giant pollen-spewing flower. At first, Baxter had almost expected the mighty would-be sorcerer to simply brush off the stuff now coating his bony body, but instead he slumped and began to fall into the icky brown water that stretched across the Fens!

"I got 'im, I got im'!" cried the armored avenger at Fleur's command, swooping past the ivy-hued woman with a loud buzz as he moved to intercept the now unconscious spellslinger. Just as it looked as though the abysmal looking man was going to take a dip in the drink, the yellow-and-black clad hero took hold of the fake Malador's wrist, hoisting him up and beyond the reach of the grabby golems nearby, plopping him down beside the officially sanctioned Freedom Leaguer and arch-nemesis of his predecessor. The Bee-Keeper seemed quite pleased with himself, placing his hands on his hips in a dramatic sort of flair.

"Aha! Another zzcore for the good guyzz!" came the boisterous teenager's modulated voice, rife with pride and satisfaction - though the latter seemed to wane as he stared down at the unconscious villain whom must have orchestrated this whole weird fiasco, his posture emulating his odd disappointment as he turned his insectile gaze back to Fleur de Joie. "Too bad he'zz not the real Malador the Myzztic. I mean, it'zz like he didn't even try."

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Knocked unconscious, the mystic 's cloak and mask began to warp and fall apart like smoke in the wind. Within seconds of catching him, the Bee-Keeper found himself cradling the unconscious body of an acne-faced kid who didn't look much older than he was. Underneath the false robes were what looked like costume-shop velour and polyster black draperies and cheap-looking, dime-store mystic symbols that clattered into the water. This was no master mage of maleficence; he didn't even look like he was old enough to drink!

Meanwhile, the golems were falling apart with their master unconscious, loose coins and bills clattering or fluttering to the rough wooden surface of the docks, sacks of money thumping down alongside them or rolling off to plunge into the murky waters of the river as the animate creations of magic became so many inanimate piles of dough. There was a fortune there on the docks; it was probably for the best they were away from any nearby civilians for the moment.

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Fleur cocked her head and looked at the young man, pursing her lips as though trying to place him. "He looks familiar," she finally said, "but I'm not sure from where. He's probably caused trouble before." She flicked her fingers and suddenly the unconscious young man was engulfed in vines, bound securely hand and food, and with a leafy gag for good measure. "If he is a magic user," she pointed out, "we don't want him casting any more spells around here. Now," she added, ignoring the bound villain for a moment and focusing her attention back on the Beekeeper, "we have a moment or two before a riot breaks out in the street from all the money rattling around. So you can tell me exactly who you are and why you're masquerading as Freedom City's most irritating insect-themed villain." Her tone suggested that to demur would be to court the same leafy fate as the unfortunate young magician.

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After the defusing of the situation via Fleur de Joie's handy-dandy wrap-em'-and-pack-em' plant action on the not-so-mystic Malador, the Bee-Keeper turned back to face his pretty accuser; her demeanor unfortunately unchanged despite his own endeavors at being the epitome of heroic. Resting his gauntlet clad hands upon his hips, the young superhero cocked his own head slightly in response, as if surprised by the sudden inquisition. Through, really, it should have been obvious; Fleur de Joie and his now-incarcerated uncle certainly had an odd history, if television was to be believed. But after another moment of silence to collect his thoughts, the heavily-armed vigilante simply shrugged, shoulders slumping as if in defeat. All his questions about the kid lying unconscious would have to wait until his semi-good name was cleared.

"Mazzquerading? I'm not mazzquerading!" he explained with an unusual amount of umph, as though it were as plain as the horrible make-up on the Malador impersonator's face even as he threw up three digits to signify his status. Striking a more thoroughly ambitious pose again, he continued on in his synthetically augmented voice, "Unlike the lazzt Bee-Keeper, I'm neither villainouzz nor irritating! Well, uzzually not irritating."

There came another pause as Baxter took a step back, panning his view across the filthy water that marred the dilapidated docks. This was his chance to really establish his identity; to get some buzz going about his status as a hero, and not some insane man fixated with bees. And here was Fleur de Joie, archnemesis of the second Bee-Keeper - the perfect candidate to vouch for him, provided she didn't take him in for being crazy, too. He needed something solid; gimmicky, but solid, just like in the comics he'd grown up with. After all, he couldn't just go around giving people his name and address (even if they were famous!); that's what the insectile helmet with the totally fake compound eyes was for thwarting! But an answer... yes, he'd give his interrogator an answer.

"You wanna know who I really am, Fleur de Joie?" chimed the newest incarnation of her most hated foe, again striking a dynamically over-the-top heroic stance as he addressed the plant-brandishing femme fatale towering over her out-cold capture; chest puffed out and shoulders held high.

"I'm the buzz that setzz villainzz running. I'm the beezzwax that gumzz up their schemezz. When Beedom Zzity needzz help, I'll bee the one beelining to the szzene with the propolizz of peazze; and when peazze failzz, then criminalzz bezzt beeware the zzting of justizze! For no longer will it bee shriekzz and screamzz at my arrival, but the zzoft zzwooning of girlzz and people azzking 'who izz that dashing dude in the awezzome armor?' And when they zzee me flying through the skiezz of Beedom City, they'll know that they can alwayzz count on me, becauzze I - like a honeycomb of solid goodnezz - will alwayzz be there to protect the citizzenzz from the unzzcrupulouzz thugzz and mookzz that plague my zzity'zz streetzz."

With another pivot and slight rise into the air, the young Bee-Keeper wannabe struck another flair-laden pose of heroism, as if he were some sort of strange symbol of suerperhoic status.

"You want to know who I am? I'm the Bee-Keeper III: Hero of the Hive and apiary avenger of Beedom Zzity!" he exclaimed with boisterous confidence, even going so far as to give the green-haired super-botanist a cheesy thumbs up.

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Fleur listened to his entire recitation with the proper gravity, even if perhaps her lips twitched upwards at the corners once or twice. "So you're Beekeeper III," she summarized at the end of his recitation, "and you're a hero. Well then, good for you!" Her face lost its sternness when she smiled at him, and suddenly she seemed much less formidable. "Bees are admirable creatures, and someone ought to redeem their good name. If you'll just look after our friend here for a moment, I'll put up a wall to keep the civilians from getting too grabby with the money, and then we'll find out what's what. He should be waking soon."

With that, the green-cowled heroine walked off a little ways and rummaged in her belt, tossing seeds into the air as though she were feeding birds. All through the streets, flowers began to grow and bloom, small at first, then growing bigger and closer together until the places where the money golems had burst or collapsed were screened off by tightly-woven topiary walls. A few civilians had to be gently moved with vines first, but the entire operation took a surprisingly brief amount of time.

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His little spiel finished, Baxter was feeling pretty good about himself and the outcome! Granted, it was a bit unexpected to see the formerly stern woman shift gears with nothing but a smile and hearty praise, but at least he'd managed to get her to stop glaring - and that, in and of itself, was victory enough for the aspiring apian adventurer. But the hard part was over now; Fleur de Joie and the Bee-Keeper had been victorious! All that was left was the clean-up, with which Fleur again took the lead on by sectioning off the crime scene with her gargantuan greenery.

"You got it," hummed the Bee-Keeper as his copacetic comrade bade him to watch over their fallen adversary, his voice almost awash with giddiness as he peered over the tightly-wrapped poseur Fleur had apprehended single-hand. It was kind of odd though, how the gagged spellcaster had thrown this whole scheme together. It must have taken him a while to plan it out; and while it was at least original, it still fell flat.

"Zzo what'zz thizz guy'zz deal?" came the query of the armored teenager hidden behind the extremely Barry-esque modulated voice, turning to Fleur as he thrust a thumb towards the cocooned culprit. "You think he'zz really a wizzard or whatever? Zzeemzz like he went to a lot of trouble to get the bank to, y'know, rob itzzelf inzztead of juzzt blazzting down the vault and teleporting away or whatever it izz that magical people do."

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"He is a fool," exclaimed a voice from the air as, from a swirling mystic passage that glowed with arcane seals, the Master Mage of Earth, Adrian Eldritch himself, flew out to join the other two heroes. "Malador prefers cultists to impersonators, and this young man's failure as a criminal will make the dark lord very wroth. One does not take that face lightly. Good day Fleur de Joie, Bee-Keeper," said the legendary mystic with a polite, courteous nod to both the Freedom Leaguer and newly-minted hero. "I can take this unfortunate young man back to my sanctum and mystically cleanse his aura so that his efforts today will _not_ be noticed. And then, prison."

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"It's good to see you, Master Mage," Fleur told Eldritch with a smile, happy to offer up the wrapped package of villain. The luckless young spellcaster was just starting to come around, but was still too groggy to offer any resistance. "I'd wondered if you would stop by to deal with this one." Her smile changed to a more impish grin. "It's not every day you see Malador trying to rob a bank in the Fens, after all. But no one got hurt, and he seems more stupid than evil. I'm glad you can do something to keep him from getting more punishment than he's due." When the prisoner was safely in Eldritch's custody, the vines began to wither and fall away, clearly unnecessary now.

"I'm not sure you've met my associate," she told Eldritch, "though you obviously guessed where he's from. This is Beekeeper III, he's reclaiming the legacy for the cause of good." She patted the young hero's arm encouragingly. "Beekeeper, the Master Mage. Always a good man to have on your side."

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"Ohmygosh, ohmygosh, ohmygosh, ohmygosh! It'zz Eldritch! I'm... I mean, wow! Zzorry for guzzhing! Zzuch a big fan; I've got all your rebooted comiczz!" the Bee-Keeper squeed with glee, the armored hero barely keeping enough poise and dignity to prevent himself from bouncing giddily in place. How Fleur could be so nonchalant in the presence of Earth's Master Mage was beyond his own comprehension at the moment, the young teen too awestruck to even muster a professionally heroic greeting. All he could do once his tiny tirade of repetition subsided was suck air through his teeth, desperately trying to curb his overly abundant enthusiasm and regain some measure of composure.

But then a thought crept into his mind. An eerie thought; brought on by what Eldritch had murmured only a moment prior. Behind the motionless facade that was the Bee-Keeper's helmet, Baxter's face had contorted its way into an ill-begotten frown.

"Wait, zzo... zzo izz that aura zztuff gonna bee all over uzz, too?" he inquired sheepishly. "Thizz Myzztic Forzze guy izzn't gonna make Malador come after uzz, too, right?"

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