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The Morning of January 15, 2013

The Wonderbus roared through the skies of the Northern Hemisphere almost impossibly fast, the extra-dimensional construction of the craft shunting away the excess heat energy from its hypersonic flight enough to keep it undetectable in the air. They were flying thousands of miles, but the fantastic speed of their craft would get them there in less than an hour. Trying to keep his mind off the crisis of Erde-Tronik, the bioweapons, and the advanced plasma weapon that had nearly killed them all, Sharl had pulled up situation monitors from the computer inside the Bus, trying to keep track of what they'd left behind. "The good news is, the chaos seems to be limited to Freedom City, so it must be something there...I don't know, that bomb was extra-terrestrial, but I didn't recognize the maker. Maybe it's something with the Grue again." At least what they hoped to do with the Sanctum was easy enough. "I'll connect Erde-Tronik to the power supply there and keep it safe until Miss A and I can get it protected. As for the bioweapons, we can just drop them in one of the stasis fields there. It's not a long-term solution, but it'll last long enough for us to keep things safe. We-"

A distant beeping interrupted Sharl. "That's the proximity alarm. Maybe there's somebody from the League there already." He tapped a few buttons on the bank of monitors they were all sitting around, the black and white screens looking as much like something from a 60s sci-fi TV show as the high-tech pieces of super-science they were. "I don't understand, there's something on top of..."


The great grey vessel squatted over the Sanctum like an anteater scooping out ants, tentacles rising from its lower half scooping away huge chunks of ice even as they watched. The three eyes and slight horn at the rear echoed the face of the Gorgon, but Sharl knew that face well enough from his studies and his nightmares. He saw the details in an instant; the great digitizing towers driven into the icy Arctic landscape like tent spikes the size of buildings, the glowing red 'eyes' that bespoke an active subspace connection across the galaxy, and worst of all, much, much worse, were the smaller tentacles already buried in the exposed roof of the Centurion's Sanctum.

His eyes wide with horror, Citizen managed to form the words: "It's the Curator."

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"It is the what??" Wraith had been largely keeping to herself once she'd gotten free of the ice, embarrassed and a bit upset both at her teammates' risking themselves to save her after she told them to run, and at having been in need of saving in the first place. Sharl's discover more than got her attention, however, and she grew long, thin tendrils to stand on to get a better view of the monitors. " We need to leave."

She was afraid; not like someone being directly threatened, but like someone who had just discovered they were in a cave with a giant bear that hadn't quite noticed them yet. "We need to leave, and to go very far away. But- but if it is here, then I do not know if there is anywhere far enough without leaving the planet, or perhaps the galaxy...it is...this is a very, very bad day."

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Even the usually talkative Ghost Girl had been quiet during the trip, concentrating on letting the minor scorch marks in her ectoplasmic form heal themselves once Wraith had made it clear that fussing over her while she thawed wasn't helping things. The jolted at the sight of the giant mechanical head, disturbing the dozing manticore in her lap as she moved to get a better look and observed the reactions of her extraterrestrial teammates. "What? Guys, we can't just leave!" she protested, struggling to remember what she'd been told about this Curator beyond that he was very, very bad news. "I know I don't really know what we're looking at but I almost never what's going on and I don't let that stop me, right? If this has something to do with all the craziness back in Freedom City, we're probably the only ones around to stop it!"

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Koshiro looked out the window, unconsciously squashing the crane he'd been folding and letting it fall from his fingers. "That's the Curator?" he asked, his voice strained. "It's huge..." He stared at it for a moment, still and dumb as a rabbit in the headlights of an oncoming truck. Finally he tore his gaze away and looked at Sharl. "That's the one, right? That's the thing that took Tronik and turned it from being a real city into a computer program, right? We can't let that happen to Earth-" He broke off, looking again at the Sanctum, then swore. "Tronik is in there," he remembered aloud. "The Curator wants back what the Centurion stole from him."

He took a deep breath. "Kimber's right. We can't leave," he said, and if his voice cracked on the last word, it didn't lessen the resolve any. "We have to find a way to stop him. Can we get aboard his... ship, thing, whatever it is?"

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Kristin had quite obviously taken the disastrous return to Claremont badly, and the news that heroes all across the city seemed to have gone berserk hadn't helped in the slightest. When the distraught teen had tried to contact her girlfriend Jennifer during the bus flight out of town - and failed - she'd had a minor meltdown and taken herself off to the back of the bus to be alone while she tried to get a grip on the events of the day. Fragmented images of the chaos in and around Summers' office whirled in her her head and for a time it all seemed like far too much to cope with.

The horror in Sharl's voice snapped her out of her reflections. As her team mates gathered around the monitors she left her seat and came forward to see what awaited them at the Sanctum. The redness of her eyes and the steaks on her cheeks made it clear for all to see how distressed she had been, but now her back was ramrod straight and her shoulders were square. She stared impassively at the monitors and the imposing, even monstrous looking vessel. It was frightening to behold, and she didn't know nearly as much about the Curator as she wished, but at least she knew what they faced. At least she knew why her world had been turned upside down this day. And now she had a target.

"I don't know how we stop one of those," she said flatly. "But damn sure I'm not leaving without giving it a try, so who wants to give me a crash course on the Curator, on the Sanctum and some cold weather gear so that I can get to that thing without freezing?"

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Mali had been concentrating on driving the Wonderbus, trying not to deal with the stuff that was happening. She tried not to think about the situation at Claremont, she tried not to think about everything that was happening. But then she saw the...thing, that stood in front of them. It had turned a world into data! What did it want? Why did it want Earth? Were they really the only people around that could stop it?

"I'm with Kristin...I have no idea what we're dealing with, but if we're the only ones who can try to stop it, I certainly want to try. We need an idea of what we're dealing with, and a plan."

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"We, uh, I..." Sharl tried to put his hands on the table in front of him to steady himself, but found they were shaking so badly he couldn't hold them solid. "The Curator is a powerful cybernetic intelligence, one that dates back to before the birth of the Lor Republic, and before Earth people discovered agriculture. He controls a Ringworld structure on the other side of the Galactic Center, a...giant construct built out of the material from an entire star system, with the space to hold thousands of Earth-like planets. His ships go around the Galaxy gathering what he's interested in, unique plants, animals, people...cities..." He swallowed hard, and went on, "Tronik was a special case. We don't know why he chose to digitize the city, only that he planned to use them for experimental purposes in his mainframe. The Centurion captured the unit where Tronik was stored and took it away before it could be copied." He licked his lips, eyes ever on the growing metal ship as it squatted obscenely on the Sanctum.

"One of those ships would be enough to fight Freedom City, but since he's here it...it's us, oh God, it's us. It's my fault, I..." He scrubbed his hand over his eyes, obviously on the edge. "That ship is probably full of drone robots and digitization equipment, with an avatar of his that's directly linked back to his mainframe in his home system. There's no intelligence there, it's just programming and a direct linkup to his will. If you guys can destroy the drones and break the subspace link, that ship'll be nothing but a collection of dead robots to add to the Sanctum. Kimber, you and I can interface with the systems in the Sanctum directly the way the others can't," he said with a look her way. "We can go in, stop whatever infiltration is happening inside the Sanctum's systems, or Tronik, and then we can go help the others. We can...we can do this. But we have to move fast. He could be in there _right now_."

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Wraith shifted her weight back and forth, trying to get a better handle on her nerves. It was just the giant space machine feared and avoided by entire empires. No big deal, right?


"It is not your fault," she assured Sharl. "The Curator is not...it is not a person so much as a thing. It is like a storm - it does what it wants to do, and cannot be easily predicted, baited, or reasoned with. Like a storm, it is perhaps best simply avoided, but....yes. If we are to fight it, I will stand with you - I am not so good at interfacing with systems, but so long as his drones are metal I can fight them for a very long time. It might even be...I do not think 'fun' is the word. A glorious hunt?"

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"You're right - fun's not the word," Kristin agreed, the slightest hint of a smile playing around her lips despite the grimness of the situation. "But it'll be an honour to hunt with you guys. If that thing carries drones then it must have doors to let them out, I guess we just find one of those and rip it off or something? I don't expect we've actually got any maps of what the inside of one of those is like do we? It would -"

The telekinetic teenager pulled up short as a thought occurred to her. "Uhh, so we still have a busload of bioweapons with us," she pointed out. "I'm not so sure it's a great idea to put those where the Curator can get them. It's enough of a problem all by itself and based on what happened in the headmaster's office it pretty clearly knows we have them."

"Come to think of it," she added as she ran her fingers through her hair. "That Summers-thing seemed awful keen on killing Erde-Tronik. Why would it want that? It digitized the thing in the first place right?"

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"Maybe... maybe it's like if the Curator can't have it nobody can?" Kimber hazarded a guess, casting a glace over her should in the general direction of the spot where the Erde-Tronik's drive was secured. "Or, oh! He collects rare stuff from all over, right? So if there's two Troniks, he'd want to destroy one and steal the other one back so the first one was more, like, valuable!" The phantom was pleased with her deductive reasoning for a brief moment before the implications sank in. "Aw jams, that's really messed up. That's the main one, right?" she asked, pointing to the head-shaped mothership. "Maybe I can fly right in and fry the modem or whatever, the thing that lets the Curator remote control it?"

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"I'm not so much worried about his motivations as I am what we can do to stop him, or at least call for someone who can. I don't think it's a coincidence that he picked this place to land, either. It may want something inside, or he may already have it. If you point at something to punch, I'll punch it. So what's the plan?"

She wasn't scared, she very rarely got scared, but this, this came close to scary. This was so far above her weight class it wasn't funny. Still, in front of the Centurion's home, in front of a place that was owned by the greatest hero to ever live, she would certainly not back down.

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Koshiro watched the Curator ship through the windshield for another long moment before he swung around to face Sharl. "You and Kimber have the best chance of interfacing with the Curator directly, since neither of you need to use the VR gear or anything he could destroy. If you can get in there, distract him, mess his internal system up, we'll stand a better chance of deactivating the ship and what's in it directly. If we let you out here, can the two of you get into the Sanctum while we fly up and circle around to find a back door to that monster? If we pull up to the Sanctum and drop you off, we risk the bus getting the ship's attention." He smiled to disguise the fact that the spit had all dried up in his mouth. "But hey, if there's anything we know how to do really well, it's mess stuff up and break things in places where we aren't supposed to be."

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As Ghost Girl and Citizen flew through the Sanctum, they could see the beginnings of a grim transformation. The 'tentacles' extruded by the Curator ship above were more like growing tree trunks, or moss down here, spreading right through the walls and floor as if insinuating themselves into every inch of the complex. The main hall, still full of the momentous of the Centurion's career, was overgrown by eerie silver-black tree trunks of computronium and cast in shadowed red emergency lights. "The Curator's nerves," said Citizen shortly, knowing this wasn't Kimber's area of expertise. "He's growing them into the Sanctum, making it part of him. When he's done, he'll have everything in the Sanctum's databanks, and enough scanned of the Sanctum itself to rebuild it on any world. I can't access the network. There's no sign of the Centuritrons." He was going to make a suggestion to Kimber, that once they verified the status of Tronik, she could start shorting out the Curator's nerve centers and interfere with the assimilation process, but then the door opened to the heavily secured room where they'd left Tronik on their last visit. There was a single tendril in there, the glossy coating over the silver-black computronium gleaming in the light overhead. Gleaming as it hung there, a single impaling spike driven through the heart of Tronik's hard drive. And then Sharl didn't speak at all, his eyes widening for just a moment before he leapt inside his home.


Outside, the head-ship looked like a blasphemous mountain, tentacles as thick around as the Wonderbus digging and slicing away at the ice coating around the Sanctum, more and more driving directly into the naked metal of the structure itself. Whether through stretched resources or simple arrogance, the Curator didn't seem to have any aerial defenses. It made their journey safer, but it also meant there were no convenient landing bays or gunports to target. The closest thing to a weak spot, based on the Wonderbus' sensors, were the red glowing 'eyes' that served as the subspace transmitters for the ship. According to the onboard computer, flying in through a weak energy screen would get them inside the ship, and in a relatively unsecured area at that. The exotic radiation emitted by the transmitters would have fried the technology of an advanced race, but a low-tech approach was easily in the cards.

"Warning. Imminent impact detected," the bus added, and the screen cut away to display one of those wriggling computronium tentacles, an eerie, obscene shape in the half-light of an Arctic day, snapping out of the Sanctum's roof and coming directly for the invisible Wonderbus.

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Mali's eyes went wide, and then focused. "Well, it's too dangerous out here. Let's get this thing inside." With that, she hit the gas. The Wonderbus took off like a shot as one of the tentacles zeroed in on it. Mali twisted the wheel, causing the bus to dodge the tentacle as it narrowly missed. She spun the Wonderbus around, facing the opening in the skull-head. "Can't attack us with tentacles while we're inside it, and I'm pretty sure that's where we want to be anyway."

With that, she pushed the pedal to the floor, pushing the Wonderbus harder and faster than it perhaps had ever been. She made for the opening, figuring she couldn't dodge the tentacles forever.

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Kimber picked Avro up from her lap and set him atop Koshrio's shoulder before she followed Sharl through the hull of the Wonderbus, stopping just long enough to give the manticore cub a quick scratch behind the ears, eliciting a brassy, trumpet-like purr, and to give the rest of the team an encouraging thumbs up. Then she was off, the hood of her tattered reaper's cloak raising over her head of its own accord as her domino mask wavered into being.

Falling in behind the holographic youth, she made a beeline through the mechanical tentacles and tendrils that happened to be in her way, leaving minor sparks and electrical damage in her wake. She pulled a face when Citizen explained what they were looking at inside the Sanctum, about as pleased to be inside a big, carnivorous, alien computer brain as one might expect. The sight of Tronik's impaled drive brought a gasp from her breathless lungs. Flying in after Sharl, Ghost Girl's preternatural being crackled, interfacing with the sufficiently advanced technology of the simulated city.

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The bus skidded through the narrow opening, Glow's telekinetic blast deflecting the gigantic tentacle just the fraction they needed to make it safely through the eye and into the subspace communications gear of the head-ship. It was immediately obvious that they'd have to abandon the bus; the corridors were too narrow for it to pass through, and there was no sending it back outside with those tentacles waving around. Looking forward, they could see a narrow corridor cut with triangular walls, lit by a brilliant white strip of light down the center seam that was almost painful to look at. It wasn't enough to actually impair them, just enough to be annoying. They could hear the sound of working machinery and feel the hum of energy outside even through the walls of the Bus; they were at the edge of a technological terror the like of which to make even a space-going race like the Kinigosi think twice.


Inside Tronik, the skies were black and silver in an ominous reflection of the world outside. The green skies and red sun of Sharl's childhood had been replaced by an eerie dome looming over the city, one that enclosed Citizen and Gal Vanic as they floated together over the neat rows of arcologies that made up Tronik's skyline. Up in the sky, tentacles were just beginning to bud on the surface of the dome, as if preparing to spring out on the city itself. Even from this far above, Kimber and Sharl could hear the sounds of screams and panic below, the desperate rattle of laser fire. Sharl looked up and was just about to go for the nearest budding growth, already as large as a bus, before suddenly his body went tense as if he'd been hit by an electronic shock. "He's here. I can feel him."

And then, suddenly, he was. The Curator appeared out of the air in front of them from a curling circle of silver-black energy, his electronic form cast in the shadow of a humanoid shape turned electronic. When he spoke, his voice was cold, flat, void of emotion. A perfect machine."Shar-l. Your-return has come-at last." He folded his hands behind them and studied the two of them impassively. "Now-all that was-taken from me-can be restored."

Sharl wanted to hit him more than he'd ever wanted to hit anything in his life, images of his terrified parents, his sister, his people looking up at him flashing through his mind. If he looked, he knew, he could see them, right through the electronic systems of Tronik itself, but...he couldn't get distracted. But he _could_ distract the Curator, maybe..."I was never yours, Curator, and neither was this city. I was born years after the Centurion beat you the first time, just like we're going to beat you now."

"Yes-it is true-that Mark Leeds-was able to-defeat me in-combat repeatedly," agreed the Curator impassively. "But-he is dead-now. As all-organic life will-be eventually." He turned and seemed to stare right through Gal Vanic before looking back at Sharl. "It-is unlikely that-you will be-able to defeat-me. I-have deleted the-qualities of heroic-valor that-the defenders of your-world wielded against-me in the-past. They-are occupied with-imaginary fears of-the forces of-entropy and with-the unleashing of-my technological duplicates-among their ranks. There-is only you-and your group-of juvenile sentients-on this continent-and I am-the most powerful-cybernetic entity in-this Galaxy."

"Surely we can't be that important to you," said Sharl, carefully floating around just enough to keep the technological powerhouse occupied. "So you're starting here, then moving on to the rest of the planet?"

"No." Again, no change in the voice, no change in those flat three white eyes staring at them. "I-have learned that-the defenders of-this planet have-many unexpected resources. I have-come to regain-Tronik. The-rest of this-world will instead-be a test-site for my-experiments. I-have already tested-their ability to-know fear despair-grief and loss. It-has been a-most revealing experiment."

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Wraith was out of the bus almost before it had stopped moving, skidding to a halt in the shape of something four-legged and agile with long razorblades fingers. The fact that there weren't any immediate threats didn't really put her at ease as she cast her three-eyed gaze around their landing site and down into the obnoxiously-lit tunnel.

"We must hurry, but it appears we have only one direction to go," she noted, twisting her head back around to look at the others. "I will go first; with so much metal around there is far less risk if I am hurt."

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"Nice driving," Glow told Mali as she headed for the door of the bus. "Think your park is a little crooked though!"

With her powers wrapped tightly around her she stepped out of the bus behind the Kinigosi huntress and looked around. The tension she felt was clear from her posture, with her slightly hunched shoulders and her tightly clenched fists at her side, but she was still resolute.

"Alright then, let's find something important to break," she said grimly. "Or failing that, let's just break everything. Stick close guys - if stuff starts shooting at us I ought to be able to cover you long enough that you can do something about it!"

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Koshiro stepped cautiously to the door of the bus, looking around and feeling very insignificant indeed. This had not been anything he pictured when they sprung him from juvie to go to Claremont, that was for sure. But he'd learned a lot more in the past year than just how to control his powers. Leaning down, he petted Avro on the head, careful to avoid the spiny tail. "Okay boy, you look after the bus, okay? Don't let any strangers in." He took a handful of paper mice from his knapsack and breathed life onto them, then dropped them to the floor to skitter around tantalizingly. "We'll be back soon. And no acid baths!"

With that he stepped out of the bus and followed the others, cranes already beginning to flutter around him in a defensive cloud. "If you get hungry, Wraith, you should probably just go ahead and feel free," he commented.

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Sharl kept his eyes on the 'wall' overhead as the Curator spoke. Those 'tentacles' were very carefully designed bits of programming that would, if used, reach in and forcibly upload whatever lines of code they were accessing to the Curator's storage medium. In other words, they'd reach down and drag off buildings, cars, and people screaming into the sky to be sucked into another dimension and experimented on forever by a mad computer. No. No, I won't let that happen. As long as the Curator was bandying words with them, though, the tentacles weren't moving, and his people were safe. Maybe they could buy time before the link was cut. "You must really like us, then, if you went to all this trouble to get Tronik back."

"It was-no trouble," replied the Curator in that same maddeningly calm voice. "This world-has become obsessed-with the threat-of the Terminus-and its power. They have-become convinced-that they are-special in the-eyes of the-multiverse. It was-elementary to convince-them of secret-wars and infinitely-dangerous crises coming-from the forces-of entropy. Violence is-a new area-of experimentation for-me. It was-remarkably successful. As for-Tronik itself, I am-experimenting with the-concept of blasphemy-"

"What!?" Sharl interjected, his eyes wide at the word he had never expected coming from the cybernetic intelligence. "What are you talking about, what blasphemy?"

"I have-preserved many worlds-within my ring-construct. But only-one has ever-asked me for-preservation. Only one-has ever called-out to me-for salvation. I have-long been interested-in the organic-evolutionary behavior of-faith and worship. When I-gathered Tronik to-me I was-aware of all-your lives simultaneously. I knew-you in the-wombs of your-birthing machines. I began-to find it-aesthetically pleasing. I wish-to continue this-phenomenon. When all-of your city-is mine again-you will worship-me as a-god or I-will destroy you-just as I-destroyed the sysadmin-unit Leroj. I no-longer require your-preservation now that-a spare unit-has been found."

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Gal Vanic, clad in purple and black tiger stripes and electric blue tattoos across bare shoulder made effectively solid inside the simulated world of Tronik, rose slightly into the air with eye crackling with angry lightning. "You... you outrageous creep!" the paragon of power shouted back at the maddeningly calm computer avatar, finger pointing accusingly. Her expression seemed barely able to contain the unaccustomed fury she was feeling "You can't 'delete' people being good and brave! Not even death can do that and buster it's a lot bigger and scarier than you are, I don't care how many robots and spaceships and crazy plans you've got!" The air around her crackled as the programming around them balked at the ghostly presence, manifesting as arcs of electricity that gathered around her fists. "'Cause there's always gonna be people to stop you, just like we're about to right now! It's showtime, Citizen!"

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Mali stepped cautiously outside, feeling very exposed . "Good plan. Let's make this thing regret coming to Earth. Let's be careful though. We don't want to fight all of the drones at once." She gazed forward, nervously, hoping Sharl and Kimber were okay.

She kept her eyes peeled, trying to figure out if she could even stand a chance against those robots. If not, she could run interference, or something. This was one of the rare occasions where she felt outclassed by the situation. However, she remained brave and kept her nerves calmed. She was already in danger, letting herself panic would only make it worse.

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At the news his friend was dead, casually murdered by the cybernetic creature Sharl had spent years fearing and planning to fight, Sharl lost it. "MANIAC!" screamed Citizen, throwing a devastating punch at the Curator's face that would have brought down a building in Tronik. And the Curator caught it. "Despite the-bold words of-your incorporeal ally-you are hopelessly-outmatched. Already your-organic allies turn-on each other-just as I-had predicted. You are-a single program-modified by a-particularly wretched organic-being. I am-the most powerful-cybernetic entity in-the Galaxy," the Curator informed Sharl with that maddening calm, Citizen just barely managing to wrench his fist out of the robot's hand. "You cannot-hope to defeat-me Sharl Tulink. Instead I-will take your-people as mine-again and leave-you with a-dead city. This-and no less-is the price-of blasphemy." And as he spoke, tentacles began to rumble from the 'sky' overhead, a half-dozen massive structures rippling their way towards Tronik below.

"Gal Vanic!" yelled Sharl to Kimber. "I'll handle the Curator; you've got to stop those things before they take anyone else! I'll handle the Curator!" From the screaming below, this wasn't the first visit those tentacles had made, and the people knew what to expect. Images of his parents and sister flicked through Sharl's mind, and it took everything he had not to fly to their sector. Stop him now, stop him before anyone else gets hurt...


Outside, in the 'real world' the team made their way out of the subspace transmitters around the eye into the heart of the skull-ship. It was like walking into a hive of gigantic metal bees, humanoid skeletons cast in cold steel walking around a central 'shrine' that loomed overhead in the great central room larger than a house. Hundreds of images were playing out across the metal skin of the pyramidal centerpiece, as if every inch of it was a screen. And every inch was chaos - a group of Claremont students in a wild melee with the archer Blue Jay surrounded by a group of bodies with arrows in them, Wander of the Liberty League casually snapping an unarmed man's neck, the Fens in flames as robot bees and fireballs roared through it, and a dozen other scenes of chaos. And surrounding them were talking heads, terrified journalists, a city poised on the edge of destruction.

And the Curator, it seemed, was watching it all. The robots stumped around as the team watched from their place of concealment, performing unknowable tasks as they adjusted and manipulated the control-less machines that were everywhere along the walls and even the floor, glowing silver-black readouts in an alien language flashing too fast for human eyes to read. Deep below, they could hear the deep bass boom and scrape of the tentacles below ripping away at the Sanctum, and on the temple of information in the middle of the big room more and more images were flicking over to the contents of the Centurion's Sanctum, increasingly overrun by tentacles of its own.

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Wraith shifted her weight back and forth and then back again, nervously watching the drones wander and administrate. She wasn't that worried about getting hurt unless they all took her down at once - each and every robot was just a walking meal, after all - but she didn't know what other tricks they might have. Or if they already knew she was there. Or....

No. Too many questions, and not enough time. "I am going to distract them," she quietly hummed, growing into something sleek and agile with clawed feet. "So long as they only attempt to physically harm me, they will have a very difficult fight. Hopefully I will draw their attention enough to allow you to either take them by surprise or sneak away to do something clever."

She was still for a moment - impossibly, inhumanly still, watching her prey with big eyes as she listened for the sound of drums. Not real drums, but the ones deep in her head, the hunting drums, the warrior drums....

She took off so suddenly that she nearly disappeared, arms whipping out behind her into long, scythe-tipped tendrils as she bore down on a group of robots.

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Robots, lots and lots of robots. Crimson Tiger watched Wraith charge in, and decided that was ultimately the best course of action. Despite the scale of what they were dealing with, she still needed to win the fight foe by foe. There were a great number of underhanded, potentially lethal Muay Thai techniques that Mali had learned, but had never intended to use. Devastating, painful, vicious and brutal, they were not things that heroes should ever do. It would take a fully grown tough guy years to properly recover from even one of them. It was time to use them all.

Crimson Tiger took off in a full run, eyes focused. She reached into her belt pouch and fetched a trio of chakram, leaping into the air. She brought her knee up and slammed into a nearby drone, shattering it's casing. She landed, rolled through the wreckage, and threw the first, the second, and the third chakram, sending the razor sharp discs through three robotic drones. Then it was really time to get to work.

From drone to drone, foe to foe, she danced. A snap kick, a fierce uppercut, a devastating elbow. She punched straight through one robot, grabbed some wires, and pulled them out, then, not letting go of it, she turned and hurled it at a dozen more. She ripped the arm off a drone and beat five of the rest into pieces before hurling it through the head of a sixth.

She turned and grabbed the back of the head of another and drove her elbow clear through it, then kicked the remains into another crowd. She turned around and grabbed the leg of a nearby drone, hefting it overhead and swinging it like a club, sending pieces of robot flying this way and that, when the drone was in shambles, she slammed it into another drone, shattering it's torso. She grabbed a drone's arm and shattered it at the shoulder, tearing the robot in half, then turned and kicked a hole in another, before whipping her leg around and kicking the drone off of her and into a crowd of his fellows.

She danced more, kicking and punching, elbowing and kneeing, striking at every joint and vulnerable point, making sure the Curator's drones were nothing more than scrap metal. There were hundreds of foes, and Crimson Tiger worked them all with the grim precision of a war time surgeon.

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