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"Typical. Truly typical." Sekhmet's resigned sigh was largely lost behind a rattling boom as the concrete below her feet was struck by an arcing fireball the size of a small electric car and exploded violently. The goddess recovered with feline grace and continued her brisk pace alongside the more winded Set as they fled.

"Aye, well, mayhap you could reserve your breath for running, oh Lady of Slaughter," the godling suggested as he hastily ducked under the chunk of metal propelled towards his head when a nearby fire hydrant was cleaved in half by a searing red laser beam.

The taller Heliopolian did not look quite so concerned. "Too match pace with thee? Hardly necessary, liesmith," she assured him, though her stride quickened slightly after she glanced over her shoulder at their pursuers. "Methinks a training regimen may be in order."

"I've considered hitting the gym," Set admitted, strain ruining the conversational tone he was attempting. "Don't want to bulk up, of course..."

"Hardly seems a danger."

"My, someone tis feeling catty today."

"Tis another who should work on new jibes."

"For once, I did not intend that as wordplaaayiie!" Another fireball sent a somewhat singed godling tumbling in an undignified tangle of limbs before he could scramble against the cement and back onto his feet. "I am now prepared to admit that assistance would not be remiss!"

With a flat snort, Sekhmet reached down and picked Set up by the back of his neck, giving him a chance to find his stride again without losing too much of their head start. "Truly, I am shocked. The mortal Freedom League, then, or proven allies such as the water magister."

"Eh? Nay!" Set objected crossly, pumping his arms with renewed vigour as he sprinted. "Think of the embarrassment, Sekhmet! I would have none who think reasonably well of me- ah, us to bear witness. ...ah! Inspiration!" Snapping his fingers, the godling abruptly turned on his heel heading toward an alleyway. "Keep our new friends occupied momentarily, oh Mistress of Dread!" With that, he dove into a shadow behind a dumpster and disappeared.

"Of all the-- Set! Set! SEEEEET!"

* * * * *

On the well tended campus of Claremont Academy, a shadow passed over the relaxing Will Cline as someone approached from behind him, blocking the sun. "Hail, buuuddy!"

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It had started off as a really nice day. The weather was clear, Will was done with final exams, there was a breeze, and he'd found the perfect spot to read, look cool, and not let anyone see he was actually tearing through The Once and Future King. Because classic literature makes you look boring if you're not careful!

 

He was almost halfway through the book when his light changed. He was just frowning and turning to check if there was a cloud when he heard a voice he totally didn't expect. He knew the voice, though, which meant he was probably safe from attack. Still, it was best to skillfully and gracefully get up and speak with his visitor.

 

"What the crudmonkey!"

 

Or he could jump six inches, flail around, and end up face-first in the grass, butt in the air. He sighed into the perfectly manicured lawn before standing up at super-speed. His expression was already one of long-suffering as he brushed off his book and tucked it under one arm.

 

"Yeah, uh, hail, Set. Any particular reason you snuck up on me?"

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"Pshaw, 'snuck'. Were I sneaking, William, you'd know it," Set scoffed with a mildly offended look, crossing his arms over his bare torso and leaning against a nearby tree. "...or in truth you would not, I suppose! Ha! And hmm!" Leaning forward from the waist, the godling showed a marked lack of respect for personal space as he peered at the title of Will's book. "The Once and Future King, eh? I saw a Monty Python GIF set on the tumbling scrolls the other day that would be perfect right now... Hah. Coconuts."

Straightening, he walked around Will in a leisurely circle, taking in the campus curiously. "However! Do I truly need a reason to come and visit my good chum? Where is the trust, the benefit of the doubt? The bonds of heroic brotherhood?!" Waiting a beat he continued, "Of course, since you ask, I thought, as we got off on something of the wrong foot at our last meeting, I might do you something of a favour! You and perhaps some of your larger, more combat ready friends?"

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"Yeah yeah, everyone loves Tumblr and Monty Python. My dad quotes that movie all the time."

 

Will really wasn't sure where this was-Aha. That's where this was going. He slowly turned as Set paced a circuit around himself, raising an eyebrow as the godling spoke more on his troubles.

 

"I have low trust for guys I barely know beyond "hitting on my grandmother". The fact that I didn't run for security when you showed up is a sign I know you're not here for actual trouble.

 

Beyond the trouble you got yourself into, that is. What exactly is the nature of this favor where you think you'll need not just me, but a couple more people? And what exactly do we need to be combat ready for?"

Edited by KnightDisciple

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"Ah, excuse my confusion!" Set exclaimed, placing a hand on his chest and bowing floridly. "I was led to believe your attendance here was in preparation to champion the innocent and smite the wicked. If you be more inclined to lounge about like some... Olympian rather than prove to your tutors you can defeat a group of heinous bandits without mother and father holding you hand, I'll simply leave you to your reading!" Straightening with an airy wave, Set turned and began sauntering away, hooking his thumbs into the hem of his shendyt. "Surely another such opportunity will arise... eventually. Mayhap the providers of security you mention be bolder? I shall inform them you sent me! Hopefully no children nor kittens nor full figured bank tellers shall be harmed in the meantime! Anon, then, William!"

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"I didn't say I wouldn't help, Set. I was asking what we're facing. I've got a few people in mind, but I don't want to grab people whose powers will be useless against what we're facing."

 

He sighed.

 

"Give me 20."

 

He apparently meant seconds, because he blurred away from his spot, only to return in perhaps 22 seconds, no book in sight, dressed in his Thoughtspeed costume, the helmet (for the moment) retracted. His expression is more serious this time.

 

"Let's walk and talk while we see who's available. I'd prefer to go into this knowing what we're dealing with."

Edited by KnightDisciple

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"Good man, William! Oh, look not so maudlin!" Set implored with a broad grin and a slap on the back for the newly costumed teenager. "Tis the siren call of adventure! The gift of battle, eh? You be unusually fastidious for one blessed with preternatural swiftness of foot, you know. Your mother's influence, mayhap." The godling's smile slipped a few notches as he glanced over his shoulder back the way he'd come. "Ah, I do confess however I may have somewhat understated the situation's urgency. As we confer, noble Lady Sekhmet buys moments at great personal peril! Tis perhaps less a time for careful selection and more one to 'take what one can get the lead out,' to modify the vernacular. How about those two, hm?"

He didn't quite manage to keep himself from swaying from foot to foot in impatience and growing anxiety, but his stance was as confident and outgoing as ever as he waved overhead and shouted, "Hello! Over here! Come see the improbably handsome, shirtless internet celebrity, please!"

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Giang Trang was making her way through the relatively quiet Claremont Campus. The Asian teen was looking about the area with a slightly melancholy look on her face as she went. She was going to be graduating in a couple of weeks and this place had been something of a sanctuary for her, helping to protect her from the agents sent by her father or other of Dr. Sin's lieutenants to look for her. But more than just that, Claremont had provided her the opportunity to be around others her own age, and she had made several close friendships in the year and a half she had been here. Though she planned to keep in touch with many of those friends, she was still going to miss the more regular interaction that the school had provided.

It was then that she someone calling out to her from across the lawn, spotting William Kline next to another teenager who was only wearing what looked like a white skirt with red patterns and sandals. Giang noted that William was in his costume. Approaching the pair, Giang studied the other teen calmly for a moment before looking to William. "Good morning William. Who is this?"

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Class was out for the day, and Gene King was enjoying the good weather and his good fortune. All his papers were written, his homework time had been scheduled carefully, and he had a full twenty minutes to himself. He could've spent it inside on a video game... but he could play those any day. The weather was fine and he decided to go for a walk around campus. He was not prepared, though, to be flagged down by a young man with bronzed skin wearing what looked like a stylish bath towel. The teenager felt a blush creeping over him as he changed direction, and he quickly looked for something else to focus on.

Thankfully William Cline was nearby and so Gene didn't have to walk over while looking at the ground. "Hey Will. Who's your, uh, friend? Is he coming by the borrow some clothes or something?" He smiled at the young Asian girl approaching them. "Hey there, miss dinosaur."

Edited by Raveled

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Will...well, at this point, Thoughtspeed, jerked a thumb over his shoulder at the grinning figure of Set.

 

"Mister Abtacular here got himself and his guard lady friend in a bit of trouble. Doesn't want to go big leagues to get help, so he's here. Giang, I figure you're still technically a senior student here, so you can supervise. Between the three of us we should bring enough punch to take out anything we encounter. If the 5 of us who'll be on-site can't do it, I am completely unashamed to go running to someone bigger for help."

 

If there was one thing his parents had taught him, it was that there was no shame in admitting you couldn't fight someone head-on. It's just that instead of just "run away", he was interpreting the idea as "run away for some more help". Which was close enough.

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"Worse titles have been lain at my feet," Set sighed largely to himself, brushing some imagined dirt from his shoulder. "Set at you service, Deity of Desert and Darkness, forget not to like and subscribe!" With a winning smile and twin finger pistols leveled at pair of rather short, slim teens who'd wandered over he continued, "Know also that Sekhmet tis a friend and lady, indeed, but no romantic rival, haha!"

Hearty laugher resounding through his bare chest stopped as quickly as it had begun when he snapped his finger. "Truly, though, her ire be already assured and we cannot delay even for allies perhaps a little... larger. Allons-y!" A blast of gale force wind abruptly rolled in from behind the students, knocking them forward a few steps while Set grabbed Giang and Gene's wrists in one hand and Will's in the other, pulling them through the shadow of the tree and leaving the campus once again pleasantly serene.

The quartet emerged from the unnerving dark and chilling teleportation in an alley way elsewhere in the city. Releasing his conscripts, Set wasted no time dashing out onto the street, softly muttering, "Be well, be well, be well..."

There to greet him was a massive suit of bright green and golden powered armor, its pilot barely visible from the godling's position of the ground, tucked into the rounded cockpit styled after a hooded cobra's head. A half dozen machine gun wielding troops in similarly scaled and fanged uniforms stood about the armor's feet while one of its massive metal claws held a struggling Sekhmet pinned against the wall of building two storeys off of the street. Spotting the returned godling, she managed to snarl, "Hate... thee... so... much..."

"Ah, good, she retains her abundant charm!" Set observed with evident relief. "Worry not, Sekhmet! Help tis just behind me!"

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Giang's features had become more serious at Thoughtspeed's answer to her question, but before she could make any statement regarding the wisdom of going out to face unknown danger, Set took matters into his own hands. As the group appeared in an alleyway somewhere else in the city, the Asian teen pulled her hand free from Set’s grip, but he was already moving toward the mouth of the alleyway.

"Alright, looks like we are here one way or another." She said to the other two teens with her. "Let's follow, but be careful until we have a better idea of what we are facing." She said, a she moved after Set.

However, they only had to reach the mouth of the alleyway for at least some of the opposition that Set had been seeking help to face came into view.

"Thoughspeed, the gunmen are your first priority. TNTeen, you and I will focus on the power armor to try and free Set’s companion." Giang stated as she came to a halt next to Set, a thin swirling sheen of water starting to move across her.

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Gene frowned and opened his mouth at the "little larger" line, but before he cold say anything they were halfway across the city and facing a suit of combat armor that towered over all of them. And a lady in a dress was pinned to a building, but that was frankly normal for Freedom City.

He didn't argue with Giang's tactics and just concentrated on his power. "Right, right," he muttered to himself. "Blow up the big man, without blowing up the angry lady." A ball of red and black energy appeared between his hands and began subdividing into smaller and smaller spheres. "Hope that dress can take a little singing."

Edited by Raveled

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Thoughtspeed nodded at the upperclassman...woman's...plan. His helmet was deployed now, leaving him faceless, with just the lines of green glowing power to decorate his rather plain suit. His next words rang through the minds of his allies, including Sekhmet. 

 

--Yeah, I'm on mook patrol, no worries.--

 

He bent his knees a bit, readying himself to run forward in a blur of motion, even as his hands grasped a suddenly-appeared polearm that was as long as he was. 

 

--Shouldn't take me long to sweep up the trash.--

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With Will and Gene acknowledging her directions, Giang began preparing to execute her part. After noting the training and deployment of the gunmen, she focused on the large mech as her arms came up to her side, her elbows bent. Taking a step forward with her left foot, her hands shot out in front of her, coming together, her palms outward and fingers splayed out. Three twisting coils of water sprung forth, streaking across the intervening space in a moment, striking the mech dead center with tremendous power.

But despite the crushing power of the watery blast, the mech withstood the torrent with seemingly little ill effect. Giang frowned slightly as she saw her target shrug off the powerful blast, a slight concern starting to creep in about whether she and the other Claremonters had been pulled into something over their heads.

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The water that struck the mech mostly stayed under Tsunami's control, but some of it sprayed out and fell down like a brief rainstorm. Moving through that rainstorm was a blur of black-and-green motion that resolved into Thoughtspeed.

 

His halberd spun in his hands like he'd used it all his life, and as he skidded to a stop between two of the Cultists, it entered a complicated patter.

 

"Haven't you guys heard? Snakeskin is out for this year's fashion!"

 

One of the armored men took the blunt butt of the weapon right to his forehead at enough speed to leave cracks in his helmet, knocking him back a couple feet, his eyes already rolling up in his head as he fell boneless to the ground. 

 

To Will, the other man moved in slow motion as the blade swung out, struck his assault rifle, and flashed a zig-zag cut across his chest. The armored fabric was absorbing most of that blow...but then at super-speed, the flat of the blade struck him in the solar plexus, causing him to wheeze and begin bending over. At which point, the haft of the weapon cracked against the back of his head, sending him tumbling face-first into the ground.

 

"Good thing those helmets have face mask or you'd be tasting cement!"

 

Not quite satisfied, the weapon in his hands increased in length as he spun it in a circle, the blade and haft striking multiple times against the metal feet of the huge battlesuit...

 

And having no real effect. Will sighed before giving the polearm another spin, leaving it resting across his shoulders, one arm almost lazily keeping it in place as he looked at the other goons. His faceless helmet tilted to one side, and the other cultists could hear the smirk in his voice.

 

"Anyone up for round two? I'm good and stretched now."

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"The Great Serpent shall grant us victory over the unbelievers!" one of the snake cultists cried at the top of his lungs as Thoughtspeed thinned out their ranks, joined by his brethren with frenzied, shouted chants in a language none of the Claremont students recognized. "We shall strike down the false one! Fangri-la! Fangri-la!"

With a low, rumbling growl Sekhmet pushed mightily against a metal digit that was as wide across as her own torso, struggling to free herself from the giant claw of the metallic green war machine. "Rrrr... Thy meaningless prattle be worse than thy artifact beast, heretics." Despite her words the warrior goddess made very little headway, pinned against the side of the building and unable to do much more than glower at the pilot of the mech suit.

"For once we be in agreement, oh She Before Whom Evil Trembles!" Set called up to his inconvenienced parole officer, observing with some relief that he hadn't accidentally shanghaied anyone limited to preternatural translation or the superhuman power of a poor upbringing. "We shall have you down posthaste, I'm sure!" Gathering a handful of raw shadowstuff between his hands and rolling it about like a snowball, the godling closed one eye to better aim then hurled the inky projectile at the transparent face of the mech suit. The globule splattered across the glass and spread, blinding the pilot inside as surely as tar. "Ha ha!"

His exclamation was somewhat premature as the cultist manning the robotic juggernaut responded by firing the laser cannon that made up the suit's other hand wildly, aiming in the general direction of the young heroes. One lucky blast would have caught Tsunami squarely but by the time the attack hit her protective barrier of water the senior student was narrowly able to roll out of the way.

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Gene watched the melee developing, sheltering in the alley as he considered his options. Will was handling the soldiers and Tsunami and Set were handling the towering robot directly, which left the angry woman speaking ye olde style. "Lady, I hope you're ready to drop and roll," he called out. He concentrated on the sphere of pulsing kinetic energy in his hands and directed it outwards with a grunt. The ball broke, and an innumerable number of tinier spheres flew out, adhering to mech arm holding Sekhmet. They wiggled into cracks in the armor and coated the limb in a fine spread of pulsing energy, and when Gene clenched his fist they all fired at once.

The overlapping detonations sounded a whole warehouse of firecrackers going up at once, and Gene gave a little dance when he sw, through the drifting smoke, a female figure dropping to the ground.

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There was a creak of metal as the arm of the mech suit shuddered under TNTeen's assault, giving Sekhmet the opportunity to push off against the building's wall and slip through its pincers. Dropping down to the street with feline grace, the goddess landed silently in a three point crouch and immediately rolled backward, placing some distance between herself and the blinded war machine's feet.
 
Registering their displeasure with more shouting and bizarre chanting, the four militant cultists still on their feet trained their weapons on Thoughtspeed, quickly filling the street with scything streams of red hot darts, smaller versions of the mech suit's giant laser cannon. Despite their prolific rate of fire, the psychic speedster stayed a step ahead, zipping between his attackers and nimbly avoiding their fire.

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Giang came quickly back to her feet after just avoiding taking a square hit from the giant mech's laser.  She was relieved to see Gene had managed to free up Set's companion, and that Will was able to stay ahead of the attacks of the gunmen.  So the Asian teen focused her attention back on the massive mech, focusing her power as she again took a set forward and swept her hands up in front of her.

 

Once again powerful jets of water shot forth from the empty air, twisting and coiling as they sped toward the mech.  The watery blast stuck the massive machine squarely once more, this time actually appearing to cause the machine some damage, although minor in nature.

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"Oh good Lord, Fangri-La? Seriously?"

 

Will couldn't help but laugh as he casually moved and ducked and twisted at high speed to avoid the automatic weapons fire.

 

"You guys couldn't come up with anything better than that? Fire your PR guy, seriously."

 

He crouched just a bit and grinned under his helmet.

 

"I'd say you ought to get some gun training, but you're going to be busy calling your HR department."

 

And then suddenly he was right in front of two of the cultists, his halberd held out horizontally. It caught both men right in the solar plexus, and a bit of force from Thoughtspeed just flipped them right over and onto the ground. The landing knocked enough wind out of them they slumped into unconsciousness.

 

Thoughtspeed just kept zooming on, before he stopped between the last two standing men. He leaned against his glowing green weapon with an air of casual dismissal.

 

"On account of updating your health insurance policy."

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"Eeh... Poor old Farouk. He truly did try but English was his third language-- ah, wait, forth is one counts the serpent tongue itself," Set reminisced idly as Thoughtspeed critiqued the cultists' chanting. While he mused Sekhmet darted forward back toward the towering robot suit, her fists abruptly lighting up with golden flames. With an inhuman leap she gouged a line of scorched metal across the mech's chassis, using her smaller size to strike lightly armored joints and vents. The goddess roared triumphantly, dropping back down the the pavement near Tsunami.

Diving to avoid another blind blast of laser fire, Set scrambled back to his feet. "Fell victim to the Peter Principle. Also to being dropped into a volcano..." The godling winced and rolled his shoulders uncomfortably but remained in the moment enough to gesture arcanely with his hands, sending a whipping wind toward the remaining gunmen carrying a tide of sand that poured impossibly from every nearby crack in the street or surrounding buildings. The first cultist found shelter behind one of the mech's legs while the other was quickly trapped in a dune the size of a minivan. "Ah, did I neglect to mention these fellows may have been employed by my elder self?" the scion of storm asked the Claremont students conversationally, his expression one of innocent absentmindedness. "Well, not these fellows specifically, lest they be a truly sprightly eighty years young. Spells of immortality were beyond their ken--"

While he rambled on, the neon green glow coming from inside the armored juggernaut intensified noticeably, tendrils of energy stretching forth and twisting about the suit's frame. Set's shadowstuff burned away from the windscreen at the energy's touch and the damage TNTeen had inflicted to its clawed arm filled back in as if hammered out from the inside. "Enchanted plutonium, conversely..."

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Gene felt his stomach sink as he saw the robot swiftly repairing the damage they had done to it. Set's words didn't help his peace of mind, either. "Enchanted plutonium? Doctor Metropolis is going to be really mad about all this." Still, the mech and the cobra guards were a threat to the city; they could worry about possible radioactive decontamination later. The mech was literally the biggest threat, but it seemed like not everyone could get down and hit the mech's vulnerable points. TNTeen could do something about that, at least.

He flung great handfuls of spheres at the mech's legs, coating them thickly. He brought up one fist... and paused. "Okay, everyone," he yelled out. "Get the mech!"

Edited by Raveled

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At TNTeen's command the glowing spheres of destructive energy detonated, the bright flashes briefly obscuring the snake patterned robot suit below the knees. As the light subsided, however, the Heliopolians and Claremont students could clearly see that it's metal hide had weathered the explosions without suffering any obvious damage. The remaining free cultist took advantage of the flash to scamper into an advantageous position behind a newspaper stand, its operator having wisely fled when he saw the green behemoth stomping down the street towards his place of business. A round of automatic fire cracked through the air toward Set but the godling always managed to be just to one side of where the zealot was firing, if only just.

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Giang watched with slight annoyance as the large mech repaired some of the damage caused by Gene.  Clearly this was going to make things more difficult.  She and Set's companion had managed to cause some additional damage at least, though it weathered another assault from the explosive Claremont student.  At Set's comments about the gunmen and mech, the Asian teen could not help but give a slight sigh.

 

--So how did they obtain the equipment once used by your hirelings?-- Giang asked over the psychic network Thoughtspeed had established.  --And I take it they specifically came looking for you?--

 

While she waited for Set's answers, the Asian teen once again sent a powerful blast of water streaking through the air at the massive mech.  Once again the powerful jet of water struck the machine dead center.

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