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December 25, 2014 

Freedom City 

Midnight Manor 


Late in the evening on Christmas Day, a Deep One sang an eerie song in the Midnight Manor, her body silhouetted by the darkness outside. 




As her song finished and the strains of Tubthumping vanished into the quiet of what was sometimes one of many front parlors in the Hunter mansion, Aquaria leaped in the air and cheered, her smooth, wet skin glistening from the exertion of the vigorous karoake number. "I am awesome!" 


For their part, Mark and Nina both cheered and applauded - Mark hadn't been at all sure bringing the machine along was the right idea, but luckily Jessie's amphibian friend had practically snatched the karaoke machine up with her tongue and practically begged to go first. (Jessie had, blushingly, commented that Aquaria used to do this a lot before disappearing herself) 


Aquaria first approached Mark and Nina, since they had been the latest to the party - only arriving after Martha Lucas had turned in early and left her son and his girlfriend free for Christmas. "You guys want a turn? C'mon, don't be chicken!" Between Nina's competitive streak and Mark's natural showmanship, it wasn't long before the couple was standing in front of the computerized board, picking out their song - 500 Miles seeming to be an early favorite.


Aquaria bounded over to join Erin and Trevor to watch the show, declaring, "Surface music is great, you can yell so loud when you're singing! And nobody complains!"

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"Yeah, well, that depends where you are," said Joe, leaning back in his chair. "Sometimes, they don't mind if you're singing loud as long as you're singing good. And no one really wants you booming and drowning people out in church."

He didn't know if the comparison would be lost on Aquaria. But then again, when Erin had laid out all the details of the invite, it made him realize just how weird his social circle was. There was his teammates, yes, he was used to their weirdness. But then there was the once-evil-but-now-recovering alternate universe duplicate of Wander, her best friend from the watery depths, and Nina. It just reminded him that, no matter how long he spent in the League, there was still some bit of weirdness waiting for him. And honestly, he wouldn't have it any other way.

It was his turn to hit the karaoke machine. Thanks to the connections of the karaoke machine, it was able to pick up on a lot of songs. And while this one was probably a big screaming cliche for him, he couldn't pass it up. And at least he was going with the original Vandals version.

"Haji was a punk just like any other boy..."

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Erin, who was not about to take a turn with the karaoke machine, relaxed on the sofa next to Trevor and sipped her eggnog while keeping an eye on the festivities. It was still a little strange, a little tenuous, this idea of a Christmas party for family and friends. The holidays still weren't an easy time, and last year she'd been proud to manage a quiet evening with Trevor and Travis, listening to Christmas carols and opening gifts. But it had been almost five years since she'd come to live on Prime, and she was a different person now than she'd been. She'd laid a lot of her old ghosts to rest, even gained the absolution she hadn't really understood she'd been craving. It was time to make some new holiday memories with the people she cared about. 


Or in some cases, she amended, looking over to Jessie, the people she had to care for. Jessie's bracelets were deactivated this evening, the indicators glowing the soft amber of standby mode that meant they could be turned back on in an instant if necessary. She looked no more likely to attempt karaoke than Erin was, having drawn herself up in a recliner with her knees to her chest and a cup of orange soda in her hand. It was still strange for Erin to see a version of herself with short blonde hair, but it was Jessie's body to do with as she pleased, and the cut and color did make telling them apart at a glace much easier. Jessie'd hardly said anything all evening, but Erin hoped this had to be better than being alone all night. At least Aquaria seemed to be having a good time. 


She leaned over towards Trevor, speaking into his ear just loudly enough to be heard over the music. "Maybe we should push the furniture out of the way later and dance," she suggested. "See if we still know the way."

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Reclining into the couch cushions, Trevor turned his head just enough to meet Erin's eyes with a sideways glance, the corner of his mouth quirking upward slightly. "Like riding a bike," he assured her before taking a quiet sip from his steaming mug. Karaoke wasn't exactly his idea of a good time either but did enjoy seeing the group having fun all the same. He felt a certain responsibility to Jesse, having helped bring her to Earth-Prime, and Aquaria had proven to be a good friend to her. Nina hadn't had an easy year, either, although the princess would never have admitted to any weakness. He was glad Joe had made it out, too; there was something grounding about the sometimes-steelworker that kept the otherwise strange assortment from seeming too surreal. All in all it was the most unfettered enjoyment of life the manor had seen in some time.

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Over a few feet from the happy couple planning a dance-off, Corbin leaned back in his own (large and sturdy) chair. There was a smile on his face, but it had a bit of a melancholy air to it. Notable for her absence was Quo-dis, Corbin's fiance (there still wasn't a solid date set yet, but considering what his friends knew of the pair of them, that was perhaps to be expected). 


Corbin had laughed the matter off when asked, saying the Champions were on high alert, and they'd just be celebrating the New Year together. His folks had decided on a romantic getaway at a country bed&breakfast that was open over the holiday, so he'd had no reason to not come. 


Finally, when Joe finished, Corbin grinned and heaved his not inconsiderable mass up off the chair, walking slowly and purposefully toward the machine. 


"Looks like tonight I just gotta live up to the stereotypes...."


What he meant was only confusing for about 15 seconds, until the music started and the Missouri born-and-bred young man started singing. 


"I keep a close watch on this heart of mine..."

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Underlying everyone's mood was the Communion - everyone knew the cybernetic threat from the depths of space was bearing down on Earth, but with the spacefaring members of the Freedom League off-planet, there hadn't been much the Earthbound defenders of the planet could do except pray to whatever gods seemed important that holiday season. When Trevor's alarm rang, tied as it was into the Manor's upgraded computer systems, it was a disappointment - but not really a surprise. Thanks to the Manor's integrated technological systems, they didn't even need to head downstairs to see what was going on. With the push of a few buttons, what looked like a high-end plasma screen TV along one wall (and actually _was_ a high-end plasma screen TV, as Mark had found out a couple of years ago during a Freedom Friends marathon) displayed the situation. 


Midnight kept a close eye on the world at all times, but there were particular places where the black gaze of Freedom's nocturnal defender focused especially closely. One of those places was Seattle, Washington - a city that had gone to war this Christmas! On the campus of South Seattle College (luckily a school with almost no residents, especially during the holidays), a minor earthquake had caused pandemonium when a gigantic metal obelisk had erupted from the ground, rising nearly fifty feet in the air. The partially-crumpled, rust-colored shape looked to be in bad shape; as the TV cameras zoomed in, one section of it appeared to fall away, disgorging a scuttling crowd of mechanical figures - and then the message from Seattle, and indeed all electronic traffic from the city, suddenly went dark.


"Oh, man!" said Mark, his eyes wide. "Maybe it's the Sub-Terrans, or something?" It was nice to hope that it was something that minor. He looked around at the others. "The Emerald City team is volunteering for UNISON in Bosnia right now, they'll never get back to the city on time." 

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"We could."


Corbin's voice is deep and serious now, his arms crossed over his chest. A few tiny tongues of blue flame lick about his person, burning nothing, while his eyes glow deep blue with power. He glances out the window then back to the television.


"I can rig up a harness for everyone, or a capsule or something. It's a breeze to lift you all. I'd go sub-orbital but I can't necessarily make it airtight for all of you. Still. It'd take me..."


He squints those fiery eyes a bit.


"Call it about 12 minutes to get there, give or take."


He glances at the room, his face showing a smile that doesn't reach his eyes. Trevor and Erin might be able to intuit that the football-player-sized ring-slinger is worried about his fiancé, whose team is not too far from Seattle and may end up in the line of fire. Joe probably couldn't read Corbin as well, same for Nina, and Mark was, well, Mark.


"You all up for a tussle with space bad guys? It's not Nazis but it's a scrap at least."

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Erin stood and watched the screen in silence until it went dark, not even noticing her glass crumbling to shards in her hand until cold eggnog began running down her fingers. Behind her, she heard Jessie make a small, pained noise. "Twelve minutes is too long. Mark can take us, he's been to Seattle before." Her voice was toneless, all business, but her unsticky hand groped for Trevor's. "Freedom City has plenty of heroes covering it tonight. We can't leave them defenseless out there." 


Her eyes flicked to Jessie, who'd also gotten to her feet. "We can send you back to Project Freedom before we-" Jessie shook her head, her face pale but her lips pressed together in determination. It was her home too, after all, maybe even more so for her than for Erin, who'd at least managed to make a new home in Freedom City. "Fine. There's a uniform for you in your guest room. Go put it on." In an instant Jessie was gone, running almost too fast to see. "And the paperwork on that will be fun later," Erin muttered. 

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"Hey, we punch things other than Nazis," said Joe. "There were those Soviet space zombies, those flesh things in the Antarctic, and... yeah, I guess there have been a lot of Nazis." He was cracking wise, mainly to keep the existential dread from gnawing too deeply. He'd been through his share of disasters ever since getting his powers, and after the Grue invasion and the Gorgon, it was a bit hard to distinguish this extraterrestrial threat from all the others. But given Trevor's account, there was still enough to make him uneasy. He knew he was mostly grounded, that he couldn't take aloft and engage these things in orbit - and that was where they'd be most likely to rain down hell.

But something like this? That was in his wheelhouse. "All right," he said, shrugging on his jacket and his helmet, "let's go pound the crap out of a war machine."

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Trevor was, perhaps unsurprisingly, quieter than his teammates, squeezing Erin's hand before walking closer the screen and taking a hard look at the unfocused images of the figures causing havoc in Seattle. He'd been waiting for a metaphorical boot to drop ever since receiving word of Lor-Van's destruction from Miss Americana but he'd been expecting it to drop from above, not from below. The strange obelisk might not have been related to that alien threat at all but something told the dark haired tactician that even with Mark in the room they weren't that lucky.

"Redbird, prep the Night Cycle," he called into the air, voice activated equipment spaced throughout the entire manor relaying the message to the autonomic machine intelligence while he strode purposefully toward the stately grandfather clock in the corner of the room. "Work clothes and downstairs in sixty seconds, everyone." It wasn't an instruction or demand so much as a statement of necessity. "Bad feeling about this."

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Mark took Nina's hand and they disappeared downstairs together, their clothes giving way to their costumes, and Nina's sword appearing on her back, by the time the others had arrived downstairs. "-about this," said Edge apologetically as he stepped away, giving Nina a chance to flex her muscles in the costume he'd made for her. But he'd practiced enough with the Monsoon suit that there were no serious worries, and she was able to flex and snap-draw her scimitar without bunching up. "Do you wanna call your mom?" 


"...no." Monsoon sheathed her blade, the two of them standing by the big Midnight computer as the others made it downstairs. "She believes I'm having a happy, normal holiday with friends. She deserves a little peace." 


"Mine too," admitted Mark. "Don't worry. Crazy stuff happens on most holidays when you're a superhero; we'll be fine. We'll go to Seattle, stop the bad guys, save the other Erin, and then make it back here before dawn." He shot her a quick grin, trying to get her thoughts off her mother.. "Monsoon's first time fighting alongside the Liberty League - you'll kick some ass." 


"I've been known to destroy a few..." Nina fell silent for a moment. "Wait, the _other_ Erin? But isn't she already coming with us?" 


Aquaria wound up being the last one downstairs. Having excused herself to the ladies' room, she came back in an orange spandex Project Freedom costume that matched Jessie's, though it was cut to accommodate her rather unusual amphibious anatomy. "All right!" she declared. "I'm ready!" 

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Corbin moved at a swift walk down the stairs into the cave headquarters, and by the time he was down there with the others he was wearing his signature armor and cape. He did give Cannonade a smirk when the other hero relented that they punched a lot of Nazis.


"I like taking down Nazis. It's a feature, not a bug, as the kids say these days."


He gave Nina a reassuring smile. 


"It's an honor to have you fighting by our side, Nina."


And then the awkward question about just how many Erins there were came up, and Corbin scooted just slightly back in a distinctive "not it" gesture. 


Determined Leader Ring or no, some things weren't worth stepping into. 

Edited by KnightDisciple
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Cannonade looked around at the weird-ass crew who'd gathered behind him. This was his team. These were his friends. They'd grown and expanded in the time since he'd joined the League, and many of them had come with their own bonds and baggage long before he'd joined. He'd wandered the world, he'd fought horrible people and even more horrible things - only some of which were Nazis - and he'd traveled in all sorts of circles, but there was still a part of him that felt out of place at times. But now, about to go into the fray, he felt comfortable. Sure, there were a few elements he wasn't used to, but he knew how to fight with these people. If anything, a good scrap would be enough to make this night perfect.

"All right," he said. "Let's get this show on the road."

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"I am not getting a turn with the lyrical amplification device, am I?" Redbird's voice came from the Night Cycle with a note of resignation as she piloted the motorcycle from deeper in the Manor toward the rest of the group.

"Still be here when we return," Midnight assured her, swinging one leg over the back of the bike and mounting in a smooth, practiced movement. "Edge, get us between the obelisk and civilians, or close. You and Monsoon cover crowd control, collapsing infrastructure. Templar, air support, recon. Wander, Cannonade, focus on whatever crawled out of there." That left the women of Project Freedom and to his credit the black clad vigilante pause for less than a moment before including them in his stratagem. "Singularity, stay with Wander, do what she does. Aquaria... stay with Jessie." He wasn't thrilled with the idea of bringing more unknown variables into a situation they already knew precious little about but he expected he could at least trust them to watch each others' backs. "Going to get inside that thing, shut it down."

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Wander nodded, rounding up the orange-clad duo and fixing them with her sternest i-am-the-boss-here glare. "You will both stay near me no matter what unless I tell you otherwise," she instructed. "You will do whatever I tell you as soon as I tell you. If I tell you to run like hell, Singularity, you pick up Aquaria and you get to a safe distance. I don't want either of you to get hurt, or for anybody else to get hurt because we're saving one of you instead of doing our jobs, got it?" 


Singularity's face was familiar enough that everyone on the team could see her biting back a reply that might well have been undiplomatic. "We understand," she answered instead. "So long as you let us help." 


"I'm sure there'll be enough to do."  Erin replied dryly. She took a step to close the distance between her and her double, dropping her voice to a murmur. "Are you sure this is how you want to go back the first time?" she asked. "There'll be work to do here. It was hard for me the first time and there wasn't even a crisis. It isn't weakness." 


Jessie hesitated for a fraction of a second, then shook her head. "You know I have to," she told Erin. "I can't let them down again." 


"Fine." Erin stepped back and pulled one of her training batons from its spot on the wall, tossing it to Singularity. "Don't tell anybody I armed a paroled felon, all right? We're ready to go when you are, Edge." 

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With a flash of mystic light, the heroes vanished from Freedom City and reappeared in Seattle. Edge had never been one to think about how his powers violated the standard laws of physics (not uncommon for a superhero) or for that matter the standard laws of magic (a rather more unusual phenomenon!); but he was always grateful for them. Especially now, as they left behind the peace and quiet of Christmas for a scene out of a warzone. South Seattle College was in a marginal neighborhood; the bridge between a prosperous suburban development and a busy riverside dockyard. The latter was nearly empty on a holiday; the college itself even more so. And thank the gods of Seattle for that, because the college campus was overrun! That towering obelisk, bigger than any building on the campus, was still disgorging its cargo - spiderbots that slowly, methodically shambled along at about the speed of a fast walk, robots that were tearing the college apart piece by piece! 


The heroes arrived on 16th Avenue, between the college and a nearby development, their arrival quickly catching the attention of a camera crew that had fled - along with whoever had been on South Seattle's campus, as the slow-moving robots went into action. As Cobalt Templar took to the air, he could see the robots fanning out in all directions, some towards the parklands and residences to the north and south, others east across the freight yard towards the river. A quick report from a grim-faced campus police officer told them they were already too late to save everybody. 


"We told everybody to get out, but Dave, one of the transients who lives on campus, he went right up to those damn spiders before we could stop him." The officer looked sick, his face pale in the glow of streetlights. "Those things tore him apart, Jesus, not even on accident, they made a point of taking him to pieces. What are you gonna do?" 


"We're gonna build a wall," said Edge, and quickly he and Monsoon went into action. At Nina's command, water erupted from the line of manholes and out from storm sewers along the street, water that rapidly hardened to the consistency and color of iron under Edge's ministrations. "We'll move down and catch the whole thing," said Edge quickly, riding along with Monsoon as she flew them in a slow circle around the campus, the area's low water table helping them erect a natural barrier. 


From behind the barrier, the heroes could hear the sound of the robot-spiders at work - metal grinding and stone breaking, hisses of electricity and fire, and accompanying all else an ominous, raspy sound that sounded like a mechanical attempt at speaking an alien language. 


"By the whore gods of Atlantis!" Aquaria suddenly swore, her long fingers wrapping around her mouth in surprise. "That's...that's Lemurian! How do they..." She swallowed hard, throat bulging visibly, and translated for the heroes still there. "Your resistance will fail. All will be digested...no, that's not right. All will commune." 

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Cobalt Templar frowned as he blazed across the sky at high speeds, quickly getting a fairly thorough picture of the situation. After a couple more passes, he sped back to where Trevor was standing. He glanced back at the barricaded campus, his eyes narrowed.


"They're not moving like military units. I would only loosely call what they're doing a pattern; it's pretty much just "grab as much stuff as possible in a short of a time as possible". Maybe like ants? Might change once we start burning them."


Apparently hearing about the death of the defenseless transient man, he was not in the best mood.


"Aquaria's got a point, though. Those things aren't new, they're old. Or at least, they look old. I think I've seen stuff sort of like them in a few Atlantean art pieces I've gotten a chance to view. Which just raises more worrisome questions."

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"This area is familiar, sort of," Erin frowned, her brow furrowed as she set aside the invasion for a moment to consider the terrain. "Where exactly are we?" She pulled out her phone and called up a satellite map of the city. Her eyes widened. "That's right. This place is right on top of the Seattle Fault line. I did a project on it forever ago. It's like an ancient fault line that hasn't done a big eruption for a thousand years, so nobody even knew it was around till twenty years ago. That can't be a coincidence." 


From beside her, Jessie furrowed her brow in an identical way, then muttered, "The a'yahos." 


Erin turned. "What?" 


"I did the project too," Jessie reminded her, "and fewer memories between. That old earthquake, the local legends said it was because of the a'yahos. Um, it was like a shapeshifter monster, caused landslides and made the earth shake. What if it really was something like that?" 


"I guess that could be it," Erin agreed after a moment's surprised hesitation. "I kind of remember that. Did anything we researched mention how to kill one?" Jessie shook her head. "Guess we'll have to improvise. Don't bother with the bat for these things, it barely works on robots. Pick up whatever you can find and hit them with it." She looked over to Cannonade. "Singularity and I will wade into the assembly area, you and Aquaria come behind and start picking them off as they get near?" she suggested, ready to move on his agreement. 

Edited by Electra
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Cannonade looked out at the spider, scuttling across campus and dragging every bit of scrap metal back that they could. As he watched, the piles seemed to be taking on distinct forms... "They're building more spiders," he said. "Which I'm guessing are going to go on to build more spiders, and then more spiders, and then... well, I don't know what they're gonna do to the people at that point."

All will commune. It didn't sound warm and inviting, under any circumstances. It was the kind of thing you'd say with a grin on your face and a gun in your hand. He looked out over the campus. "If these things are as old as you say, then they've been waiting a long time to pull this thing off." He cracked his knuckles. "Let's give 'em one hell of a disappointment."

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Midnight's only observation as they arrived was a roar of ignited engines as the Night Cycle launched itself toward the horde of skittering monstrosities and the obelisk beyond, a streak of pitch black punctuated by the blood red abstract design of windswept wings. There was no need for verbal cues or a heads-up display; Redbird interpreted every twitch of muscle, every shifting of weight without fail, tuning the motorcycle's engine from within with an artisan's precision, freeing Midnight to conduct a symphony of metal and rubber and speed.


He swerved to the right at the last moment as one of the spiders swiped at him, its leg catching nothing but empty air, then back to the left to evade two more. Another leapt through the air toward him and he dropped sideways until the Night Cycle was hugging the broken asphalt, drifting underneath its attacker. The spider in front of him tensed, jerking back and forth as it tried to process the vigilante's intentions, to predict which direction he would swerve only to be caught off guard as the front wheel reared upward and stuck it squarely in what passed for its face, its body becoming a makeshift ramp that launched the Night Cycle up and over its brethren.


By the time Midnight came to a halt, mere second after he'd begun, he stood in front of the darkened opening in the protruding artifact from which the spiders had emerged, a miniaturized camera in hand and recording the arcane glyphs freshly burned into its pewter surface.

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On a closer inspection, using his midnight mist-enhanced vision to see into the darkness inside the obelisk, Midnight could see no signs of factories or machines inside. As far as he could tell, it was a cylinder of faux-pewter, featureless on the inside save for the scrabbling marks left behind by the claws of the robot spiders that were tearing down the campus at the sight of him. As he snapped, he became aware that one group of spiders, occupied with dismantling the campus library and transforming it into more of their own number (giving the new batch a decidedly mixed appearance as masonry and metal became part of their construction), had obviously noticed him and begun scuttling towards man and bike! 




"Crap crap crap...." Back streetside, Edge and Monsoon had taken up positions reinforcing the wall that separated the populated areas nearby from the spiders on the other side. As the numbers inside the wall grew, they were beginning to spill over the side! "I can't make it any higher!" called Edge to the others, "it's just unsupported concrete, it'll fall over and they'll all come through at once." 


As a spider approached, scuttling madly with limbs made of lightpoles and a face like a buzzsaw, Aquaria balanced on one large foot, straightened a long, gangling leg - and kicked the spider's head clean off with a screech of ripping steel. "Stop talking like that!" she yelled, as the head, still buzzing and hissing threats, went over the side. "There's not even a Lemuria anymore! And Atlantis is underwater anyway, so what do you think you're doing?" 


"I can move the river, but it'll take time," said Monsoon quickly. "We can see if they drown!"

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Cobalt Templar's eyes narrowed a bit as Midnight just kind of blazed over to the pewter structure. Still, going on the offense was clearly the best option. 


"Worst case, try making a funnel, Edge. Then the ladies can smash them. I'm going to go support Midnight. And get a closer look at that structure. Something's weird here."


There was a trail of fire behind him, and then there was a fiery blue metal giant crashing down on the cluster of spiders heading toward Midnight. With contemptuous ease, he was kicking and punching and tossing and crushing the spiders as if they were made of paper. Several were crushed flat. A few just kind of disintegrated at the sheer, raw force being put out. 


Then suddenly there was a slight, momentary gap in the spiders. The metal giant stomped over to the pewter pillar, tilting its head as it examined the runes and carvings. 


"Bought us a couple of minutes. Let's see what we've got here."


After a few moments of study, the giant straightened abruptly and looked at Midnight, a bit of alarm showing through the projected eyes. 


"These are Lemurian runes of binding. And not nice ones, either. But...I can't read Lemurian. We need Aquaria over here. Now."

Edited by KnightDisciple
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Wander narrowed her eyes at the sight of Midnight ramping the robots, even as her heart gave a little thrill at the ease with which he performed the stunt. "Should've known he'd head right into trouble," she muttered with no heat in the words. "Come on, let's clear the way for him." 


When Singularity didn't respond instantly to the instruction, Wander grabbed her arm and pulled her along, the two of them vaulting over the mass of robots to land near the obelisk. "Start with what's close and work your way out!" Wander instructed, already beginning her assault on the robots. A single robot, grabbed by the legs and swung hard, was an excellent weapon for taking out a half-dozen of its fellows at a time. "They're not tough, it's just a lot of them." 


"I... I can't..." Singularity took a step back from the robots, her eyes wide enough to show white all around the edges. "I don't know how to do this, there's so many, I can't!" 


"Of course you can!" Wander snapped, arcing back around so she was between Singularity and the robots, protecting even as she scolded. "This is easy, this is how we learned to fight! They're not human, they're not even very smart. Just think about fighting zombies, and take away all the gross stuff. These things can't even hurt you!" She smashed the one she was holding into the ground by way of demonstration, shattering it into dozens of pieces. 


Singularity shook her head wildly. "I don't remember how to do this," she insisted. "I don't remember the fighting, Psyche let me forget, she said I didn't have to anymore. It's not who I am now, I'm not the one who fights!" 


"Then why are you here?" Wander demanded. "You said you wanted to help! This is how we do it! We're not the smart one, we're not the powerful one, we don't make the plans or solve the puzzles. The only thing you and I know how to do is fight, so if you want to help, stop wringing your goddamn hands and do it!" Wander grabbed another robot that was getting a little too close, snapped off a leg and handed it to Singularity. "It's like riding a bike, just don't think about it and it'll all come back to you." 


Singularity took the proffered weapon, her face contorting for a moment with indecision and fear. Wander left her to it, turning away to resume her devastating assault on the robot army before they could get too close to Midnight's investigation. "All we know how to do is fight," Singularity murmured, staring at the leg for a moment, before turning to meet the advancing throng. Her face cleared, went nearly blank, and then she was in motion too, clearing away robots with nearly the efficiency and speed of her counterpart. 

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With both Wander and Singularity keeping the self-replicating robots off of them temporarily Midnight and Cobalt Templar were able to concentrate on their investigation which was excellent but more than a little concerning. No one was harder on Erin than herself and Trevor had seen that extend to her alternate counterparts before. If Jesse didn't fight well Erin would consider it a reflection on her, if she fought too well Erin would feel guilty for pushing the girl back into the patterns they'd rescued her from in the first place. He couldn't even begin to get a read on how the whole thing might effect the much more fragile version; he couldn't seem to help looking for familiar cues in Jesse's expression that simply weren't there - or which were there but really shouldn't have been.
With effort he compartmentalized those concerns, breaking off a piece of his mind to consider the issue quietly while the larger part focused on more immediate concerns. "Containment unit," he observed to Templar, not worrying over the technical arcane terminology. "Lost power. Ancient. Why now...? Hhn." He turned his attention to the mechanical spiders ripping apart their surroundings to crudely manufacture more of themselves. The scale was completely different but the concept was the same. He sucked in a silent breath. "Communion nanobots. Macrobots," he corrected himself flatly, breaking off another piece of his mind to try to sort out the timeline implied by the connections that drew. "Prototypes. Aquaria--" --didn't have a communicator. Dammit. "Cannonade, need Aquaria at the obelisk. Think you can clear a path?" The last question was directed at Corbin but even leeched of inflection by the filters of the dark detective's mask it was obviously rhetorical.

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Communion. That was what Midnight had said. Cannonade had read the file Midnight had put together, gathered from reports by someone who'd witnessed their actions up in space. He hadn't exactly slept easily, fearing the idea that something like that could turn its attention towards Earth. But apparently, it had been here all along. How? Midnight had mentioned something about containment, but who'd done the containing? And why had these things come to Earth in the first place?

Well, I know who'd know more than I do... He looked to Aquaria and gave her a quick nod, signaling her to draw closer. "Yeah, I can clear a route. May need some fire support to keep them from swarming, but I can definitely open the way." He brought his hands out, slamming them together with the force of a car crash. The focused rush of force swept out over the spider robots, aiming to knock them aside. He turned to Aquaria. "We're gonna have to bash our way through the stragglers. You ready?"

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