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Avenger Assembled

The Battle of City Hall (IC)

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January 10, 2017 

Bedlam City Hall

Downtown

 

It was one of those too-bright January days when the sun is shining down from a clear blue sky that makes it look downright inviting outside, - until you step out into the teeth of an Upper Midwest winter. Snow was piled everywhere, thick and dirty, as usual in Bedlam at this time of year. 

 

The meteor hit with a flash of light and roar of noise, striking the decaying pavement directly in front of Bedlam's equally-mouldering City Hall. The few squatters living in the building, and the odd passerby on their way to the County Courthouse down the block, recovered from the impact and blinding light with difficulty, rubbing their eyes and blinking as the glow at the center of the crater faded. Inside was a man - no, not a man at all! Standing inside the crater was a hulking figure in bizarrely-colored robes like something from a lurid Egyptian-set melodrama - but the thing inside was no actor. 

 

Towering some nine feet in height, its scaly reptilian skin, narrow head, and long, wicked-looking fangs suggested not a man at all but some sort of horrible;..Serpent-Man! Hefting high a glowing staff that crackled with unspeakable eldritch power, the snake-man hissed "At lassst! I have essscaped the bonds of Ra'ssss infernal prissson!" The snake-man gestured with his staff and serpents began to wriggle their way impossibly out of the cracked winter pavement at his feet. "Behold, brief mortalsss! The Scion of Set hasss returned to rule the landsss of men!" 

 

Then a laugh sounded, not far above his head - and seemingly from out of the sun itself, emerged a new figure - her face hidden by a hawk-faced mask, her head covered in a Pharonic crown, her body wrapped in gold and linen like an Egyptian queen out of legend, she clutched in her hand the glowing ankh of Horus! (To her recollection, the Sunhawk had never actually visited "the mistake by the lake") She laughed again, her thick golden ringlets shaking with mirth. Of the snake man and his serpent minions, some of whom were growing to humanoid size and shape, she showed no fear at all. 

 

"Fool! Set is as barren as the desert sands! Thou are but a craven ill-breeding lewdster - a castoff of Apep who apes the Serpent as a lapdog apes Anubis!

 

Ugh. Handle this one thyself, 'Horus', I will return when yon idol of idiot-worshippers begone.

 

Okay, fine! i was trying to do you a favor! 

 

The Scion of Set's eyes boggled at first - but then narrowed with serpentine cunning, and no little godly rage. "You...how dare you! Your mockery will be your death warrant! False Sunhawk, come low and be tested!" The Scion fired a beam of green energy from his staff at Horus, only to find her far fleeter than he expected. 

 

"Thy tongue outvenoms the Nile - but thy aim is that of a child! Come and face the Sunhawk in battle, then!" And then Horus flew down and struck the Scion across the body with her glowing ankh - and the battle was on!

 

 

 

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Luthor Lexington was not happy working in the heart of the city. He didn't have to worry about the city council or the make-work City Manager showing up and noticing him, of course (as if anyone in a suit would recognize a con on the run) but he couldn't help but notice the number of police officers in the area. It seemed like every time he lifted his head another battered cruiser was passing by, the bored officers inside letting their eyes wash over the be-vested and be-mittoned construction crew without really seeing. Or so he desperately hoped, as he shoveled more gravel and blacktop on the roadway. In three more days, this section of the road resurfacing would be done and they'd move on, maybe to someplace up the hill. In any case, farther away from City Hall.

 

He was wrapped in such considerations, ignoring the screams and shouts around him, as a firey rock descended towards him with breakneck speed. He looked up at the last moment and flung himself aside, barely avoiding becoming a smear on the pavement. The big man grunted, scrabbling to make space between him and the lizardmen. Fantastic, he grumbled inside his head. Now we're going to be here all week.

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Pastor Theo tended to stay in his modest home on Tuesdays; he found that people swinging by for prayer or counseling tended to surge on Mondays, and swing back up from Wednesday onward, but Tuesdays were typically dead. It gave him a chance to work on his sermons. And also not dress up. The joys of wearing...about 4 layers, what with his furnace barely working. Again. He kept the television on in the background, ostensibly to listen for news that might need a...firmer hand...than the bookish young pastor normally presented, but typically it was just for background noise. 

 

So when it started blaring about a meteor strike and a super-brawl starting up at City Hall, he was on his feet in moments, but also barely avoided disaster with his notebook, Bible, and laptop, somewhat clumsily depositing them all on his slightly rickety desk before moving in front of the screen. His mouth quickly went into a thin, firm line before he reached down and turned it off.

 

Less than a minute later, Judex was speeding down the potholed streets of Bedlam. It didn't take him more than a couple of minutes to run down Blaed Avenue and then loop up to the center of Downtown. He skidded to a halt in a three-point stance at the far end of the street from the super-fight going on. For the moment he tried to just take stock of the situation, sizing up not just the brawlers, but the people nearby that might be in trouble. 

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Lena was jolted from her half-asleep state by a deafening boom and a flash of eye-searing light. The other passengers of the bus cried out, the driver nearly swerving them into the oncoming lane out of shock. She was fully awake in an instant, ignoring the commotion of the frightened passengers as she reached up to rip the "stop" cord. "I think this where I get off," she called out.

 

A few moments later, she was out in the cold, boots splashing through grey slush as she ran in the direction of the explosion. Running faster than any ordinary person should be able to, in fact, though the panicked citizenry around her took little notice. Ducking into an alley, she quickly shrugged out of her heavy overcoat, revealing the white hoodie beneath, a pair of justice scales emblazoned on the back. She was sure to freeze her ass off, sure, but it was better than endangering her identity.

 

Pulling her mask over her face, she stepped out of the alley, threads of crimson energy beginning to dance around her arms as she took in the situation. The first thing she saw was Luthor. Figures he'd be right in the middle of it. The explosion didn't seem to have come from him, though - the ten-foot snake man was a more likely candidate. Either him, or the blonde chick dressed like an extra from The Mummy. Whichever one of them had done it, they were now going at it like there was no tomorrow.

 

"Hey," she said by way of greeting, running over to where her brother was standing. "What in the hell is going on here? Which one of them started it?"

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"I'm not in the middle of anything," Luthor grumbled as he pulled himself to his feet. "Those damn snake-men came down on a comet and then the lady in the bird get-up came down and... Dammit, I'm supposed to be working right now!" A superpowered battle would probably count as an 'unscheduled break' and it's not like Luthor could go to the city worker's union to complain. "Lena, you shouldn't be in here. This isn't a bunch of thugs pushing over a 7-11, these folks look like they mean business. We should get out of their way."

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The fight between goddess and snake-man dragged on, the two of them exchanging blows and increasingly colorful insults in a display that would have fit in just fine on the coasts but was distinctly alien in the heart of Wisconsin.

 

But it seemed the Scion had other priorities in mind than battle. Pointing to the boarded-up shell of Bedlam's City Hall, it hissed loudly, "Sserpents! I sense fresh meat within! Go forth and make new convertsss - and feed asss you will!" At its commands, the snake-men it had summoned from the Earth charged in a body towards the wreck of City Hall, the wood planking on the double doors falling to one big swipe from the lead of the half-dozen serpent creatures. 

 

Something about that seemed to enrage Horus - and convince her that she had to abandon the scene. "Wert thou clean enough to spit upon, thy would have my wrath now! When your fell servants fall, so you too will be crushed beneath my heel!" A telepath would have heard Horus's I'm gonna make the sun shine where the sun don't shine! As the serpent-men charged inside the building, Horus flew after them, evidently not having noticed the small group of vigilantes nearby. There was still no sign of the police. 

 

With Horus gone (amid the sound of a wild melee inside the new City Hall, and the hissing shrieks of battered Serpent-Men), the Scion raised its staff and began chanting ominously, the tip crackling with electric green energy - and fired a blast that sent Stronghold smashing against the nearest brick wall with a thump. "Foolsss!" declared the Scion. "When the falssse Horusss is gone, you will be next!" 

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Luthor felt the hair on his arms go up as the weird energy passed close to him. There was a flash that blinded him for a moment, and then Lena was crumpled in a heap against a wall. "LENA!" He screamed and sprang forward, gathering his little sister up in his arms. He cradled her carefully, looking over what little exposed skin she had for obvious injuries. She wasn't bleeding and her limbs weren't bent at a bad angle, but she didn't react when he called her name. Luthor quickly carried her over to an alleyway, where the corners of a couple of buildings would shield her from any stray blasts.

 

"Stay here, Lena," he said to her unconscious form, rooting around in her pockets. "I'm gonna get some payback for you." He held up her backup mask, slipping it on while shucking his high-visibility vest. He was only dressed in a pullover, jeans, and white domino mask now, but he didn't feel the biting Midwest cold; anger was rising in him now, and that kept him plenty warm. "Scale-back's gonna learn what happens when he messes with a Lexington."

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Judex saw this "Scion" send his minions into City Hall on a mission of carnage. It was only thanks to Lady Horus's quick action that he didn't charge in himself. But then he saw the villain blast away a young woman who'd shown up to help, and his anger was truly struck. With a growl that turned into a near-roar, he charged at the Scion. At the last moment, he came into a slide like a baseball player, before he shoved up off the ground and delivered a discus clothesline to the Scion's chest. For several long moments he tried to find purchase to begin wrestling in earnest with the fiend, but alas he couldn't quite manage a good hold. The Scion of Set was too slippery this moment.

 

"Mighty impolite of you to come out here like this, stir up this kind of trouble. Mighty impolite indeed."

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Stars swam before Lena's eyes as she fought her way back to consciousness. The hell hit me? Prying her eyes open, she saw she was lying on her side in a filthy alleyway, her cheek pressed against the cold pavement. Was that a...snake guy?

 

Pushing herself up on one elbow, wincing with pain, she looked up to see her brother standing over her. Belatedly, she remembered what had happened, and realized her must have dragged her here to get her out of harm's way. "I'm fine," she said, waving him off as she got to her feet, fixing her mask back in place. "Just got the wind knocked out of me is all."

 

Poking her head out of the alleyway, she saw what appeared to be Grizzly Adams fighting a giant snake-man. I hate this city. "Hey!" she shouted, charging out of the alley, red energy crackling over her body as she gained speed. "I dare you to try that again, snakehead!"

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Zip. 

 

Lady Horus took this opportunity to simply appear behind the Scion (though she had been inside the building and fighting his minions the last anyone had seen her) and smash it on the back of its scaly head with her glowing ankh, a perhaps unheroic move that nonethless had the effect of making the beast-wizard howl in fury and pain. "Thou odiferous ill-nurtured scut!" she taunted him, zipping out of range of a swiping paw with alacrity. "Thou artless unwashed codpiece! Do you think you can best Horus _and_ her fair allies? You can hardly best your bedroom mirror!" Anger was in Horus's voice, especially when another magic blast sizzled by her head and tore into the abandoned building behind her, but also a sheer, laughing joy at battle. This was a warrior goddess born! 

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Stronghold was a step behind Lena, his long legs eating up the distance to reach and pass her. "Dammit, stay behind me!" he shouted, accelerating towards the scaled creature still sparring with the flying woman. "Hey, rat-breath!" Red energy boiled out of his arm as he reached out, a ghostly carmine limb coalescing out of the air and matching the movements of his flesh-and-blood one. "Stay away from my sister!" He lunged, red fingers closing around the snake-man, and squeezed as hard as he was able to.

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"Fools!" hissed the Scion of Set, squirming his way out of Stronghold's grip with alacrity. He was both strong and flexible, with something of the inhuman musculature one might expect from a humanoid snake. "Your femalesss will be concubinesss and maidssservantsss in the Scion's realm!" 

 

What Horus wanted to say was "Oh yeah? Well if I stick this thing up your ass and twist it, who's the freakin' concubine then!"

 

Instead she let the helmet do the talking, sneering "Thou crawl lower than the serpent whose name you have stolen - no mean feat, varlet. You _will_ choke on that poisoned tongue!" she added, raising her burning-gold ankh high. 

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Suddenly, a laugh cut into the back-and-forth. It...wasn't a nice laugh.

 

"Naw man, see, ain't no ladies or womenfolk 'round these parts gonna be concubines or maidservants."

 

Judex's hands blurred, slapping into the Scion of Set several times before suddenly snaking around and putting the serpentine villain in a rear naked choke. The strange...hero's...grin shone like pearls out from that bushy beard of his as he stage-whispered to the Scion. 

 

"Way I see you, you keep talkin' like that, I might have to make me a new pair of snakeskin boots."

 

He paused, glancing at the Scion again.

 

"Maybe a vest, too."

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Impossibly fast, her body glowing with barely suppressed solar energy, Lady Horus smashed the snake man in the face - then the back of the head, then the mid-section, then the kneecaps, then across the face again in a blur of motion that ended with one final haymaker delivered directly to the top of his head. The Scion fell - and as he landed, disintegrated into a mass of writhing snakes. The mass of serpents wriggled their way out of Judex's grasp and vanished beneath the cracked asphalt, disappearing with a speed that suggested supernatural force. 

 

Breathing hard, Lady Horus took a step back and slid her ankh into place, behind her back, between her shoulder blades. The upper part of the demigod's face was invisible - but the lower half was smiling. "Aye, thou art worthy allies. The serpent's scion learned a lesson about Bedlam today! What are your names?

 

Behind her, there were the sounds of sirens - it was clear the police were on their way. At the sound, Horus' head whipped around, her white-blonde curls dancing as she moved. "Hah! The pigpen has been opened!

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Stronghold cursed as the serpent-man wriggled free of his grasp and started casting about, trying to find something to bash him with. He slowed down when the hawk-headed woman dispatched the scaly sorcerer, instinctively putting himself between Lena and the tide of snakes. He clenched his fist, the wispy red limb hanging in the air beside him mimicking the motion as he breathed hard. "You can call me Stronghold I guess. Seems like everyone needs a silly name these days. Don't expect to see me in the papers, though." His head whipped around as the police sirens carried over the buildings, trying to triangulate their position. He put an arm on Lena's shoulder, pulling her back from the scene. "Time for us to get scare, little sis. We don't want to be here when the cops show up."

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The scraggly bearded man just laughs. It's...mostly sane-sounding.

 

"That was quite the show! My my my, well at least we all know the Serpent truly is in the Garden now..."

 

He shakes his head and offers a hand to shake to anyone present, his smile staying whether the hand is shaken or not.

 

"You can call me Judex. Just a simple man trying to be a sheepdog among the lambs and the wolves. Truly a pleasure to meet the rest of you."

 

He glances toward the sirens, frowning.

 

"I'm afraid that might be an insult to pigs everywhere, Lady Horus. I think these siblings have the right idea..."

 

He starts to turn to leave as well. 

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Lena shook off Luthor's protective arm irritably. "Justicar," she said. She still didn't love the name, but she needed something to call herself, and "Lena" wouldn't exactly work. Looking down at where the mass of writhing snakes had vanished, she suppressed a grimace. So much for resolving everything quickly and cleanly - that...thing was still out there.

 

The sound of the sirens penetrated her awareness, and she stepped back abruptly. Sticking around the scene of a crime wasn't a good idea in Bedlam. "Yeah, we're out of here. You two...whoever you are," she pointed to Lady Horus and Judex, "you'd better make yourselves scarce." She wanted to stick around to find out what they knew about the snake-man, but they didn't exactly have time for a conversation.

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Lady Horus was watching the police still, but turned quickly to the others. "I am...Lady Horus. Yes - a god, at last. Yes." She smiled, clenching her fist and marveling at it. "We should meet again - and before the city needs us. This is a mighty metropolis and Lady Horus is new to the world of men, I-

 

When the first police cars skidded to a halt down the block, she muttered something under her breath that didn't sound much like a god's intonations - it sounded a little more like what Betty Boop might say if the police caught her at a speakeasy. When she spoke again, though, it was with the same divine intonations she'd used before. "These churlish spur-galled pignuts. If you would stand with me again, or merely lift a bowl of beer at my side, leave a card at the Egyptian wing of the city museum. I would have words with these jarring hedge-born flirt-gills." Brandishing her glowing ankh, she advanced on the police cars. 

 

"Lo! Thou bastard sons of Erin!" Twirling the ankh above her head, she shouted, "Lady Horus has returned to the land of her birthright - and need not bow to the likes of thee!" The police had their guns out now, but the Sunhawk merely laughed. "Fah! Your puny weapons are no match for the power of the Sunhawk! Strike at me and be struck down yourself."

 

Please do not begin your use of the Sunhawk's legacy by attacking local law enforcement! 

 

...fine! But I won't say I won't do it if they cross me! 

 

And with that, and a flash of light - Lady Horus rocketed into the air, vanishing in a flash of golden light just above the city skyline. 

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