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Max_Writer

Superworld: Fire and Ice Session Three Part 2 - Robots Attack!

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* * *

People were having a good time at Chappy’s Bar and Grill when something smashed through the glass of one of the doors and flew into the room. The small, pug-shaped missile flew around the room at breakneck speed.

“Where’s Tommy McElroy!?!” it screamed. “Where’s Tommy McElroy!?! Where is he!?!”

It flew into the kitchen, panicking the staff, and sent people scurrying from the room. He crashed through the door to the office in the back.

“Where is he!?!” he screamed.

“He’s not here!” people shrieked back. “He’s not here!”

“Fine!” Doug the Pug shouted. “If he comes, you tell him Arclight’s looking for him!”

He flew out of the place, smashing through the glass of the other double door.

* * *

Tinker drove his motorcycle to the Rusty Tap Bar and Grill at the Shops at Freedom. He could see Papa Franchetti’s Pizzerios across the parking lot, a place he’d met the others on one occasion. He took off his mask and buttoned up his coat to cover his costume, going in and sitting at the bar.

“Did you hear about Chappy’s?” one of the bartenders said to another as he hung up the phone. “Some kind of crazy guy busted in. It was a midget or something.”

“****ing Doug,” Tinker muttered to himself.

“Yes sir, can I help you?” one of the bartenders said. “What you drinking tonight?”

“Uh … not drinking,” Tinker said. “I have an interview with Tommy.”

“With … Tommy McElroy?” the bartender said.

“Yes,” Tinker said.

“Is he working?” the bartender said.

“I don’t know,” the second bartender said.

“Well go ****ing look!” the first bartender said.

“Oh, yeah yeah yeah,” the second bartender said, scampering away.

He returned a couple of minutes later and talked to the first bartender. That man returned to Tinker.

“I’m sorry sir, but he’s not here,” the man said. “Did he say he was going to meet you here?”

“Maybe I have the wrong bar,” Tinker said. “Do you know where he might be?”

“Uh … I don’t know,” the man said. “Let me check.” He turned to the second bartender. “You’re in charge. Don’t **** it up again.”

He went back to the office.

* * *

The Drunk Leprechaun Bar and Grill had a dirt parking lot. It was a stand-alone building that had been converted from another building, maybe a Taco Bell or a McDonalds. It had been substantially fixed up and the interior was actually pretty nice with a large bar, tables, and several people enjoying the place.

The bartender was just getting off the phone and putting it back into the cradle as Arclight entered in full costume. She was a pretty young woman with red hair that rolled off her shoulders.

“Is that Arclight?” he heard a woman say.

“No,” the man at her table replied. “That’s just some ****ing cosplayer or some bullshit.”

Arclight glowed when he heard it. That drew more attention.

“Oh shit,” someone said. “That’s Arclight!”

It caused a rumble of conversation in the room. People stared.

I’m not a ****ing cosplayer, he thought.

He went to the bar and sat down.

“Yes sir, can I help … oh!” she said. “It’s Arclight. Hey.”

“S’up, baby,” Arclight said.

“Wow, you want a beer?” the woman replied.

“Yeah,” he said.

She poured him a draft beer.

“It’s on the house,” she said.

“How are you doing today?” he said.

“My grandmother thinks you are amazing,” she said

“Well, I think you’re amazing,” he said.

“Oh, thank you!” she said, smiling.

She went back to helping other customers but came back to him frequently.

“So, I actually came here to see Tommy,” Arclight said one of the times she came over. “Is Tommy here?”

“No,” she said with a laugh. “Tommy never comes here.”

“Well, I mean I came here to see him after you,” Arclight said. “I came here for you.”

“Aw, thank you,” she said. “No, he never comes here. He usually hangs out at the Chow Down. That’s, like, his base of operations or some bullshit.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yeah. Are you a friend of his?”

“Yeah, you could say that.”

“Oh.”

“Well, I mean … I don’t like him.”

She had sounded disappointed and went to help someone else with their drink. She returned a couple of minutes later.

“Here you go,” he said. “This is your tip.”

He put down a $20 bill.

“And this is for you and your grandma,” he said, putting down two signed photographs of himself.

“Nice, thanks,” she said. “Hey, why don’t you put your phone number on that one?”

He grinned and did so. She tucked the photos away.

“And you tell Tommy that I need to talk to him,” he said. “Because he is in some serious shit.”

“Good,” she said. “You gonna arrest him?”

“Maybe,” he said.

“Are you gonna beat him up?” she said.

“I hope so.”

“Can I watch?”

“I’ll take photos.”

“Thank you. Yes!”

“And I’ll come back to see you.”

She reached over and touched his arm, smiling at him.

“I look forward to it,” she said. “To everything.”

“I look forward to you calling me,” he said.

She gave him a come-hither look.

“You have a nice night,” he said.

He glowed as he walked out of the bar.

Outside, he paged everyone: “Tommy not at Drunk Leprechaun.”

* * *

Edward arrived at the Chow Down Bar and Grill, walking right in the front door. The place had a bar and lots of tables. There were quite a few people there, eating and drinking. He glanced at the bar and saw a door in the back where people came out with food on trays. He headed for the kitchen but then saw a fat, blonde man with a mustache and goatee standing in the doorway next to the bar, watching the place nervously. As soon as he saw Edward, he gasped.

“Shit!” he cried out.

He ran into the office and slammed the door shut. Edward heard the man yelling something. Suddenly, several parts of the walls started to break in patterns that seemed to indicate someone was behind them. The conversations in the room suddenly went dead quiet. All that could be heard was tinny music playing over the speakers.

Edward ran across the room towards the door by the bar, pulling his laser rifle from his back. Out of the wall ahead of him and to his right burst one of the robots like the ones they’d dealt with before. It rose it’s electric rifle up as Edward rushed the thing. It stood a little over five feet tall though the spines on the shoulders actually made it over six feet tall.

There were five more coming out of the walls. People in the place jumped up from their tables, screaming in panic. Edward’s pager went off just at that moment. He ignored it. Instead, he turned and fired at the door McElroy had into and blasted the lock off it.

“Oh God!” screaming came from within. “Oh God!”

“Enemy detected,” the robot in front of him said out loud.

It quickly lowered its electric rifle until it pointed at Edward’s forehead and pulled the trigger. There was a click and the rifle crackled with electricity.

“Malfunction!” the rifle cried. “Malfunction! Malfunction!”

The robot turned the rifle and began to try to fix the malfunction as the other robots broke completely out of the walls. Edward fled to the office, crashing into the door.

“Oh God, save me!” McElroy shrieked like a woman. “Kill it! Kill it!”

He was crouched behind the desk at the far end of the narrow office.

“Oh God!” he screamed. “Help! Oh God!”

Edward quickly flipped open his communicator and sent a group page.

“Tom and robots here,” it read.

Then he rushed McElroy as he clapped the laser rifle onto his back.

* * *

As soon as Arclight got the page, he took to the air. En route, he called the police on his cell phone, telling them the heroes needed to handle it and they needed to be there for back-up. The dispatcher said she would send police to the area.

* * *

“Go away!” McElroy shrieked. “Leave me alone!”

Outside, the robots were obviously coming towards the office door. People screamed and fled from the place. There were sounds of people stumbling and falling to the ground as well. Edward grabbed McElroy.

“No, leave me alone!” McElroy cried.

Edward moved behind him, still holding onto him.

“Better call off those robots, big boy!” he said.

A robot walked into the office and aimed its electric rifle at the two.

“No!” McElroy screamed. “Don’t shoot me! No! Let me go!”

The robot hesitated and Edward put his jaws around McElroy’s neck. Drool started to drip from his mouth.

“Lemme go!” McElroy screamed. “Lemme go!”

“You better call ‘em off, man,” Edward said.

“Don’t shoot!” McElroy screamed. “Don’t shoot!”

“I can take shots from them,” Edward said. “I don’t know about you.”

“Take hostages!” McElroy screamed. “Take hostages!”

Edward increased his grip on McElroy’s neck with his jaws as the robot beeped. More screams came from outside.

“Hostages have been secured,” the robot said.

McElroy grunted but was unable to talk due to the pressure Edward had placed upon his neck and the crocodile could actually feel the man’s heartbeat through his teeth. It was beating very quickly.

* * *

Tinker had gotten the page and left the Rusty Tap as quickly as he could, mounting up on his motorcycle and heading east towards the Chow Down Bar and Grill.

* * *

“We need four units to the Chow Down Bar and Grill, 1106 Hamilton Avenue,” the scanner said. “There’s a situation. Arclight needs back-up.”

Shadow Knight headed out and ran towards the area as quickly as he could. He knew he’d be there soon thanks to his super speed.

Wonder how he’ll take it when I help him out? he thought. This should improve our relationship.

* * *

The robot continued to point the electric rifle at Edward’s eyes. McElroy continued to grunt.

“I don’t know how many shots you’ve taken from these, but I’ve taken a few of them,” Edward said.

“Awaiting further orders,” the robot said.

That’s what I was waiting to hear, Edward thought.

“If further orders are not received within one minute, one hostage will be killed,” the robot said. “Please advise. Countdown begins now.”

Edward gripped McElroy harder as the robot started counting down from 60. The man grunted but could not talk.

“You’re cornering a wild animal,” Edward said. “That’s not advisable.”

McElroy grunted. When the count reached 30 seconds, Edward started releasing McElroy’s throat, just a little, but not enough for him to talk. McElroy grunted. Edward pulled McElroy more towards him and then released him enough to say something.

“Fifteen seconds,” the robot said.

“Lemme go,” McElroy muttered. “Or their deaths will be on your hands.”

“Ten, nine,” the robot said.

“Better call them off,” Edward said.

“Eight, seven,” the robot said.

“Let me go!” McElroy said.

“Six, five, four,” the robot said.

“Oh shit,” Edward said.

“Two, one,” the robot said.

“Robots!” McElroy said. “If you don’t receive word for me in one minute, kill all the hostages!”

Edward tightened his grip on the man’s throat once again.

“Countdown reset,” the robot said. “Fifty-nine, fifty-eight, …”

As the robot continued counting down, Edward reached for his wrist communicator and called Arclight.

“Yeah,” Arclight said when he picked up. “Yeah, I’m on my way.”

“How close?” Edward said.

“Pretty close,” Arclight said.

“Less than 30 seconds?” Edward said.

“Twenty-nine, twenty-eight, …” the robot continued to count down.

“What’s going on?” Arclight said.

“We got a hostage situation!” Edward said. “I can’t save anybody!”

“Yeah,” Arclight said. “Okay. Yeah yeah yeah.”

He hung up as the robot continued to count down and McElroy grunted and choked. He appeared to be trying to say something. Edward released him, drew his rifle, and put it at the man’s knee.

“Just get out!” McElroy said. “Just get out of here!”

“You have ten seconds,” Edward said.

“Just get out of here and … and they won’t be hurt,” McElroy said. “I’ll let all the hostages go if you get out.”

The robot reached 10 seconds in the countdown.

“You have five seconds to call them off,” Edward said.

“Spanish … Mexican standoff,” McElroy grunted. “Leave and you can take the hostages with you. But you’ve got to leave me. Hold up, robots, one minute!”

“Countdown reset,” the robot said and started to count down again.

“You have 55 seconds to call off your robots,” Edward said.

“Listen hero,” McElroy said, and coughed. “You can get out of here with the hostages, but you’re not taking me with you.”

Edward could smell urine. The man had pissed his pants.

“But you can get out and take the hostages with you,” McElroy said.

“Do you see me wearing a cape?” Edward asked.

“Nobody wears capes!” McElroy said. “That’s comic book shit! If you don’t care about the hostages … that’s fine by me. You blow my knee off, then I’ll have ‘em kill all of them. Cause I can do that with a word.”

Edward clamped down again. He accessed his suit through his communicator and took the recording he made of McElroy and replayed it.

“Hold up, robots. One minute,” he said, mimicking McElroy’s voice.

“Countdown Reset,” the robot said and started counting down again.

McElroy tried to break free of the grip Edward had on him without any luck. After about 30 seconds, he tried again.

“Don’t kill hostages yet,” he said, mimicking McElroy’s voice again.

The robot beeped again.

“Error,” it said. “False audio. Please repeat.”

Edward tried again.

“Don’t kill the hostages yet,” he said this time.

“Error,” the robot said. “False audio. Hostages will be immediately killed unless further orders are received. In five, four, three, two, …”

Edward released McElroy’s neck.

“Stop!” McElroy said. “Wait. One minute.”

The robot started counting down from 60 again.

“You can take the hostages and you can go,” McElroy coughed. “Just leave me alone.”

Edward pulled the man to towards the door.

“Huh-uh,” McElroy said. “You’re leaving me here. Let me go. You can go and the hostages can go. But I’m staying here.”

Edward clamped down on his neck again. Then he dragged McElroy out of the office and towards the front door. The man tried to talk but couldn’t. The robot kept counting down. He saw two of the robots had a single customer held in their arms. Another robot had a bartender by the arm; that man had a phone handset in his hand. Another robot had two children held hostage. The last robot had a woman and her baby.

Edward set his foot on McElroy’s back and kicked him to the ground. The man grunted.

“One minute more!” McElroy yelled.

“He said the hostages can go!” Edward called out.

The robot that followed them out of the office started counting down from 60 again.

“You go!” McElroy said to Edward. “You go and you take the hostages! Go over to the door! Go to the door! Right now! Robots, be ready. Robots, be ready.”

McElroy rolled over onto his back.

“I’ve let you go,” Edward said to him. “Tell them to let them go.”

“No,” McElroy said. “You go first and I’ll send the hostages out after.”

“That’s not what you said,” Edward said.

“That’s what I’m saying now!” McElroy said.

The robot continued to count down.

“You go to the door,” McElroy said. “And you can have the hostages. I’ll let them meet you at the door.”

“Then they move at the same time,” Edward said.

“Go to the door and then they move to you,” McElroy said.

Edward thought about it a moment.

“Just go!” McElroy said. “Get out of here!”

Edward could hear sirens in the distance. He put his gun up against McElroy’s head.

“I’m going to tell them to kill the baby first, man,” McElroy said, sweating. “You can’t win, man. You can’t win this. And if you kill me, they’ll kill all the hostages. If he kills me, kill all the hostages!”

Edward thought.

“Go on!” McElroy said. “Go. Go on, superhero. Go on.”

Edward grabbed McElroy roughly by the shoulder and rolled him onto his belly. He manipulated a switch that would boost the power to the weapon and it started to hum ominously. He put the rifle on his back.

“The ****!?!” McElroy said.

“That’s set to explode,” Edward said. “On my command.”

“If I die the hostages die!” McElroy said very loudly.

“I’m backing out,” Edward said. “If the hostages don’t immediately follow me …”

“How long I got?” McElroy said.

“You said as soon as I leave, the hostages are done,” Edward said.

“And then it explodes on my back?” McElroy said.

“No, it’s all completely on my command,” Edward said, flipping open his communicator. “I can completely control it.”

“Okay, there’s cameras recording this shit!” McElroy said, pointing vaguely above him.

“I been able to get here from Australia without getting caught,” Edward said.

“Why the hell should I let them go if you’re just going to murder me, you dick?” McElroy said.

“Why the hell should I leave if you’re just going to kill everybody?”

“I’m not! I’m letting them go once you’re gone. That’s what I said.”

“All right. We’ll see how that goes.”

Edward walked towards the door. McElroy looked nervous and confused. Then he rolled over so the laser rifle fell from his back. He crawled behind the bar.

“Send the hostages to that guy!” he shouted.

All of the robots opened up their arms and released their hostages.

“Cover him!” McElroy shouted.

All of the robots put their rifles to their shoulders and aimed at Edward. The hostages ran towards Edward and crashed out of the doors into the darkness of the parking lot. The woman with the baby was crying, as was the girl.

“This is so cool,” the little boy said as he passed Edward.

Edward pointed outside and they ran by him. The little boy was the last one.

“This is so cool!” the little boy, the last one out, said. Then to Edward: “You are so cool!”

He tried to hug the crocodile and then walked out. Edward thought he heard McElroy hacking behind the bar.

“Has he gone?” McElroy called.

“Subject is still in doorway,” one of the robots said.

“Get out or they’ll shoot you!” McElroy screamed. “You got five seconds!”

Then Edward’s laser rifle powered back down to its normal state.

“What the ****!?!” McElroy yelled. “That wasn’t a bomb at all, was it, you son of a ****!”

Edward could hear sirens and see flashing police lights approaching down the street. McElroy peeked over the bar.

“Get out!” he shrieked. “Get out!”

Edward backed out and let the door close behind him. Three police cars pulled into the parking lot even as many of the customers got into their cars and drove away. The parents of the two children held hostage grabbed up their kids and cried. Then Arclight flew down and landed in the parking lot, the Shadow Knight ran up on black raven wings, and Tinker drove up on his motorcycle following the police.

The police started moving people away from the building and placed their cars in a defensive line. One of them asked what was going on.

“Surround the−” Edward started to say.

“Arclight!” another officer said. “It’s Arclight!”

“Did you call the cops?” another officer said.

“What’s going on?” a third said.

“Tommy’s here with robots,” Arclight said.

“Robots?” the first police officer said. “Tommy who? What are you talking about?”

“Tell them to surround the building,” Edward said. “We need to make sure no one gets out of here.”

Arclight started to give the order but two policemen were already heading towards the back of the Chow Down.

“Edward, where’s Tommy?” Arclight said.

“He’s inside,” Edward said. “There’s six robots.”

“So, the robots have guns?” Arclight said.

“Yes,” Edward said. “And my gun.”

“And your gun?” Arclight said. “What happened to your gun?”

“I used it as a bluff,” Edward said.

Shadow Knight walked over to them. He had a helmet on now.

“What are you doing here, Hans?” Arclight asked.

“What’s the situation?” the voice came back.

It sounded very gravelly and harsh.

“One dude in there, six robots,” Edward said.

“And we’re not going to kill the one guy because we need information from him,” Arclight said.

“He’s also, like, out of breath,” Edward said. “I kind of choked him for, like, three minutes.”

“Who’s in there?” one of the officers said. “What’s going on?”

“Tommy McElroy,” Edward said.

“He’s behind the apartment fires,” Arclight said.

Arclight handed off the frigid gun to Edward.

“How fast are you?” Tinker asked Shadow Knight.

“Fast enough,” the man replied.

“We don’t need to involve this guy,” Arclight said.

“I can go in and make it so they can’t see, though I’ll be able to see everything indoors,” Shadow Knight said.

“I think this might be too dangerous for you,” Arclight said.

Edward, meanwhile, checked the dial to make sure it was turned o the side that did damage as opposed to encasing things in ice.

“This can freeze things to where they break really easily,” Edward said.

“Well, maybe not really easily,” Arclight said. “I punched it as hard as I could.”

Shadow Knight drew one of his swords.

“Hey, Arclight,” Edward said. “Me and you run in, make a commotion.”

“Like always,” Arclight said.

“I give the freeze gun to fast man over there,” Edward said. “To freeze every robot. That gun−”

“Can we not disable them quicker?” Shadow Knight said.

“That is the quickest way I can think of,” Edward said.

“Would one of you want to do that?” Shadow Knight said. “I could try to cut them.”

“They’re made of metal,” Edward said. “I would imagine …”

“I’m strong,” Shadow Knight said.

“… freezing them …” Edward said.

“I still think this is too dangerous for him,” Arclight said, looking at Shadow Knight.

“I will,” Shadow Knight said, taking the frigid gun with his off hand.

“I figure that’s out best option,” Edward said.

“Let’s me and you go start a commotion then,” Arclight said. “But now you don’t have a gun.”

“I don’t,” Edward said.

Arclight asked one of the police officers for a shotgun for Edward but the man refused him.

“All right, I’m going to go put my life on the line, then,” Edward said.

He headed for the building while Arclight looked for Sgt. Smith. The man wasn’t there.

“Are we ready?” Shadow Knight said.

“I think so,” Arclight said. “Tinker?”

“I have no idea what’s going on,” Tinker said. “Robots and this guy?”

“We’re going to run in and be stupid,” Arclight said.

“Oh God,” Tinker said.

“And this guy’s going to show us what he can do, right?” Arclight said, gesturing at Shadow Knight.

“Can you take shot from electricity?” Edward asked Tinker.

It was very dark in the bar. It looked like most of the lights in there had been turned off. With the tinted windows, it was almost impossible to see into the building.

“Should I break the windows?” Shadow Knight said.

“I honestly thought my idea was really good,” Edward said, walking back to the others.

One of the two front doors opened as they talked and a robot stood there.

“I want transportation!” McElroy shouted from inside. “I want a plane out of the country!”

The Shadow Knight ran forward with amazing speed and fired the frigid gun at the robot in the doorway at point blank range. He still missed, blasting the neon “Chow Down Bar and Grill” sign and covered it with frost. The glass shattered and fell to the ground in front of the bar.

“Oh my God!” McElroy screamed from inside.

Arclight flew towards the robot and slammed both of his fists into it, damaging it but not destroying it.

“Alert! Alert!” the robot said. “Aggressive Action!”

It started to raise its electric rifle and Shadow Knight fired the frigid gun again. It roared and this time the blast struck the robot in the chest. Frost formed on the robot from the chest over its head and down to its feet, completely covering it. The lights on the robot’s head went out.

“Break it!” Edward yelled.

Shadow Knight swung his sword, neatly cutting through the robot. The top half slid off the bottom half and crashed to the sidewalk. It landed face-first, the entire top of the thing shattering like glass, including the frost-covered electric gun.

“Maybe I was wrong about you,” Arclight said.

Tinker, over by the police cars, aimed his laser pistol and shot one of the windows, hoping to shatter the glass. His laser pistol didn’t have a visible beam. It hummed when he pulled the trigger and a small hole was burned in one of the pieces of glass.

“God damn it!” Tinker said.

“Keep doing that!” Edward said to Shadow Knight.

The door had closed part of the way, bumping into the legs of the robot that still stood there without a body.

“Oh God!” McElroy screamed from inside again.

Little *****, Arclight thought. We’re coming for you. You’re going to die tonight, Tommy.

Edward ran up to the front of the building next to Shadow Knight.

“I’m a little bit better shot than you,” Edward said.

He grabbed the frigid gun from Shadow Knight, who just let it go.

Arclight started glowing.

“Target sighted!” the robots said. “Destroy! Destroy! Destroy!”

Arclight saw McElroy in the room directly ahead of him and flew right at the man, trying to grapple him but merely knocking him down even as the robots fired at the doorway. Arclight overshot and landed on the floor behind him as McElroy screamed. The lightning that blasted from the doorway tore away a good portion of the open door and one of the three blasts actually hit Shadow Knight but he wasn’t injured by it. Small explosions of darkness seemed to come off the man.

He moved into the building and leveled his sword into the room. Darkness came off it and filled a wide area in a dome of the stuff.

“Engage radar,” one of the robots said.

There was a bleeping noise.

“Ineffective. Destroy everything in the area!” one of the robots said. “Fire at will!”

“Did I hit anything!?!” Tinker called.

He ran towards the building.

Most of the interior of the bar was filled with a terrible blackness. It caught both Arclight and McElroy. McElroy screamed and crashed into Arclight, trying to get away. Edward crashed into the other door and flung it open, running into an area where there was no darkness. He spotted a robot behind the bar and fired the frigid gun at it, hitting the thing in the chest. A good portion of the robot was covered in frost but the robot didn’t shut down. It turned towards him and raised his gun, firing at Edward. The blast missed Edward and blasted the wall behind him, blowing out a large hole.

Danger. Electrical danger,” his suit told him. “Danger. Electrical danger.”

Arclight suddenly flew out of the darkness and smashed through the window at the front of the place. He stopped just outside the bar. In the back, two robots headed towards the front.

Inside the bubble of darkness, Shadow Knight rushed one of the confused robots, one of his sword hitting it at a bad angle and bouncing off it while the other sword cut through the robot. There was a sizzle of electricity and the sound of the thing powering down.

“Error …” it said, the voice fading at the end.

The robot fell to pieces.

Edward, standing outside of the darkness, saw Shadow Knight leap out of the black bubble, both of his legs tucked under him as he flew over the bar. He swung both swords at the robot, but both of them missed. He landed next to the machine.

Arclight peeked into the window and saw a robot outside of the darkness. He rushed the robot and slammed the robot in the head, which flew right off the thing.

“Error! Error! Error!” it said as it flew away.

The body shuddered and stopped moving. Arclight grabbed the lightning gun out of his hands and then kicked it over.

Behind the bar, Shadow Knight ran from the robot and rushed to the one coming from the back of the restaurant. One sword bounced off the robot but the other one cut into the machine but didn’t destroy it. The blow knocked the robot back about eight meters where it crashed to the ground.

“Malfunction! Malfunction! Malfunction!” the robot cried.

Nearby, Edward, staring down the robot the whole time, fired the frigid gun at it again. He missed and ice formed on the wall behind it. Something shook and there was a pop as a beer keg, now filled with frozen beer, ruptured and broke open.

The robot near Shadow Knight sat up and fired at the man while the one that came out of the kitchen looked around. The blast missed the man as he zipped out of the way and blasted the side of the bar.

“Assessing,” the robot near the kitchen said.

The robot behind the bar fired at Edward again. The lightning headed for him and he leaned back away from the blast, which missed him my mere inches. He never took his eyes on the robot and continued to point the gun at it. Arclight suddenly burst out of the darkness over the bar and stopped just before he hit the wall near it.

* * *

Outside, Tinker ran towards the hole in the wall when a blast of lightning came out of it. He dived down and the blast went over him and struck the ground somewhere behind him.

* * *

“Hi Edward!” Arclight said.

“Hi!” Edward replied. “Where’s McElroy?”

“The darkness,” Arclight said. “Where did that shit come from?”

“Quick guy,” Edward said.

Across the room, Shadow Knight rushed the robot coming out of the kitchen, cutting it with one of his swords and knocking it back into the tables behind it.

* * *

“What the **** is happening in there?” Tinker said to himself.

He stood up and headed to the hole in the wall. The darkness covered a good section of the room and he could see Edward pointing the frigid gun at the robot behind the bar. Arclight was between the two.

“Ow!” McElroy yelled from somewhere in the darkness as he ran into something. “I’ve had enough of this! I’ve had enough of this!”

There was a hissing noise just like Edward’s laser rifle from somewhere in the darkness and a flash came from the other side of the room. Edward fired another shot from the frigid gun at the robot but overcompensated. The blast struck a rack of bottles, which froze, cracked and then shattered, disgorging wine-bottle-shaped chunks of white or red ice that shattered when they hit the floor.

The robot fired as Arclight flew directly towards it. The lightning struck him and cascaded around him as he flew through it and slammed the robot. He put his fist through the chest of the thing and it flew backward and crashed to the ground a few meters away.

Across the room, the robot that had crashed into the wall brought its electric rifle to bear on Shadow Knight. It pulled the trigger and the gun crackled.

“Malfunction!” the gun said. “Malfunction! Malfunction!”

The last robot, near the back, got to its feet.

Shadow Knight thrust his sword into the chest of the robot with the malfunctioning electric gun. It shivered, crackled with electricity, and then collapsed to the floor.

The darkness in the middle of the room seemed to melt away. Tommy McElroy stood there, Edward’s laser rifle in his hands. Shadow Knight rushed the man with his swords and McElroy screamed. Shadow Knight slammed the hilts of the swords into the man’s head and he went down to the ground in a heap.

Arclight rushed the last robot, which was already damaged. He slammed into the thing, tackling it, flung off his gloves, and then pounded on the robot until the head was inverted and it made no more noises. His hands were bloodied by the time he was done.

They looked around. None of the robots were still moving. Some of them still made strange noises but they were obviously out of commission. Tinker entered the room as Shadow Knight picked up a groggy McElroy by the back of his shirt. Tinker went over to the robot without a head and started examining it. Arclight went over to McElroy and grabbed him by the back of the jacket as well, but on the other side.

“This man’s going to answer for his sins,” Arclight said.

“What’d he do?” Shadow Knight asked. “Who is he?”

Edward picked up his laser rifle and then took a napkin to wipe his sweat off it. He went back to the office to look for paperwork.

Together, Arclight and Shadow Night walked out of the bar and grill with the man. More police cars were starting to arrive. There was a very loud gunshot and McElroy jerked back as the bullet struck him in the chest.

“Holy shit!” Arclight cried.

Shadow Knight let go of the man and McElroy turned towards Arclight with blood on his chest, clawing at him.

“The Syndicate!” he muttered. “The Syndicate!”

Then he died.

Arclight put him down.

“Sniper!” the police yelled. “Sniper!”

Shadow Knight concentrated a moment and realized there was someone up on top of the building across the parking lot.

“Over here!” he yelled and ran towards the building.

Arclight flew after him and the man ran up the wall of the building. As Shadow Knight came up over the side of the building, a bullet struck him in the chest but just bounced off his armor. Behind him, Arclight fired up his shield. Shadow Knight didn’t see anyone. Arclight flew up over the top of the building but there was no one there.

“Where is he?” Arclight said.

There seemed to be an invisible shape by the radio antenna.

“By the antenna!” Shadow Knight said.

There was no one over there.

“Where is he?” Arclight said.

Shadow Knight ran over towards the antenna with Arclight close behind.

“Good luck, heroes!” a voice out of nowhere said.

Something came out of nowhere that flashed. It arced towards the police cars. Arclight turned and flew after the device. Shadow Knight lost where the man was - his super touch was not registering any movement. He ran to the spot where the flung the bomb from but couldn’t feel anything.

* * *

Arclight followed the grenade down and tried to grab it but missed completely. He grabbed at it again but missed again as it hit the ground.

“Bomb! Bomb!” he yelled.

In desperation, he landed on the thing and covered it with himself. There was an explosion under him that flung him up in the air about eight yards. He crashed back to the ground with a groan.

Edward ran out of the bar and grill in time to see Arclight crash to the ground and then get flung upwards by the explosion. Tinker was looking out of the window when it happened and then headed out to see to McElroy. Several police officers ran to Arclight where he lay.

* * *

Shadow Knight looked around the roof and thought he felt someone at the edge of the roof, but the person only seemed to be a couple of feet tall. The fugitive had seemed larger earlier. There was no sign of anyone though. He ran over and looked over the edge. He could not make out the person any more. No one was on the roof or the side of the building.

Somebody was walking away from the area of the building. He had long hair and a long beard and didn’t appear to be armed. He staggered a little as if he was drunk. He ran over to the parking lot and saw there were few cars in it. The long-haired man turned and headed up the road. He followed the man up the road a little but he looked lost. He looked at the man, trying to see his face so he’d recognize him later.

Then he ran to the rooftop where the sniper had been hiding but found nothing there.

* * *

Edward ran over to Arclight, who looked like he was in a lot of pain.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Oh … God,” Arclight muttered. “Find … find Hans … whatever.”

Over by McElroy, Tinker found the man was very dead. He started looking around for the bullet. It had to be in the ground somewhere nearby as it had passed right through the man. He continued to search around and found the it in the pavement. He dug it out; it was a .50 caliber round. He guessed it was probably fired from a Barrett.

Edward advised the police search through McElroy’s office. He suggested they be on the lookout for anything about arson as he believed McElroy had been behind the fires at the apartment buildings recently.

“What? Really?” the officer said. “Good job … what? What is your name?”

“Edward,” Edward said.

“I thought you were Cool Croc or something,” the officer said.

Edward shook his head.

“Good job, Edward!” the officer said. “You figured that out by yourself? Man! This guy’s a genius!”

“No,” Edward said. “All of us.”

He went over to the crater from the explosion and found several pieces of shrapnel, pocketing them to give to Tinker later. He overheard the police taking statements from the hostages, most of whom claimed the “Crocodile-Man” had saved them all. The little boy who had been held hostage was really excited about Edward.

“I wanna be just like him when I grow up!” he said.

Do you need a magnet?” Edward’s suit asked him. “Or a holster?

“Uh … yeah,” Edward said. “I guess, sure …”

Which do you prefer?” the suit asked.

“Let’s do a magnet,” Edward said.

Something appeared on the side of the suit. When he put the gun to it, it clamped on.

The police took over the scene and started processing it. Paramedics saw to Arclight’s bruises and gave him some Advil. Tinker found him and asked for his help taking one of the robots back to his apartment. Arclight suggested he drag it around the side of a building until after he dealt with the media.

“So, did you stop the grenade?” Shadow Knight asked Arclight.

He had seen the crater by the untouched police car and he’d also noticed the black scorch on Arclight’s chest, as well as the shrapnel sticking into the man’s armor.

“So, you couldn’t catch it in midair?” he said.

“I couldn’t catch it,” Arclight said. “But my abs did.”

The media showed up shortly after that. Arclight got up to answer questions. Tinker put his mask on and joined him.

“What happened here?” one reporter asked.

Arclight held himself carefully, grimacing in pain.

“We found out that Tommy McElroy was behind the apartment fires,” he said. “We are not yet sure why he was burning down the buildings. We confronted him about it. He took hostages and tried to kill them. We stopped him and his robots, apprehended him, and then he was assassinated before we could turn him in to the police.”

“What?” someone said.

“He was assassinated?” another said.

“Did you catch the assassin?” a third said.

“Who’s the assassin?” another asked. “What did he look like?”

“The assassin is an exotic that we do not know …” Arclight said, looking at Shadow Knight. “He then tried to throw a bomb at the cops and, as you can see, I apprehended said bomb. In my torso, which was badly bruised.”

“Arclight! Arclight!” one reporter called. “Steve Steele, WJZY Fox News!”

“What do you want, Steve?” Arclight said. “God damn!”

“Do you think Vanguard’s behind this?” Steele asked.

“I do not think Vanguard is behind this,” Arclight said.

“But how can you be sure?” Steele said. “Did you see him at the vicinity?”

“I did not,” Arclight said.

“So, is he hiding out somewhere?”

“He could be.”

“There you have it folks, Vanguard is behind this but he’s hiding out!”

More questions were asked and answered.

* * *

“So, you’re taking one of the robots?” Shadow Knight said in his deep voice to Tinker as Arclight fielded questions.

“What?” Tinker said. “Honestly, I prefer the German. It sounds less angry somehow.”

“I use the voice to … disguise better,” Shadow Knight said in his own voice.

“Yeah, I’m taking a robot,” Tinker said.

“So, you are into technology?”

“Very much.”

“Nice. It looks like it’s rather heavy. Will it fit on your motorcycle?”

“No, but I’m hoping Arclight’s going to give me a hand with that.”

“He looks a little injured at the moment.”

“He’s tough. Look at him. He said he would. He wouldn’t lie to me.”

“It’s good that he was able to save the police. Perhaps I could lend you a hand.”

“That’d be great. I’m not going to turn it down.”

“So how much did you want? Just the one?”

“The whole thing. Yeah. The robot.”

“The others: no?”

“I mean, this one seems to be in the best condition, so … I figured it would do.”

“If you take this portion of another, would it not help you reattach?”

“This one’s just missing it’s head.”

“Oh, so it should be easy to fix?”

“Yes. Yes, it should be. Yeah, no. Any time now. Whenever he’s done with the media!”

Tinker was tapping his foot and raised his voice.

“Would you like me to take it now?” Shadow Knight said as Arclight walked over.

“Are you ready to go?” Arclight asked Tinker.

“Let’s do this,” Tinker said.

Edward slipped out of the shadows and handed Tinker a tiny baggy of the shrapnel.

“This is from the grenade,” Edward said. “Maybe the material will help us find out about whoever they are.”

“Yes,” Tinker said. “I would like that.”

“So, apparently Charlotte is plagued by this … Syndicate?” Shadow Knight said.

“So, German guy, I might have been wrong about you from the beginning,” Arclight said.

“In public, you mind calling me The Shadow Knight?” The Shadow Knight said.

“Shadow Knight … yeah, okay,” Arclight said. “You helped us quite a bit and … um … it … pains me to say this, but do you want to help … us?”

“Pains you?”

“Yeah. I don’t like being wrong.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“Ugh.”

“No, I would love to help you - especially if it can make this city safer.”

“Great.”

“Maybe don’t flag our captured out quite open next time,” Edward said.

“Excuse me?” Shadow Knight said.

“Maybe don’t just hold who we’ve captured wide open,” Edward said.

“Well, next time I will assume there may be an assassin,” Shadow Knight said.

“We didn’t know Tommy was going to get shot,” Arclight said. “He’s a pretty hated buy but I didn’t think anybody’d actually kill the guy.”

“He made a big target too,” Shadow Knight said.

“We couldn’t have shielded him if we tried,” Arclight said.

“I’m just upset that I didn’t get to shoot him,” Edward said. “I wouldn’t have killed him.”

“Oh,” Shadow Knight said. “Well, he’s still there if you want to.”

They looked over at the body bag the paramedics had put over McElroy’s body.

“Let’s get this robot to your place though,” Arclight said.

They all headed back to Tinker’s apartment. He had taken one of the lightning guns and had the damaged robot as well as the grenade shrapnel.

Arclight’s cell phone rang. He didn’t recognize the number but answered.

“Hello?” he said.

“Uh … hey,” a woman’s voice said.

“Hi,” Arclight said.

“It’s me,” the woman said. “We met at the bar tonight?”

“Yeah, we did.”

“I’m Megan, by the way.”

“Yes. I’m glad I have a name for the face. The pretty face.”

“You’re Kurt, right?”

“Yeah. Kurt Richards. Arclight.”

“Are you okay? I saw you on the news.”

“Yeah, I jumped on a bomb today.”

“Oh, you did?”

“Yeah. My abs hurt.”

“Well, maybe I could help you with that.”

“Yeah? So, is this happening?”

“Well, the bar is going to be closed shortly.”

“Yeah, I could pick you up.”

“So, come on by.”

“All right. I’ll do that.”

* * *

While Arclight talked on the phone, Shadow Knight turned to Tinker.

“Is he like this a lot?” he asked. “You seem much more relaxed now.”

“I got my robot,” Tinker said, lighting a cigarette. “I got my electric gun. Woo-hoo.”

* * *

Arclight hung up and there was a scratching at the door.

“Wha …?” Tinker said. “What …?”

He opened the door. Doug the Pug was there.

“I got lost,” the dog confessed.

“Doug!” Arclight said. “Yeah you did! What the ****?”

“I … uh … went to that apartment building that you guys fought them at,” Doug said.

“Oh,” Arclight said.

“I thought that’s where we were meeting,” Doug said.

“Oh,” Arclight said. “Doug! You have a pager for these things.”

“I forgot,” Doug said.

“Didn’t look at it,” Arclight said. “Didn’t look at it. Well, remember for next time.”

“I will,” Doug said. “I’m sorry.”

“Also, I’ve got a date tonight so you’re going to be sleeping over at Tinker’s tonight, alright?” Arclight said.

“What?” Tinker said.

Arclight walked out the door.

“Yea!” Doug said.

He ran to the couch and lay down comfortably, settling in.

“He seems a little offensive,” Shadow Knight said. “If you ever need to contact me … uh … here is a number you can reach me.”

He gave Tinker a cell phone number for his work phone. Edward went over to the couch with Doug.

“If you don’t mind distributing to the rest of your team?” Shadow Knight said.

“I can do that,” Tinker said.

He sent a text to all of the others with the number for “Shadow German.”

“Done,” he said.

* * *

Shadow Knight went home and found his nine-year-old daughter, Zoey, watching Inuyasha on Adult Swim when he got home.

* * *

Edward got up to go back to the sewers.

“You don’t gotta go down there,” Tinker said.

“What’s wrong with my life?” Edward asked.

“Nothing!” Tinker said. “Go, if you want to. I don’t give a ****. I just thought I’d be nice. Since you’re already here. I just don’t want to be alone with Doug.”

Doug looked up and frowned, putting his head back down on his paws. He looked sad.

“I like Doug,” Edward said.

* * *

Arclight met Megan at the bar and was a complete gentleman with the woman. Megan, whose last name was Morgan took Arclight home to her apartment and he ended up spending the night there. She preferred to be intimate without only lava lamps on in her room.

* * *

On Monday, October 27, 2014, Arclight had a meeting with Papa Franchetti. Papa Alexei Franchetti proved to be a large Russian man with a salt and pepper beard and mustache who wore a black coat and a fur hat.

“Da, I would like you to do commercial,” he said with a heavy Russian accent.

He told Arclight he had only lived in America for a few years, opening the pizza restaurant as he loved pizzas and especially calzones, which was the house specialty.

“Make me impressive commercial,” he said to Arclight.

“I’ll make you the best commercial, Papa Franchetti,” Arclight said.

“You are good man!” Papa Franchetti said.

He kissed Arclight’s cheeks and embraced him.

When he got back to Vanguard’s, he found a check from Murray, his agent for the work he’d done on the Arrow television series. He had only taken a day to film his scene as Doctor Light. It had taken place in a super villain bar and someone had said to him:

“Yo, Light, come over here. It’s dark.”

He had walked over to the table.

“I didn’t go to graduate school for eight years to be called Light,” had been his only line. “It’s Doctor Light!”

Then he had flared up and blinded the people at the table.

The check was for $4,500.

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