Tao of Hypertime Home > Original Works > Earth-9 > Freelance Immortals > Chapter 6

Freelance Immortals

Chapter 6: Champions

Quantum looked bleakly at the incoming Destroids. A full complement of fresh troops, each with the power to fight psions. The other Destroids rose to meet them.

"We'll...never...give up," she wheezed through the grip on her throat.

"Then you will be crushed--eh?" Destroyer and Quantum looked up in equal surprise.

The Destroids were annihilating each other!

"NO!" Destroyer roared.

"Yes!" Quantum exulted, filling Destroyer's helm with internuclear blast. He jerked back, releasing her. She tumbled away, slowly regaining her bearings.

The island opened fire on the invading forces, disruptors shattering the remaining Destroids and stunning the human forces.

"Defender," Dr. Destroyer growled simply. Solitaire merely smiled as the island descended into the bay. The central dome irised open, and a single blue-and-gold streak rocketed out with but one goal in mind.

"DESTROOOOOYER!" Defender roared, slamming into the cosmic tyrant. The two armored psions tumbled through the air, fire and lightning winding around them as their brutal fight tossed them through the sky above the battle.

"You have spirit, boy. I like that." Destroyer swing the Spear of Wotan around in a deadly slashing arc. "I'll destroy it, but I like it."

"You've tried before, Destroyer, and I'm still here," Defender replied, parrying with the Phoenix Rod. "You couldn't conquer Atlantis, and you won't conquer America!"

"By the time of the Cataclysm, my shadow stretched across half the world, and I ruled a fourth of it outright. That was in a time of legends and power, and Atlan." Their battle was hard fought, without quarter. "Atlan is no more, his daughter is a ghost of her former might, and you, my old foe...you are nothing." An asteroid appeared above them, crashing through the battle. When the fiery trail had faded, Defender could not be seen. "You are a puppy pretending to be a wardog, Defender. And you will be torn apart as easily as one."

There was a 'pop' behind Destroyer, and a lightning bolt the size of a freight train slammed into him. "This 'puppy' knows plenty of _tricks,_ Destroyer," Defender said, glowing like a tiny star.

Destroyer whirled around, the two stared daggers at one another, and the battle was rejoined...

* * *

Inside the UN building, a firefight from Hell was being fought.

The few remaining Destroids fought alongside Destroyer's forces against the rallying UNTIL agents, while super-battles occasionally ripped through, sending both sides into chaos. Quantum and Charger played a deadly, aerial game of tag, while Seeker and Menton fought on planes both physical and psychic.

And on the roof...

Stormwatch dodged Aramegil, two blaster bolts, and a shuriken. "At last! A true challenge! Tell me, Solitaire, does it not make your blood race?"

"Aye, I have to admit ye're more interesting than the last opponent I faced. If not nearly as big a threat." As usual, battle brought out Solitaire's brogue. [Like even _Destroyer_ could take on Mauler single-handed.]

Stormwatch nodded faintly. "Given what my master has told us of what you faced, I am not surprised. But that was more a matter of brute force than skill. Mere brawling, not a true test of a warrior." The martial artist leaped back, then hopped forward, vaulting over and thrusting several times at Solitaire while overhead. She parried them all, if barely. Stormwatch's smile broadened beneath his mask. "Magnificent."

Solitaire decided to forego the trading of quips, instead opting to try an unusual counterattack. Shrinking Aramegil and closing, she held the parry, spun underneath his guard, lengthened the blade again, and slashed upward, spinning her own body in the process to end the stroke upright.

Stormwatch flipped back, using the same multi-thrust effect to parry, but ended the maneuver with a long, thin, light cut along his chest. "Most impressive," he said, his smile never wavering. Then he leaped forward again, thrusting the staff at full extension. When Morgan dodged, he used it to vault high into the air, coming back down practically on top of her. When Morgan held her sword out and up, he parried, and thrust, counter-thrust and riposte left both slightly cut and/or bruised. Both stepped back for a moment to reassess hir opponent.

* * *

Destroyer held up his spear. "Enough."

Darkness enveloped Defender. When he shattered the darkness field, he saw six Destroids appear before him, slamming him into the UN.

"I think you will find that Quantum's little disruption effect will not work on _those_ Destroids, Defender," Destroyer said quietly, allowing himself a tiny smile. Then he turned to face the camera crews below. "Behold, people of Earth...your new master!"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Defender sighed, scanning the Destroids and adjusting his PK energies accordingly, "been there, heard that." A plasma field enveloped the energy-robots, consuming them. *Status, people.*

*Defender! Good to hear your 'voice,' mate,* Seeker replied. *Quantum's taking a beating from Charger and several agents, Behemoth's gettin' kicked around pretty good by Blackstar and _his_ agents, and I'm just about holdin' my own against this bruce. On the up side, Jaguar an' Obsidian are holding the rear entrance against Gremlin and 'er lot, and Soli's havin' the time of her life on the roof against Stormwatch.*

Defender chuckled. *Looks like she's finally got her duel.* He sobered quickly. *Where's Quantum?*

Moments later...

"Got ya, you refugee from a funnybook!" Charger exulted, as he and a dozen agents fired at Quantum.

"Look who's _talking,_ loser," Quantum replied, throwing up a forcefield just barely in time. "It'd be a different tune without your goon squad."

"Then let's even the odds!" Defender said, flying in and slamming into Charger.

"Hnnf--Defender!" Charger's eyes flew wide, and energy crackled around them.

"All RIGHT!" Quantum turned a wicked grin on the agents. "Now let's see what _you_ losers can do." Her hand flew out, and the area shone with dozens of white sparks. When their vision returned, their guns were dust. So were their communicators, visors, uniforms...all she'd left them with was their underwear. "Not much, apparently."

The agents squawked indignantly, then ran for their lives. And slammed into a forcewall.

"Hey, 'D!' Share the wealth!" Quantum clapped her hands.

"All yours, 'Q!' Enjoy!" Defender tossed Charger down.

"Noooo--" Charger objected, just before Quantum sent him into unconsciousness with a stun bolt.

"Now we're talking! Let's go find some other villains to stomp!" Quantum exulted.

"Still don't like the suit?" Defender laughed.

"Hey, blue and gold aren't for everyone," she quipped as they flew off.

* * *

"Come on, loser! Wimp! What's the matter, big bad hero can't hack it?"

Behemoth ducked another volley of blaster fire, eyes narrowed. "We'll see who can 'hack' it once you don't have your gunsels to hide behind," he shot back.

Blackstar laughed. "Awww, gee, that's too bad. I guess you're not as bulletproof as you ought to be. You--holy--!"

Behemoth lifted an entire wall, and threw it at the squad. The blow knocked most of them back. "Let's have that talk about hacking now--oh, for the Dreaming's _sake!_"

Another squad rushed in, blasters at the ready. The blasters suddenly became chocolate.

"Oh for Light's sake, Quantum, Solitaire's bad enough!" Defender sighed as he and Quantum plowed into the goons. Blackstar paled and turned to run, only to have a chimerical mace plow into his head. He fell over, his head turning at a sickening angle for a moment, then shifting back as if the injury had never taken place.

Defender stared for a moment. "Don't you have to use some kind of 'Glamour' energy to do that sort of thing?"

Behemoth smiled a large, toothy smile. "What do you think makes me a super?" He stared at Blackstar as Quantum's gloves glittered; a pair of cuffs appeared in her hands, and she quickly restrained the brute. "Stupid bully," Behemoth added.

"Let's go, people," Defender commanded. "We've still got a few 'Ultimates' to deal with." The three heroes worked their way down the building, aiding UNTIL agents and making short work of Destroyer's Air Cavalry. No more Destroids appeared.

Soon, they found themselves in the main hall of the UN council. Standing before the podium, before over a hundred psionically frozen diplomats, Seeker and Menton fought a two-pronged duel. While Menton was no physical match for Seeker's martial skill, Seeker's telepathic prowess had met its match in Menton's, and Menton had sufficient physical power to defend himself. The two were evenly matched; only Seeker's desperate struggle to keep Menton from killing the helpless council members gave Menton the upper hand. But it was enough; Seeker was losing.

Defender, Quantum, and Behemoth looked at each other and smiled.

Each appeared around Menton at 90 degrees from Seeker and each other, surrounding him neatly. Behemoth used a Fuddle cantrip, Defender fired a psibolt, and Quantum just blasted him. None alone could defeat the nearly-unstoppable psion. All three together left Menton dazed; his eyes cleared just long enough to see Seeker's foot fill his vision.

"Thanks, mates," Seeker breathed. "Who's left?"

Defender smiled darkly. "Gremlin is in for a _nasty_ surprise..."

* * *

Stormwatch spun around, his bo staff whirling at her ankles. Solitaire leapt over it easily, but Stormwatch slid beneath her, and before she could land and turn, the bo staff cracked against the back of her head. "I regret that my master has commanded your death. I had hoped to fight you again." The staff whirled, spinning for her head.

Solitaire rolled over, parrying just in time and slashing at his hands. Stormwatch parried, but while he deflected the blow, she surged forward, slashing his arms and disarming him (figuratively). Stormwatch stared equanimously at the swordpoint leveled at his throat. "Victory is yours, sorceress. A worthy battle. My only regret is that I failed my master." She reared back to lunge...

"Solitaire! NO!" Defender shouted, the other six warriors alighting on the roof. A bound and unconscious Gremlin was deposited on the ground by Obsidian. She stops the blow, and instead of decapitating Stormwatch, a tiny trickle of blood wells up at his neck from the pinprick she inadvertently inflicts.

"Ye've never stopped me from finishin' an opponent before," Solitaire said evenly.

"We've never had my Earth's laws to deal with before," Defender replied, foregoing the usual philosophical debate. "We're part of the system, now, love. We have a code to adhere to."

"Actually, I do not think the local law enforcement would object," Stormwatch added. Defender blinked and stared at Stormwatch, disbelieving.

Solitaire hesitated a moment, looking from one to the other. "Oh bloody hell," she sighed, lowering Aramegil to a 'covering' position. "So wha' _should_ I do wi' him?"

Seeker smiled. "Leave that to me, Soli," he replied, concentrating. Stormwatch crumpled, unconscious from a telepathic blow.

"...those who follow me now will know great glory and power in the Pax Destroyer to come! I will--" A bolt of energy stopped Destroyer's speech. "When will you learn, Defender--" he began, turning.

All seven heroes faced him.

"Blast you, Defender," Destroyer sighed. "You are a fool. The humans are sheep. They are cattle. We are their masters."

"Wrong," Defender said, taking Solitaire's hand. "We're their champions." Seeker took his other hand; in moments, all seven were linked.

"Champions," Destroyer replied dismissively. "Phaugh. Your 'Champions' stood before me once, and fell. I am the equal of you all."

"The seven of us? I doubt it, but it's possible." Defender closed his eyes and concentrated.

Below them, people began to link hands. A handful at first, then dozens, then hundreds. Thousands.

"Can you defeat _them?_ All of them?" The Champions glowed with the power of thousands of willing allies. "We _represent_ them, Destroyer. We're not better than 'them.' We _are_ them. And that's why you'll never win, Destroyer--because for you, it's 'them.' For the Champions, it's 'us.'"

Destroyer's eyes narrowed. "You are a naive fool, Defender.

"But for now, you have won."

Destroyer vanished.

The cheer could be heard for miles.

* * *


"I hoped the public would accept us," Roland said in awe, as the team was cleaning up the bridge of Champions Island (formerly Destroyer Island), "but I never expected--!"

On one screen a CNN reporter sat in front of a screen that had a picture of the seven heroes in costume, a 'Champions' logo digitized in above them. "...unprecedented events today around the United Nations, the heretofore secret UNTIL agency, which has been opposing the terrorist 'VIPER' organization, gave the 'Champions' full international jurisdiction, a decision approved almost unanimously by the individual nations of the world."

Morgan leaned over Roland's shoulder, laying her head next to his, and whispered, "_Now_ do you believe you're a hero?" Roland blushed, of course. Then they kissed.

"I've got to say, this _rocks._ I had reservations, Roland, but this beats counting tabs at the Stranger every day. _Not_ that I'm giving up the coffee house," Mercedes added quickly.

"Gods, I hope not," Morgan quipped. "We have to have _somewhere_ to get a decent hot chocolate in Bay City."

"Morgan Greywolf, official team wise--ah--cracker," Seeker replied with a smile.

"I love you too, dear," Morgan said, giving him a quick peck on the cheek.

"So what's the verdict, Phoenix?" Santiago asked, looking at the console Roland had taken apart. "Can we use this place?"

"Looks like it," Roland replied, nodding approvingly. "Destroyer wasn't too concerned about the island's internal security. Between the Destroids, the Ultimates, and his private army, it really wasn't an issue." He pulled out a silvery box, concentrated for a moment, and popped it open. "Nice of Destroyer to leave this behind." Two Lenses and two rings floated out; one of each went to the Freelance Immortals. The reassuring hum of CAoL background 'noise' returned, much to their mutual relief.

"Thank the Light," Morgan said, clearly relieved. "Though it's reassuring to know that we can still handle ourselves."

"...and so," another screen announced, a speech from a national leader being broadcast, "it is with great pride that the United States welcomes Champions Island, and grants the full jurisdictional rights from the United Nations...to the Champions!"

The seven heroes looked at each other...and smiled.

"To the Champions!"

The Beginning.

PREV - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - NEXT

Tao of Hypertime Home | Original material | Links | Professional site / portfolio | Site search

[Home] [Original material] [Links] [Professional site] [Portfolio] [Site search]