The blue girl looked around. The room was filled with madmen, monsters, killer robots, living statues...an entire team of supervillains, assembled by the arch-nemesis we didn't even know we had, Regent. Us heroes? Most of us were down on the ground, tied up and unconscious to prevent them from killing themselves. The survivors were bruised, bloody, and about as beaten as we could get without being actually beaten. But for a moment, all of it paused as we waited in stunned silence for her to explain her sudden appearance.
"Wait, don't tell me," she said. "I have a test on this next week..."
Yeah. That didn't exactly break the stunned silence.
"Okay," she continued, "the guy in purple and gold is Regent, that's obvious. The girl on one knee next to him is, um...Hummingbird, and the robot in the corner...is that the Doomsday Clock? Shoot, I can't remember now. I think the girl with the knives is Stabbily Ever After, but I don't know for sure because duh, you can't draw her picture, and they're fighting, um...Feeral? No, wait, Saavij."
She continued pointing at us, one by one. "And that's Captain Light on the floor and Gunmetal Grey standing over him and Silver Rage with the axe next to him and, and, um...no, wait, don't tell me...oh, it's right on the tip of my tongue...Bloodcalled! Wow. I've never seen a real vampire, not since they all went to the Black Nebula in 2754. I thought she'd be paler. And--"
Regent interrupted. "A time traveler," he said. "Interesting." He gestured towards the fox-woman fighting John Q. Public. "Vulpine, subdue her. Not too much damage, please. She has valuable intelligence for us." The beast pulled away from John, her teeth scraping grooves into his baseball bat as she lunged backwards, then she turned and leapt for the blue girl...
And gently glided to a halt in mid-air. "Oh, come on," the blue girl said, as Vulpine flailed helplessly in a vain attempt to gain momentum. "I'm flunking history, not telekinetics. I thought you were supposed to be some kind of master strategist or something?"
Regent nodded his head graciously. "Part of a master strategy involves gaining intelligence through the effective use of feints and gambits. For example, I know that you are overconfident, not easily vulnerable to physical force...and thus I change my tactics. Meme?" He gestured to the teleporter. "Share your understanding with her."
I raced across the room, hoping to knock Mister Meme out before he could work his crazy death-wish mojo on our only chance for surviving all this (slim as it was...) But the cyborg woman dashed away from John Q. Public just as fast, dropping into a fighting stance right in front of me. "I want you to be aware that I'm not happy about this," she said, her words spilling out too fast for anyone but me to follow. "I view the state as nothing more than a tool of oppression against the masses, and Regent is really just another dictator. But he's a dictator who planted a small bomb next to my aorta, and there's really only so much you can do to bring about a new age of enlightenment and a freedom from the tyranny of government when you have a smoldering crater where your heart should be."
I launched a feint at her midsection in Serpent Style kung fu, then shifted stances and styles at the same time to aim a kick at her face in a Tae Kwon Do style. (I make up for my lack of depth in any one style by knowing a lot of them. It's kind of what happens when you have five minutes to kill, a stack of books on martial arts, and a reading speed that gets measured in pages per second.) I was gratified to see her head snap back with a sharp grunt of pain, but she wasn't down for the count. And I knew I probably had less than a second of real time before Meme did his thing.
The cyborg slashed at me with her knuckle claws, and I barely managed to avoid them. I'd never seen anyone as fast as her except me, and it was a close second. She launched a flurry of darts from a wrist-launcher, and I had to fling myself to the floor as they passed overhead to embed themselves harmlessly (I hoped) into Zombie Samurai. I got back up, but I could tell it was already too late. Meme's eyes had locked with the blue girl's...
And she laughed. "Oh, puh-lease!" she said. "Amateur hour is officially freaking over, pal. I'm already taking college credits in telepathy; did you really think a vat-grown one-trick pony like this was going to do anything?" She held up a finger, and Mister Meme slumped to the ground, unconscious. "He's all thud and blunder, no subtlety. Doesn't even know how to stop a simple Circadian reset."
She turned, glaring at Regent. "Honestly, if I hadn't also aced my 'Ethical Uses of Unusual Abilities' course, I'd peel you out of that armor and give you a good spanking. As it is, I'll settle for earning extra credit towards my major." She closed her eyes, and waves of invisible energy poured off of her like a heat haze.
Regent reached down and ripped a hunk out of the floor, hefting it with both hands. His earlier sang froid was clearly gone. "I don't know what you think you're doing," he said, "but I have no further patience for it. I'll--"
"You'll put that thing down," Captain Light said, slowly rising to his feet. His fists crackled with unearthly energies. "I know it's a cliche, but why don't you pick on someone your own size?"
TO BE CONTINUED...