Talk 4-III

A Priest or a Bandit

There was a brief second of stunned silence. Every head in the room turned towards the source of the voice in a movement that was actually probably quite creepy, now that I think about it. Standing on a table, he was tall and… uh, solid-looking, to be polite; one of those people who looked like they’d been modelled off a beer cask, or in this case, like someone had managed to shave a bear, get it standing on two legs and give it an armored jumpsuit. Bands and plates covered the dark brown fabric in various places, made out of a material so absolutely black it looked like it was actually leeching the light from the air. 

Wait a second... I squinted at the armor, trying to get a closer look. I couldn't be sure, but it seemed like it actually was leeching the light, or at least doing something to it. Well, at least this guy had powers; one against three is bad enough odds when they're all metas, and if some Batman wannabe had tried to go up against them, he'd probably end up as paste.

The teleporting woman suddenly laughed, bright and sharp, and it sounded… pleasant, which was just wrong. Evil people shouldn’t have nice laughs, darnit. It started pretty light and clear, but quickly descended into uncontrolled giggling, bent over at the waist and clutching at her stomach.

“Y-you, y-you…” she lost it for a second, “oh-oh, tha-that, pfffffftttt…” Everyone was staring at her now, including the unidentified superhero, and both of her teammates.  “Ehehehehehe, ohhhh, man this is great. You just, hah, think you can, can…”

“What?” said the hero, sounding slightly puzzled.

“Bombs, you moron!” She giggled a little bit. “Or did you miss that bit?”

I felt a sinking feeling in my gut. She did seem to have to touch the cutlery bombs to set them off, but, I mean, teleporter.

But the hero seemed unfazed. "Oh yes, bombs. They would not happen to be like these," he gestured to one on the table besides him, "would they?" He tapped it with his foot, and it immediately collapsed into pieces, the force that was holding them together apparently gone.

“I appreciate you talking for so long," he said casually. "It made my job quite easy."

The woman tensed, grinding her teeth together, but then suddenly, just like that, she was upbeat again. "Ah well, that’s a shame. I suppose I'll just have to console myself with the fact that it's three against one in a target rich environment."

"We shall see about that."

And then, chaos.

A black shell appeared around the man with the combat fatigues, enclosing him completely except for a hole around his mouth and nose, a fact that he immediately took advantage of by letting loose a veritable flood of profanities as he struggled to move. The other me was telling me that the same had happened to the metal-faced man.

Wait¸ didn’t his power-

A crimson lance of energy shot out from the exposed half of his face, spearing towards the hero. He spun away, but the blast caught the edge of his black armor and tore it to shreds, sending wisps of it floating into the air. Metalface took advantage of the few seconds of distraction to direct the lance downwards and free himself. Considering that the lance stopped as soon as it hit his skin, I guessed my theory about the faceplate was wrong.

The hero quickly recovered from the hit, and tried encasing the villain again, but he was on a roll now, and tore through it with no apparent effort. He barrelled towards him, moving with surprising speed as he vaulted over a lunch table, nearly knocking the block off of a student who hadn't quite managed to move out of the way. the hero had quickly recovered from the blow, though, and he dodged to the side as Metalface fired another one of those destruction beams at him. 

Something seemed off about the armor that he'd made for himself, something about the way it moved. It didn't seem like it was actually attached to him; when he moved, it seemed to drag behind his movements by a half-second or so, and when he stopped, it took about the same amount of time to resettle to where he actually was. If it was the same stuff that he was projecting, then I guess it made sense; he probably couldn't actually move it, and was just extending it and removing the bits behind it.

Despite my best instincts, I moved closer to them as they fought. I might have tried to justify it with some weak reason about wanting to stay near in case I could help, but really I just wanted to get a closer look.

They were fighting hand-to-hand now, throwing punches and blocking blows. I'd never really seen people fight in real life, just on TV and in books and games, but to me, it looked like neither of them was that experienced at it. The blows swung heavy and wide, the blocks clumsy and often ineffective. If I had to guess, I'd say from their build that they were both used to being strong enough that they didn't really have to know how to fight well, a mindset that didn't seem to be doing either of them much good.

The hero, Black Armor as I'd mentally named him, managed to step inside one of the villain's swings, taking the hit on his shoulder, and clocked him in the jaw. He staggered back, but his armor seemed to have protected him from the worst of the blow, and he managed to recover before his opponent could capitalize on it. Instead of diving back into the fray, though, he took a step back, steadied himself and created another one of those beams, evidently not interested in extending the fight any longer.

Black Armor created another field in front of him, and he was obviously prepared for Metalface this time, because the beam didn't immediately tear through it. Instead, it hit the surface and began streaming off, trails of volatile-looking orange-red energy that evaporated into thin air before getting close to the ground. Though, it wasn't a complete no-sell: it seemed to be affecting the shield, slowly but steadily eating away at it. Looking at it reminded me of when he’d destroyed the support beams earlier, and I realized what had been bothering me about it. If it had been a heat beam, then there would have been molten slag falling down everywhere. I looked back up for the first time since the demonstration, and got confirmation. The sections of the beams that he’d targeted were just… gone, poof. The ends of the bars looked frayed like thread, and with the way it was eating into Black Armor’s field, it seemed like it was some kind of disintegration power, or maybe just straight-up destruction. Either way, I didn’t want to see what happened when it hit flesh.

The beam had nearly eaten through the entire shield now, and I thought for a second that I was going to have to watch it happen anyway. But when it finally broke through, splintering the section of the field into tiny fragments that quickly disappeared, it shot straight through thin air. Black Armor had disappeared, or so it seemed for a second.

Metalface paused for a second. He must've thought he'd hit his opponent, because he visually relaxed. That fit with the disintegration theory, if he was used to no trace remaining. So when the bottom half of the field disappeared to reveal Black Armor crouched behind it, I would've bet good money that he hadn't been expecting it. 

The hero lunged forward, hand outstretched, and once again encased Metalface, this time enclosing the entirety of his face and leaving air holes on the sides instead. That same orange-red light began leaking from the holes as the villain tried to force his way out again. Like the shield before it, it didn't immediately splinter this time, although it didn't seem thick enough to hold together for more than a few seconds under the onslaught. Evidently, it wasn't intended to. 

With his opponent temporarily blinded, the hero took the opportunity he'd set up. With long, powerful strides, he charged at the villain, upper body twisting back. He didn't slow at all, seemingly putting all the force he could behind the blow. As he swung, looking less like he was trying to punch him than he was punching through him, he dismissed the field around the villain, and while I couldn't see his face, I didn't need to to visualize the look of utter shock that must have crossed it. 

The blow connected with a thunderous crack, and the villain went flying, tumbling towards a table of cowering students. Another field caught him before he collided, surrounding his body completely in a square prism of empty black. Judging by the way his head lolled, he was probably unconscious, or at least injured enough to get the same result. Despite myself, I found myself worrying. I mean, he might have been a supervillain who would've happily killed kids, but cranial injuries can be pretty serious; I'd had more than my fair share of concussions in my day, and even though they were fairly minor, each one was still not pleasant. A blow like that, enough to knock him unconscious...

"Oh come on, seriously? I mean, you said it yourself, he's a kid-killing supervillain. Who cares if he got a boo-boo?!"

A boo-boo? Head injuries are a bit more than a 'boo-boo', you know.

“Please refer to previous sentence; namely, ‘kid-killing supervillain’ and thereforth.”

Are you trying to sound like a lawyer? That was terrible.

“Maybe you should remember who you’re insulting. Hint, it’s you.”

You know what? I'm not dealing with this right now.

“Oh, what are you gonna-”

With the fight seemingly over, the hero was reinforcing the bindings he’d put on the two villains, as a hubbub of chatter swept through the room. It almost seemed like people didn't quite know how to react to-

Wait, two?

“Forget about something?”