Fight 15-II

Just Can’t Let It Go.

Ooh, Flint, you're really in it now, aren't you? The heroes are here! You're in trou-ble!

That's you. That my imitation of you right now. You're very annoying.

I put on my best award-winning smile, and tried not to let my fingers twitch. Or my eyes, for that matter. “Well, hey, look who it is! What are you guys doing here?” Don't attack the heroes, Flint, don't attack the heroes, do not. attack. the heroes.

Yet.

They made an impressive sight, the six of them, in their fancy little formation and their fancy little suits. Fog, especially, looked like she belonged at a fancy dress party more than her current situation. I guess that was supposed to be ironic, considering previous encounters had taught me she was a horrid bitch, through and through. The only ones who looked like they were dressed for anything even close to a fight were Stump, obviously, and Chain, who had dinged and scratched navy armor and a Judge Dredd-esque helmet over a Steelsilk jumpsuit. He actually would've fit right in with the Outliers, looks-wise. The thick-linked chain in his hand coiled on the ground below, snaking around and occasionally flicking back and forth, like… well, like a snake. It was interesting how you could tell he was on edge because of it, despite he himself being the picture of stoicism. They all had it, to some degree (except Instance): I could see tiny strands of grey constantly appearing and disappearing around Fog’s hands, tiny sparks of ghostly flames hovered near Comet’s skin, Stump’s body was writhing and slithering around on itself, and the forcefields around Thrust’s shins kept flickering in and out of existence.

And you know what? I was pretty happy with that. Angry and/or nervous meant they were likely to make stupid mistakes-

Not that it mattered, because if we were fighting them, things had gone horribly wrong. Rein it in, I chided myself.

“Oh, I almost forgot!” I said with fake cheer. “Wave for the cameras, guys and gals!” The crowd obligingly focused in on us, which may have been the nicest thing anyone had ever done for me.

Comet made an irate little noise. “Instance,” she snapped, and her lackey nodded, waving his hand in a lackadaisical fashion.

A wave of confused murmurs passed over the crowd, as all of their electronic devices suddenly became worth about as much as a cardboard prop. The noise quickly turned to anger, and I let myself get my hopes up, before Instance headed that off at the pass. “Don't worry, everyone,” he called out, sounding remarkably relaxed, “they'll work fine when you get home.” The murmuring died down, and I almost sighed. So much for that.

“So,” said Comet, apparently deigning to speak now that she wasn't being held accountable, “you must be Skew. We have not met yet, so I have to ask. Do I speak to you, or just directly address the hand up your rear?” She glanced over at where Void stood, arms folded.

“I'm fine having him speak for me, thanks!” she replied cheerily.

“And that would make you Comet,” I replied. Truth be told, I was a little off-balance. I hadn't expected her to come off the ropes swinging, and I definitely hadn't expected her to know about our leadership status. “Or I hope you are, because that outfit’s bad enough already without it being thematically inappropriate. Besides, I don't think you get to talk. Are these five just here to look pretty, or do they serve drinks too?”

She ignored the jabs (which was a shame, I could go for a good jab-off). “What is this?” she asked instead. “Why are you here, doing this? We assumed you were smarter than this.”

“Oh, really? That's so nice!” I said sarcastically. “Good to know you creepy fuckers have profiles on us. But I don't know what you're talking about: we're just here to return some lost property. And now that we've done that, I think we'll just be going now. Get out of your hair.” We had no intention of doing anything of the sort, of course.

Comet shook her head. “Absolutely not. That money is an incredibly sensitive matter, and you're going to tell us exactly how and why you acquired it.”

“Really?” I said, naively. “Money is a sensitive matter? But you guys have so much of it!”

She glanced at Instance, who sighed and nodded. He raised a hand and twisted it, and all the background noise suddenly vanished, replaced with a hint of rushing wind. Huh. Neat trick. I turned towards the others, who were looking with concern, and gave them a thumbs-up. Didn't want them interrupting.

“The datapad. And do not even try to play coy with me. Where is it?”

“Hey, you wanna hear something funny?” I said instead, folding my arms and relaxing my stance. Without sound, it was important to communicate that I was not being aggressive to anyone outside. We did some investigating, you know, that thing that people do instead of just throwing accusations out on national television?”

“Accusations that proved to be correct,” Stump snapped at me. His voice was hollow and echo-y, and would probably be kind of spooky. If you were five, and a scaredy-cat.

“Oh ho, the cronies speak!” I crowed. “Bet you're getting put in the time-out corner for that one later. And bzzt, incorrect. At least let me finish my story. So anyway, we did some investigating and found where that datapad actually came from in the first place. And, funnily enough, it had absolutely nothing to do with the Tower. Isn't that weird? It's especially weird because you guys are acting like it belongs to you. So, I don't think I see any reason I should tell you a damn thing.” A thought occurred to me. “It was actually the Cabal that stole it in the first place, by the way. If you feel like directing your anger towards something productive.”

Comet stared at me for a second, her face unreadable behind her helmet, then sighed. “I did not want to have to do this,” she said, pulling something out from her belt. It unfolded into a rectangle, and a screen flickered into life inside.

On the screen was Stonewall, sitting in a cell.

Ice ran through my veins, and any sense of calm I had evaporated in an instant. “Let. Him. Go. Now.

She pretended to consider it. “Hmm. Yes, I will release the criminal I have legally detained, because his fellow criminal told me to. That makes sense.”

I was in no mood for jokes. “Let me be perfectly clear. We came here in peace, and planned to leave in peace. But if you don't release him, that can change.”

Suddenly, there was a pop, and the background noise came flooding back in. Surprised, I turned to find Void approaching us. “That's enough of that, I think.”

“They have Stonewall,” I said immediately to her, ignoring the surprised reactions from the Guardians.

I could see a frown in her posture, and could tell she was about to say something-

And then the fire alarm went off, and all hell let loose. 

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