Fight 15-IV

Too Little Too Late.

Oh, I should've done the Roadrunner noise! That would’ve been way funnier!

Dammit.

Tide and Flatline seemed to be having the most trouble, so I headed towards them, Chain close on my heels. I let his chain spool out in my hand as I approached, ‘til it was a decent swinging length. I didn't really know how to use it, but then again, I don't really think he did either.

In a cloud of translucent smoke, Instance appeared in front of me, a corresponding cloud dispersed by one of Tide's waves where he'd been standing a second ago. He pointed, and a shockwave, one of Awestruck’s, rippled out, smashing chunks out of Tide's hastily-raised shield. Without missing a beat, he clapped his hands together, and she and Flatline were both flung into the air as gravity warped in a spike that I felt a full ten meters away. A finger gun, and a perfect sphere of bright purple water materialized out of thin air in front of him, shooting towards the two of them as they hit the ground. A hasty wave of steel flung them out of the way just in time, and they rolled gracelessly across the ground. Tide slapped the ground as she did, sending another swell rushing towards Instance, and by extension, me.

The hero tapped his foot against the ground, and an identical wave shot forward, meeting halfway. Where they collided, they acted like real waves, cancelling each other out and sending smaller ripples out to the sides.

Christ, he was ridiculously good. It was actually kind of scary.

I caught Flatline's eyes as he rolled onto his feet, and gestured for him to come over to me. He nodded, turned and snapped something at Tide, and ran forward. Behind him, she touched the ground, and a straight wave rolled up behind him, picking him up and carrying him forward towards us. Instance flicked his hand, and a gust of wind came roaring in from the side, but he'd misjudged the speed, and it missed Flatline by a hair’s breath. As the wave ended and Flatline dived forward, he surrounded himself with a shimmering forcefield and stepped to the side, but he wasn't the target. I mirrored Instance’s move, and Flatline came up out of roll almost directly in front of a very surprised Chain. We nodded as we passed each other, an affirmation of the switch of targets. It was moments like this, and Tide's seamless transition into it, that really made me appreciate my team.

So, then. How was I going to handle the guy whose power list seemed to be 'all of them’?

The obvious big one was not to use my power. He had enough to throw against me without adding my tricks to it. Besides, I'd seen how irritating my power could be, and I was in no hurry to be on the opposite end of that.

So my assets. I had all my copious skill, strength and wit (hah), Tide’s ability to control the terrain, and about five feet of heavy metal chain links.

Oh, and a gun.

Snicker-snack goes the blade, slicing through the Gordian knot.

I drew and fired, centre mass, perfect form, everything on point. It didn't work, obviously, but at least I failed right.

The bullets all swerved around him, sparking as they buried themselves in the floor around him. That… that was Ricochet’s power. I couldn't explain it, but there was something intensely wrong about that.

Right. Her power didn't work well on stuff with lots of mass, or things that were moving slowly, or both. So I threw the gun at him, overhand. It was a flawless plan, except he didn't try and use her power on it. Instead, he just stepped to the side and let it fly past.

And then a wave of steel rose up from the ground and knocked him off his feet.

Tide gave me a thumbs up as he tumbled, and I nodded and grinned. The message was clear: she'd keep him off-balance while I tried to take him down.

Okay, go time. I had to figure out some way of taking him out if the fight without getting up close, because, for all I knew, he had a copy of Flatline's power stored in there somewhere. The chain should be able to help with that.

Experimentally, I whipped the chain forward at him, trying to snap it against his chest. Unfortunately, I didn't actually know how to do that, so it just sort of ineffectually flailed forward. It bounced weakly off his arm while he pushed himself upwards, and he stared confusedly at it as it flopped to the ground.

“Was that… supposed to do something?” he asked, bemused.

I shrugged. “Cut me some slack, it's my first time.”

He made a little ‘fair enough’ sort of expression, then slapped the ground with one hand. Sparks flew and the chain yanked itself out of my grasp with a little jolt, but other than that, nothing happened.

He pursed his lips. “Rubber soles?”

Oh, that was supposed to electrocute me. I glanced down at my heavy boots. “Huh. Apparently!”

“Lucky you.” He wasn't even being sarcastic. Another wave rolled towards him, from a slightly different direction, but he flipped into his feet with unprecedented agility, dodging it. It knocked the chain into the air, and I quickly snatched it back. Over Instance’s shoulder, I saw Tide, making a gesture that I guessed to mean 'big’. No prizes as to what she was talking about. I nodded my understanding, and turned my attention back to Instance.

“So how many of these powers do you even have, anyway?” I asked, taking slow steps to the side. He matched my movement, posture relaxed and unconcerned.

“Come on, man,” he said easily, “you don't really think I’m going to actually tell you that?”

“Nah,” I acknowledged, “but it couldn't hurt to try, right?”

He opened his mouth, and I almost missed the little flick he made with his hand.

Time slowed.

The colors of the room washed out to shades of grey as my vision shifted, monochrome grading surrounded by the smokey haze of potential energy. And… hmm. That was new. I could see splashes of other colors in the corners of my eyes, where the other Outliers and Guardians fought, and in the meters-high wave of steel rolling towards me and Instance (a deep, rich purple). Before, I'd only ever seen yellow, and only when I used my power. I'd never seen it from others: it didn't take a genius to figure out that the different colors must've been representative of different types of powers, whatever those types were.

The air in front of the hero was quickly gaining a blue tint, and it deepened and darkened as a large mass of a gooey substance, almost as tall as me, materialized. The silvery lines through it showed clearly that it was aimed at me, and I began readying my power to redirect it.

A particularly violent streak of color caught my eye, and I turned my head to see the tumbling, thrashing whirlwind of purple and muddied brown that was Ribbon and Stump. An idea began to gestate in my mind. If they kept on that course, spun like that, and I was reading the energy correctly, then… yep, that'd work.

It seemed to take an almost painfully long time for the blob of goo to reach the point I needed it to be at. That was new, too; the time dilation had always been more of a sensation than an actual effect the few times this had happened before. When it finally did, I whacked it with my power, engulfing it in yellow and redirecting it off to the side. It shot along its new course, the speed dragging it into a comet-like teardrop shape, and slammed- no, squished, right into Stump.

If there had been anyone but myself around to high-five, I totally would've. I'd nailed the timing, and the gunk had almost completely engulfed the hero’s form and barely touched Ribbon. His movements ceased almost immediately, the tendrils of wood thrashing futilely against the sticky substance. Ribbon withdrew her form slightly, making herself more compact, and began tearing away at the parts of him that weren't covered, making a lot more progress now that most of him couldn't move.

Instance glanced at that with an irritated expression, one that quickly morphed into shock as I charged him, swinging the chain wildly. He raised both hands as I flicked the chain at him, letting it spin through the air. It immediately halted, hovering in mid-air. Magnetism, probably. What a fancy bag of tricks he had.

He launched the chain back the way it came, but I wasn't there any more. I gave him a jaunty wave as I ran past him, then leant forward so I wouldn't be off-balance as the ground rose beneath my feet. I rode the wave as it barreled through our position, dropping once I reached the peak and sliding down the back side of it.

“Brave, brave, brave Sir Flint, brave Sir Flint ran away,” I sang, poorly. Thankfully, no-one heard it, because the deafening crash of breaking glass drowned it out. Chain had just thrown Vortex (when had those two started fighting?) straight through the giant glass doors at the entrance, sending him tumbling down the steps into the courtyard outside.

Okay then. Phase 3.

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