When AI's Attack

by Brad Patten, Charlie Ball, Robert Buchanan and John Guilfoyle

Wedge rechecked the message for the tenth time, it was a message from Tween.

Meet me in Central park New York, New York at one.

Wedge was a bit unnerved by the email, it had been delivered from a secret account that only Wedge and Tween even knew about. The message had come from a fictitious email account from a Richard Isaac Wantmore. The email had also been sent several hours ago, from a server in Europe that Tween had hacked six months ago. The time stamp left little time for planning, as the deadline was only an hour away.

To make matters even more bizarre the remaining funds that had been hidden under this fictions name been withdrawn from the bank in Philadelphia. Wedge had no intention of letting Tween into the bubble until he could be examined, this could be a Mindshadow trick. Wedge made two calls, one to Alex and other to Tom. After a short delay, Wedge contacted Tom. Alex said he would be on his way, after a short pause.

Now all he had to do was transport Tom to New York city. While he waited he rechecked the modifications to the base.

Alex had, after a great deal of deliberation, decided to call and ask Sarah out to lunch. He somehow knew she was in town, but it was more feeling than fact.

 She hadn’t spoken to him recently, not since he and Tommy Champion had, with the help of the Blue Ensign, rescued her from the ravages of an inhuman (and inhumanly powerful) telepath… or perhaps, rescued was not the right word. Enacted damage control was more to the point.

 In her psionically induced madness, she had believed Alex had done… terrible things to her. Things he could not bring himself to think about. They had shared some time together before he had to return to New York and that was the last time they had really spoken. He wasn’t certain if she still had any feelings for him and the uncertainty gnawed at him.

He had almost decided not to call, but Alex decided that knowledge was better than ignorance and he placed the call. After a short and somewhat awkward conversation, they arranged to meet for lunch.

As Alex got ready, he noticed a slightly unusual watch that had been given to him by an even more unusual individual – a somewhat mushroom-shaped, be-tentacled, artificial life form name Wedge. In addition to the normal time-keeping functions, it also functioned as a signal device in the event that the individual in question should need to contact him.

 It had been activated several times in the recent past. Alex decided to leave it on his dresser for the moment, not out of a desire to avoid speaking to Wedge but more to avoid having his time with Sarah interrupted. When the time came to leave, he headed out the door, the watch still on his dresser.

 A few moments after he locked the door, the watch was surrounded by a tiny storm of glowing dust motes and promptly vanished with a small musical flourish…
"I don't know, Alex," Sarah said wearily. Dark circles rimmed the girl's eyes as she looked over her menu at her friend. "Things just haven't been... right... since that whole thing at the Musselman gym. I feel sick about what happened with you and Tom, too."

“Please don’t worry about that,” said Alex, concern coloring his voice. “After all was said and done, there wasn’t really any lasting damage…” Alex paused slightly and, in an attempt to lighten the mood, smiled and added, “… unless you count bruised egos. How have you been?”

 “I… suppose I’m getting by okay. I’m keeping busy. I haven’t really talked to anyone, though. It’s not the kind of thing they have a12-step program for, you know? It’s just that, sometimes, I feel like I want to start breaking things… but if I did, I don’t know that I could stop.”

 “I’m sorry, Sarah. I wish I could help. If there’s anyth–” An insistent beeping noise was sounding from Alex’s wrist. Alex looked at it in disbelief.

“How did – ? I could have sworn I left this watch on my dresser…”

“What? The watch? What’s the big deal, it’s just an alarm.”

“It isn’t actually. I mean, it’s a watch, but it’s a little more than an alarm… it was a gift from an… unusual acquaintance. It’s sort of a beeper that he gave me in case he needed to get in touch with me or vice versa. He’s a nice enough chap, but his timing leaves a great deal to be desired. Alex touched the small, recessed stud on the side of the watch.


“Hello, Alex. I’m glad you remembered your watch. Tween will be in Central Park at 1:00 PM. Will you be able to assist?”

 “Wedge. This is an unbelievably bad time. Couldn’t this wait a little while longer?”

 “I’m sorry, but it was unavoidable. I have arranged for additional help, but I believe having you there might make things a bit easier. Perhaps if you …”

 “Hold on, Wedge. I’m not alone. I was having lunch with a friend of mine named Sarah. She has quite enough on her plate at the moment without my dragging her into brawl in Central Park…”

Sarah had been watching the conversation unfold with curiosity plain on her face, but had refrained from interrupting... until now. “Alex, if there’s something I can help with, I’ll be happy for the distraction. What is it he needs help with?”

 Alex looked at Sarah, then back at the watch, then at the unfinished meal, and finally back at Sarah. Sighing, he replied, “Wedge needs help subduing his creator, a gentleman by the name of Tween. It would seem that Tween had been under the influence of a powerful mentalist and Wedge needs to be able to determine if Tween is free from that influence. There’s a bit more to it, but that is the essence of the situation.”
 “Okay, then. Let’s go, it’s almost one o’clock now…”

 Sarah got up and Alex signaled the waiter for the check. As Sarah headed for the ladies room, Alex spoke into the watch. “All right, Wedge, we’ll be there momentarily. Perhaps after this is all over, we might have a chat about privacy, with special emphasis on your timing…”

The wind whipped through his blond hair, the windows down, hands gripping the steering wheel loosely. It was unseasonably warm for San Francisco, and Tom Black was thoroughly taking advantage of it. He drove down highway 80, the music from the radio turned up a little louder than it should be. The speedometer read 78 miles per hour.

He drummed the wheel lightly with his thumbs in time to the music. Arthur sat on the seat next to him, nervously holding the "Jesus" bar and flexing his leg on an invisible brake pedal in front of him as they passed car after car on their way to work at InVision. We've taken to carpooling to work together the last few days, which is fine with me because I get to drive his Lexus every other day.

"Relax Arthur" I say confidentally taking my eyes off the road long enough to flash a smile at him.

"Relax? Yeah, right." He replys to me. He's been really freaked out since the incident at the club the other night. I decide to take this opportunity to talk about it with him.

"Still fixated on the club?" I ask

"Yeah, he says, that really freaked me out Tom. I mean, that girl, Theresa or whatever her name was, pretty much exploded."

 "Well, she didn't really explode, that thing seemed to be inside of her, it tore it's way out of her" My words offer little comfort to Arthur and he just sits there quietly. He reaches over and turns off the music. "Don't like Lenny Kravitz?" I ask trying to lighten up the mood.

 "It's not funny Tom, that could have been you, or me!" he snaps. I sit there quietly for a moment letting him simmer and allowing myself to imagine for a minute that it possibly could have happened to me.

"Look Arthur, I know it could have been one of us." my voice softens "But there's nothing we can do about it is there? Trust me, no ones more freaked out about this than I am, I was right there when it happened. Christ, I was holding her fucking hand!" I say. The wind whips across the highway a little harder and pushes the car, I adjust the wheel to compensate.

 I sigh and run a hand through my hair. "There are just certain things you have to accept. I don't like it either, but dwelling on them isn't going to change them." I continue "Look, maybe we can do a little nosing around about it on the net today, see if anyone knows what the hell happened."

"Yeah, ok." He says "I just feel so fucking helpless."

 "Me too." I respond "Let's just turn the radio up and try to lose ourselves in the music instead of this ok?"

"Yeah, maybe thats a good idea" He says with an uneasy smile.

 I reach over and turn the radio back on and we continue the rest of the way in relative silence.

 I pull into the Invision lot at about 7:55. "See?" I say to Arthur as we hop out of the car "I told you I could make it in 15 minutes." Arthur just shakes his head and holds the door for me. "Fine, you get to take credit for the fat pills!" he says, tossing me the box of Krispy Kremes.

 It's Monday morning. The only thing worse than the fact that it's Monday is the fact that every Monday morning, we have a staff meeting to discuss "the vision of InVision". Some schmuck in marketing probably got overpaid for coming up with that crappy concept, I'd like to show him a vision! Eight o'clock sharp, we all plod into the conference room and pretend to care about what's happening in the industry and get an attempt to brown-nose our superiors. Fuck that. I stop by my desk long enough to power up my computer and check my e-mail. The clock on my computer reads 8:04. I smile and head to the meeting.

 I love wandering into those things a few minutes late. It pisses Shrek off, but all is forgiven and the infraction forgotten by the offering of gluttonous sweets a.k.a. donuts - or fat pills as Arthur likes to call them.

 I push open the conference room door and all eyes turn toward me. I shield my face with the box of donuts as I close the door behind me. I can almost hear the salivary glands kick in as I turn to take my seat.

"Sorry I'm Late" I offer falsely "Had to get a morning pick-me-up." As the words leave my lips, Wedges communicator watch on my wrist begins to beep. I freeze momentarily and drop the donuts onto the conference table they land with a dramatic PLOP! I grab at my wrist trying to shut off the beeping unsuccessfully. "Um, excuse me for a moment." I stammer "I left the Orange Juice at my desk." Arthur looks at me puzzled from his seat across the table as I open the door and exit the room heading for my desk. I reach my cube and fumble at the watch for a second until it stops beeping and the green "Com" light lights up.

"WHAT!" I whisper in a semi-annoyed voice while trying to figure out where the hell I'm going to get orange juice for the meeting.

"I require your assistance at one o'clock today, per our agreement", the voice on the other end of the watch said.

"One?" I ask "I can't do one o'clock. Wedge, I know you have the luxury of sitting around on that little island of yours being tended to by little spider things in some weird place I'll never quite understand, but I have a job. I can't just toddle off at one! I'm sorry, but can it wait 'til the weekend? or how about six o'clock tonight?" God I'm such a dork! Actually, I think the term is 'Wage Slave'.

"One o'clock. Per our agreement, I will transport you to New York in 30 minutes, so that you may assist me in rendering Tween unconscious."

 "Listen Wedge, I told you, I can't just leave this place." I feel like shit turning him down like this, but I continue "I'm sorry, but unless a miracle happens and my boss gets an attack of the Teletubbies and decides it's a better idea for us all to go outside and roll around in the grass singing like idiots, I simply can't help you until later. I'm actually in the middle of a meeting, and I have to get back to it and figure out how I'm going to explain a missing carton of orange juice - don't ask. Contact me later today and I'll be happy to head on out and clock your friend tonight ok?"

My only response is a slight clicking from the communicator as the link goes dead.

"Wedge?" I say into the device on my wrist. *silence*

I shrug and say to myself "Fine squidboy, be that way." It's too bad though, I was looking forward to the workout.

I head to the break room on my way back to the meeting and grab a pitcher from the cupboard there. I look around quickly and risk using my abilities to fill the pitcher with cold O.J. Smiling at my juice, but still feeling slightly bad about letting Wedge down, I head back into the meeting.

 I walk into the room and everyone is either lounging back in their chair or tapping a pen on the table. "Sorry" I offer as I enter the room for the second time. "Juice's here" I set the pitcher down on the table with a smile and Arthur looks at me with a puzzled expression. Before I can take my seat, there a grating shrieking sound that erupts from the hallway as the fire alarm begins to go off.

Shrek stands at the end of the table saying "OK everyone, looks like the meetings over for today thanks to Mr. Black and the alarms." He shoots a disapproving glance my way as we file out of the office to await the "all's clear" from the fire department.

Tom and the rest of Invision were standing around across the street when the watch beeped once, and a count down timer started from sixty counting down. It was 15 minutes till nine and almost a half hour since Wedge had first contacted Tom.

'What the fuck?' I thought looking at my wrist and the countdown. It's kinda ominous, Not knowing wedge very well, for all I know I have 15 minutes and then he's gonna blow my wrist off with the watch. I step away from the crowd outside of InVision and press the side of the watch to call Wedge.

 "Wedge!" I whisper into the watch for the second time this morning. "What the hell is going on?"

"Tom I really need your help, I can accommodate your disappearance if you can duck out. The count down is the absolute minimum time I need to get you in place. If you do not want to help, then I will terminate all contact with you and your associate."

Man, for a robot, he sure has a way of making you feel like shit. I feel my softer side beginning to show "Accommodate how?" I hear myself ask in a wary voice. "

"Tom, there is a saying optical data transfers a thousand times more data than voice or text. There is little time, I need your help Tom." The watch beeps again as the countdown continues from 30 seconds.

 "A picture says a thousand words? What's that have to do with anything?" I ask.

 Before I can get an answer from Wedge, I feel as if my whole body is squeezed through a pinhole, there is no pain, just a semi familiar disorientation for a moment and the next thing I know, Im standing on a familiar white sandy beach. However this time there is no glow of a fake sun to greet me, the sky is a soft deep purple and the sand reflects a soft glow from several moonlike objects in the sky. I could seriously get used to a place like this.

I'm interrupted in my silent reverie as the watch on my wrist beeps twice and Wedge tells me "Come to the dome, I am looking for Tween now. Alex will be with you in the park shortly, it seems that he was on a date, so his girl friend may show up. He says her name is Knock Out." If I didn't know better, I'd say Wedge sounded a little annoyed.

I take one last look around before wandering off into the nearby forest to find the dome. Before I take a step, there is a movement in the undergrowth and a black panther erupts from the foliage. It leaps soundlessly onto the sand and pauses for a moment seemingly watching me. Then it speaks in a soft female purr, "This way." It says as it turns and pads onto a trail heading to the center of the island.

"Beam me up!" I mutter to myself. This place is gorgeous, but it gets weirder every time I come here. 'Talking Panthers? Whats next' I ponder to myself

'I'm hoping for geisha girls' Lu Di says in my mind. I ignore him, unsure of whether to tell him to shut up, or to agree with him.

 The giant cat continues ahead of me as I follow it toward the middle of the island. I'm surrounded by wild palm trees, thick ferns and a myriad of exotic plant life that seem to knowingly stop at the edge of the path, and the ever present uncanny silence of the extradimensional garden of Eden. The cat and I approach what appears to be the dome, but it is unlike I remember it from my brief stay here before. Instead of the dome being crystal like I remember, its encased in some sort of shinny polished metal Flanking the entry to the dome on either side of the door are two more panther guards. They sit at alert attention and eye me warily as I approach.

"Verified" the one on the right intones. I also notice that its claws are made of a shinny metal and look real sharp.

The door iris's open , I don't think it did that before. Inside there is another panther guard making four total that I have seen. The device that was in the center of the room is still encased in some kind of energy curtain. There also appears to be a stairway leading down that was not there before.

"Thank you Tom, I have sent Chameleon to stand in for you." Wedge intoned as he descends from the ceiling.

 “I will transport you close to Tween, he seems to have company. I will monitor events and once he is distracted I will power up the device Arthur and myself have constructed. It should render him unconscious”

 I feel the sickening pull of my internals through a pinhole again as I move through Wedges portal - I don't think I'll ever get used to that feeling - but a moment later I am standing in a grassy park in the big apple. The noonday sun stings my eyes a bit as they adjust to the sudden brightness in sharp contrast to the nighttime of Wedges island. I look around me, it's a typical park, could be anywhere except for the dramatic backdrop of the New York City skyline standing majestically behind it. Trees and paths and lovers sitting on park benches, trying to get a fix of one another before returning to work for the rest of the day, surround me.

 "Well, I aint here for the scenery" Spirit Shout told himself as he bulked up and encircled himself in chi energy.

His eyes scan the area and quickly came to rest on a man sitting on a park bench with a woman not unlike the others dotting the area. Not unlike the others except that the man sitting on this particular bench bore a striking resemblance to the man Wedge called Tween.

A moment of uncertainty griped Spirit Shout as he tried to figure out the best way to begin the "formalities". With mentally shrug, he decided to take the bull by the horns: Sometimes the direct approach is the best way. He walked to the bench where the two sitting talking quietly to one another and upon reaching them he looked at the man and said ,"Excuse me, are you Carl Terrence?"

"Who want's to know?" Carl replied looking warily at the newcomer who interrupted him mid sentence with Susan.

 "That's good enough for me; Believe me, this is for your own good" Spirit Shout answered. Moving with incredible speed, he delivered a punch to the seated Carl that impacted his jaw hard enough to send him over the top of the bench, breaking one of the backrest slats as his trailing foot catches it on his way over.

Carl careened through the air for several feet and slammed into the ground in a spray of dirt and grass with his jaw cocked sloppily.

The woman who had been talking to Carl , stood up and lifted her hands. She then generated a bright flash of light right in Spirt shouts face. "Asshole!, What did he ever do to you?"

The light from the womans hands struck Spirit Shout in the chest causing him to blink in the brilliance of the flash but little more than an after burn is left in his vision.

"Who are you?" Spirit shout says to her, blinking the flash away, "Queen Polaroid? No wait! The Central Park Flasher!"

The woman said nothing in reply, nervous in light of her powers ineffectiveness. A second passed and Spirit Shout continued, "Well, whoever you are, I can’t have you doing that again." He smiled as a set of chains appeared attached on the one side to the park bench, and on the other around the woman’s wrists. "Stay put now." He says.

Momentarily distracted Spirit Shout failed to notice the black shape screaming past him at a high rate of speed. The impact from Tween's extended arm sent Spirit Shout back a few dozen yards and plowed up a large amount of grass.

 'damn that hurt' thought spirit shout, as he grass skated backward toward a park bench. That guy hits a lot harder than he looks, and he looks mean, a solid black metallic mass with ominous green eyes glowing out of their sockets. Spirit Shout shuddered momentarily as he was reminded of the demon from the nightclub. Shaking off the pain in his chest, he replied "That the best you got bug boy?"

"Sucker punch me will you," Tween said drawing the katana from behind his back. Crouching into a back stance, he lands on the ground near Spirit Shout. "So who do you work for?"

 "Let's just say it's an interested third party." Tom replied and then added "Glad to see you think you know how to handle one of those, because I sure as hell do!" he reached out into the air with both hands as a blade sprung upward from his grip and a Katana formed in his hands.

 "Bring it you oversized cockroach." Spirit Shout said.

Tween moved into an on guard stance as if it was second nature. He gave a brief salute to Spirit Shout with the blade, almost saying "See you in the afterlife". Then without warning, his body sprung to life, he leapt at Spirit Shout moving with an incredible speed. He closed the short distance between them and let loose with a flurry of blows aimed at destroying Tom. A voice built in the back of his mind quietly at first, but growing louder with each stroke of the sword. 'kill him' it ordered.

Tom, reeled from the ferocity and speed of the blows Tween unleashed at him. It was obvious he wasn't playing around. His own body reacted in an almost unconscious manner and he was able to block the sword as it stung a path of certain death with each strike toward Tom. He dodged to the left saying "Not bad bug boy, but I'm better." He brought his sword upward striking Tween under the arm with his own Katana. The blade cut into Tweens armor, but even as he withdrew the sword, he could see the wound was superficial, and the black coating covering Tween had already begun to repair the damage.

 "Shit" he said "What the hell are you anyway bug boy?" Spirit shout ducked and avoided a blow that might have removed his head from his body, countering, he brought the katana in an upward arc trying to slash Tween across his stomach. He was rewarded with a loud clanging sound as Tween brought his own sword down impossibly fast and broke the blade on Spirit Shouts weapon.

"Oh fuck!" Tom said and instinctively teleported about 15 feet away. "Now that's not fair." he said from a vantage point about 30 degrees behind Tween.

Tween whirled around, and narrowed his eyes at Spirit Shout. As he advanced on Tom, a new blade sprung from Spirit Shouts hands, this a little thicker - more of a straight blade in the fashion of a tai-chi sword. "Let's see how you react to a different sword strategy big man!" Tom goaded.

Again, the two men collided in a shower of sparks as their swords danced edge to edge.

 The swords continued to impact one on another, The straight sword holding up a little better, but each time Tween brought his sword into Tom’s, sparks would fly as bits of metal were hacked from the blade. Tom was the better swordsman, but even the few blows he was able to land didn’t seem to slow the black metallic man, and he could tell that this sword too was doomed to break under the hammering blows.

A glancing blow off of the edge of Tween’s sword sent the straight blade fatally gliding toward his stomach, but at the last minute, he was able to dodge aside, moving with a preternatural quickness.

“Enough of this,” Tween said after dodging the blow. Taking a step back, a green electrical energy erupted from the blade and slammed into Spirit Shouts chest, shredding some of his costume as well as knocking him onto his back slightly dazed. In an instant, Tween was upon him, the blade making a deadly arc toward Tom’s head.

No! Stop Carl Thought.

 Yes, he must be punished! Another voice answered.

He has been beaten, I don’t want to kill him! Carl fought with the new voice in his head, a voice desperately trying to take control, to force his hand to end the life of this sword-wielding thug.
 No. thought Carl, this was an all too familiar feeling, was this another one of Mindshadow’s little games he thought? It felt different…ancient…alluring he wanted to give in. How easy it would be to simply drive the blade into this foolish meta, how easy to end this pathetic wretchs life.Yes…

No dammit! My will is my own! Carl screamed in his mind. The ancient entity retreated slightly into a corner of his mind as if stunned from the onslaught of the Carl’s rage.

Carl’s blade continued to drive its way downward toward the dazed Spirit Shout. He fought the impulses, his eyes squeezing tight in his concentration. Tweens hand started to shake his grip tightened and the blade stopped, still trembling in his hand the blade a mere millimeters from Toms left eye.

Tom’s slightly dazed, regained his composure as he lay there looking up the blade of an ancient sword, a sword that he could now see glowing with a faint red haze of magic, he knew the haze would be invisible to most, but not to his vision, and he wondered briefly why it wasn’t visible before. The haze seemed to envelop his antagonist as well.

 Tweens eyes met Spirit Shouts as if pleading for him to escape.

"The hell with this!" Spirit Shout said from his prone position. He moved his hands and let out a blast of chi energy directly into Tweens still shaking form, the blast caught Carl squarely in the chest and lifted him off his feet, throwing him backwards into a distant bronze statue of a rider on a horse. He impacted with a crunch, and the sword left his grip, pin wheeling through the air, it landed with a loud CRACK as it sliced into a tree. There was a snapping sound as the tree crashed down from the point of impact.

 Tween was dazed only for a moment. The meta he had been fighting had used some kind of energy blast. It stung like hell, but the nanites in his body quickly repaired any damage it had done. Tween's head was clearer now, and he couldn't remember why he wanted to kill this meta; It went against the very core of his being to take a life. It must be something Mindshadow did he thought to himself.

 Tween stood up, and turned towards his attacker just in time to catch a kick to the stomach. The impact while mainly absorbed by the nano coating still imparted some energy, as it again knocked him onto his back.

 "That's right big man" Spirit Shout taunted "Let's do this mano-a-mano." He raised his fists in a mock boxing stance.

 A cold rage started to coalesce in Carl's mind. Again he shifted to a standing position hovering over the ground. The Green glow changed from deep green to a dull angry red. The blue and black meta stood there like a boxer, egging him on. Tween smiled under his nano coating and unleashed another electrical discharge. The lightning didn't appear to have the same impact as it did when he focused the energies through the sword. The electricity surrounded the meta, but it didn't seem to harm him, or slow him.

"Fine, fight like a sissy." Tom baited as he teleported behind Tween "I can fight dirty too." he whispered in Tween's ear as he delivered a strike to a spot that seemed like where Tween's kidney should be. The impact from the strike actually hurt Tom's hand a little bit, but it didn't seem to faze Tween, and an elbow met Tom that Tween threw as he whirled around to face his attacker. The elbow hit Tom in the jaw, and knocked him back a few feet 'I won't be doing that again' Tom thought as he shook his head to clear it.

 Tween rushed Tom and knocked him to the ground rearing back to deliver a punch. At the last moment Tom teleported away and Tween's strike met the concrete where Tom's head had been the instant before. The ground split from the impact and pieces of stone flew.

 "Ouch!" Tom said "That looks like it hurt."

A slight sucking noise came from near Tween's now crouched form. The air crackled and the smell of ozone became apparent as a pale green ribbon coalesced and opened in the air. As Tween turned to the sound of the Meta’s voice and unleashed his electricity at him. The bolt was deflected an instant before it struck, arcing off to blast through a second tree.

 “I think that’s quite enough of that, Tween.” The voice, British if you could trust the accent, belonged to an extremely tall young man, right arm outstretched. Standing next to him was one of the most beautiful young ladies the pair had ever seen.

“I’m certain that we can find a less populated area to work out whatever difference of opinion...”

Tween turned to the new voice, his eyes now glowing a deeper red. “Stay out of this Alex, I don’t want you or Knockout to get hurt.” There was a tension in his voice that hadn’t been there before, as if he was on the edge of madness. As Tween turned his attentions back to the blue and black spandex meta, he caught the side kick to the face, his head jerked back but he didn’t move. The energy from the kick dissipated across the shielding the nanobots were putting out.

With a break in the action, Tom teleported about 12 feet away to observe the newcomers. The tall guy looked to be a stiff Brit, maybe an aussie. Hell, I can never tell those guys apart. The Girl I knew right away from Arthur’s files ­ or maybe it was from the poster he kept in the bathroom for something I really didn’t want to know about. It was Knockout and in the flesh, she was much better looking than any picture could ever do her justice. He choked back making any comments aloud to her though, she seemed to be with the tall guy and right now, my hands are too full to deal with a pissed off boyfriend.

 "Finally, the Cavalry shows up." Tom said, "What took you so long?"

 “Traffic,” replied Alex dryly.

Though his voice didn’t give it away, the fact that his eyes hadn’t left Tween was enough to show that he was being cautious. Before Tween could attack again, he said, “I’m told that you’d disappeared, Tween, and not under pleasant circumstances. Are you certain you won’t reconsider taking this elsewhere? You really aren’t looking well. Kind of tired, actually. Perhaps a nice lie down is in order…”

Alex didn’t actually expect his words to convince him, but he was hoping the cadence of his words and the carefully controlled tone of his voice would be sufficient to lull him, perhaps even mesmerize him. For a moment it seemed to work… but only for a moment.

“No!” Tween shouted frantically. “Not again!”

Tween launched an attack that would in all likelihood have flattened Alex into a large British not to mention bloody pancake were it not for quick movement and a vicious right cross, all highlighted by a cascade of blonde hair. Tween sailed back a good twenty feet before plowing a furrow into the ground.

“I don’t think so,” said Knock-out simply. For the first time today, Alex saw something akin to confidence in the way Sarah stood. Apparently having a foe she could actually fight was doing her some good.

 Tween stood up in a fluid graceful motion. The glow from his eyes grew brighter as he spoke. “So your puppets, sent to bring be back. You wont find me taken that easy.”

Tween tried to keep the three of them in his sight but as Knock-out moved one way and the blue spandexes one the other way, in a flanking move. Tween glared at Alex, “I thought you were different, I see I was wrong. A ribbon of electricity arced from Tween and expanded out to hit everything in his sight.

 The energy danced around Knockout but she gritted her teeth and moved in. Maestro stood in a clear circle as the electricity washed over a barrier in front of him. Tom to weathered the electrical storm as his chi shields deflected the energy away. As quickly as it started it stopped, a blacked arc spread out from where Tween was standing.

“Tween that is quite enough, we are not….Her or her minions, Please stop and we can discuss this”, Alex said again trying to defuse Tweens rage.

 Tween snarled at Alex, and let loose with a focused electrical stream. It impacted on the shields around Alex, obscuring him for a moment it appeared that it was having no effect but little by little Alex was forced back and the shield collapsed. The energy wave continued to pour over Alex.

 “NO!” Knock-out screamed as she closed with Tween and connected with another right cross, stopping the energy streamer and putting Tween on his back from the impact.

Alex stood knees bent his arms crossed in front of him, wisps of steam and smoke rose from the cloth on his arms.

 “I believe I said that was enough.” Alex said uncrossing his hands and standing to his full height.

Tween found himself suspended in mid air, about 10 feet away from Knock-out. He noted that Alex’s voice had taken on a deeper tone and his eyes were now reminiscent of the night sky. Though he had not shouted, there was no mistaking the menace in his voice. Before Tween could break free of the force that held him, Spirit Shout and Knockout each delivered a punch to the nanite-covered man.


This is Tarra Walters with an MNN exclusive. This afternoon in New York Central park the meta’s Sarah Steiner, better known as Knock-out, and Great Britain’s Duke of Gloucester, Alexander St. John-Smythe. With the help of Spirit Shout, another meta believed to be a San Francisco local, they subdued an unknown, black-clad meta. Here is what MNN correspondent Kasady Rodriguez captured on film.

[A close up of Alex, his eyes are filled with what appears to be stars, the black meta is held in mid air as Knock-out and Spirit Shout deliver attacks on the black meta.

 The camera pans back to see Tween lying unmoving and Knock-out and the other Meta standing over him. There is a distortion and two black panthers appear, Knock-out and Alex tense, but relax when Alex speaks into his watch.

The next thing to appear is a large black mushroom with many tentacles emerges from the distortion. It moves to the black meta and gently picks it up and then shuffles back through the distortion. The two panthers follow after. And then, after Alex speaks briefly to the other two, he, Knock-out, and Spirit Shout follow. The destruction left behind is severe.]

“And there you have it. Is Great Britain’s newest Duke in league with some alien invaders? Is this somehow connected to the incident at the Musselman Gym last month? Who or what is the black metas? Why is Spirit Shout in New York?”

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