Song recommendation: Pomplamoose - Don't Stop Lovin' Me

Author's note: Apparently, Los Angeles isn't in the FictionPress spellchecker. It's only one of the biggest cities in the US, so why would it be? Incidentally, I went on teh Google to find the most dangerous areas of LA. Then I forgot to mention what neighbourhood they were in. Oh, well. Also, make sure to check out Aegis and Runaways, either through the Action section or more conveniently through my profile. You can also go to my Champions-verse forum through my profile. All feedback is appreciated. hotwing: Maybe their lives were better. But I think they were just more naive. Their experiences have helped them grow and mature. The novelty of being superheroes has worn off a bit. They're not looking for flair. I think, for right now, most of them want to keep things a little simpler.

January 31, 2013

Los Angeles, like most cities, is generally safe. But there are places where it's unwise to walk at night. The man and woman walking down the street didn't look worried. They carried themselves with the confidence of people who knew no one could mess with them. He wore a suit; she wore an expensive-looking black dress, and had her red hair in a delicate coif.

They approached a rough-looking bar. A large bouncer stood in front of the door looking intimidating. A pair of men leaned against the wall nearby, trying to look casual; additional guards. The man and woman stopped in front of the bouncer. "Your names?" he demanded.

"None of your business," the man said.

"Please," the woman told her companion. "Let me handle this." She turned back to the bouncer. "My name is Rebecca Spitzer. I'm expected."

"You are," the bouncer said. He gestured at her companion. "He's not. He can wait out here."

"Go to Hell," the man said.

She held up her hand to silence him, and he backed off. "He's my associate. I'm sure there'd be no harm in letting him in. I'd really appreciate it."

"All right, he can go in. Just make sure he behaves himself." He stepped aside to let them enter.

The bar was quite a bit nicer on the inside. Men in suits and women in dresses sat drinking, laughing, and playing pool. They all glanced over at the newcomers, sizing them up. The newcomers ignored them and went straight for the back, where another large man guarded another door. "Rebecca Spitzer," she gave her name without being asked.

"You can go in," the bouncer said. "Your man stays out here."

"No problem." She turned to her companion. "You heard him. Stay here. Socialize."

"Whatever," he grumbled, walking over to the bar. Rebecca entered the back room.

"Hey," the aging, balding man behind a desk said. There was another large man leaning against the wall behind him, and a fat old man sitting on a couch sketching. "Come on in, have a seat."

"Thank you," Rebecca said, sitting in one of the comfortable chairs in front of the desk. "I like your office, Mister Mason."

"Thank you. I can tell that you're a lady of class. I like that. Not enough class in the world these days. Especially in people your age, no offence."

"None taken. Most people my age are morons. They have no respect for tradition."

"Exactly! I'm not one of those idiots who shuns modern technology. I think there's a lot of money to be made with it. But the kids, they rely on it too much. It makes them dumb, unable to adapt when things don't go right. They don't bother learning the old ways of doing business. Ah, listen to me. Just an old dog who's grumpy about having to learn new tricks. You didn't come here to be lectured."

"I don't suppose I did," she smiled. "But that doesn't mean I objected."

"Well, I object!" he laughed. "A beautiful woman like you deserves better. You're here with a business proposition, and from what Jakey tells me, it's a damned good one."

"Right. I'm an executive at a small but successful investment firm. The government has no idea what we do, as I'm sure you've noticed over the past few years. We crashed the entire economy and they still don't understand anything about how investment firms operate. And the Republicans are fighting tooth and nail to make sure it stays that way.

"So I had a thought. As long as the people watching us are blind, why don't we do what we can to help other – ahem – small businesses. People in your line of work sometimes have trouble with investigators striking at you through your money. But if they have no clue what's being done with your money, well, that complicates things for them, doesn't it? The more trouble they have following your money, the more time you have to convince them that you're a legitimate businessman who doesn't deserve the witch hunt they're subjecting you to."

"Ha! Madam, I like it. I think this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

"I'm glad. Oh, I'm feeling a little thirsty. You there," she said to the bodyguard. "Would you mind getting me something to drink? A martini, perhaps? Thanks."

The man looked at his boss, who gestured for him to go get the drink. Rebecca didn't even watch him leave. "I'm certainly glad we could close a deal," she said.

Her companion stood off by himself. He saw a bodyguard come out of the room. "I'm certainly glad we could close a deal," he heard through his earpiece. Showtime, he thought.

He walked over to the back room. The guard stopped him, and Alvin activated his force field as he punched the guy. Then he fired a blast at two other man standing nearby. Everyone in the bar pulled out their guns and opened fire. The bullets simply bounced off his field; he barely even noticed them. His own shots, however, were more than enough to take down anyone they hit.

"What the Hell is going on out there?!" Mr. Mason jumped to his feet when the shooting started. He stopped when he noticed Rebecca aiming a gun at him.

"I wouldn't make any sudden movements, if I was you," she said pleasantly. She nodded towards the guy who'd been sketching. "Join your friend over there."

"You think you can get away with this, you bitch?"

She whipped her gun over and shot his friend in the chest as he pulled out his own gun. He fell back to the couch. Another bullet went in his head. She moved the gun back over to Mason. "Never mind," she told him. "I guess it doesn't really matter where you sit now. But I'd definitely appreciate it if you'd get out from behind the desk."

"You killed my best friend," he said in a threatening tone. "I'm going to get you for this shit. When I'm done with you, you'll be begging for death. I'm going to pass you around my men so they can do whatever they want with you. Then I'm going to let the women beat the shit out of you. Then I'm going to cut off your fingers, one inch at a time."

"Shut up before I decide to just shoot you and save the city of Los Angeles a costly trial. Hey Val! How you doing out there?!"

"Almost finished!" he shouted back.

"That was Valour," she told Mason. "You know, the superhero? From the West Coast Knights? We work together. Which reminds me, you never saw me. You don't know what I look like. If you ever tell anyone about me, I'll make sure you suffer in ways you can't even imagine. Got it?"

She said it all casually, as though she was discussing the weather, but Mason still gulped and nodded nervously.

Fifteen minutes later, the police arrived to pull all the mobsters to prison. Valour and Rebecca left things in their capable hands and he picked her up to fly her home. "I still can't believe you killed that guy," he said.

"It was self-defence. If I didn't kill him, he would've killed me."

"You could've just disarmed him."

"In the time it would've taken to do that, Mason would've pulled a gun and killed me. I did the smart thing and kept myself alive. Besides, the guy was criminal scum. I'm not going to lose any sleep over someone like that."

"But we're superheroes. We're supposed to be better than that."

"And that means being stupid? Frankly, I showed restraint in not killing Mason, too. How many people do you think they've killed over the years? How many do you think Mason will kill if his lawyers keep him out of prison? I'm all for innocent until proven guilty, but in my mind, there's nothing wrong with killing a killer in the line of duty. Arrest them when possible, kill them when necessary."

"Killing should be an absolute last resort, avoided as much as possible."

"Sure. And I couldn't avoid it in this case. Anyway, didn't your girlfriend kill some people in that base?"

"That was different. They had already taken shots at her, and she tried to avoid kill shots. And she has nightmares about it."

"Face it. She killed, just like me. The only difference between us is I'm probably better in bed."

"Hey, don't insult her like that. And no more killing, except when absolutely necessary."

"God, why are the cute guys always so dumb? Fine, whatever. Just take me back to the headquarters so I can get this make-up off and wash out this hair dye."

"I gotta say, you did a great job with that disguise. You don't even look like you any more. You look like a completely different person."

"A person who doesn't even exist. Hey, so I guess if you slept with me right now, it wouldn't be cheating, since I'm not real."

"Uh . . . let's not and say we . . . um, didn't."

"You're no fun."

"You know, seducing me probably isn't the best way to get on Melissa's good side."

"Good thing I don't care about getting on her good side, then. It's the team I care about."

They arrived at the headquarters. Alvin filled everyone in while 'Rebecca' turned back into Martha. True to her word, she had bought a new headquarters, a large mansion, with 12 bedrooms, a pool, a large gym, and more. Janet had come in to set up computer systems for them, including an AI she named STACI, for Secondary Team Advanced Computer Intelligence. She also left them the large plane, for missions. They kept the downtown office, however, as a place for ordinary people to go when they needed help. Christina worked the reception desk, and they tried to always keep at least one of the Knights down there during the day. Valour stayed most often, since he and Victor were the ones least interested in protecting their secret identities. Gunther wasn't interested in a secret identity, either, but he obviously wasn't a good choice to stay in the office.

While Martha showered, a call came in from Janet. "Good evening," she said. "I apologize for calling so later, but a situation has come to my attention. There is something going on in Colorado, and I believe time is a factor. I am uploading the exact coordinates now."

"Can you give us any details?" Alvin asked.

"I regret that there are few details to provide. One of my satellites picked up a strong energy source for several seconds, before it disappeared."

"You have satellites?" Susan asked. "Why do you have satellites?"

"The ones already in orbit did not have the capabilities I required, so I designed my own."

"You said it picked up an energy source for a few seconds," Nick said. "And that it disappeared. Could it have been a minor glitch?"

"It could not. I ran a diagnostic on the satellite to make sure, but it was working within expected parameters. The energy is being hidden. The cloaking field must have failed for those few seconds."

"We'll get right on it," Alvin said.

"Excellent. Savant out."

"You think we should wait for Martha?" Susan asked.

"Well, she is a member of the team," Eddie said. "So we probably should."

"Staci," Alvin said. "When Martha's out of the shower, tell her to get into her costume."

"Of course, Alvin," STACI replied.

She joined them a few minutes later, in costume, with her hair still wet. "All right, what's going on?" she asked. "This better not be some kind of joke. It's late, and I was hoping to get to bed soon."

"We don't know how big it is yet," Alvin told her. "We'll fill you in on the plane ride to Colorado."

"Colorado? In January? You know my hair's still wet, right? Dammit."

The team boarded the jet. The roof opened, and the jet lifted off, then flew east. It came in low towards an isolated mountain, with no signs of habitation for miles. None of them noticed a small hole open in the mountain. Unreality suddenly looked out the window, just in time to see a missile emerge. "Take us down!" he shouted.

He used his powers to detonate the missile at a distance as the plane descended, leaving himself feeling weak in the process. "Good job," Valour told him. "The rest of us will go on ahead, you rest for a minute and catch up." Unreality nodded. "OK, people, let's go!"

They exited the plane, and moved towards where the missile had come from. Valour took to the air and moved quickly through the area, looking for a hidden door. The snow on the ground made it difficult. Still, there had to be some sign of an entrance.

And then he saw it. A patch of snow that looked a little different than the rest. It wasn't as thick, and seemed a slightly different shade of white. It wasn't much, but just the same . . . "Tiny!" he shouted. "Get up here! I want you to punch right around here!"

"No problem!" Tiny replied. He climbed up to the spot Valour pointed at, and then slammed his fists down. The spot he hit was dented in. He hit it again, and smashed through into some sort of hangar. There was a large cargo plane, and two smaller ones. Valour blasted one wing off each place, to keep them from being used for escape. As soon as all the others – including Unreality – had entered, they all came under attack

Unreality raised the floor around them just in time to prevent them being hit by laser guns. A horde of robots poured through doors around the hangar. "I'll handle the lasers!" Valour said. "Granite, Tiny, Guardian, Elastic Woman – deal with the robots! Unreality, Psyche, keep yourselves safe!"

"I'm about as useful as tits on a bull, here," Psyche mumbled. "Moral support it is, I guess."

Valour kept an eye on the others while he fired his blasts at the lasers lining the walls. He was getting shot by the robots, too, and they seemed to pack a punch. Granite casually knocked the heads off the robots, and threw their bodies at the lasers. They would be blasted before they connected, but in the meantime, it kept everyone else from being shot.

Grey Guardian kept on the move, trying to be unpredictable, as he punched, kicked, and threw the robots. Each of them took a couple hits before they went down. Whenever one looked like it was going to hit him, he'd teleport somewhere else in the room. He drew a modified jian sword from its sheath on his back, and sliced right through one of the robots. "Ha!" he laughed as he moved on to the next one. "Janet did a great job with this!"

Tiny was far less elegant, but equally effective. He walked forward, crushing the robots as he hit them. He grabbed one and threw it at a group, and took out eleven of them at once. He shrugged off the blasts from the energy guns on their right arms, and was bothered little more by the electric prods on their left arms. He simply swept his own arms, and wrecked all the robots around him.

Elastic Woman used the planes as limited cover, and used lead pipes as weapons. She stretched over, under, and around the planes to strike. She coiled herself, then spun around with her arms stretched out to take several heads off. She wrapped around some robots, bent her body back, then snapped forward to slingshot them into others. And the whole time, she swayed around too much for them to get a clean shot at her. When they did, her rubbery body was able to resist the kinetic energy from their blasters.

Unreality and Psyche stayed safe inside his transparent steel bubble. Psyche used her powers to help the Knights, bolstering their courage. Unreality used everything in the room as a weapon. The floor rose up to surround and crush several robots at once. The planes hit the robots with their wings. The robots themselves would spontaneously explode. Laser blasts would change direction to hit them. Anything he could think of to take robots down. But he wouldn't be able to keep it up for very long before he'd get tired.

That was the problem being faced by all of the Knights. Valour was blasting the laser guns on the walls, but every time he destroyed one, it would soon be replaced by another one in the same slot. Grey Guardian and Elastic Woman were doing well, but they wouldn't be able to keep up their pace much longer. Even Tiny was being slowly worn down by the energy blasts and electric prods. And there seemed to be an utterly inexhaustible supply of robots flowing through the doors. It would only be a matter of time before they'd start to fall.

"This isn't working!" Valour shouted. "We need a plan! We need to do something before we're worn down! Suggestions?"

"I got a suggestion!" Tiny yelled. "Try to keep up!"

He charged toward the far wall, crushing the robots in his path, and breaking through the wall into another room.

"Well, that's one way of going about it," Valour said. "OK, people, let's follow him in!"

The room he'd broken into was much larger than the hangar. There were several levels to it, with stairs and elevators along each wall leading up to dozens of doors. It was, of course, swarming with robots. And in the middle of the room was a giant robot. It was at least 30' tall, with a cannon on the right arm, and an electrified pincer claw on the left. It unleashed a blast on Tiny, knocking him back through the hole he'd created, where he was caught by Granite, who hadn't gone through yet.

"Well, shit," Valour said calmly. "That's a pretty big robot."

Next: I piss off some readers, with Out of Time.