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Bound No More, Part 3
By Sean McDonald

      “Don’t you know these little arson parties of yours never work?” News Flash shouted to the mob that set the building on fire.  Their leader took a quick look at two men standing there from behind his demon mask.  One was News Flash, in his brown suit vest and fedora, and the other, someone Mammon recognized even in his sensor-laden sunglasses and black leather outfit.
“Well, if it isn’t Voltech.  So, you have gone legit after all,” Mammon said.  “But just ‘cause you ain’t a Skull no more don’t mean I forgot about you.”
After he said this, the Armorbound, still unseen, whispered to Mammon.  “Keep him distracted.”
“You remember me?  I’m touched,” Voltech said sarcastically.
“You wimps are going down.  The Hellions are sick of being some petty street gang.  We’re gonna rule this city!”  Mammon yelled.
“Come on!  You do this kind of thing all the time and the same thing always happens,” Voltech answered.  “Any minute now heroes from all over Steel Canyon will come here to kick your petty asses.”
“But this ain’t no ordinary fire,” Mammon said he brandished the scepter he used to start the blaze.  “You see this stick I’m holding?  This is gonna take us to the top!”  While the gangster continued monologuing about his new toy, Voltech sensed currents of energy flowing behind him.  He dashed away just in time to avoid an energy-charged fist breaking his shoulder blade.

He turned to face his attacker, who had begun to fade into view from the energy cloak’s power being diverted to his fists, and spoke.  “Who the hell are you?!”
The Armorbound answered as he charged toward him, his voice echoing from within, “Who am I?  Where you’re going, wondering who I am shall be the least of your torments!”  The living suit of armor aimed a punch at Voltech’s head.  The blaster ducked under it and threw a punch of his own, crackling with electricity, at his stomach, but it missed despite being perfectly timed.
“What the …?” Voltech realized that his punch was deflected by the energy surrounding his foe.

“Fool!  Did you honestly think this armor was just ordinary metal?  I would never be so crass as to use base iron for –What the--.”  Armorbound found himself being psychically lifted into the air and slammed down by News Flash.  He turned toward him as he got up.  “So, you wish to die first?  Very well, then.”
Mammon had seen enough.  He turned to his followers and ordered them into the fray.  “Well don’t just stand there!  Go help Armorbound!”
The mob of Hellions surrounded the mentalist and drew their weapons, with carnage on their minds.  News Flash let out a psychic pulse that left the pseudo-demonic hordes asleep on their feet.  With them incapacitated, he looked for Armorbound, but he had disappeared.

    Meanwhile, at the museum, patrons had another group of fire-crazed gangsters to deal with.  Of course, Spectreblade wasn’t about to see his exhibits go up in flames.  He saw them as they prepared to torch the medieval weapons exhibition.
“Ah, the Hellions,” the knight said to them.  “Brings back memories…”  It was in a fight with members of this gang where he discovered the power his armor held.  He was now in his second year of being one of Paragon City’s many heroes, and had learned much since then.  “I’m far more powerful than when we first met,” he continued.  “Compared to what I’ve been fighting lately, a bunch of ruffians like you will be child’s play,” he warned them.  The mob wouldn’t be dissuaded so easily.  “Oh, well.  It looks like we’ll have to do this the hard way.”

    As the group approached him, his armor went to work, its dark energy forming around it to protect from their attacks.  They got within striking distance, and as they did, Spectreblade’s form became frightening to them.  He was still the same defender of justice, but the suit’s power made his foes see something great and terrible, and they cowered before him.  The setting for their fight only added to the terror.  Suits of armor, gargoyles, and sculptures seemed ready to pounce on the shaking mob.  There was only one real threat to them there, however.  He drew his sword and quickly knocked them unconscious to the floor.  “I told you, you didn’t stand a chance.”  Spectreblade called museum security to hold them until the authorities arrived, and then made his way out to join his teammates.

Mammon yelled at his minions.  “Can’t you imps do anything right?  I send you to take down a simple controller and you idiots--”  A concentrated blast of energy hit him in the stomach, knocking him to the ground.  The two heroes looked back to its source and saw two familiar faces; one with glowing green eyes, the other with ebony skin.
    “About time you showed up,” Voltech greeted his teammates PhoenixHawk and Thauma Guard.
    “Spectreblade’s on his way,” PhoenixHawk said as Thauma Guard went to work, forming protective shells of force around the team.  “Now let’s show these thugs we won’t let them terrorize this city.”
Mammon gazed around and saw that heroes of all sizes and types had arrived.  Some fought with the other groups of Hellions who were trying to torch other buildings.  Others begun extinguishing the fires with packs filled with flame-snuffing foam, supplied by none other than Steel Canyon’s own Positron.  Mammon snarled “Damn it!  The cavalry’s here!  Snap out of it, you goons!”

    The Hellions woke up to see the odds were no longer in their favor.  They ran toward PhoenixHawk, each of them eager to prove their worth by taking down the leader of the Onami Strike Force, but the energy blaster had a plan.  The ambitious mob gathered around him, but their attacks just bounced off the force field.  They continued their stubborn attempts to break through.  The foul horde cried foul as they uselessly hammered away.  One of them yelled out in frustration, “You can’t hide in that shiny hamster bubble forever, you wuss!”
This was a tactic that served PhoenixHawk well in many a battle against the forces of evil.  The Hellions took the bait, hook, like, and sinker.  “I don’t need to hide in here forever,” he said.  “Just long enough to get a big enough crowd of stupid goons around me.”  With that he unleashed a massive blast of power, scattering the unruly horde to the winds.

    The goons let Mammon down once again.  He continued berating the incompetent gangsters.  “Come on!  What the hell was that?  He’s a blaster, for God’s sake!” the man in the devil mask shouted.  “A SQUISHY FREAKING BLASTER!”
“Yo, Mammon!”  Voltech yelled.  “You’re soooo brave, sending your goon squad to do your fighting for you.  They should give you a medal.”
“It’s about time I shut that mouth of yours, Voltech!” Mammon growled.  “Now burn!”
He raised his scepter, ready to immolate the hero, when News Flash, sensing its unholy power being tapped, pulled it from his hand with his mind.  “You little --” Thauma Guard hit him with a blast of dark energy before he could turn to News Flash, sending the demon-man to the concrete.

    “Thanks, Thauma.” Voltech said.
    “You’re welcome,” she answered.  Voltech’s sensors picked up a form behind her, ready to strike.
    “Behind you!” he yelled.  Thauma Guard formed a force field around herself as Armorbound attacked.  The field did its job and deflected his glowing fist.
    “Do you really think I am going to allow myself to be thwarted by some witch like you?” he spat.  Thauma Guard hit him with a torrent of shadowy power at point-blank range, knocking him past the heroes fighting the fire.
    “You’ll pay for that, you ---!”  He ran at her, knocking heroes out of his way with his energy-charged metal fists as he dashed forward.  Voltech launched a bolt of electricity at the villain, stopping him where he stood as it coursed through the metal shell.  Another blast hit him, this time from PhoenixHawk.  Armorbound went flying into the wall of the building and collapsed.
    “Are you okay?” he asked.
    “I’m fine,” she said.  “It’ll take more than a suit of armor with issues to take me down.”
    “Yeah,” Voltech said. “Now, I have to ask; what the hell was up with that guy!?!”
    They turned to look, and he was gone.
    “Oh, no,” News Flash said.
    “Be careful,” PhoenixHawk warned.  “He might still be here, waiting for us to let our guard down.”
    Then, a knight in black and blue armor appeared before them, fashionably late.
    Voltech spoke.  “Hey, Spectreblade, what took you so long!”
    “You guys aren’t the only ones who had to deal with arsonists.  I had to defend the museum from a pack of these wolves.”

Armorbound watched Spectreblade talking to his teammates.
Ah, Spectreblade.  You’ve shown yourself at last, he thought to himself.


TO PART 4 >



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