"You're damned lucky MACRON didn't recognize you two as League members!" the Scientist chided Keybounce and Havok, once they were safely inside his Top Secret Base with Wake. "You endangered my young, beautiful, virgin daughter just by showing up at that warehouse!"
Havok folded his arms. "No one person is worth letting MACRON take over the world. Not ever your young, beautiful, virgin daughter."
The Scientist glared at the target on Havok's chest. "I ought to take that obvious, inaccessible focus away from you, and throw you in a holding cell!"
Blue Shooter drew himself up to his full height and stood right in front of the Scientist. "You and what army?"
The Scientist glanced around. It seemed none of the League was on his side in this matter.
"Either we mount that rescue operation," Mauler said, "Or we go out there and kick MACRON's butt without you."
The Scientist took a heavy breath. "So it's come to this, has it?" He squeezed his eyes tight for two seconds, then took another heavy breath. "All right, then. I guess I can't stop you. But we had better plan this rescue op right." He turned to Wake. "We'll need you to be part of it, too."
"Wouldn't have it any other way," the speedster said.
"So what's this they tell me," the Scientist probed him, "About how MACRON made you?"
Now it was Wake's turn to take a heavy breath. "I was in MACRON at one point. They like to recruit military personnel fresh out of their first-and-only tour of duty, who don't know what to do with themselves next. It paid well, and they had a good dental plan. . . . Then they asked for volunteers to try out an experimental Super Speed Elixir they were working on. And when MACRON 'asks' for 'volunteers,' you don't really have a choice in the matter."
Wake continued, "For most of the test subjects, the formula did nothing. For ten of them, it raised their heart rate and body temperature until they passed out. For three of them, it killed them." He paused. "I was their one, and only, success story. They had me rob a bank at super speed. Then they had me pull another job. And another. Each time, they had to give me more of the Super Speed Elixir. Eventually, they decided I'd done enough for them and let me have a little vacation."
His expression grew snarled. "That was when I discovered I'd grown . . . dependent on their Super Speed Elixir. Five hours after the last dose, I started shivering. Then came the cold sweats, then the pain. MACRON's doctors — if you can call them that — gave me another dose, and the symptoms went away. But five hours later, they returned again. I thought maybe I could quit cold turkey, but the pain got so bad I passed out, and then I started going into shock. The Super Speed Elixir was the only treatment that worked to bring me back.
"Now, I need a constant supply of the stuff. If I don't have a dose every five hours, I die. MACRON turned me into a damn junkie, on a drug for which they're the only supplier. And I hate them for it. So, I did the only thing I could to keep from becoming their puppet for life — I broke into their lab, stole the recipe and as much of the Super Speed Elixir as I could carry, and went rogue. They've been hunting me down ever since. So, I return the favor every opportunity I get.
"And rescuing your daughter from —"
"His young, beautiful, virgin daughter!" Havok corrected him.
Wake ignored the interruption and finished: "Rescuing her from MACRON One, and possibly dealing irreparable damage to their pride-and-joy flying robot base in the process, has great appeal to me."
The Scientist nodded. "I take it you've found someone willing to make more of the Elixir for you, or you've managed to make it yourself."
Wake frowned. "I did find a lady who knew pharmacology, who whipped me up a big batch of the stuff. Turns out, the ingredients are pretty cheap. But she disappeared right after she made that one batch. My supply has been . . . dwindling ever since."
"I have an 11 or less Pharmacology roll," the Scientist said. "If as you say the components are easily available, I could probably make as much of it as you need." He pointed at Wake, and said earnestly: "No obligations from you. You won't owe me any favors for doing this. Just write down the formula. I'll make it for you, because it's the right thing to do."
Wake blinked. He wasn't used to charity like this.
"There's also some special garments I'll be making for all of you," the Scientist said. "They should be thin enough to wear underneath your own costumes, without hindering your movement. And Wake, while I'm making your Super Speed Elixir, you'll need to practice with the other League members for the rescue op. You'll need first-hand experience with each others' strengths and weaknesses if we're to work out a detailed plan of attack. Let me introduce you to my Danger Room . . ."
Four flying men plowed westward through the evening sky, three in majestic poses and one being towed by a trick arrow. Below them on highway 101, a turbine-powered motorcycle ridden by a young man in black and a brick-with-arms-and-legs kept pace. Following far enough behind the bike so as not to be cooked by its jet exhaust, an aging Scientist strode at freeway speed, propelled by motorized metal struts surrounding his legs. Both the bike and the Scientist were narrow enough to weave through the omnipresent L.A. traffic with ease.
The Scientist looked at a cobbled-together scope, and spoke into a cobbled-together walkie-talkie: "MACRON One hasn't moved much. It's still over Thousand Oaks."
Keybounce sidled up alongside Wake in mid-air. "I'm glad you're with us," he said. "This rescue needs all the help it can get."
Wake smirked. "Glad to see somebody here appreciates me for more than just the broken windows I leave behind."
"You'll make a welcome addition to the League of 250 Point Characters," Keybounce added.
"Whoa there," Wake said. "I agreed to come along on this mission. I didn't say anything about joining your League."
Keybounce frowned. "But . . . you're 250 points!"
"So's Infra Man," Wake replied, "But you don't see him joining, do you? I went straight into the military from a close-knit family, then straight into MACRON from the military. But now that I'm out, I like being on my own. I don't want to get tied down to another group."
At that moment, Mauler pointed to the far northwest horizon. "There!" he shouted. "My electromagnetic sensors have detected MACRON One!"
Keybounce asked, "Your electromagnetic sensors? Why not just say 'I see it'?"
Mauler said, indignantly, "Because I'm a War Falcon class Romulan Mauler, dog gone it!"
The Scientist had been listening in, and said over their earpieces, "I see it too. It's still miles and miles away."
"Dang," they heard Havok's voice in their earpieces, "I remember it was huge, but until now I didn't have an idea of its sheer scale."
"It's the length of the RMS Titanic," the Scientist explained, "And twice as wide."
"That would make it . . ." They could hear the calculations going on in Havok's head. ". . . three point eight of my fireballs long."
"Havok, do not blast it," the Scientist growled. "They're keeping my young, beautiful, virgin daughter somewhere inside, but none of us knows exactly where. You could accidentally incinerate her."
They continued to approach. It grew larger in the sky, but with aching slowness.
"How about," Havok broke the silence, "How about if I just blast it on the rear, where the engines are? They wouldn't be keeping her all the way in the back."
"Or maybe they are keeping her all the way in the back," the Scientist said testily, "Because they figured you'd assume that they wouldn't be keeping her all the way in the back!"
The silence resumed.
". . . Can I blast it on the —"
"NO!" the Scientist cut Havok off. "No! Blasting! It!"
The giant humanoid robot that was MACRON One grew ever larger as they closed in on it. As it did, it started to change course — almost as though it had noticed them. It stopped its slow crawl across the sky and hovered in place. Then, it gradually descended until it was only a few hundred feet off the ground. When they drew close enough to make out the details, tiny points of light erupted on its surface. A second or two later, clouds of shrapnel burst dangerously close to the airborne foursome before zinging past.
"Yikes!" Mauler exclaimed. "Flak cannons! Shields up!" The flickering soap bubble that was his deflector shields materialized tightly around his body. Keybounce followed suit and switched on his own Major-Havoc-esque force field. Blue Shooter and Wake, on the other hand, didn't have shields. They'd have to settle for dodging the flak while they flew.
A second barrage followed. This time, Mauler and Keybounce both got hit by bits of flying metal. Their force shields managed to repel the shrapnel, but they could both feel the impacts. Blue Shooter had to do some acrobatics with his flight arrow's tow line to avoid two blasts.
But then, the flak guns stopped.
Keybounce furrowed his brow. "Why have they —"
Wake saw them first. "MALAVs! Twelve o'clock low!"
"I think I can nail a couple of 'em," Havok said from the ground below. He raised one arm and blasted a region between MACRON One and his four flying teammates, at about two-thirds of his full strength. The thundrous fireball caught two of the flying tanks, which plummeted from the sky as charred wrecks.
The rest of the MALAVs, though, were scattered far enough apart as to be nowhere near the blast.
Mauler fired his beam, taking out a third MALAV. Then, two of the tanks' turrets found their targets and opened fire with their electrostun beams. One bright white stunner hit Keybounce, the other hit Mauler. As before, their force shields were useless against the beams, which went right through as though their shields didn't exist. Keybounce tensed for the jolt and the numbness . . .
. . . But the jolt never came.
Keybounce and Mauler blinked, and looked at one another. Both had been hit. But neither had been affected.
"Hah!" the Scientist's voice came over their earpieces. "I knew it! Their electrostun beams can't get through a good old-fashioned fine-wire-mesh Faraday cage."
Keybounce nodded in understanding. That's what those garments were for! The Scientist had been so cryptic when he told all of them to wear them under their costumes. Havok had even worried that they might be magic temple underwear. They were anti-electrostun armor!
"All right, guys," Blue Shooter piped in, "The MALAVs are no longer a threat. Let's go after the primary target!" He dropped steeply downward, let go of his flight arrow's tow line, stuck the landing in a perfect somersault, and sprang to his feet just two meters away from the Scientist. Now both hands were free to use his bow.
While Havok, the Scientist, Brick One, and Blue Shooter moved in on the ground, Keybounce, Mauler, and Wake converged on MACRON One from the air. Four more MALAV stun beams hit them; Wake didn't even bother trying to dodge. The three of them kept on coming without so much as slowing down. The MALAV pilots quickly figured out that their stun cannons were worthless now, and the barrage ceased. Most of the flying tanks withdrew, but one of them aimed itself straight for Wake and throttled up to ramming speed. Wake saw it coming, put his head down and pointed his fists, and accelerated toward it. The two slammed into each other in midair, hard enough that the tank simply fell apart and its sole occupant plummeted toward the ground. The impact speed had been high enough that, this time, Wake was actually dazed. He hovered in place for a couple of seconds — an eternity for a speedster.
Havok, the Scientist, Brick One, and Blue Shooter watched the MALAV pilot fall. Havok thought, briefly, about slowing the man's fall with his weak telekinetic powers; but apparently, emergency parachutes were part of a MALAV driver's standard equipment. His chute popped open two seconds before he would've hit the ground.
But with the MALAVs now gone, MACRON One's flak guns were free to open fire again. Flak clouds burst alongside the three flying men. And it wasn't just aerial targets they were shooting at now; they'd seen Blue Shooter descend and join the three on the ground, and new ground-attack cannons flared to life from MACRON One's underside. Bomb blasts cratered the asphalt. One knocked Brick One off his feet.
Havok looked up at the giant humanoid robot/base and squinted. "The active cannons are all on the front of MACRON One, where its head is." He pointed a fist at the hovering behemoth. "I can take them all out."
"No!" the Scientist cried. "My young, beautiful —"
Havok steeled himself, put on his game face, and said, "Low power." He didn't wait for the Scientist's opinion. He fired.
A bright-but-not-too-bright ball of energy engulfed MACRON One's head and shoulders. At this low power setting, the blast didn't stand a chance of getting through the behemoth's thick armor. But the cannons were exposed on the surface, and now nearly ever one of them was a smouldering wreck.
"There you go!" Havok said. "Now we can close in and . . ."
His voice trailed off. Someone was . . . emerging from atop MACRON One's midsection. He didn't appear to be wearing the body armor of a standard MACRON agent; in fact, he looked to be wearing a spandex super-hero costume.
Or a super-villain costume.
"You fools!" he said. Even way down on the ground, they could hear his voice just fine. Then, bizarrely, he vanished from sight and instantly reappeared a good distance away, standing now atop MACRON One's scorched head. It was as though he hadn't covered the distance in between, though the Scientist swore he saw the briefest red flicker along the path he would have had to follow. The newcomer spoke again: "MACRON has teamed up with people just as super-powered as yourselves! Cast your eyes upon me! I, who am the living embodiment of coherent light!" His hands glowed red to emphasize the point.
"You may even have heard of me," he said. "For I am called . . . Laser!"
The League of 250 Point Characters stared at him, wide-eyed. The moment they had dreaded had come to pass. They all said, in one voice:
"LASER AND MACRON?! UUUGGGGH!"
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