Task Force Lightning

Chapter 1 - The Meeting
Chapter 2 - The Gathering
Chapter 3 - The Mission
Chapter 4 - The Discovery
Chapter 5 - The Patrol
Chapter 6 - ?

The Meeting

Zephyr peered around a corner, down a long hallway littered with metal scraps. Among this metal junkyard one could see many gears, nuts, and bolts. Behind it all at the end of the hallway stood a Tesla Prince of the clockwork, with a small battalion of troops as guard.

This Tesla Prince had been wreaking havoc all across Skyway City for weeks, and Zephyr, with the help of his contacts, had tracked him down to this warehouse in the industrial district of Skyway City. Zephyr let out a great canine howl, switching to his wolf form, he charged at the Tesla Prince and his guard.

Slashing at blinding speeds Zephyr cut through the small guard as though they were butter. Switching back to his human form, he approached the prince who had caused all the recent mayhem in Skyway. Oddly enough, the prince didn't move. “Decoy,” Zephyr thought too late as suddenly clockwork piled in from the entrance to the hallway where Zephyr had spotted the dummy Tesla Prince. Shape shifting back to his wolf form, Zephyr met the new army head on.

A Tesla Knight shot a bolt of electricity, hitting Zephyr's hand, knocking his sword loose from his hands. Before he could react, the clockwork descended upon Zephyr, overwhelming him. Slashing with the claws bestowed upon him by his wolf form, desperately slashing to make his way through. Just as hope seemed lost, Zephyr caught a blue blur in the corner of his vision. The blur darted from clockwork to clockwork that had Zephyr pinned and appeared to rip them off of him. After the blue had pulled off the last one, it stopped next to Zephyr. Zephyr saw the signature smirk of one of the most popular and well known bachelors in the city, Synapse. Zephyr picked up the Deathblade from the ground as Synapse unleashed an electrical blast that short circuited every clockwork save the true Tesla Prince. With a speed to rival Synapse's, Zephyr charged the prince and sliced him in two.

“Thanks for the save,” Zephyr said after catching his breath.

“Don't thank me yet Zephyr, I have a favor to ask you,” Synapse replied, the smirk replaced with a grim look. “Posi told me how well you and your team helped him out in saving the dam, and seeing how you're already working on ridding Skyway of this Clockwork Menace…”

“It would be an honor to help another member of the Freedom Phalanx, and its the least I can do after your help back there, whats the situation?”

“Well first you're going to be fighting a lot more of these guys, so assemble a team and meet me in that park between the Yellow Line and the Hospital here in Skyway.”

The Gathering

DuDe W 11000 ToMaLes was enjoying his regular lunch of tamales when he was approached by an old friend…

“Zephyr! How's it goin?”

“Pretty good Tomales, I'm sorry but I'm going to have to skip the formalities, the city needs our help.”

“It'll be like old times! Of course I'll help, but this sounds serious.”

“It is Tomales, we'll need some more help”

“Well why don't we try Marlene? She is a psychic.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

In Croatoa, Marlene the Master was surrounded by the Cabal. Unleashing a powerful psychic blast, she took out one of the witches. Both parties too afraid to move, it became a staring contest. In the distance Marlene saw a fairly large form rising above the tree line in the forest. The figure seemed to rise above the tree line, then fall below it. Marlene sighed in relief. She relaxed a moment, waited for Tomales to be close enough, when suddenly she thought she saw a black blur run across the group of Cabal. Suddenly she realized one of the witches was missing. At that moment Tomales landed on another witch. The black blur came back, stopping in front of another witch. The blur hit the witch with the end of handle of a beautifully made katana.

Marlene sprang into action, throwing psychic blasts left and right, incapacitating the rest of the witches. Each witch howled in pan and fell to the soft grass of Croatoa.

“Tomales! How are you? Who is your friend?”

“Hey Marlene,” Tomales said in his cheery chipper voice.

“The City needs us, sorry to cut things short but we don't have much time, there are still others to meet. I am Zephyr Deathblade.”

“Yeah, Synapse has something big for us,” Tomales added.

“Well then count me in!” Marlene said excitedly.

5up@ Phr3ak towered over his hostage menacingly. His men all hooted and howled wanting to see some carnage, but he had his orders from Clamor, he was to attain the location of the Council base from this soldier. All of a sudden though, something broke his train of thought, he could have sworn he saw something. “Must have been the lights flickering,” he muttered under his breath. Suddenly a girl and a four foot tall machine looking thing appeared.

The girl launched what looked like a cloud of complete and total darkness. The short machine unleashed a torrent of energy knocking all of the Freakshow back, save Phr3ak, who was becoming engulfed in the cloud. The cloud moved down to his feet, where it stayed, tentacles springing forth, holding him in place.

Suddenly a white scaled humanoid dragon of all things flew around a corner and summoned fire to rain from the sky, burning all of the Freakshow. One Freak Swiper slashed the dragon across the chest with his arm scythe, cutting the dragon deeply. The dragon roared in pain and retaliated with his own attack, throwing a fireball into the chest of the swiper. The girl half pointed, half reached out towards the dragon with both arms, which began to glow green, along with the dragon. The cut across the dragon's chest closed up, and within seconds was gone entirely.

5up@ Phr3ak finally broke free of the tentacles and his troops recovered from the rain of fire. The swiper who had cut the dragon had been out cold, but suddenly stood up, only appearing to be mildly injured. The trio of heroes stood, ready to continue the fight, when suddenly the girl and the dragon had grown that crooked smile of confidence, the kind of smirk you get when the tables just turned in your favor.

Before he had time to think of this further, he fell over, one of his metal legs cut off entirely. The thunderous boom that followed his fall caused the other Freakshow to turn around, only to find their leader on the floor, and three more heroes facing them. One, a large man in a suit with some strange large robotic gloves, an average hight and built man, who seemed quite quick, with a katana that looked as if it were worth its weight in gold, and a woman who had an aura of extreme power about her.

Chaos ensued, any on looker would not know who was wining, or what to make of it all, as it happened in a matter of seconds. The agile man slashing away with his sword, which could apparently cut through metal. The large man fighting with fists that were on fire. The dragon throwing fire itself left and right. The four foot machine firing blasts of energy at any freak that moved. Every inch the freaks could gain, every cut they made, were reduced to nothing as the other two women heroes healed every injury made. Not that it mattered when they cut the agile one, he seemed to regenerate on his own.

“Philly!” exclaimed the swordsman, who greeted the girl with a warm smile on his face.

“Zephy!” Philly Girl returned.

“Allastor, Model, how are you two doing?” Zephyr nodded to the two in Philly Girl's company.

“Fine, I see Bahamut has placed his blessings upon you Zephyr,” replied the dragon, Allastor Darkflame.

Model 912, the four foot soldier remained irresolute and silent.

“Zephy, what're you doing here? 'The One Man Army' doesn't work with a team, let alone healers. Even TWO healers, what is wrong?”

“I can't just drop by to say hello to a good friend?” asked Zephyr, obviously hiding something.

“You never just say 'Hi' Zephy.” Philly replied.

“Alright but there are two more we need to pick up so I'll tell you on the way.”

Lady Docam and Diao sat in the center of the Portal Corporation's complex on Peregrine Island.

“Got any other missions?” Diao asked Docam.

“My contacts have nothing left for me, but I wouldn't mind cracking a few Fake Nemesis skulls,” Docam said cracking her knuckles.

“Well what do we do now? Theres gotta be something to do, some people to save, a robbery to stop or something!”

Just then Philly Girl materialized right next to them. “Hey you two, hows it going?” She asked.

“Hey Philly, nothing much, just kinda bored, looking for some work to do.” Diao replied.

Just then Zephyr came whizzing by, “Hey everyone!”

“Zephyr? Whats goi-” Docam was cut off by the arrival of Model 912, Allastor Darkflame, DuDe w 11000 ToMaLes, and Marlene the Master.

“I think we found something to do,” Diao said excitedly.

The Mission

Everyone stood around Skyway conversing, catching up on old times. Zephyr had switched to his humanoid form, which was better known as his angelic form due to his wings.

“Quite a team you've gathered here,” Synapse told Zephyr, with a slight sense of awe in his voice.

“Only the best,” Zephyr replied.

Tomales calmly walked up to Zephyr and Synapse, adjusting his sun glasses. “Why didn't we pick up Arious?” Tomales asked in curiosity.

“He is unreachable right now, don't worry about it Tomales,” Zephyr replied sternly. “There is work to be done, Synapse, what is the situation?”

“The Clockwork are active, more than usual, we don't know the true nature or the intent, but thats what we're here to find out. You will move forward as Task Force Lightning until this threat is snuffed out.”

“Whats the first assignment?” Zephyr inquired.

“I need you to investigate an electrical anomaly, whatever is going on, its weird by even clockwork standards,” Synapse told the group before him.

“You can count those gears down and out for the count!” Tomales said enthusiastically.

Zephyr smiled to himself. Hearing Tomales' enthusiasm brought memories back to Zephyr, memories of his first real friends in Paragon City. Zephyr had been around a good long while, long enough for friends to come and go, and Tomales had been there for much of it. Memories surged through Zephyr when he suddenly snapped back to the present, his concentration broken by the same person who put him in the trance.

“You okay Zeph?” Tomales asked.

“Yeah I'm fine Tomales,” Zephyr replied, “Lets move out,” Zephyr ordered, as he took to the sky, flying towards the power substation Synapse had pointed out to the team.

“Whats wrong with him?” Philly asked.

“Best not to ask,” Tomales replied.

The Team gathered and organized outside the substation before entering. Not sure what to expect, they prepared for the worst. Diao, with her super strength, and Tomales, with his control over fire, went in first, followed by Zephyr and Docam, Model and Allastor, with their ranged attacks stood between those on the front lines, and the two healers. Marlene and Philly, in the back. Diao and Tomales charged in ready for a whole army of clockwork only to find… nothing…

“Do we have the right address?” Docam said.

“I'll go ahead and scout!” Tomales exclaimed.

“NO! Tomales WAIT!” Zephyr shouted, but it was too late, Tomales was off bouncing through the substation.

“Whats wrong with him scouting?” Philly asked.

“Is… is that his fire aura still shooting out?!” Diao exclaimed.

“Yes… When he scouts he grabs the attention of everyone within half a mile, if we were expecting a fight when we came in, we can now expect a war,” Zephyr explained.

Everyone prepared for battle, Diao was at the front, Zephyr and Lady Docam to each side, Allastor and Model waiting to rain fury upon the enemy, Philly and Marlene ready to attack or heal as necessary.

“Hey guys I found them!” Tomales yelled down the hall as he bounced back, his fire shields absorbing a good number of electrical blasts coming from around multiple corners. The number of blasts did not do justice to the numbers of the clockwork that surged into the hallway, the numbers were simply overwhelming. A sea of bronze flooded the hallway, wave after wave of these gears hit the front lines, but the line was held by Zephyr, Docam, Diao, and Tomales.

As Tomales emanated more fire off his body, Allastor called a rain above him, a rain of fire. Some of the smaller clockwork activated small propellers, and flew out of the fire, while the larger ones ceased to function, falling over and falling apart. After all this time, Tomales began to suffer from the wounds these gears had inflicted upon him, Marlene quickly went to his aid, while Philly and Model began blasting away at the clockwork.

The battle continued and the clockwork's numbers dwindled, till there were only a handful left. One of them began to run down a corridor, quickly followed by a couple more. The majority however went down a different hallway. Most of the heroes chased the large group, but Model went after the small group.

Zephyr charged the large group and managed to cut down one of the stragglers, turned to the group of heroes to call a charge, but noticed Model was missing. “Where is Model?!” he shouted. Seeing the slightly confused looks on the faces of his team, Zephyr spread his wings and took to the air. Flying past his team, “Follow the runners, I'll find Model.” he ordered.

“I'm coming with you!” Tomales replied. Tomales went jumping after Zephyr while the rest of the team went after the other group.

Zephyr soared down the hallways of the substation. For an amateur flier, this would be impossible, but for someone who has been flying as long as Zephyr, this was any other day, able to round corners with grace and ease. He heard a loud thump behind him. Looking back he saw Tomales, “Only he would have followed…” Zephyr thought to himself. Looking ahead once more, Zephyr almost missed a narrow corner, inches from crashing into a wall. At the end of this new hallway, Zephyr saw Model, hurling bolts of energy around another corner. Zephyr set down next to Model, and Tomales came not too far behind. Model looked at his reinforcements, then looked down the hall. Zephyr nodded in understanding, looked to Tomales, and they all charged. Tomales started firing up the few gears that had escaped Model's blasts, Model himself fired another round of blasts at the larger clockwork, while Zephyr launched himself at the leader of the squad.

Tomales made short work of the little gears and went to assist Model with the remaining Knights. Zephyr was currently pinned down by the large leader, whose mass was twice that of Zephyrs. Using his sword, which couldn't cut through the thick metal of this Cannon Prince's armor, pushed the Prince's head away from his own, at which point a blast of energy met with his face, knocking him back and off of Zephyr. On its back and all alone, the Prince began to get up when it was crushed and melted under the weight of DuDe w 11000 ToMaLeS.

“We need to regroup with the rest of the team,” Zephyr stated while looking at the carnage. Model nodded and Tomales got up and followed as well. As they approached the corner they could hear the turning of gears when suddenly Zephyr was shot from behind by a bold of electricity. The Prince had a few tiny Clockwork Gears inside him, who now had come out looking for a fight. Model blasted them into oblivion.

The Discovery

Diao and Docam led the team through the rest of the substation. A little more strategic than Tomales' fire aura scouting, they sent the dragon Allastor with his invisibility spell, to scout what seemed the last and large room of the power substation.

“Their numbers are many, the army vast, but split into small squads,” Allastor reported.

“Well we can pull a few of them, one squad at a time,” Philly said.

“I'd rather we just take'em all at once, we could do it,” Lady Docam said. Upon actually entering the room, Docam looked around, “This ain't that much, Diao and I could duo this entire room,” she said arrogantly.

“We should still be careful, this isn't just some other mission Docam,” Diao said.

“Yeah yeah..” Docam replied as Allastor sniped one of the members in a smaller squad that was somewhat distant from the rest. The one who was hit fell to the floor, its circuits overheated, armor melted. The rest of the squad only five more of them, were alerted to their fallen ally, immediately jumped towards the dragon. Diao and Docam went to meet the group head on. Diao made it first, and the clockwork fired blast after blast of electricity at Diao, but she wasn't even phased. At this point Docam and Allastor unleashed their attacks into the fray. Docam kicked one of the clockwork so hard it sent it flying. This clockwork went back about twenty feet and fell into another squad.

Crashing into the leader of this squad, the clockwork shattered leaving bits an pieces all over the place. The leader who was knocked over sounded the alarm. Within seconds the rest of the room, roughly one hundred soldiers comprised of squads of six, joined the melee.

“So much for caution!” Diao exclaimed. “Still think we can take them Docam?!”

Despite the answer obviously being no, Lady Docam never gave up, she was too cocky for that. “We'll be fine!” Docam shouted back, as she became overwhelmed with the numbers of the clockwork. Diao was overwhelmed by a third if the entire army, Docam with another twenty, taking half the army between the two of them. Allastor, Marlene, and Philly stuck together, but that still meant over fifty clockwork for three people without too many defensive capabilities. Allastor spewed flame from his mouth and slew a few and damaged many, but was not enough to even the odds. Calling the raid of fire and launching another bolt of fire, Allastor defended the two healers. Met by more clockwork Allastor conjured a sword of ice, and began fighting in close quarters. Launching bolt after bolt of electricity, the clockwork fought back, and Allastor was badly hurt. Off in the distance you could see a large pile of clockwork, the last known location of Diao, and you could vaguely see Lady Docam fighting desperately. Even with both healers, the group seemed lost.

There was a pause in combat before Allastor, the two healers were trying to save themselves, he was isolated. A group of ten clockwork prepared to finish the dragon. “Not without a fight,” he thought to himself. He launched one last huge fireball which exploded into the entire group, the ice sword melted, Allastor too tired to maintain it. Just as the clockwork gathered their own last bit of strength to finish the dragon, what seemed an incredibly large ball of fire landed amongst them, utterly destroying the leader of the squad. The fires dispersed and Allastor could see Tomales. Tomales summoned his own fire sword, spinning in a circle cutting and finishing the clockwork.

A wave if energy knocked the clockwork away from Philly and Marlene, Model entered the fray. The infamous black blur returned sending any and all clockwork in his path flying out of its way. It headed straight for the largest group. Zephyr, in wolf form, hacked and slashed through the horde of gears, cogs, and tesla knights. Marlene came over, and kept the feral wolf Zephyr in good condition. Tomales jumped over the pile, picking up a clockwork or two on his way through. Model used his energy blasts to knock a few clockwork out of the pile. Allastor, inspired by the turn of the battle, seemed to get a second wind, and began ripping clockwork off the pile.

A shock wave hit the room, throwing everyone in the pile off, at the center stood Diao, obviously hurt from the scuffle but still fighting strong. She delivered a devastating uppercut to the nearest clockwork, sending him into the air, picked up another clockwork and threw it at one who was running away. Philly began launching blast after blast of her dark miasma. Zephyr ran around the room, stopping at another clockwork, cutting it down in one slice, and then moving to another, and cutting another down, running around the room continuing this process. Model and Allastor joined near Philly and, while protecting her, fired away at any clockwork they could see. Tomales jumped from one to the next, crushing them as he hopped along. Marlene healed any wounds incurred during the skirmish.

“Where is Docam?” Zephyr inquired.

“Look out below!” a familiar female voice shouted. Out of the corner of his eye, Zephyr saw a clockwork flying toward him coming from above. Looking up Zephyr saw Lady Docam, dusting herself off. “See? Not a problem!” Docam said from a balcony overlooking the rest of the room. Examining the wreckage of the last clockwork, obviously the leader by his larger armor and overall larger robotic skeletal structure, Zephyr thought it would be worth investigating, and sure enough, Zephyr found a few strange parts that were not on any of the other clockwork, but one was actually not something he had seen on any of the clockwork he had fought in the past.

“Have any of you ever seen anything like this?” Zephyr asked the team.

“Definitely clockwork design, nothing I've seen on them before though.” Allastor stated.

“I think this is something worth taking to Synapse, and I don't think there are any clockwork left in here,” Zephyr replied. “Lets make one last sweep and head out.”

The Patrol

“The Clockwork were carrying some kind of power router, huh? It's interesting, but it still doesn't explain the electrical disturbance in Steel Canyon.” Synapse eyed the router the team had brought him, one eyebrow raised in curiosity.

“I'll show this power router you found to Positron and ask for his opinion. If I can ever get him to stop sharing it with me, I'll let you know what he thinks the Clockwork may be up to.

However, we have an immediate emergency to take care of. The clockwork are swarming all over the place, especially Steel Canyon. I need you to hit the streets and thin the numbers of the Clockwork. If you're lucky, maybe you'll learn something more about that strange power router you found on that Clockwork robot.

This won't be easy, but I know I can count on you and your comrades. I'll hang onto that power router you found until I can talk to Positron about it.”

Task Force Lightning headed for the Yellow Line just across the street from the park where Synapse had met them. As soon as they set foot off the tram in Steel Canyon however, they were met with utter chaos. Citizens were running around everywhere, screaming of a clockwork invasion. Some were saying that the Clockwork King was launching an all out attack on the city. Sure enough, anywhere you looked you saw clockwork. What was peculiar about the situation though was that they weren't acting any more aggressive than they would have normally, there was just a large number of them.

“It looks like there is some cleaning to do,” remarked Allastor, with a grin so wide it brandished his teeth. The mythril dragon spread his enormous wings and jumped into the air flying through the zone, raining fire upon the many Gears and Canon Knights.

“I'm with you Al!” Philly exclaimed, teleporting after the Dragon.

Tomales looked to Zephyr for orders. “You and Marlene group up as well, head directly north, towards Siren's Call. Docam and Diao, you guys head for Bylde Square, They might be drawn to Cooke's Electronics store.” Zephyr looked around for Model but saw him running off in the distance by himself. “I guess he and I will work solo…” Zephyr thought as the rest of his team departed.

Allastor wove through the vast skyscrapers of Steel Canyon with ease, having years of flight experience, many more years than Zephyr. Philly Girl had a relatively easy time keeping up simply teleporting from rooftop to rooftop while keeping the dragon in sight. When she got to a rooftop near the Steel Canyon campus of Paragon City University though, an Assembler Prince stood as if he were waiting for her. “Al! Theres one up he-” The warning cut off, replaced by the buzz of an electrical blast. Entangling the Prince in shadowy tentacles, Philly peered down to see where Allastor was…

A fiery explosion sent pieces of scrap metal falling below just outside of Paragon City University in Steel Canyon. An electrical blast shocked the Dragon to his core, sending him out of his flight pattern, and plummeting to the ground. Recovering from the initial shock after a few moments, Allastor spread his wings to catch the winds and was quickly back in control. He flew straight at his attacker, flying with full speed, and collided with it mid air. Allastor having a much greater mass than the small little flying Oscillator, it was simply taken by the Dragon, grabbed by the throat. Allastor froze the clockwork's neck, weakening the metal. Allastor ripped head from neck, and sent the robot to the ground. Turning he saw three more Oscillators emerge from the steel jungle created by the skyscrapers. “It's going to take a whole lot more than that to bring me down!” Allastor roared in defiance. Suddenly twelve more joined the small squad making a formidable force. “That would about do it…” Allastor muttered under his breath. “Philly I may need some help here!” Allastor charged towards the squad.

As Allastor was momentarily stunned by the clockwork near the University, The Assembler Prince broke free from the tendrils holding him in place. “Hold on Al, I'm coming,” Philly said. Just as she was about to teleport however, she felt cold metal hands around her neck. The Assembler Prince held her with one giant claw, and turned the empath around to see face to face. Philly saw another five clockwork behind the Assembler Prince. She blasted the Prince in the face with a shroud of dark miasma. The Prince did not immediately let go of his prisoner, but stumbled around the rooftop, dazed and blinded. The Prince stumbled right off the rooftop with Philly still in hand. After realizing he had no footing, the Prince let go of his captive. Philly had no idea which way was up and which way was down, and couldn't concentrate enough to teleport. Helplessly she plummeted towards the ground… when suddenly something caught her arm…

Allastor charged towards the group which had formed three blocks away from him, when, after passing the second skyscraper, he saw out of the corner of his eye a very familiar, bright colored object, of red white and blue falling off a rooftop after an Assembler Prince. “Philly!!!” Allastor shouted. Making a sharp bank to turn around and go back for her, he was still higher in altitude than her. Bringing his wings in close, he made a nose dive and with accuracy and precision that even few dragon's could boast, Allastor caught Philly's flailing arm.

“Nice catch,” Philly said graciously, even as she blasted at the Oscillators who had followed Allastor. Firing a miasma blast, she smiled at the dragon. The blast created tendrils that caught in one of the Oscillators propellers, sending it crashing into the ground.

“Nice shot,” Allastor replied, while firing a few fire blasts of his own. “We should regroup with the rest of the team,” Allastor continued, starting to become winded from the exertion of so much energy.

“We may have a ways to go, you can't stop flying now.” Philly extended her free hand towards the dragon. A light began to glow starting from Philly's hand, transferring to Allastor, and spreading rapidly across his body.

“Thanks for the Adrenaline Boost.”

“We have a situation at Bylde Square! We need back up!” Diao shouted over the team radio.

“No we don't!” Lady Docam yelled into the radio.

“Yes we do!” Diao returned.

“I'm saying we don't… ok, we need backup!”

“No we don't Docam, stop being a baby!”

“Looks like we have our heading,” Philly said, as she blasted another oscillator with miasma.

An Assembler Duke stood with thirty clockwork troops half way between the Yellow Line and the entrance to Siren's Call. The citizens of Steel Canyon were going crazy. Running every which way at the sight of the large gathering of Clockwork. The plan was working perfectly, and this was the easy part job. Through the Clockwork King's mental link with each of his minions, the Duke knew that Task Force Lightning had arrived at the area. Reports had told that the group had split up, making things easier. The Assembler Duke heard the Canon Duke in charge of this operation telling a squad of Oscillators to chase down the dragon over by the university, and an Assembler Prince to get the healer.

The Canon Duke also warned the Assembler Duke that The large fire hero was on his way towards the squad with the other healer in tow, the dynamic female duo was headed in the direction of Bylde Square, where the operation was being orchestrated from. Just as the Duke was about to motion for his thirty clockwork to move out, something crashed on top of him.

Tomales jumped from rooftop to rooftop, scanning the city below seeing clockwork everywhere, but no large gathering of them. About halfway to Siren's Call however, he found what he was looking for, a gathering of somewhere between 25 to 35 clockwork. He didn't have super sight or super counting skills so he wasn't sure, but he did see the commander standing in front of the troops and made his drop.

Marlene alternated between flying and teleporting after Tomales. Her psionics did not do much against these robots who had no minds of their own, the best it did was create confusion among the troops when their psionic link with the Clockwork King was cut off. When Tomales stopped on a rooftop to peer at a large gathering of clockwork, Marlene already knew what was coming. Following him down to the ground level, Marlene cut off the link between the troops and their King. The clockwork were now unorganized, and Tomales landed on the Assembler Duke, crushing him entirely, so the one thing that may have restored order among the troops was now a pool of liquid metal.

No words were necessary for this duo, such was the synergy of their powers. After crushing and melting the Duke, Tomales immediately leaped into the middle of the assembled squad. Some Oscillators took to the sky, while other Canon Knights jumped onto Tomales. Marlene maintained the psionic disruption keeping the organization among the squad non-existent. At a distance Marlene saw the pile of clockwork seem to jump up a bit, and suddenly the ball of clockwork seemed to shrink, the outer “wall” getting smaller and smaller, until the few that remained ran in fear, emerging Tomales, badly injured, barely standing. The flying Oscillators each launched a bolt of electricity at him, bringing him down to a knee. Marlene teleported from her position in the sky to right next to Tomales, extending her arms towards him, Tomales' electrical burns glowing, then healing. Looking up, Tomales noticed that only three Oscillators stayed behind. Jumping into the air, he grabbed one on the way up, passed another, and grabbed the one at the highest point. Being far too heavy for the two Oscillators to keep him aloft, the three of them descended slowly, approaching the last Oscillator. Once he was level with the last Oscillator, Tomales swung the other two, one in each hand, and made a clockwork sandwich. All three clockwork were smashed into gears, sprockets, and springs, dropping Tomales to the ground.

“Well done, that was impressive!” Marlene remarked.

“Wouldn't have been able to do it without that heal.” Tomales replied.

“Not much else I could have done.”

“We have a situation at Bylde Square! We need back up!” Diao shouted over the team radio.

“No we don't!” Lady Docam yelled into the radio.

“Yes we do!” Diao returned.

“I'm saying we don't… ok, we need backup!”

“No we don't Docam, stop being a baby!”

“Well, off to Bylde Square… I should bring some clockwork along the way,” Tomales said with a grin on his face.”

With that, Tomales bounced off, shooting off his Fire Aura, picking up any clockwork along the way.

“Damn it Model!” Zephyr cursed as he chased after the robot guardian through the streets of Steel Canyon, west bound, a few blocks north of Paragon City University. As he sped by, Zephyr slashed at clockwork, which lined the streets. Model sent blast after blast into crowds of clockwork. Zephyr tried to keep up, but at the sight of Model, all the clockwork became alert, and abandoning the already gone Model, they turned their attention to Zephyr. Zephyr lost Model to the horizon. “Son of a BITCH” Zephyr swore with an oath, as he hacked through what seemed to be hundreds of clockwork. He was burned by hundreds of electrical blasts thrown by the little machines. Focusing, he healed each wound fairly quickly, he seemed to have Instant Healing.

“When I catch up to that little…” Zephyr hacked away at clockwork in front of him, paying no attention to the ones behind. Every so often he'd feel a slight shock hit his back, but he barely noticed. Eventually they piled up in front of him too much, they blocked his path, Model had to be a good number of blocks ahead, not to mention he could have made any sort of turn at any time. Quickly concentrating he took to the sky, high above the streets, where only a few clockwork could follow him but not overly obstruct him, he dropped down and with the added force of gravity cut one oscillator in half, threw his sword at another while landing one foot on another who was ascending, spread his wings and leaped for the one with his sword lodged in its metallic skull.

Retrieving his sword, Zephyr glanced around. Out of the corner of his eye he caught the sun flash off of metal in an alleyway not too far from where he lost Model. Dropping down out of the sky Zephyr flew towards this location. Coming into view was a figure in the shadow of the building, who appeared to be taking something from Model. Coming in closer, Zephyr saw that this other figure was familiar, and in fact had a strange familiarity to it and Zephyr didn't like it one bit, he could sense magic in the air… a certain magic that he could only vaguely remember where he recognized it from, but the second he landed he could see into the darkness and what he saw he did not like one bit at all. This figure stood just as tall as Zephyr did, and in fact, had wings like Zephyr, but these wings were demonic, not angelic.

“SPARKBLADE” Zephyr exclaimed.

The figure drew the katana he wore at his hip, at the same time Zephyr did, the two mirroring the other's movements. The second swordsman however did not assume the same stance the first did, instead, this fighter took up a stance as if he had a second blade, but in his right hand was nothing. Suddenly, the blade that was in his hand began to crackle with red electricity, unnatural, magical electricity. The electricity intensified surging all over the katana, until all you saw was the electricity covering the blade. The red lightning retained its shape and separated from the first blade and floated into his other hand, by the time it made it there, the blade had materialized and become a physical sword. Making a spinning motion the dual bladed swordsman slashed Model twice before spreading his demonic wings and flying away. Model was not seriously injured, and was in fact still standing. They both turned to the entrance of the alley and saw a large number of clockwork surging north, towards Bylde Square.

“We have a situation at Bylde Square! We need back up!” Diao shouted over the team radio.

A few of the clockwork stopped and entered the alley, Model blasted them back into the streets… in pieces.

“No we don't!” Lady Docam yelled into the radio.

“Yes we do!” Diao returned.

A few more entered, and Zephyr rushed forward, cutting them in twain.

“I'm saying we don't… ok, we need backup!” Docam continued over the team radio.

Bylde Square was in sight, and Zephyr could see swarm upon swarm of clockwork.

“No we don't Docam, stop being a baby!”

“You two stop arguing, I don't care what anyone is doing, just get to Bylde Square… NOW” Zephyr ordered over the radio. He glanced over in the direction of Bylde Square… “How the hell did they manage that?”

Diao and Docam headed north west to the center of Steel Canyon. Lady Docam leaped from rooftop to rooftop and Diao kept pace in the skies. In the distance the two could make out a large number of clockwork running around causing havoc all over this section of the city. At the same time they acknowledged a larger clockwork on a rooftop in Bylde Square. This larger clockwork was built larger than the other Princes and Dukes of the clockwork, and was much more intimidating… to the average hero.

Diao sped up and within seconds was spotted by other clockwork posted as defense around the rooftops. Bolt after bolt of electricity scorched her body but she didn't even notice. She made it to this, the largest of the clockwork, obviously the overseer of this fight and delivered a massive uppercut to the jaw of the clockwork. He went flying into the air only to be met with a massive two handed swing sending him back down, Diao seeming to have flown back up to him faster than she had sent him up. This combination of attacks would have destroyed any other clockwork, but this particular piece of work was built to put heroes to the test. Were the robot capable of emotions, a smirk of “I know something you don't” would have most definitely appeared, but as a robot, it simply processed the attack and prepared to adjust itself when it landed. Right as it was about to hit the ceiling to the skyscraper he was perched on, a massive kick was delivered to its torso sending it veering off course and heading for the ground below.

“I got the killing blow for that one” Docam shouted to Diao overhead. Docam took a second to overlook the massive amounts of clockwork all over the city.

“Its not over ye-” Diao was cut off, when Docam looked over where Diao was, she could see a bunch of clockwork eight or ten as far as she could tell, tackling Diao and trying to bring her out of the sky.

Docam laughed at the feeble attempt by the clockwork to take out her partner, and walked over to the edge of the skyscraper, “I wonder what kind of dent that thing left in the pavement…” Docam muttered to herself. She peered over the edge of the rooftop and was blasted with electricity from four different directions. Stumbling backwards more from surprise than actually being hurt, Docam regained composure and looked at the four different oscillators that flew up and blasted her, and saw the original brute of a clockwork being lifted up by another eight. The eight set him down gently on the rooftop, and in a sign of some witty programming, the brute slammed his chest where Docam had kicked him with its left hand, and with his right he motioned for Docam to bring it. Docam was immediately swarmed by another squad of clockwork that ran in from every service door visible.

Diao finally managed to bring the eight clockwork in melee with her under control. Once each one had a hold of her somehow, or she had a hold of, she launched the giant ball of clockwork to the ground, with her at the core. Diao hit the floor but crushed the clockwork underneath her. She stood up and threw a clockwork she held in her hand and threw the one in her other hand at the one that was now trying to regain air control. They collided in the air and sent gears and inanimate rods and sprockets all over the place to rain down on Steel Canyon. Looking around Diao saw Docam starring right at her, with the brute clockwork right behind Docam. “What?” Diao asked, she looked behind her and finally realized what Docam had been starring at. She had landed on one squad that was charging at Docam, but that was only one mere squad. There were still dozens of dozens of squads coming from every feasible service hatch, door and other rooftops.

“We have a situation at Bylde Square! We need back up!” Diao shouted over the team radio.

Diao took a few steps back towards Docam.

“No we don't!” Lady Docam yelled into the radio.

“Yes we do!” Diao returned.

“I'm saying we don't… ok, we need backup!” Docam continued over the team radio.

When Diao arrived next to Docam standing back to back, they both realized they were surrounded.

“No we don't Docam, stop being a baby!”

Allastor and Philly arrived in Bylde Square second, preceded by Zephyr and Model. Zephyr was already hacking a good number of clockwork in two but it did nothing against their numbers. Model was sending wave after wave back with his blasts of energy. Allastor took to the sky and ripped a clockwork in half that dared to get in his way. He sent a fire ball into a large crowed of them. Philly watched from the rooftops ready to take care of any injuries that may come her team mates way. Zephyr dropped out of the sky hacking and slashing at everything on his way down. Model blasted machines left and right, and Tomales arrived bouncing from rooftop to rooftop with plenty more clockwork trailing behind him. Marlene flew behind him, landing on a rooftop next to Philly Girl.

The clockwork swarmed the team, Allastor was being pushed back by the sheer numbers, for every clockwork he blasted, two more came in from behind it charging at him. Model was in a very similar predicament, and eventually they found themselves back to back blasting everything left and right with fire, ice, and pure raw energy, holding a small circle around them, keeping a safe zone.

Philly and Marlene were caught off guard on the rooftops, near the edge, they fought for their lives. The clockwork literally pushed them off of the roof with their sheer numbers. Philly teleported to the ground in the circle being created by Allastor and Model, Marlene flew down to them. Zephyr hacked, slashed, and brawled every clockwork, but couldn't see anything else, eventually, fighting through the swarm, he stumbled into the circle created by his team mates.

“Where are Docam and Diao?!” Zephyr yelled over the noise of battle, as he cut another clockwork in twain.

“We haven't seen them!” Allastor returned, launching flaming bolts and balls of fire in every direction.

“They have to be here somewhere!” Philly added, as she and Marlene kept the team in good fighting condition.

The fighting was brought to an abrupt halt as a nearby skyscraper shook violently and clockwork were sent in every direction off the roof. An incredibly large one seemed to be finished but was caught by a number of the smaller flying ones, landing on an adjacent rooftop.

“Allastor… you have better vision than any of us… what is up there?” Tomales asked.

“… Diao AND Docam, they're both falling!” Allastor replied with much fear in his voice.

The world was spinning, up was down, and down was up, but only for a second, then up was up again and down was down… but that only lasted a second as well. Diao felt something grab her arm and she steadied. Up stayed up and down stayed down. “Thanks Docam.”

“Anytime Diao, now uh… about stopping our fall…”

“Oh, right!”

The two bodies disappeared behind a veil of clockwork.

“Did they hit the ground?” Tomales asked.

“I didn't feel an earthquake, something tells me they landed softly, or there is a hole there we can't see and they're still falling,” Zephyr replied. “Form ranks! Philly, I need you on the offensive and backing up Allastor and Model here, you guys hold the back side, Tomales and I will fight our way to Diao and Docam, Marlene, do what you do best.”

The team expertly worked its way towards the last known location of their team mates but could simply not compete with the sheer numbers.

“Zephyr, I think its time for reinforcements,” Allastor stated through a gritting maw.

“Yeah Zephy, I think you know what needs to be done,” Philly yelled over the overwhelming noise.

“Call'em in, ALL OF THEM,” Zephyr replied.

Philly pulled out a radio from her belt and called in the rest of the Avenging Flame, over the radio you could hear the replies from Green Flame Avenger and his sidekick Super Flame Avenger. Man with 10,000 also gave a call back to arms. Markus Windstorm simply showed up and surrounded the team in a hurricane providing them much relief.

“I was in the area saw the ruckus, and before I know you you guys are sending out a distress call!” Markus exclaimed, “No need to thank me this is what we live for!” Markus shouted seeing the look of thanks in Philly's eyes.

“Green, Super, and Volts said they would be here momentarily,” Philly informed the team.

“Freezer Burner is on his way,” Tomales added, “as is Drift of Frost and Mind Traveler.”

“I didn't know they were still active… I guess there is only one other group to call in…” Zephyr muttered to himself.

“You don't mean…” Tomales replied to Zephyr's quiet words.

Zephyr produced a small beacon from the inside of his glove. With a twist of the ring on the outside, it allowed him to press in the button in the center that had on it only 3 black letters engraved on the red button, AAoJ…

In an apartment in Founder's Falls, a small light blinked on the top of a dusty desk beeping in synchronization with the blinking.

The team received its back up, Green Flame and Super Flame greatly adding to their ability to move, Markus providing extra support, Mind Traveler using gravity to push more clockwork out of the way, Freezer Burner and Man with 10,000 Volts adding to the rear guard allowing Philly to resume healing duties, and Drift of Frost creating Ice Slicks to slow down the advancing clockwork, while also providing the team itself with boosted strength.

Even with all this extra help, progress was slow. “I don't know if we are going to make it!” Tomales chimed in. “What about the others Zephyr?!”

“I don't think they'll be coming…” Zephyr replied, sorrow lined his face, but he was still determined to save his team mates.

A flash of black and purple energy opened a wormhole and a giant man made of stone fell out of it. Sending a shock-wave across the city when he hit the ground. Another man in what appeared to be a suit jumped from the top of the building Diao and Docam had fallen off of. Another flash of energy surrounded the man and he disappeared.

“Overkill Special Incoming!!!” a voice shouted in the distance right before a wave of nictus energy sent clockwork flying every direction.

A clockwork was sent up into the air, and another man in a suit appeared to jump up after it and delivered a massive kick that obliterated the machinery.

The blast of energy revealed AFP the Warshade, Logan VonStone the tank, and Arious the scrapper, with Diao and Docam behind the veteran heroes, recovering from their battle.

The new team of nineteen people destroyed the onslaught of clockwork. Markus Windstorm provided the clockwork with an overcharge of electricity, blasting them back with gales of wind. Green and Arious' martial arts skills were equal if not greater than Docam's own skill. Logan VonStone and AFP destroyed many a clockwork with the skills that founded the Archangels of Justice. Super Flame Avenger wielded his two blades with a grace to match Zephyr. Drift of Frost and Mind Traveler ripped the clockwork apart with mind bullets as only they could. Volts blasted the clockwork and fried circuits as if it were a hobby. The heroes tore the clockwork apart until there was only one left…

To Be Continued…

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