This is for everyone who has ever been told they're any more or less of a woman because of how they look, behave or were born.
Helaron 21 Helaron's Saga 21: Dramatic Pause
Dr River was going to die.
Not even I was prepared for the scream of animal rage that tore its way from my throat.
Everybody backed away, quickly, except the Captain, who put his arms around me. And I couldn't stop myself from sobbing, sobbing like some little fucking kid, into that man's shoulder. He wasn't my original Captain, but he was a good one, and he was there.
The Count had only been there at all because he hadn't wanted to head for the exit by himself after we'd found him. I should have escorted him out then. He was my responsibility. He was my nemesis. I'd spent years of my life chasing him, fighting him; we understood each other in the way that only two people constantly struggling for their lives and freedom against each other can.
He was mine to defeat. Mine to capture and, if necessary, kill. And Dr River had taken him from me. Well then, Dr River would just have to take his place.
This man was too dangerous to capture. I would
Helaron 20 Helaron's Saga 20: Revelations
Midnight was staring at Clockwork. I'd sort of forgotten that he was there.
"How?" he asked.
Clockwork smiled. "It's not hard to figure out, 'Midnight'. Your skin tipped me off quite quickly, and you do seem to know a rather a lot. Your ladyfriend knows; why are you surprised I know as well? I've seen this sort of work before."
"Don't look so scared. I believe you're on our side. We should be set here; we need to get away from the explosion area and notify those on the other side. Anybody carrying a still-functional radio?"
"I'm sure Seer is keeping an eye on us and can warn the others, but that's not the issue here. Who is he? Who's Midnight?"
"I'm nobody!" Midnight snapped as he climbed to his feet. CYBR helped him up.
"It's probably better to tell her," Clockwork said reasonably. "It could hardly make her more suspicious."
"Midnight," Clockwork continued, "is a minion of Ross River."
"The name of our enemy here
Helaron 19 Helaron's Saga 19: The Cavalry
"The basic problem with this design," Clockwork said from above us as the spider-thing stopped shooting and began to sway, "is that the whole plan is based on not allowing anybody to get on top. It assumes that it can keep enemies below even after falling out of the ceiling and it assumed that no attack can originate from above. For that purpose, a simple weaponised ceiling would have been better. But I guess people like us are prey to dramatic urges; I've lost more than one clockwork army to flaws left for aesthetic reasons."
CYBR and I ducked out of the way as the spider-thing crashed to the floor. Clockwork strode off the top on four long, spindly metal legs; legs I recognised from the prototype robots we'd fought just outside the room where we'd left him. "Everybody okay?"
"Not... really." Midnight shakily stood, replaced the gem on his weapon and sheathed it. The handle, I noticed, was covered in blood. "The others are behind the cave-in."
Helaron 18 Helaron's Saga 18: Boss Fight
Upon reflection, I really should have expected the giant robot spider. The earlier things had had spidery legs, after all. But this one's spread legs were as wide as the room and its underbelly, a traditional weak spot on most of the giant monsters I've had to fight, was caked in armour plating and various artillery. This wasn't fighting a monster, it was fighting a mobile weapons unit above you.
I took my swords to the legs, but man were they dense. They probably had Forcinor's fields on them or something. CYBR's bullets were having no luck doing any damage to the creature's body. She activated her rockets and tried to rise on top of it, but it merely shifted its body to block her path. Midnight had taken the stupid gem off the top of his wand and was aiming the head of it at the robot. Whatever he was doing wasn't working.
"We have to get on top of it!" I said to CYBR.
"I know, but how?"
I thought about that. I couldn't fly. I could jump... but
Helaron 17 Helaron's Saga 17: Contrived Setup
To find and destroy the villain, we'd have to work together. It wasn't something that came naturally to most of those present; it wasn't something that came naturally to me, either, but since joining the Squad it was a skill that I'd honed and developed. It occurred to me that nobody on the Squad was naturally much of a team player except the Captain. Seer was good with people in general but not specifically teams, Mirror made a brilliant second in command from a tactical standpoint but the last few months had shown that she fell apart without a real team player to back up her authority, and Longtooth, beyond his loyalty to the Captain, didn't behave like he was in a team at all. With a chill, I realised that determination in finding our Captain had been the only thing holding us together; what if we'd found him dead? We would have disbanded within the week.
With a bigger chill, I realised that in that situation, I would've ful
Helaron 16 Helaron's Saga 16: The Captain
"Captain? Are you alright?"
We all knew better than to loom directly over him while he woke up. That was a good way to get reflexively punched. He looked carefully about, pulled the mask off his face and sat up. He blinked at us. "Where are we? Is it safe to take this needle out of my arm?"
"It should be safe," Midnight said as he walked past, trying to get to as many waking people as possible. The Captain stared after him.
"Who is he? Where are we?"
Mirror closed her eyes and took a deep breath in the manner of one about to recite a long, memorised explanation. Longtooth beat her to it.
"You were abducted, followed by a bunch of other superpowered people. We're here to rescue you. You ok?"
"I think so." He climbed out of the pod and rubbed his thighs. "How long ago?"
"A bit over four months."
"Haven't found him. Throne room is empty."
"Empty? He fled before the final confrontation?"
I shrugged. "We did bring quite a few people."
Helaron 15 Helaron's Saga 15: Secret Lab
We caught up with Mirror, the Host and Cabaret in the hall and followed them to the throne room. Seer was already there, playing lookout with remote viewing. Under normal circumstances he can only see places that he's been before, but we developed a neat trick a few years ago where we could take advantage of his mind-reading capabilities to extend that. I controlled my thoughts to 'show' him the places that we had been while the others searched the throne room.
"No," Mirror said after awhile, "there's nothing here."
"Yes there is," Midnight replied. "We just haven't found it yet. Longtooth, can you help me?"
Midnight asked Longtooth to rip several panels from the walls before he found what he was looking for. Eventually he did, though; a small switch hidden inside the wall. He flicked it and there was an audible click in the wall behind the throne room.
"Emergency access," he explained when he realised that everyone was staring at him. "The normal
Helaron 14 Helaron's Saga 14: Shown Up
I was preparing to run as CYBR thundered past me, made the first couple of jumps easily, punched a giant axeblade out of her way, and ignited her heel rockets to simply fly above the other obstacles. In my day we didn't have any of this fancy android stuff. Show-off. I sheathed my swords and waited.
A few minutes and several sounds of crashing things and tearing metal later, she returned. "There's a camera system but no assessment equipment in here. There's a small storage locker at the end where I assume cyborgs go to after they complete the course. There's a hallway at the end but I think it just goes back to storage."
"Well," Polaron commented, "that's an anti-climax."
"Shall we move on?" the Count asked.
We moved on. I was getting too used to fighting one villain, too confined to one style. The Count would have put an assessment room at the end of the course. But not everybody was the Count. I wouldn't have made that assumption as a kid. Hell, I
Helaron 13 Helaron's Saga 13: Platformer
The room was enormous. It must have been soundproof before CYBR caved the door in, because there had been no hint of the roar of machine noise inside. It was about five stories high, the door opening into thin air about halfway up. Various platforms were suspended about the place at apparently random heights from chains in the ceiling. Something must have detected our presence, because new machines were powering up. Giant axes swung from the ceiling in several places and flamethrowers shot routine short bursts of flame, making it quite difficult to see anything. Squinting, I was pretty sure that the distant floor was a spike pit.
"What the hell," Midnight muttered. "Seriously. What is the point of this? What purpose does it serve?"
CYBR added, "I think it's a "
"Training course for military cyborgs, yes, I know, but it's ridiculous! It serves no purpose! Everything in here could be tested in smaller, more economic ways! The platform setup i