Taylor had triggered as she desperately tried to salvage her first art project of the year. She'd only been back at school a few weeks and the junior year at Winslow High School was turning out worse than last year. Emma, Sophia and Madison had been on a streak this week, ruining all of her schoolwork.
One of my teachers had actually told her that if this continued, she would fail and have to be held back.
So she had gone from being ready to skip a grade to flunking. Her mother was probably rolling in her grave. The soggy, stained and stomped ruins of her first art project only weeks into the new year were just the icing to her whole week of woe.
And then she saw something. Nothing she could distinctly remember, but there had been something huge, breaking up and cosmic. Her mind tried to latch onto it, but it kept slipping away. So she had wandered home in a daze, strange ideas for fixing things-
Speaking of things that needed fixing, Danny was just arriving home. Taylor vaguely remembered that he had wanted to come home and work on the yard because he had been busy on Saturday. The trucks backfire as it pulled up was embarrassing. Taylor was suddenly glad her tormentors were not around.
"Hey Taylor!" Danny called out. He gave her a wan smile. "What have you got planned?"
"Just some TV and reading," she replied with a shrug. "What's up with the Ford?"
"Probably the muffler. I did buy it off of one of the guys when he lost his job a few years ago so he could afford to keep his car and house. I'll get it fixed on Saturday. I know a guy who knows a guy," he explained. Danny then stretched, popping his back. "But first is mowing the lawn and fixing the rain gutter. Can you handle the front yard?"
"Sure," Taylor replied. Chores for allowance were tolerable. There was a new book she knew was coming out next week.
She really wasn't the most athletic girl, but she wasn't horribly out of shape either. The lawn mower annoyed her, because there really wasn't much you could think about fixing or improving it. Well, without just replacing the engine. The lawn mower went back into the garage and Taylor felt herself drawn to check on the muffler.
Taylor was under the truck and examining the rusted muffler. Nothing on visual inspection. She pulled herself out, ideas to replace the muffler. She started to grab items off the shelf, focusing intently as she assembled a new muffler out of garage items and supplies with her dad's tools.
That was how Danny found her an hour later, working on a foot long tube with his arc welder like a pro. He blinked in surprise as he watched her finish up. "Um, Taylor? I thought you didn't like metal shop at school?"
She removed the wielder goggles and looked at him owlishly, blinked, then looked down at the tube. "I don't. But I just had this weird compulsion to make a muffler for the truck. It looks pretty simple."
"Taylor, you made a muffler for a truck out of spare parts that's smaller than a subcompact muffler. In an hour," he said in confusion.
"It should work though," she protested.
"Well, let's see what happens then," Danny said with a smile. It was nice to see her happy again.
Another half an hour and the muffler made of strange parts was attached. The father went and started his truck, only to barely hear the engine. The exhaust itself was now quiet.
Quieter than it had ever been actually.
"Taylor, do you mind if I have a mechanic friend look it over?" he asked casually.
It had suddenly dawned on Taylor what she had really done here. "I made something that's beyond normal technology? That was called a Techie, right?"
"A Tinker. Parahuman's that can make super science are called Tinkers." Danny actually smiled at that. "You know, you got the one superpower that most parents hope their kids get. One that doesn't require you to run out and fight monsters like the Empire and Lung."
"Yeah, I don't exactly want to run out there unprepared. I'd need much bigger guns to take on those guys." Taylor started looking around for something to write on. She then grabbed the pad of paper and started to scribble on it as she headed into the house.
She stopped a second, then looked over the top of her glasses. Then pulled them off. How had she not noticed her sight had improved? So no more glasses?
Danny shook his head sadly. At least she had something to focus on.
Taylor's next day at school was weird. She started to get that feeling that someone was staring at her back as she walked in the side door. It felt like someone was trying to kill her by glaring her to death. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted Madison keeping an unobtrusive eye on her behind four guys while sending a text.
And there was Emma and Sophia, casually walking towards her locker like it was just accidental timing.
"It's so sad when some people can't understand their own limits," Emma was saying to her friend. "I mean, to be so klutzy and stupid to get held back in school... that shows you really have some problems with your mind. What else could be wrong?"
"Probably can't even keep clean and definitely has the fashion sense of a geeky boy," Sophia replied back as they stopped to just talk as a couple of their hanger ons started chatting.
"Really? Well, I guess we do have a Special Ed class for some people. It's just so sad-" The blonde girl tittered at this. "-that you can just start being that stupid."
Taylor just shook her head as she put most of her day's books into her locker. She then felt a spike of what she could only describe as a feeling of malice suddenly coming closer. Her body moved on its own she spun out of the way as Sophia overstepped slightly from trying to bump her into the closed lockers, slipping her backpack onto her left shoulder in one perfect move.
"What the hell?" Sophia asked, her dark eyes focused on her current target as she blinked in consternation.
"Oh, Emma was talking about you? Being klutzy, I mean? Wow, that's harsh for a friend," Taylor said glibly. Where had that come from?
"In your dreams, Taylor." Sophia seemed affronted that she had missed her attempt at physical abuse.
"Wow!? She speaks. The mouse roars. Or was that just something in her ratsnest of her hair?" Madison said in a mocking tone.
Taylor just started walking to her first class. It was just down the hall, so the others weren't able to catch up before she turned inside.
The rest of the morning was shades of the same thing. Several of the girls attempted to get at her backpack when she was distracted, but Taylor managed to stop them each time. It was like she could just know when they were about to do something to her. Even the glue they tried to 'accidentally spill' on her missed.
At lunch, she headed into one of the bathrooms to eat her bagged lunch, but felt a sharp sense of foreboding for just a second when she was walking inside. She waited a second, then followed out a gaggle of seniors. She managed to get to the second floor without feeling anyone's unwanted presence.
It appeared she had become more than a Tinker, the young teen realized. Some sort of danger sense? Empathy? And the way she moved...
"I need to go to the park. With a stopwatch," Taylor decided, her mind already going over the different 'tests' she could do on the playground equipment.
She finished her lunch in peace, then headed to her next class. Sophia looked upset when she showed up just a minute before the bell. But other than that, it was just the glare of death at the back of her head. That slowly built up for the last class, so Taylor decided to slip out the front without even stopping to pick up any books.
Once again she felt that glee of sadistic anger, so she took off at a run. Her shoes flew along the ground as she ran towards the bus stop that would take her home.
Five minutes later, she felt Sophia slow down and then stop, a blazing anger that disappeared almost immediately when she started to head back to class.
Taylor slowed down, looking over her shoulder to see Sophia quite the distance back. Why had she suddenly stopped being able to sense her? This required research.
A trip to the library and reading a some helpful information on the Parahumans Online board (thank you FAQs!) sussed out she must be a Thinker on top of a Tinker. Possibly more, as she actually outran Sophia.
The chintzy plastic stopwatch she bought at a store on the way home used up most of her allowance money. But it was well worth it when she used it to test how fast she could run down a block.
Definitely better than she expected, but not really superhuman as far as she could tell.
But she wasn't even that tired afterwards.
Taylor stared at the odd man in the family living room. She had never actually seen someone wear a leather jacket with a cowboy fringe and a gaudy cowboy hat like that.
"Taylor, this is my boss, Burt Arnold. I pitched him an idea that might let you stretch your ability and help everyone at the same time," Danny explained as the teen shook hands.
"Nice to meet you, girl. Now according to your pa, you can design and make things, right?" the energetic man said as his mustache wiggled a bit.
"Right?" Dad, what were you thinking?
"Don't you worry your little head at all. Ever since we survived the Marquis trying to force the Dockworkers to work for him, we've been pretty tight. Wish we had more time to hang out." Burt just gave her a big grin. "So what he wants you to do is come up with a device to get the ferry running. Better if you can make it run for dirt cheap with some engine that no one has ever seen."
"The ferry? I suppose I could think of something," she replied. She just didn't see the point.
"And if you do, we'll let you use one of the dry docks and tools there. Might have to fix some of them, but that's the breaks. And I happen to know some of the boys that know which ships have what. And what's too hard for most people to get to for some supplies." Burt gave her another grin. "We might have used some of that at times to keep things from sinking too fast. Not much work helping unload some of the fishing boats, but its something."
"A workshop?" Taylor asked in awe at the idea of some place to really work. "How much do I have to work with?"
"Only about five thousand dollars and it'll be mostly Danny getting the supplies. Some of the boys are a rough lot, so we aren't going to trust them with your secret. In fact, if anyone really asks, your dad has volunteered to pretend to be a cape. And then we'll break their legs so they won't talk." The old cowboy just about laughed at her expression. "Not really, unless they threaten to sell him out to the Empire or someone."
Taylor nodded slowly at that. "Okay, I guess. I'll take a look and see why my power thinks I can make."
They shook hands again, sealing the deal.
Mayor Rory Christner Sr. was not a very happy man of late. He nodded to Armsmaster and Triumph, then to a few of the Wards that were present. He paid no special attention to his son in his armor, even though he was terribly proud of him just graduating to the Protectorate.
"Mister Mayor," the skinny, balding man in front of him said.
"Burt Arnold and Daniel Hebert. I'm pretty amazed you got this project off the ground," the mayor said through a fake smile.
"Well shucks, sir. Just a bit of hard work and a lot of luck. We managed to get the ol' ferry fixed up better than new," Burt said, tipping his hat and not shaking the offered hand. "Why the capes all gussied up?"
"I guess they are trying to figure out which Tinker you hired for your work. This really doesn't seem like either of the two criminal Tinkers in town and Kid Win is so new he just about squeaks," Rory said airily. "Can you really run this for pretty much the cost of labor plus ten percent?"
"Well, that's what we are projecting. And it shows that Brockton Bay is recovering," Danny said with a smile.
Armsmaster was studying the ferry with several of his sensors as he checked it for high power energy sources. "Huh," he said flatly.
"Problem, sir?" Triumph asked.
"You never called me 'sir' when you were in the Wards. Not a problem, but that ferry runs on high density batteries. Ludicrously high density, actually. Easily at least twice as energy dense as jet fuel," Armsmaster said. And very large batteries, for industrial use. They could be very useful. "They have to have a Tinker generator around here at the docks to recharge them. The power grid has not shown anything unusual draining it."
"Okay? You think this is Squealer moonlighting or something?" the newest Protectorate asked.
"Not her type of design. Not any type I'm familiar with, actually. So most likely a new Tinker." A line of text appeared on his HUD inside his helmet. "Finally got the search warrant. Come on."
Armsmaster seemed to know what he was doing or following, as he led himself, Triumph, Vista and Aegis about two thousand feet to the north. He noted the dockworker 'guard' radioing in with a walkie talkie.
"Can I help you heroes?" the bulky older man asked.
"I have a search warrant to check the premise related to possible Parahuman presence. Please step aside," Armsmaster ordered.
"I'd be happy to comply, officer. If I could just see the warrant?" the dockworker asked.
Armsmaster glared at him for a long moment, but he did not budge. After that he reached into a small compartment and pulled out a sturdy tablet and fiddled with it for about thirty seconds. "There."
After studying it, the guard nodded. "Good enough for me. Here's Jeremy with a camera. I'll follow along and document your search for our lawyers."
"Huh?" Vista asked curiously. This was being slightly weird for a search.
"Don't touch anything without asking," Armsmaster said. He pressed his lips tight in frustration. He did not want to get them caught in a lawsuit. Again.
"You probably want to go over to drydock number 4. That's where old Bessie got fixed up." He sort of waddled in that direction.
Five minutes later they were turning on lights in the covered part of the dry dock. It looked pretty old and dilapidated. Armsmaster immediately moved over to a large tubular device standing tall like a tower.
"What is this?" he demanded.
"Some sort of Tinker generator that we've leased the use of for a year," a new female said from the doorway. "I'm Molly Cheng, the Dockworker's Association legal representation. I do hope that you have a very good reason for pulling me away from one of the biggest things to happen to my union in ten years."
"Just investigating the technology used to get the ferry going. You leased this, you said?" Armsmaster said.
"Yes, it was much more cost effective than trying to purchase for what it was worth," the lawyer explained with a grin that did not touch her eyes. "My understanding is that the PRT and Protectorate are supposed to investigate criminal Parahuman incidents? Would you kindly explain what crime has been committed?"
Vista and Aegis winced at that.
"Just an inspection to make sure that only civilian application Tinker technology was used here," Armsmaster explained curtly.
"We do seem to be missing the death rays and murder kill-bots," Molly said with a bit of a snark in her voice. She started tapping her toes.
Armsmaster seemed a bit affronted at that, but finally shook his head. "It's all clear as far as I can tell. Pass along a message that I would like to talk to this Tinker as some point."
"I'll let him know," the lawyer said. "Now if you don't mind, we have a celebration to get back to."
The capes were escorted back out to the gate and the guard went back on duty.
"That's it?" Triumph asked, sounding quite confused.
"No, that's just step one of trying to nail down a slippery Tinker with friends. At least this one doesn't seem like a criminal. Yet. I'm going to step up patrols in the area, just to make sure."
That got all of the younger heroes to groan. Because they would be the ones doing the extra patrols.
Taylor looked up from her work at a computer she had 'upgraded' a bit. "Is there a problem?" she asked her robotic minion.
In an effort to make them look too cute to be dangerous, she had designed their core chassis to be just a round ball with two eyes and lines for a very rudimentary face. Her second creation was much smaller and more fun, being based on a bird. But she was going to try and sell that design a bit.
"Need instruction! Too confusing!" the dark-blue ball squealed out.
"Are your logic circuits malfunctioning? The catalysing agent for the Mark II alloy should be straightforward." The young tinker stood up.
"Insufficient power! Need more power!" it squealed out again.
"I already told you that you guys can only run one or two projects side by side. Quit being so impatient," she told her robot crossly.
"Oh no! Oh no! Father Alert! Father Alert!" all of the different colored robots started shouted. Light blue, red, pink, purple, yellow, orange, green and white were popping out of their box-like construction suits that they were the 'heads' of.
Taylor rolled her eyes. "Hey Dad!" She waved to him across the empty drydock where her construction was taking place. Dumb arms were placing parts and molecularly welding them in place along the sixty odd foot long framework.
"Did you ever get around to naming them? I still think we should use 'Helpful And Rowdy Orbs'," her father called out.
"Dad, please. Never name anything again. So is it supper time already?" Taylor called out as she slapped her hand to the side of her forehead.
"I figured I'd try to drag you out of here for a bit. I still can't believe you are making something so huge. And from mostly scraps," Danny said as he ran his hand through his thinning dark hair.
"It won't be that useful against them, but if I make it mobile enough, it can at least add a lot of firepower to fight the Endbringers. And everything is useful. I have so many ideas, but not enough resources," Taylor complained.
"Including hours of the day. It's time to go home, get a bite to eat and actually do your homework," he countered.
"But advanced programming is so stupid. They aren't even working on multi-state transistors and programming. Not even trinary!"
"Now, Taylor. And no working tomorrow, either. We have Christmas shopping to do."
"Oh, hello Lucy," Taylor said the next day at her locker.
Lucy smiled. "Hello! I'm still not sure what you have against that movie I suggested we go see. It would have been great."
Because I'm getting a low level vibe of danger off of you, which means that the terrible trio are just planning something extra big for just before Christmas break or afterwards. "It was about a blonde lawyer and office hijinks."
"Well, I guess. See you later?" the girl asked.
Not if she could help it. "Maybe!"
Her first two classes were classes she could do almost asleep. The third one was Math, which she had discovered she was incredibly good at. But it had Sophia in the back row. And the dark skinned girl had been giving her the evil eye for weeks. She had been ever since she outran her to the bus stop.
But not doing anything active. But her... malice was even stronger. It was taking everything she had to no flinch under Sophia's glare.
The end of the class finally came and she headed out. Would this be another day of being trailed again?
That answer came ten minutes later while she waited for her bus as 'yes'. She sighed at that, guessing it was someone that suspected she was the Tinker the Protectorate knew that helped with the ferry. Taylor was pretty sure that no one knew of her new project.
Time to head home.
High above her, Shadow Stalker followed her classmate home. She was almost positive that Taylor was some sort of cape now. The fact she had not joined the wards made her think she might be trying to be a villain.
But if she was, she was the most boring cape in existence. Even when she was out late, she came home with her father in his truck.
She would have no better luck tonight.
Taylor was pretty happy after the break from school. She even had a small present for her 'friend' Lucy. As she stepped through the metal and safety-glass doors, the presence she felt was almost overpowering. And the trio just happened to be standing just ten feet away from her locker.
That was when she got her first whiff of something. Really? Had they left a dead cat or something in her locker? That was just gross.
She pulled out a little robotic bird that she was selling through the Toy Box and put it on her shoulder. She had even 'bought' it from them, just in case. After all, buying her own Tinker built equipment was likely to throw off the Protectorate. And they were a pretty hot little item.
Taylor walked up to her locker and started to spin the dial for her combination (18-23-72) and popped open the locker. Oh, god. What had they put in there? She would have started retching, but her 'danger sense' was screaming in her brain and over rode her reflex, rolling enough to the side so that her head was bounced off the sheet metal of the locker next to her own.
Her right arm blocked a grab from Sophia, who was looking just a little bit surprised.
"What the fuck, Hess? Were you really going to shove me in that crap? How did you even get that into my locker?" Taylor shouted out back into her face.
"Shit deserves to be with shit. We just thought you needed some help," Sophia said with a sneer.
"Fight! Fight!" some of the Asian gang kids shouted out.
That got an immediate response, as two teachers materialized.
"You two aren't fighting, are you?" Coach Tombs asked. He was one of the PE teachers. He seemed oddly relieved that it was just two girls.
"No sir," Sophia said in a tone as if her tongue would not melt butter. "This girl was just accusing me of attacking her and filling her locked locker with that crap. Probably trying to get me kicked off the track team, coach."
"That's a serious accusation-"
Taylor laughed in his face. "So you believe her without even asking my side of the story? Unfortunately for her, I happen to have video proof that she just tried to shove me into my locker and that she even filled it with this crap."
Sophia froze. What?
"I was just going to show off something I got over Christmas. This is Birdie, a little flying Tinker robot that I got from Toy Box. I've been playing with the camera settings and when I smelled my locker, I figured I'd better record it," the bullied girl said as she held out her hands to let the toy robot jump on them.
FUCK! "She's lying, sir," Sophia said, not sounding very convincing.
"Why don't we just show the principal and let him decide?" Taylor countered. "I've already uploaded it to Youtube." Which was a teensey lie. It would take about five minutes for it to upload. When I started.
Tombs winced at that. Video proof would not be something they could get rid of, especially if she uploaded it onto the Internet. "All right, let's go talk to Principal Maddings."
The end result (after parents/guardians were called in) was that Sophia was suspended for two weeks and lost her place on the track team.
Her father even got the school to replace all her destroyed stuff in the locker.
If looks could kill, Sophia would have vaporized Taylor.
The air raid sirens faded away as Taylor pulled herself out of the left shoulder actuator. "News!"
"News! News!" her robotic minions chimed as they ejected and rolled over to the computer stations.
A flickering screen popped up on a monitor. "-again, this just in as the Protectorate vows to send as much help as possible to Canberra, Australia to fight the Endbringer, the Simurgh. The Australian Prime Minister Alfred Duschane has been evacuated and is on the ground in Sidney, calling for all capes to aid the beleaguered capital."
"Shit. I'm not ready! It's not ready." She still had a lot of simulation work, the installation of the Mark II power plant. It hasn't even had a test run.
She started punching the metal panel next to the computer even as her knuckles started leaving red streaks.
That was how her father found her an hour later, weeping bitterly as she lamented her failure to be a hero.
"Taylor?" he called out worriedly.
"What?" she responded mutely, with no inflection.
"What's wrong, baby?" He pulled her into a hug.
"I'm too slow, too stupid. My anti-Endbringer weapon should-"
"Stop that right now young girl." He gave her a glare as she looked up in surprise. "Taylor, you are working engineering miracles here. It takes over a year to build a custom car with people who've been trained and working on a team. You've managed to get this far in just four months on something far more amazing and complicated." He gave her a stronger squeeze. "Just make it the best you can and become the best damn hero you can." He had originally been against her ever going out in person, but an armored vehicle much larger than any tank had calmed him down.
Especially when he found out it was very fast and just exactly how tough it would be.
"Thanks, dad. I needed that."
"Let's go get some pizza. Then you can come back here tonight and do some more work."
Taylor looked up work on overseeing the building of another weapon for her anti-Endbringer platform just six weeks later. The sixty foot long tube would be a massive, short burst of fire power. But she still preferred the compressed beam weapons for a long duration fight.
Well, at least in her head.
"-calling all cars, be aware that a Parahuman battle is currently happening on the north side of the docks, just past Gulliver and Stanton. Protectorate response is on the way. Known capes are Lung and Oni Lee. Unknown capes number seven . Lung is an A-Class threat-" the police radio band squawked.
"Computer off," Taylor interrupted. "Mr. Pink, phone home."
The eight inch pink ball bounced over. "Hello! Hello!"
After two rings it picked up. "Hey, Taylor! What's up?"
"A-Class threat is tearing up the docks only half a mile away. It's Lung, dad. And he's on another rampage. Fifteen people died the last time. I'm not going to let that happen again." Taylor was already stripping out of her work overalls and popping the truck that hand her 'flight' suit and helmet.
"Taylor-" It was obvious that he wanted to tell her no. "Just be safe. If you can't help, just pull back and let the professionals deal with him."
"I promise! Bye dad! Guys, ready to launch! Prep for urban combat!" Taylor started zipping up and belting on the suit with its built in harness. She grabbed the helmet, which was an actual ten year old US Airforce Helmet, repainted and refurbished.
Her little robots were running around as the closed down all the access ports on the gray and white behemoth. Water started flooding the drydock cavity even as Taylor leaped from the catwalk to land twenty feet below on the top. She rolled with the force and then was back up on her feet. The cockpit was in the center of her creation, massive armored panels ready to close down.
"Lock and load, Mr. Pink. Handle the fine points of motion. The built in smart system hasn't had enough training time," the newest hero of Brockton Bay ordered.
"Yes! Yes! Understood!" the pink ball said as it bounced and then rolled into its socket in the center of the console.
Cobbled together LCD screens started lighting up, sequential numbers flickering before a view of the lightproof tarp overhead appeared.
"Just open the doors and flood it, Mr. Blue. Everyone else evacuate the tank," she ordered over her personal system.
"Launch! Launch!" the multiple colored balls shouted out in electronic glee as they fled the onrushing water. This is what they had been designed to do!
Power at 90 %. All systems green, Taylor thought as her eyes flickered across the two hundred and eight discrete controls/settings.
"Launch!" she shouted even as she shoved her throttles to full, shooting into the bay as she continued to lay on her back.
"This is a farce," Shadow Stalker said to Aegis.
The leader of the Wards couldn't quite argue the point. Ten buildings were on fire as the Undersiders fought a desperate battle against Lung and Oni. Of the three remaining Undersiders, each were wounded.
Grue had been shot at least once, while Regent held on to him with one working arm. Bitch was on the back of her largest dogs, ignoring the cuts on her back and on the side of her necks.
"Noooooo!" Bitch shouted as the one-eyed monster dog had its head ripped off only thirty feet away from her.
The ten foot tall, silver dragon roared in triumph as he reached into the center cavity and crushed the real dog inside.
"Kill! Kill!" Bitch shouted, tears in her eyes.
"Bitch! We need to run-" Grue tried to order.
Back down the road, the Wards were happy that they had at least routed the normal thugs from the ABB.
Battery zipped up to them and then kept going another forty feet to an ambulance. "She's down and not breathing! Heavy burns and bullet wounds," the female Protectorate cape called out.
"Shit. She can't be more than fifteen or sixteen. Start resuscitation!" the PRT medic called out. "When is New Wave getting here?"
"At least five more minutes!"
Back down the street, it appeared that Armsmaster had decided enough was enough. He engaged Lung for the second time. "Lung! Stand down!" he shouted as his halberd shot a lightning blast.
" 'amn 'oooo! 'hey 'iieeeee!" the dragon-abomination roared back, sending a stream of flame at Armsmaster.
He replied by firing a pellet that exploded and snuffed out the fire. "Assault! Dauntless! Hit him hard-" Armsmaster started to reply when another streamer of fire shot out at him while Lung roared in anger at the mutant dog biting his arms.
Lung had actually sent three streams of fire. One for each of the Protectorate. Dauntless managed to get his shield up, but he was on the defensive. Assault managed to dodge most of the burst with his speed, but Lung was also moving with superhuman fleetness. He zipped down the road fast enough to extinguish the flames.
Regent and Grue both tumbled across the ground as Lung set their dog mount on fire with white-hot intensity.
"Regent, come on- Regent?" Grue looked over at the younger teen to see him totally unconscious on the ground.
A huge spray of water was shooting high in the air as something traveled under the water at a fairly high pace. And whatever it was, it was huge.
"Now what?" Armsmaster asked his tac-net.
"New player entering the battle," Miss Militia said from down the road. She had been running to catch up to the battle after rounding up or running off the regular gang members while dodging Oni Lee.
And then the new combatant exploded out of the water in a two hundred foot, rocket assisted leap. It was a giant robot, of mismash of grays and whites. Definitely budget built, but it was over fifty or sixty feet tall!
"Hoo, boy! This is really getting crazy," Assault said as he flashed by in a blur, heading back to Lung.
Taylor's eyes narrowed inside. "Target lock 'Oni Lee'. Ready head vulcans," she called out as her eyes flickered over points on the center sensor hud.
"Targeting! Targeting!" her drone called out.
Oni Lee's demon mask was looking up at her before the twin gun ports on the 'head' of the giant robot started to fire electronic-control caseless ammunition. He made one jump before he was shredded across three roofs as the computer tracked his multiple locations.
"Armsmaster! I think the robot just hit Oni Lee. Watch out for head cannons," Miss Militia called out as she continued to run, putting cover in between her and the giant robot. Her assault rifle turned into a rocket launcher.
The giant robot then started to run down the street, carefully not stepping on cars or bodies even as it reached behind its back for a weapon while holding its huge shield up.
"Back off! I'll take care of Lung!" an amplified female voice called out.
Armsmaster had his eyes narrowed at what he was seeing, but ordered his team to back up. Grue was nearly knocked over as a huge mass of metal passed three feet over his head. The 'rocket hammer' only clipped Lung, but it shattered his left leg.
His response was to breath a huge gout of fire to engulf the whole robot.
"Sorry, I built this thing to survive atmospheric re-entry. A little flame isn't going to cut it," Taylor said to herself as the chain returned the head of the rocket hammer back.
Giant metal legs skidded to either side of Regent and Grue. Lung ignored Bitch as she circled around behind him.
The rocket hammer lashed out again, but Lung dodged again, stumbling on his broken leg. So the sight of white and gray metal filling his vision was a surprise as the giant robot kicked him hard.
Rockets roared to life on the robots back and it leaped back into the air. Sensors focused on the white hot point that was Lung up against the back wall of an empty, abandoned warehouse.
And landed all sixty tons of giant mecha on him.
"He's still alive? Shit!?" Taylor said to herself even as she took three steps back (out onto the street through the warehouse) and then charged back in as the rocket hammer snapped through the air in a tight arc. It smashed home with a massive boom as it made a fifty foot crater with Lung in the center.
It took four more 'hammers' to knock him out.
Aegis and Dauntless were flying overhead were just stunned at this. Dauntless zoomed up, waving his Arc Lance. "Hey! Are you friend or foe?"
"I'm a hero!" came the female voice's response.
"So... exactly why did you make a giant robot like this?" he asked curiously.
"Oh, this is my Anti-Endbringer Prototype RX-72," came the happy reply. "I figure that Lung was a big enough threat to bring it out. And it worked!"
"Fucking tinkers," Aegis muttered to himself.