The Losers closed the doors behind them. Uber said, "head count."
The Losers were lined up against the glass doors. Glancing around, Rush asked, "where's Light?" Lyft fell quiet. Rush commented, "christ, why does the black guy always get left behind?"
Grue walked forward to the five of them. "What the hell is going on?"
His voice was dark and resonant. The dark smog emitting from his head echoed his voice. Rush said, "I'm gonna be completely honest here, my tits get stiff when you talk hard to me like that."
Uber said, "apparently Armsmaster shared how to jam Leet's signals since we were gone. We were supposed to get our asses kicked from you guys and then run away."
Regent looked over their heads. Their camera drone, a spherical hovering object with an antenna and eye, identical to something out of Halo, watched them all intensely with a glowing stare. "Then why is that working?"
A hologram of Cortana appeared over it, "hey Grue. Marvin and I are live streaming this, but there's a five minute delay on the stream. We'll edit things out you wouldn't like in real time."
Regent shook his head, "and so the cast grows."
The duo glanced outside. Light was being taken away into a PRT van, and Vista was creating an enclosure around the bank, twisting the streets to make escape impossible. Leet and Uber gave a stern nod at each other, "fuck it," they both said.
Uber skipped over to the bank vault and began throwing money in the air.
Leet walked over to the computer and began playing 'we didn't start the Fire' over the intercom. Regent called out, "you guys are such white trash."
Tattletal asked Rush, "my powers make me a genius. How is it I can only reliably predict that you'll fuck everything over?"
Rush planted a hand on her shoulder and smiled, "oh my sweet little virgin. By the end of the day, I promise you, I will fuck you in ways you couldn't even imagine."
"Stop staring at my chest."
Grue put a hand on Rush's shoulder, "you need to stop playing games here. We're surrounded on all sides with reinforcements on their way. How the hell are you still screwing around?"
Rush waved her hand at him, "we all knew what we signed up for. If anything, this is the natural order of things."
Cortana shouted out from behind, "circle of life!"
Uber and Leet repeated, "circle of life!"
Rush almost turned away, but Grue gripped her back. "I can't tell if you're playing games or not. But you need to show me that you're committed to your word. How are we going to escape?"
Rush only rolled her eyes. She clapped her hands twice and the light on the sphere drone turned off. Rush said, "you need to lighten up. You knew exactly what we were all about when we joined you, don't act like this is new."
Rush turned to Regent and asked, "is he gonna be riding my dick all day? Because he's really cramping my style."
Regent replied, "if you were a white girl, you could scare him off by calling the police."
Rush's eyes widened, "holy shit you're right." She turned back to Grue, "give me your wallet or I'll scream."
Before he could react Tattletale pulled Grue aside. She lead him away from the lobby entrance so they could speak in private. "Okay, debrief time."
Grue asked, "Light just got captured and they're acting like its nothing."
Tattletale shook her head,"they have a plan I just don't know what it is. I'm getting migraines just thinking about it. I counted 167 escape plans they have prepared, they just haven't decided which to choose."
Grue cocked his head back, "but the teleporters are gone."
"They spend a lot of time preparing. The problem is that this can just as easily escalate out of control if they aren't kept in line. So right now, act like we're actually at risk and that you're the leader. Keep the stream running so we can come out looking like the victors." She pointed towards the camera drone to emphasize her point.
At that moment, Uber yelled from the bank vault, "Leet, I can finally pay the taxes we owed!"
"Three cheers for the IRS!"
Leet and Uber high fived. Tattletale squinted at them, "oh for fuck's sake, they're actually serious?"
Spitfire walked over to Lyft. "Are you okay?"
Lyft was staring out the window, "how is Rush not freaking out? I left him behind."
Spitfire said, "getting captured by the Wards isn't exactly the worst thing that can happen to us."
Spitfire pulled out a blue marble from her pocket. She placed it in Lyft's hand.
"It's a new tinker invention me and Leet came up with. We haven't tested it yet, but maybe now's the best time to try it?"
The marble felt weighted. She attuned her powers into it and rose it up, "is this water?"
The marble morphed into polygonal shapes, shifting between cubes and octagons. Spitfire answered, "it's more like liquid metal. If you squeeze it the same way as a fist, the molecules are hardened into material stronger than metal. If you let it loosen up, it becomes as fluid as water. Since your power is to attune objects, we figured you could morph it into shapes what you wanted."
Lyft stretched the liquid metal to the shape of a giant silver platter. She stepped onto it like a hoverboard, "this is perfect."
Spitfire said, "you can also split it into multiple marbles, so that you can create as many objects as you'd like."
Lyft pulled out and stretched a scythe from the hoverboard. She kept it blunt, but the metallic effect was all the same. "Leet made this for me?"
"Vivan told him you saved them from Lung. He said you finally deserved a weapon."
Lyft smiled. Imp said aloud, "are you fucking kidding me!?"
Imp tapped down at the hoverboard, "she gets a goddamn silver surfer board, and all I got was a fucking fushigi ball?"
Another camera drone hovored over to them. It had a low-level intelligence designed to also be the team's camera drone. "What's a fushigi ball?" Wheatley asked. He was inspired from a robot well known in the Portal franchise. "That sounds like a foreign dish. Was I designed to make pastries!?"
Imp said, "knock it off Wheatley."
Wheatley protested, "well I have to know! I don't have hands and you're asking me to make pastries?"
Spitfire said, "Imp, please stop confusing Wheatley."
Imp squinted towards her, "are you like, the mom of the group?"
Light found himself at the back of a PRT vehicle. He asked kindly, "is it too late to put in my Ward application?"
Shadow Stalker hit her fist against the van. Browbeat said, "you can do that later."
"You're a true friend bro."
Gallant said to him, "you have hostages in the bank, are they in danger? Would the Undersiders hurt them?"
Light asked, "literally or figuratively? Because figuratively, they can induce some seriously PTSD if they start playing the Last Airbender movie."
"Literally," Gallant replied.
"Ah, nah, you can even check the livestream to make sure."
Clockblocker took out his phone, "yep, the Losers are dancing with money while Spitfire is signing autographs."
Aegis asked, "is this a robbery or an elaborate prank?"
"Its just a prank bro," Light tried stepping out of the vehicle, "so its all cool, you guys can let me go-"
Browbeat gave him a light push back into the van. Gallant said, "either way, we're not putting them at risk. I don't want to attack unless I can guarantee the hostages are safe."
Light yelled, "it's too late you fools, by now my team has already gotten them all to fall in love with us!"
Meanwhile at the bank, that wasn't too far from the truth.
Regent yelled, "stop filling their pockets with money!"
Spitfire yelled back, "they have PTSD thanks to you guys, they deserve this!"
Lyft stuffed a few hundreds into a woman's blouse. She said, "now you're complacent, do as we say or you'll go to jail too!"
Leet called out from the front desk of the telebanker computer, "alright, anyone who's got college loans, auto loans, or an overdue mortgages, give me your names so I can wipe that out for you."
Clockblocker didn't turn away from his phone, "I don't even know how if I should be mad anymore."
Gallant said, "you attacked while most of the Protectorate are away from here. This isn't some spontanous joke, people are scared. I can't let you get away with this."
Light pointed at the prop badge on his chest, "have you guys tried calling 911?"
Shadow Stalker grabbed him by the shirt, "listen here you little prick, I am fucking tired of you having shits and giggles while the rest of us are risking our lives out here! Get them to fucking stand down, or I will personally bolt your head to a lamp post!"
"I'm not into dominatrix… Anymore."
She headbutted him on the head. Clockblocker and Aegis pulled her back. "Fuck all of you," Shadow Stalker yelled, "if you guys aren't stopping this bastards, I'll do it myself!"
Before they could stop her, she turned to gas and wisped away into the air. Light shook his head, "oww, doesn't she know she's supposed to hit the nose? That hurt her too!"
Gallant shook his head and turned to Browbeat, "Browbeat, it could take an hour before the Protectorate comes. We need people here sooner, not later."
Browbeat said, "you want me to call the Mouseketeers?"
Gallant nodded, "I know you had a falling out, but we need numbers." It also went against Gallant's instructions. Piggot specifically said that they were not to work with Mouse Protector and her allies, but Gallant wasn't sure they could beat a villain group that outnumbered them.
Browbeat looked over at the bank. He was never one to let pride get in the way of success. He left Mouse Protector not because he hated them for working with villains, but because he was putting himself at risk by associating with them.
Browbeat turned around and made a phone call, "give me a minute."
Theo put on his jacket and backpack before heading out the door. Kayden called out, "Theo."
He paused. Turning back he glanced at Kayden. She said to him, "you're not going alone, are you?"
Ever since the Mouseketeers broke up, Kayden had been pressuring for him to join the E88. She told him that they did a lot of good, and that he could get a better, more powerful team if she decided to join them.
It was exhausting. Kayden was running the empire now and even his father had phoned in a few times to try and get him to join. His dad had a softer touch, but the sentiment was all the same.
What the both of them didn't understand was that, E88 membership was a brand, not just a villain team. Joining meant he could never be seen as equals among the hero cape community, and he wasn't going to tarnish his name by being a part of that.
The E88 were wrong on so many levels, ways in which Kayden herself was blind to. Joining them wasn't worth having a team. "I'll be with the Wards," Theo said quickly. "I won't be alone."
She regularly argued that he needed a team for vigilantism, so he said something that could quell those concerns. Kayden said, "be careful, Wards aren't experts either."
It was a backhanded comment, meant to undermine his choices to try and get him into the hands of the E88. Theo didn't say anything and left the door. He picked up his cell phone and made a phone call.
"Golem?" Mouse Protector said with a yawn. "It's like, twelve. I'm jobless. I was sleeping before you called."
"Browbeat called," Theo said quickly. "There's a hostage situation at central city bank. They need our help."
Mouse Protector stayed quiet. Theo said, "well, are you coming?"
"I uh…. Rush told me-"
"Are you kidding me!?" Theo yelled out. "No wonder Taylor is pissed at you! Are you seriously telling me you're too afraid to arrest the fucking Losers?"
Yes. She wanted to admit. But she wasn't afraid of arresting them because they worked with the Elite, she just didn't want the city to lose something that was clearly beneficial.
Theo called out, "Mouse, you need to decide right now, are you on the side of heroes, or are you on the side of them."
Theo didn't say what 'them' was. The Elite, rogues, Losers, it could've meant anything. And Mouse Protector typically avoided making choices like these. As a rogue, she always preferred working within the sidelines. Walking between good and evil to create the best possible outcomes.
Mouse Protector let out a deep groan, "okay, fine. I'll choose. But I'm gonna be late, adults take like, thirty minutes to get out of bed."
Mouse Protector gradually rolled off of her mattress onto the wooden floor. She dialed someone she needed to call. "Heeeey…. Taylor…"
On the other side of the call, Taylor let the voice message play.
"So… I just got a phone call from Golem... And the Losers are robbing a bank. So I'm gonna go do my…. Mouse thing, and thought maybe you'd wanna come along…."
There was a long pause on the line. She stayed quiet to compose her thoughts.
"Listen buzz, I'm sorry I lied to you. I was wrong, I should have told you the truth when I agreed to be your mentor. Maybe I wouldn't have left the Elite for you guys, but I shouldn't have kept it secret regardless.
I promise I never did anything despicable while I was under them. I beat their villain targets, but yes, I was working with bad guys. And you deserve to hate me for that. But I don't want you to give up on teammates because of me.
Theo is a good person, despite what his family is. Browbeat is a smart friend, even if he's a Ward now. I hope you don't give up on heroes because of me, because I really do think you're the brightest one out of all of us."
Taylor gripped her knees. She was sitting in the basement quietly by herself. Her legs were pulled in close to her chest, and her cell phone played the message by the doorway. An army of monstrous bugs danced at the edge of the room, reflecting her pent up frustration.
Mouse Protector finished the message by saying, "heroes need people like you. You've got a moral compass better than anyone. Even though I don't deserve to be your mentor anymore, I hope you can still be the ally this city needs."
Mouse Protector finished the phone call. Taylor's bugs finally stopped dancing and she let out a sigh of relief. There was a lot she wanted to her, but wasn't sure how to express it. Dinah had warned her not to follow Mouse Protector's orders, and Taylor decided to stick to that.
Another phone call came in.
Eric and Crystal rushed towards the bank. They hastily put on their costume uniforms while Crystal kept her phone in hand, "Amy, just stay still and don't let them see you."
Amy was locked inside a closet. She was among the hostages in the beginning, but when the Losers barged in, no one noticed her slipping away and hiding inside a broom closet. "I'm scared," Amy said in a hushed tone. "But I'm angry too. They blackmailed Vicky and forced me to become their healer. Now's the only chance I have to get back at them. I'm pissed and I want them to pay for that"
"Just wait until we get there," Crystal reiterated. "We will arrest the Losers today, but we have to be smart about this. The Losers are fucking insane. If we're going to win this, we have to make sure everything is stacked against them."
Amy nodded. After their call ended, Amy decided to contact Taylor next.
Rush pointed at the camera drone, "alrighty mother fuckers! Since this is land of the fucking free, we'll let you all decide what we should to today! Should we A) Fight our way out. B) Escape via spoon dugged tunnel. Or C) Kill the hostages."
The Undersiders turned their heads towards her. "What?" They all said together.
Rush looked down at her clipboard. "Oh wait, I meant to say let the hostages go. Freudian slip. Can I reshoot this?"
Grue said to Tattletale, "how do I get them on track?"
She replied, "carrot and stick approach. Emphasis on stick."
Tattletale walked over to Rush and said, "Rush, Light got captured and he will not forgive you if things go south. He's already a hair away from becoming a hero. If he's taken into custody, you'll never see him again."
Rush's head snapped towards Tattletale. For a millisecond of a moment, she glared at her. They both knew she was right. But Rush hated hearing those words from a master manipulator.
Rush relaxed, smiled, and patted Tattletale on the head, "I hope someday you learn to care about someone like I did."
Tattletale's eyes furrowed. Rush had read her so well, she wondered if there was a secret power in her. Tattletale's powers on drilled in the point:
Pities Lisa; thinks she's hollow
Rush turned around to call out for Aisha. "Imp!"
Imp appeared in front of them, "sup boss!"
"Mind getting Light over here? I'm worried the heroes are corrupting him." Rush pointed towards a trail between a street corner and Vista. "There's a blind spot over here, tell the camera drone to lead you while you walk."
"Nice," Imp said with a smile. She was happy to be included. Rush always made sure to treat Imp as a valued member rather than a non-member as they all agreed to.
Rush added, "don't forget, this drone can detect you while you're invisible. So feel free to fuck with them for the livestream."
Imp pumped her fist in the air, "fuck yeah! I'm gonna make Kid Win's balls drop!"
For a small moment, Rush was ashamed at what she created. Before Grue and Tattletale could protest, Imp disappeared, wiping herself from their memories.
Rush turned over to Grue, "as I was saying, can you grab me again harder, except with both hands while calling me a retard?"