Chapter 22: Strike

Unimportant closed his eyes and faded from view. “can you still hear me mach?”

“I can.”

good…i do not believe i can risk fading any further…i will attempt to remain silent unless necessary.”

“Allspades, Burnout, you head in first with me. Make sure to draw their attention and keep it.” Hawthorne ordered. “Red, keep to the edge of the fight, we can’t have you running into one of our attacks. Mach, remember to look busy. Unimportant…good luck. You two will be the only ones on the link once we get in. If you need someone else, you’ll have to shout.”

Nobody answered, but there were no objections.

“Okay then, we breach on three.” Deep inside her mind Hawthorne ignored a girlish scream of delight as she said that. “One. Two. Three.”


It is said that no plan survives contact with the enemy. In this respect, Unimportant had a unique view of the conflict. No enemy had ever noticed him before he let them, and that had only backfired once.

This battle was no different.

Making it to the device was proving difficult. For as powerful as the members of the group had the potential to become, none of them were prepared for a fight like this.

Burnout and Hawthorne, manips in general really, have a unique advantage when it comes to drawing attention. It’s easy to ignore the guy punching one of your coworkers, when another’s doing his best flamethrower impression. And the new grove lifting the truck up to the sealing did not go unnoticed.

But being distracted only made them less organized. There was barely any space for Unimportant to slip through if he wanted to stay unnoticed. At least not without cranking his power up to extreme degrees, and that could cause some serious issues if he kept it up too long.

He took a deep breath and stared at the conflict, waiting for his chance.

He spotted Burnout pulling out a lot of flame, and the guards saw it too. The group split almost down the middle as the torrent of fire shot through their ranks.

Just as Burnout began to ease up, he sprinted straight towards the heart of the flames. A small grin found its way to his face as he burst through the other side and made a beeline for the open door behind them.

mach i made it.”

“Good.” Her voice was stressed and he could hear the echoes of the fight through her mike. “Is there any way you can get me a live feed of what you are seeing?”


A low groan sounded through his earpiece. “Unsecured, but it will do. Remind me to get all of you in touch with Beck’s after this. They give out a lot of useful apps to heroes.”


“Right.” A video feed popped up in Mach’s helmet she gave an interested hum. “It is definitely advanced enough to be designed by a mecher, but it is sloppy work. I think someone slapped it together off of the real deal’s blueprints.”

is that good or bad?”

“I believe the most astute answer would be…yes.”

“oh joy.”

“Indeed. Okay, to start…”


Hawthorne was having a hard time not grinning. She hadn’t had a chance to stretch her powers out for real in weeks, and as many guards as there were, they weren’t much more than target practice with the whole group here.

Taking out the truck had been an easy decision, if not quite the easiest task. It took a certain level of luck to get the weave on the trees strong enough to support its weight.

Guns were harder. People had the strangest tendency to grip their guns annoyingly tightly when they saw trees growing at their feet.

(‘Oh well. If you can’t stop the guns, stop the bullets.’)

She held her staff tightly in both hands and its wood began to grow over her body, forming the thickest armor she could manage without slowing herself down.

With a gallant cry she charged into the guards, swinging her staff in a wide arc as it grew and mowed down the men around her.

“Do yourselves a favor and-” The guards began to stand back up. “Ah hell with it, not like they listen anyway.”

The armored girl twirled her staff and leapt back into battle.


Allspades slammed his fist into the gut of another guard. His smile grew as the guard fell to his knees and he kicked him across the face.

A circle of guards had formed around him, none of them running but nobody wanting to charge in first.

“Circle of Death, not a bad game. But I think we should go with Black Jack, it’s more my style.”

Allspades stood tall and gave a sweet smile to the guards around him. “Come on then, hit me.”

A single guard charged forward and slammed the butt of his gun into Allspades’s chest. Allspades grabbed his arm and flipped him over his head and onto his back. “Not quite there. Hit me.”

Two guards lifted their weapons and fired. The guards on the opposite side of the circle cursed and dove to the sides.

Allspades stood tall and let the bullets hit him, grinning wider and wider as their guns clicked empty.

“That puts me at 20. Whadaya say, wanna go for the ace?”

The two guards that shot at him dropped their useless guns and turned to run. A red and white blur intercepted them and knocked them to the ground.

“Ooh. Looks like we have a couple of busts. Would anyone else like to challenge the dealer? I assure you, you can’t do any worse than them.”

The rest of the guards charged the hero.

His grin never faded.


Red Racer knocked out the two guards running from Allspades.

He understood that that was his real job here, stick to the edges of the fight and make sure none of them get to Unimportant.

It didn’t make it any easier when he saw Allspades take the full load from two guns without flinching.

He’d actually nearly gotten hit when the other speedwalker had pulled that stunt. Bullets weren’t much faster than punches from his perspective, but it was still scary to see one heading straight for you.

He checked over the crowd of guards again. Most of them had been taken out by now, mostly by Burnout and Hawthorne, but Allspades had gotten his fair share, and Mach had knocked a couple of them out with those darts of hers.

Another one was running from Burnout. Red sighed to himself and grabbed a thing of hose from the side of the garage.

He ran circles around the guard, trailing the hose behind him until the guard fell over from the weight tying him down.

It was almost too easy, really.


Burnout was almost worn out. If he had to be honest, he could have taken out twice as many guards as he had, but he was afraid.

He’d lost control twice already tonight, and he didn’t want to know what would happen if he drew anywhere near that much fire again.

The flames he was using were weak and flashy, they had no real heat to them. He had to focus a beam almost entirely on one person just to singe them.

But everyone fears fire. It was the only advantage he had against these men. They were too afraid to get close, too afraid to aim straight.

So he drew upon the little knowledge he had of other fire users and took a page from their books.

“Come on you punks! Who wants to get roasted?!”

Hot and hammy coming right up.


“Remove that last panel. You have now reached the core of the machine. It is time for the hard part.”

Unimportant rubbed the sweat off of his forehead. He did not like the idea of this getting any harder. Mach had had him take off half of the machine’s casing before she was certain of where he really needed to start.

“Those three wires in front of you, give me a closer look.”

“please tell me this is not going to turn into which wire situation…i don’t think i can make that call.”

“Do not worry. The red wire connects to the power supply, the yellow to the release switch, and the blue to the timer. Technically, cutting any of them should stop the device.”


“If the device release is held closed by the wire instead of opened by it, then cutting any of them could pop it open.”


“Cut the blue wire, without a signal from the timer the device should not be able to function. We can take our time disassembling it after that.”

“right…hold your breath.”

Unimportant crossed his fingers and cut the wire.


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