Chapter 100

                It was supposed to be controlled, safe, and defended. That was what the Heroes had told them as they arrived, assuring everyone that if they all grouped together in the small stadium they would be safe from the impending robots. No one really believed they’d be perfectly secure, of course. Growing up in a world with Supers and Heroes had taught them from birth that safety was a fleeting, impermanent thing. But they also knew the Heroes guarding them would lay down their lives to protect everyone. It would be scary, and dangerous, but there would be control. Then the second group had appeared, breaking out from underground with an explosion and pouring up like ants from a freshly stomped hill. And just like that, it all turned to madness.

                Bubble Bubble was forming spheres around groups of civilians, offering what meager protection she could from the sudden onslaught of mechanical monsters. It would have been a futile effort, save for the fact that the robots seemed uninterested in humans. They set themselves directly on course with every Super in a costume or SAA uniform, almost entirely ignoring those without powers. Bubble Bubble soon had to pop a sphere around herself as she tried to fend off a trio that set their sights on her.

                Help quickly arrived in the form of Big Henry, whom Hexcellent was clinging to the back of as he smashed his mighty fists into the metallic flesh of those trying to break her sphere. Strong as he was, these things were no slouches either, and as he drew more of their attention they began to swarm him.

                Hexcellent barely had time to cry out before Zone, holding a javelin he’d likely dug out of some supply closet, leapt into the fray and speared a robot through the neck. It turned to strike him, which was just enough of a distraction for Big Henry to grip it’s head and tear it off the mechanical torso. The other two began to attack him once more, but a giant scaly hand wrapped around each one and lifted them upward. Before either could counter attack, they were bitten clean in two by the crushing jaws of a lizard monster who tossed them to the side.

                “You okay?” It’s growl sounded like the sort of thing one heard in the darkest nightmares before waking in a cold sweat, but at that moment it was easily the most beautiful voice any of the three could remember. They nodded, trying to get their bearings and figure out what was happening around them.

                The stadium was a sea of chaos, robots and Supers duking it out everywhere. While the Heroes had clearly been taken by surprise, they were managing to regroup bit by bit, wiping out the robots in wide swaths as they worked to get the humans to safety. In one corner of the stadium, a man in a simple gray mask who looked as though he should be retirement age had been left alone. It would have been worrying, if not for the fact that a veritable graveyard of smashed robots littered the ground at his feet, and those that remained were approaching him very carefully.

                “My name is Kaiju,” the monster said, drawing their attention back. “I’m a friend of Titan.”

                “I have never been so thankful for his schmoozing as I am right now,” Zone muttered.

                “Hang on, where’s Galvanize?” Bubble Bubble said, eyes sweeping the field as she realized they’d lost their leader.

                “Making the rounds,” Kaiju informed her. He stretched out a claw and pointed it across the stadium’s field. “And probably making a hell of a difference.”

                Sure enough, there was Galvanize, darting in and out of battle with such recklessness that Mordent’s insurance people would have shit a chicken if they’d seen him. He was bounding between groups of Supers and humans alike, pausing only long enough to speak briefly to them before moving on to the next cluster of people. Wherever he went, the effects could be seen, as blows became heavier and dodges more precise. While Galvanize couldn’t make people any better than their best, there was still a lot to be said for having every Super in the stadium fighting at peak form.

                “He’s how I knew where to find you all,” Kaiju explained. “Though Juiced and I were already looking. Titan helped us out when no one else would, so we’re sure as shit not going to let anything happen to his team.” Another robot turned to face them, but before it could contemplate an attack Kaiju was on it, turning the thing into scrap before there was even a chance to react. “But damn, I love what that Galvanize guy can do. Wish we had an enhancer on the Wild Bucks.”

                “Don’t put any ideas in his head,” Hexcellent said. “So what’s the plan, oh mighty Hero? Just keep fighting the robots here all day?”

                “Too dangerous,” Kaiju replied. “They always come in waves, and since they seem to have found a way to move underground, we can’t risk staying clustered together like this. Current orders are for us to take out as much of this wave as we can, and then begin evacuating all non-Heroes. Their attacks are pretty focused, at least for the moment, so if we can get you out of the hot zones then you should be okay.”

                “Sure, you just have to crush a whole wave of robots that took you by surprise before the next one gets here, piece of cake.” Hexcellent was all but clinging to Big Henry, even as Kaiju worked to keep the area around them clear.

                “This looks worse than it is. We’ve got a lot of people here whose powers are built for handling groups of attackers. Plus, the brunt of the forces seem to have hit downtown from what we’re hearing. And, in the mother of all fuck-ups, the robots didn’t realize that one of the HCP deans was here. Trust me, within ten minutes we’ll have cleared a path out. It’s the others you should be worried about; they’ve got three times this many robots attacking them.”

                “Is downtown where Titan went?” Bubble Bubble asked.

                “Yeah, they were called over to stop one wave and got taken by surprise just like us,” Kaiju told her.

                “Then why bother worrying?” She released the sphere around herself and pulled in Hexcellent before creating a new, larger one. “If he’s there, they’ll be fine.”

                Kaiju turned his giant reptilian head toward her and cocked it slightly to the side. “Look, I know Titan is strong and all, but even he has limits.”

                “Spoken like someone who hasn’t worked with him for the past few months,” Zone said.

                “My thoughts exactly,” Hexcellent agreed. “Downtown is going to be fine, so let’s just focus on getting this place clear and hopefully moving everyone to safety.” Big Henry reached over and lifted the sphere in one hand, setting it on his shoulder.

                “Zone and Kaiju, lead us out,” Hexcellent ordered. “We’ll bubble and carry as many people as we can along the way.”

                “You know, I’m the one who’s a Hero,” Kaiju pointed out.

                “And I’m the one who does rescue work every fucking day. Which does this look more like to you? Now either take out your scaly cock so we can have Zone get the measuring tape and we can formally settle this, or help us get clear.” Hexcellent put her hands on her hips and stared Kaiju down, nearly eye level from her spot atop Big Henry’s back. Eventually the giant lizard monster let out a snort and began lumbering forward.

                “I was just making a point, no need to be mean about it.” In any other situation, they would have laughed mercilessly at the massive creature growling out a passive aggressive grumble. But that would, hopefully, come later. For now, there was only the job at hand.