Chapter 102

                Hexcellent wasn’t sure why she’d thought things would be better once they were outside the stadium; it had just seemed like the way these sorts of events were supposed to be. Someone would have a plan, and they’d be rushed off to safety with the other civilians. Getting out of the stadium, then the park, were the first steps toward freedom. Except once they made it outside, following the path cut by the Wild Bucks and other Heroes who’d shown up to help, their world made even less sense.

                At least in the stadium there had been a sort of order, with limited entrances and only so much ground to cover. The moment they stepped outside people began to scatter, which was made all the more troublesome by the fact that there were robots roaming about. It took less than a minute for their tight, well-guarded unit to disintegrate as Heroes, including Kaiju, were forced to peel off to meet charging robots or rescue civilians. She and Bubble Bubble had to flee the sphere on Big Henry’s shoulder, as the large demon simply couldn’t move quickly enough while hauling them to steer clear of the more troublesome spots. As she stepped out into the open again, Hexcellent came to peace with the fact that there was no greater plan in place, or at least not one that involved them. If they wanted saving, they’d have to get themselves out of the fire.

                “Time to pick a direction, folks,” she said, pointing to the several streets, all with at least one squad of robots near the entrances. “As I see it, our best bets are to try and get the hell out of Brewster proper, maybe flee to the burbs, or make a run for the Mordent Building. We might not be a lot safer there, but personally I’d like to die in my own bed, if that’s on the table.”

                “Mordent is actually very secure,” Galvanize pointed out. “It’s built to withstand all manner of natural disasters, plus the security is top of the line. Granted, that might not stop all of… this.” He waved at the robots, bounding about and still targeting every Super they could find. “…but it’s a far sight safer than being on the street.”

                “And what about everyone else?” Bubble Bubble asked. The streets were all-but choked with civilians who were barreling out of the fairgrounds, no doubt filled with the same naïve hope as Hexcellent that things would be safer once they were outside.

                “We’re probably not authorized to fight these things, but given the situation it would be hard for anyone to argue that we aren’t acting in self-defense,” Galvanize said. “I’m not the only one who’s noticed they only seem to be going after Supers, right?”

                “Sort of.” Hexcellent had noticed the pattern to, though she’d seen it slightly differently. “They’re going after people who mark themselves as Supers. SAA athletes, Heroes, and obviously us. I don’t think they somehow invented a scanner to tell humans from Supers, shit if they had they could make billions overnight. I think they’re just going off the markings we’ve put on ourselves.”

                “She’s right,” Zone said. “They’ll knock normal folks aside, but it’s only the people in costume or uniform that they target.”

                “Okay then.” Galvanize surveyed the layout of the chaos before them, his mind whirling as he tried to put what little information they had together and turn it into a plan for survival. “Zone, take off your shirt. Since that’s where most of your ads are, hopefully you can pass for a normal person once it’s gone.”

                “Why only me?” Despite the question, Zone had already begun to strip down. Much as he wanted an explanation, he’d been in more than enough dangerous situations with Galvanize to trust his leader’s orders even before he understood them.

                “The rest of us have costumes that are too elaborate, we would never fool them,” Galvanize explained. “You’re going to scout ahead, finding us the clearest routes and hiding spots so we can make our way back to the Mordent building. If we see any civilians in trouble along the way, we do our best to save them and bring them along. As long as they don’t stand too close to us, they aren’t likely to get targeted.”

                “Yeah, but how do we-” Hexcellent was cut off as a giant, demonic hand slammed itself into her back and pushed her to the ground. Big Henry stepped into where she’d been standing, raising its gauntlet-like hands over its chest moments before a blast of red energy struck. Big Henry let out a massive roar as it’s flesh began to pucker and sear. To the monster’s credit, it held out for nearly a full ten seconds before the damage became too great and it disintegrated into a cloud of smoke. Ten seconds, paltry though it was in the scheme of the universe, proved to be long enough for a member of the Cincinnati Cyborgs, one of the very Supers they’d gone up against in the tug-of-war, to slam a powerful shoulder into the robot and knock it to pieces.

                Big Henry was gone, and Hexcellent rose to her feet slowly, gripping the side of her skull in visible pain. Summoners took a healthy bit of mental feedback when their creations were destroyed, and the more powerful they were, the more it hurt. Bubble Bubble was already at her teammate’s, her friend’s, side as Hexcellent managed to slowly steady herself.

                “I was going to ask how we chat with Zone, since no one brought comms to a charity event, but that fucker robot just solved the problem for us.” Hexcellent help out her hand, and Impers appeared on Zone’s now-bare shoulder, visibly trying not to hook its small claws into his tan skin. “Impers will run relay between Zone and us, so that he can always be scouting.”

                “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather have Huggles on hand?” Zone asked. Big Henry was the best they could ask for, but being destroyed meant it would take time and rest before she could summon him again.

                “Huggles is great, but he’s not subtle. I think the more covert we are, the better,” Hexcellent replied. She leaned on Bubble Bubble, a fresh wave of pain wracking her skull. Though she didn’t tell the others, summoning another creature so soon after losing one intensified the pain. There would be time for beers and bitching later. Right now they needed to survive.

                “Okay, I’m going ahead,” Zone told them, beginning to jog east toward the Mordent Building. “I’ll find a way past all the robots guarding the exit streets, you three just try and stay safe until Impers comes back.”

                Hexcellent chuckled darkly under her breath, eyes taking in the destruction and bloodshed around them. “I could have created a summon with flying powers big enough to carry us years ago, but noooo, I had to be afraid of heights.”

                “We’ll make it back,” Galvanize assured her. “I’m sure the Heroes are already taking control of the situation.”

                Confident though he sounded, it was somewhat hard to entirely believe him when the sounds of raining debris drowned out his words.