Chapter 109

                “Titan, your people are clear.”

                Owen’s whole body tingled with relief at those words, aided perhaps a bit by the energy blast one of the nearby robots was trying to kill him with. It had been hard, letting Gale be the one to go save them, trusting her to make sure they survived, but part of being a Hero was accepting that no one was the best at everything. For rapid extraction, Gale’s abilities were better suited than his, and he was certainly the superior choice for a distraction. Still, ever since she’d left his sight and he’d begun ripping up robots and throwing them at the big mech, his heart had been filled with worry that something would go wrong. He’d already failed so many people who depended on him throughout his life, losing his team might be one blow too many.

                But that hadn’t happened. Gale had gotten them clear, and was likely lifting them somewhere safe before she rejoined the battle. Owen grabbed another robot and shredded it into two pieces, then hurled both at the mech. They weren’t doing any real damage, but it definitely was holding the thing’s attention, drawing occasional rounds of bullets and energy, neither of which cause Owen to so much as stumble.

                “Dispatch, what’s the situation with civilians around me?”

                “This area was a business district that began evacuations during the first wave of attack,” Dispatch told him. “The last stragglers were seen fleeing several minutes prior, though not all were successful. By current accounts, the area is considered fully evacuated.”

                “Glad to hear it. And my clearance for property?”

                “The DVA has ruled that, if Jeremiah’s theory proves true, it would be far more prudent than fully unleashing Manhattan-level Heroes. They want to see a large robot brought down as soon as possible, and with the civilians gone you are in one of the best positions. Clearance is full Demolition, do what’s necessary to bring your target down,” Dispatch instructed.

                “Understood. I’ll still try to minimize where I can.” It wasn’t always possible to get DVA clearances in the heat of battle, but for a fight this big Owen knew damn well doing so would make things easier. There was going to be a lot of clean-up and insurance claims when this was all said and done, and the last thing he needed was to be held for reckless destruction. But now, they’d given him their blessing, and he knew the area was as clear as possible. Which meant he could finally get down to work.

                “You know, I’ve had to fight robots before. Not this many, or this often, but your kind pops up from time to time when some smart Super wants a machine to do their dirty work.” Owen grabbed a pair of the robots that were trying to attack and crushed them in his hands, scattering their debris as he started moving forward. Another came at him, and seconds later it was in pieces. With no other Heroes or civilians around, he didn’t have to worry about where the hurled shrapnel might land.

                “Personally, I’m not really a fan. I prefer opponents who can think on their feet, and maybe use enough wisdom to actually give up when they know the fight is unwinnable.” This time, five of them ran for him, and Owen met them head on. The things were strong, no doubt about it, but Owen had fought stronger. And that was all it took. Raise the bar once, and that’s where it lived forever on. His power was a brutish, simple one, that paled in comparison to some of the more grandiose out there, but it was effective. In seconds, the five robots were pieces in his wake, and the large mech was only a few feet away.

                “There is one good thing about dealing with robots, though. Especially ones as big as you. It’s probably the only time I get to have a fight where I don’t need to hold back. And I have to say, from time to time, that is an absolute pleasure.”

                The mech turned to launch another barrage of pointless projectiles at him, but Owen was no longer there. He’d leapt into the air, turning the ground below him into utter rubble as he soared upward. His course was the center of the mech’s torso, but as he’d expected it wasn’t going to let him land so easily. One of the four arms swept through the air, intent on smacking Owen back to the ground. Instead, he grabbed on as it struck, his fingers bending the metal as he pulled himself up, getting into position just above where the massive gun joined to its wrist.

                “You big guys always seem tough, but beating you is just about knowing the simple trick. It’s the same as how you eat a whale. One bite at a time, you bastard.” He reared back, spreading out his palm to get as wide a surface area as possible, then slammed it through the metal wrist. It took several more blows, but eventually too much of the wrist was shattered, and the entire gun broke away, smashing to the ground and flattening a few robots in the process.

                Owen looked up at the six eyed head, and he was pretty sure at least a few of those orbs were gazing angrily at him. If the thing was pissed now, it would be utterly livid by the time he was finished. He began to climb up the remaining section of arm, slowly making his way closer to the torso. A loud whooshing sound ripped through the air, and suddenly Owen found himself, and the arm he was holding, in free fall. They crashed heavily onto the street, and before he could react one of the six legs was above him and dropping fast, clearly intent on crushing him like a bug.

                “Detaching parts, pretty clever,” Owen admitted as he rolled out of the way. “But you’ll run out of arms eventually.” The leg kept pace with his movements, and as he pushed off the ground it slammed into his back, pinning him to the concrete below.

                “Holy shit, are you okay?” Gale’s voice came through his comm, and even though he couldn’t see where she was at the moment, she obviously had line of sight on him.

                “Been better,” Owen admitted, his voice a bit strained. “But I’m pretty sure the gravity thingie they put in these to make them light enough to function reduced its weight, normally I’d expect this to be a lot worse.”

                “Normally? One day we need to have a talk about what you consider normal,” Gale said. “Can you get out?”

                “Not easily. I’m strong enough to move, but with this much weight if I try to shove off the ground my arms will probably go right through it, especially given how much we’ve wrecked the street. Little help?”

                “Pretty sure I can hit it hard enough to knock it aside, but you’ll need to scramble,” Gale warned.

                “Even a second is plenty, I just have to flip over. Then I can grab the damn leg and start tearing it apart.”

                “Yeah, I heard your whole ‘one bite at a time’ spiel. Personally, if I had to kill a whale I think I’d rather a harpoon to the heart.” Even as she spoke, Owen could hear the wind picking up around her. He mentally readied himself for the impending attack.

                “Those arms are quick, they’ll knock me aside if I do a direct run,” Owen told her.

                “In a hurricane, winds blow so fast that pencils embed in trees. I’m pretty sure I can get you past a few waving arms. Now get ready, that leg is about to move.”

                “If you can do it, I’m in.” Owen barely got the words out when a tremendous blast of wind deafened him, striking the leg at one of its joints and bending it outward. The pressure on Owen vanished, and he pushed himself forward, getting on his feet before the leg could pin him again. He’d made it all of ten steps before another blast of wind hit him in the back, lifting him skyward at a rapidly increasing speed.

                “Pretend you’re doing a cannonball off the high-dive,” Gale instructed, yelling to be heard over the comms. “Tuck everything in, and prepare for impact. As of now I’m Captain Ahab, and we’re killing us a damned whale.”