Chapter 95

                Owen won his team’s way through two more matches before an idea finally struck him, and it came from his opponents. In their third match of the day, he was once again up against a hefty shifter and a strongman, but the third of their team was something a little different. Instead of actually grabbing the rope, he held up his arms and moments later giant energy duplicates of his hands appeared floating a few feet away. Those massive hands reached down and gingerly picked up the rope as if it weren’t even the slightest bit unusual, a wide grin across the projector’s face.

                “Oooh, and here we see legendary receiver for the Fort Worth Juggernauts, Douglas Fairbanks, using his famous phantom grip,” Jade said, hurrying over to be near the action. “For those of you wondering, this is perfectly allowable, as the rules state that a Super can use any method at their disposal to move the rope, so long as they move with it and don’t interfere with the other team. We thought it would keep things interesting.”

                She certainly wasn’t wrong about that, people’s excitement was rekindled as they prepared to watch the strange showdown. Credit where it was due, Owen had to admit this team was probably the strongest he’d faced so far, though it was impossible to tell how much was due to the energy hands. Still, they weren’t strong enough, and he dragged the rope backward just as he had all the others before. This time, when he won, the cheers seemed a bit muted. They’d been rooting for the guy with the interesting power, not the one who was slowly plowing through every opponent without so much as putting on a spectacle.

                Well, if the crowd wanted to cheer for something unique, they were about to be in a whole mess of luck. Owen headed back over to where the rest of his team was waiting, Zone and Bubble Bubble trailing behind since they’d come out for this match. They were rotating through, not because anyone was getting tired, but because it gave everyone equal time for camera exposure.

                Owen motioned for everyone to gather around him, which they did, although there was little enthusiasm in their steps. All wore fake smiles, even Hexcellent, which were obviously as much for his benefit as the cameras. They knew he hadn’t chosen to be here and put them through being glorified props; Mordent had forced this upon them, there was no point in throwing blame around on one another.

                “Okay, we’ve got a few minutes until the next match,” Owen said, keeping track of how things were going on the field. “Time to figure out who is going in.”

                “That’s not really difficult,” Galvanize said. “Zone and I were first, then Hexcellent and BB, followed by Zone and BB, which means it will now be myself and Hexcellent.”

                “That’s a good start,” Owen agreed. “But what about your third?”

                “Uhhh, that would be you, dipshit,” Hexcellent said, jabbing a finger into his over-sized chest.

                “Nah, I’ve gone in for the last three matches. I think it’s time to switch things up.” Owen looked his teammates up and down, ignoring the perplexed stares they were shooting him. “Bubble Bubble, I think you should be their third. With your spheres you can create some solid footholds for everyone.”

                “Titan,” Galvanize said, lowering his voice as understanding finally sank in. “What are you talking about? You play in every match. You’re the only way we win this thing. That was the plan all along.”

                “That was Mordent’s plan, sure,” Owen said. “But we only agreed to show up and compete. No one said I had to be a part of every match. And, come on, do you really want to keep doing more of this shit?”

                “Fuck me no.” Hexcellent looked surprised by her own words, evidently they’d been meant as inner monologue. Having released them into the world, even if it was by accident, she steeled herself and opted to own them. “This is embarrassing as hell. We’ve all got our own strengths, but from just watching this contest you’d think we were fucking useless dickbrains that you carried along everywhere.”

                “But we’re winning,” Zone pointed out.

                “No, Titan is winning. We’re just there.” Bubble Bubble turned to look up at the crowd, all cheering for the current match and ignoring those on the sidelines. “He’s the only one here they care about.”

                “And, if you haven’t noticed, that’s starting to wane,” Owen added.  “This isn’t any fun. Not for them, and sure as hell not for us. So I say we change things up and actually try to enjoy ourselves.”

                “You realize that we’re going to lose the moment we try to compete.” Despite the pessimistic words, Galvanize actually seemed rather cheerful at the prospect of public defeat.

                “Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. Like Hexcellent said, you’ve got your own strengths. Really though, it doesn’t matter. There’s nothing on the line here but pride, and we might be the team with the smallest of that to lose. Besides,” Owen paused and pointed to the stands and the cheering people within them, “everyone loves the underdog. Win, lose, it almost doesn’t matter. Just put up a good fight, and the people will clap for you. You might even get some decent publicity out of this.”

                “Mr. Greene still won’t like it,” Galvanize said. “But he can’t say we didn’t do as the company ordered, so perhaps he can just deal with it.”

                Hexcellent let out a long whistle. “That was about as close as our fearless leader gets to telling corporate to go fuck themselves with a pineapple. Well damn, if Galvanize is willing to piss off the handlers, then I don’t see any reason why the rest of us would turn down the chance to stir the pot. Just tell me you’ve got some sort of plan, Titan.”

                “Plan is a bit of a stretch,” Owen admitted. “More like an idea; or a series of partly formed ideas that might form a whole one. We’ll probably still lose, you all know that going in, but I think you can hold out long enough to put on a good show.”

                “You’re in luck,” Bubble Bubble said as she leaned in, prompting the others to mirror her movement and collecting them in a makeshift huddle.

                “Putting on a show is one thing this team definitely knows how to do.”