Dragonfly, Part 6

The laser beam kicked up a cloud of dust as it streaked along the ground at the group of heroes already diving out of the way. Dragonfly hit the ground hard having barely pushed Copy Cat out of the way as well. Coughing from the dust she looked back at where they had been standing moments before. When the dust cleared she saw what was left of Shale. The beam had cut a swath right up the middle of Shale's body. From the bottom of his waist up to his head there was a slot the width of the beam of empty space, with most of his head gone he was obviously dead. Dragonfly breathed a sigh of regret at not thinking to save him despite his illegal profession. "No one deserved to die like that," she thought.

Idle Hands only laughed at the sight, "Two down, more to go, two down more to go," he sang as he began to move his claws like he was conducting an orchestra and spun around in place in a small dance.

Dragonfly growled wishing he'd shut up when she heard Copy Cat call out.

"Hey, Jack Ass!"

Dragonfly turned to her seeing Copy Cat standing in front of an overturned van with what looked like a bazooka over her shoulder. What caught Dragonfly's attention was that Copy Cat's uniform. All the colors were reversed. The glossy blue was now a glossy orange. The previous orange lenses in her goggles were now blue, even the formerly black circuit lines in her uniform were now white. And for a reason that Dragonfly knew, Copy Cat's hair had changed from blond to black.

"Let's see how you damn robot stands up to this," she shouted with a hint of arrogance in her voice as she hoisted the weapon on her shoulder. Idle Hands just stood there still waving his claws to his invisible orchestra, waiting. Copy Cat pulled the trigger. The missile inside jumped out of its tube but its rocket cut out which left the missile to drop to the ground a few feet in front of her, a dud. Copy Cat looked down at the dead missile and could only say the one thing that came to mind, "Ah fuck!"

Idle Hands giggled at this, "Oh the poor sweet hero's abilities fail her, such is to be expected when one copies what they don't understand themselves. A mistake you'll never learn from I'm afraid," he chided as he gestured towards her. His robot them brought an arm up, pointing it at her, which opened up revealing a harpoon-like launcher in it. The robot fired the metal rod which pulled a length of steel cable behind it striking Copy Cat in the shoulder making her cry out in pain as it threw her from her feet and pinned her to the van behind her. Idle Hands gave a predatory smile, "I always love the crescendo," he said as he conducted his orchestra, first gesturing up with both claws then straight at Copy Cat. On doing so, strings of electricity danced down the cable to the harpoon and into Copy Cat's body. She screamed out in horrifying pain before slumping down hanging limply from the harpoon. The rest of the team made no move towards the large robot or the villain controlling it. Idle Hands laughed at the sight, "Three have fallen, more to..." he was interrupted when Copy Cat suddenly awoke, still held in place by the harpoon.

"Oh, the pain. The torment of the final moments of life taunt me so, I ask for the lady death to embrace me in her loving arms to deliver me peace forever more," she spouted trying to make it sound like Shakespeare, failing horribly, and began to make drawn-out gagging noises. All of which thoroughly confused the mad villain enough that he paused in conducting his imaginary orchestra.

Dragonfly could barely suppress her smirk as she spared a glance at where Copy Cat originally stood and saw two different colored cubes. One was the gold transport cube and the other was a small blue colored cube that had small mirrors in it, a holographic projection cube currently projecting the faux image of Copy Cat pinned to the van, still giving its death gasps in a cartoonish fashion. Without warning, an energy beam shot out from behind them over their heads striking the minotaur robot in the head. The robot swayed as the lights went out in it head and the glow in its mouth faded to black and seemed to shut down.

Two blocks away the real Copy Cat was laying on an abandon bus holding a large EMP rifle that she just fired. She was thankful her decoy worked. The rifle took too much time to charge and it was too unwieldy to hit a moving target. Now, with the "Tantamount robot" out of commission, her team can move in on Idle Hands and subdue him without any further destruction.

Idle Hands gave an aggravated sigh, "I hate when a sour note sounds in my symphony," he snapped his claws and the robot reactivated, its eyes blinked on again and its maw glowed again, "Kill the girl," he ordered as he pointed to Copy Cat, who in turn muttered an "Oh shit!" before rolling off the bus just as the beam sliced through the bus from bottom to top destroying her EMP rifle in a small but fiery explosion.

The rest of the team were already in action as Dragonfly and Evangel made for the robot while Halt ran for Idle Hands. Seeing Halt approach Idle Hands gestured to him and the robot turned towards the hero and fired its laser from its maw. Instead of dodging out of the way Halt stood fast and let it hit him and used his powers. He felt the energy of the bean wash over his front and then felt it pull away, going back the way it came right back into the mouth of the minotaur robot. The effect of this reversal was immediate as its head promptly exploded leaving what remains to look like a melted twisted flower of blackened metal. The robot slumped to its knees and fell dark again.

Dragonfly allowed herself a silent cheer before turning to Idle Hands, "You robot it destroyed, your allies are in custody," she looked back at Shale before adding quietly, "Or dead by your own hands," she turned back to face the mad man, "You have no one left to shove in front of you. Now, give up!" she ordered.

Idle Hands only shook his head bemusedly, "Oh, I have much to put between all of you and myself," he said cryptically. He then snapped his claws again and the robot shuddered and got back to its metal hooves. The twisted metal petals that were left of its head came alive like living tentacles as they wrapped back into a ball on its shoulders. The metal ball then reformed, producing details like horns while a lump protruded from its front becoming a bovine muzzle. In seconds, much to the heroes' astonishment, the robot was fully repaired and active again.

"Halt! Same plan as before," Dragonfly told him as she and Evangel made for the robot again to which Halt nodded and ran after the villain again.

Idle Hands took a few steps back, "Ah ah aahhh," he chided tauntingly, "If any of you take me down before my Tantamount stops for the final time then it will blow itself up in a most inconvenient place," he teased. "Besides, while I like what my Tantamount can do, I've taken a shine to you dear boy," he said referring to Halt, "So many heroes have such troubling abilities and yours would do well to stave off a good deal of them," he cocked his head to the side with a crocked smile, "I think I'll have you." On his last statement the robot opened up its chest revealing some one inside, or more horrifyingly the top half of some one. A woman with shoulder length brown hair and what was left of her was wearing a costume red and light grey with grey metal armor on her shoulders and forearms. A piece of machinery attached to wear her waist ended look out of place from the rest of her. At one point the woman looked like she was young, some where in her twenties, as well as at one time would have beautiful. Now she looked like a living corpse, her skin was discolored and sunken in showing her bones underneath. Small cables were attached at various points on her arms and torso. She was truly a nightmarish appearance, made worse that all of team Valiant recognised the woman. She was Lodestone, a former member of the Protectorate, who was killed by her former partner turned rogue Warper. And Idle Hands had her body all this time.

"Oh my god," was all Dragonfly could say as the robot unceremoniously dumped the woman's remains and rand down on Halt. Even though Dragonfly and Evangel moved into action the robot was already on Halt grabbing him and forcing him into itself and shutting him inside. "Fuck," Dragonfly cursed, this had just got a whole lot worse.

"Wonderful, Wonderful," Idle Hands exclaimed happily in earnest, "Oh, having something that can control metal is quite useful, but considering how many of you heroes use energy to fight having him powering my Tantamount robot would be ever so much better," he stated with glee. "So much fun, so much fun," he sang over and over.

Dragonfly gritted her teeth. The situation was getting worse. She was fighting with a still unfamiliar body, one of her team mates were now trapped inside this damn robot through some means adding to its defences, and seeing the mutilated remains of a hero she respected used in such a way really put her on edge. "Evangel," she called out, "I'll distract them and you cut Halt out of that thing!" she ordered. "And one more thing," she added before Evangel started off, "Once you get Halt out of that thing destroy it! Leave nothing left," she demanded. Evangel looked at her a moment before making his way to the robot, "Of course," he said calmly.

With that Dragonfly took to the air flying over the robot throwing her knives at it which had little effect as they bounce off the armor. She had thought of targeting the joints but wasn't sure if they'd carry through and injure Halt as well, something she didn't want to do, but her job was just to distract the robot anyways and give Evangel an opening. It worked, the minotaur was looking up at her. Taking his queue, Evangel moved in slashing at it up the front pulling his sword back so as not to cut too deep leaving a large gash behind in the armor. This immediately got the robots attention and Evangel had just enough time to bring his blades in front of himself as the robot punched him sending him flying back. Evangel flipped himself as he flew through the air where he landed in a crouching position on the side of a building lightly jumping off it and landing gently back on the ground before running off towards the robot again. Dragonfly continued to throw her knives at the robot which were having less an effect than before. With very little else in ranged attacks in her disposal she dive-bombed the robot by flying from high up and at the last minute flipping around to use her legs to kick it and push herself off back into the air again. This seemed to work in keeping the robot off balance and Evangel was able to get another swipe in with both his swords and back away before it could hit him again. This back and forth between the two seemed to be working as the robot was slowing down as more gashes were added over its body exposing wires and other machinery formally hidden behind the armor.

Things were starting to look up from Dragonfly's point of view when she spied Copy Cat, the real Copy Cat, coming from the other side of the street, she must have used another teleport cube to surprise Idle Hands and the robot from behind. Her thoughts were proven right as she was holding another energy rifle. Her eyes widen as she saw her aiming it at the robot.

"No, Copy Cat, wait!" Dragonfly cried out but it was already too late and Copy Cat fired a burst of energy at the robot. On hitting the robot the round bounced back. Fortunately Copy Cat had already shifted her stance enough that the round didn't go back up through the barrel of her weapon but it did hit it in the middle blowing it in half and knocking Copy Cat to the ground, looking dazed.

Idle Hands turned to her, "Are you another copy?" he asked before breaking into a fit of giggles, "The Copy Cat has a copy who's a copy of Copy Cat in every way but one," he gestured towards her and his robot minotaur turned around and opened its arm ready to fire another steel rod, "The copy of Copy Cat is meant to die but if I kill the original does that mean Copy Cat was the copy and the copy was the original? But, if Copy Cat's name holds the word copy in it, does that mean there was never an original Copy Cat to begin with?" Idle Hands mused in a dizzying way only he could follow. "And if there is no original Copy Cat to begin with, then if I destroyed the copy of Copy Cat does that mean I never killed anyone at all? Let's find out," he said at last and with a flick of his claw and the robot fired the steel rod that towed a long cable behind it.

Dragonfly cried out, too far away to intercept the rod and too far again to move Copy Cat out of dangers way. A sudden strong gust of wind picked up sending a car door flying through the air striking the rod knocking it off course enough to bury itself in the ground in front of Copy Cat rather than in her. Down from the sky arrived Windscar lead by the two sprites Dragonfly left her. "You have no idea how grateful I am," Dragonfly said in relief to Windscar as she reabsorbed her sprites.

"Don't worry about it," she replied as she landed and unclipped herself from her parachute and used her powers to send it over to the robot entangling it, "Although, if you really want to repay me later you can get me the materials so I can replace two parachutes and my glide suit that you shredded. That stuff's not cheap you know," she quip.

"Deal," Dragonfly replied.

"I'll hold you to that. Now, let's break a robot, stop the crazy and call it a day. Not necessarily in that order," she said with a not so friendly smile.

"About that," Dragonfly started, "The robot has Halt inside it and it's using his powers somehow, according to the mad doctor, if we take him down before we destroy the robot then there's a chance he might have the robot blow up and kill us as well as any number of people still in the city. He was kind of vague on how big of an explosion but I don't want to risk it unless absolutely necessary," she explained. Copy Cat had come up to them during catching her explanation.

"If that thing is using Halt's powers then that cuts a lot of what I can do. Most of my gear has energy of some sort and the rest is lethal explosives that I don't want to use while he's in there, at least not directly," she said as she rummaged through her satchel and grimaced, "Should have thought to build some EMP grenades at some point. Although with Halt's powers I'm not sure if it would work anyways."

"I might have a way to peel that thing apart," Windscar answered although looking a bit hesitant, "It takes a lot of concentration, so I'll need someone to watch my back while I do this."

"You were flying, hitting me with walls of air and pulling the air from my lungs while you were brainwashed, just how much more concentration do you need?" Dragonfly asked wryly.

"Using wind to manipulate small grains of sand to act like a buzz saw takes a lot of focus. The first time I did this was back when I was a kid in juvi and just developed. I tried cutting the bars on my cell so I could get out. I didn't see my "room mate" come at me till after she tried cutting my eye out," she said touching the scar over her eye, "Now, shut up. This is harder since I have to use my powers to keep the thing still while I cut it open."

Dragonfly gave her a look, "Just focus on the chest piece. With that open then we can pull Halt out easily," she told her as she called over to Evangel, who was still fighting the large robot dodging and weaving while getting one strike in, to step back and get out of Windscar's way. Evangel ducked under a fist as it tried to hit him. He then stood up and brought one sword down in an overhand slash down the middle of its chest while using the other as a shield when the minotaur robot recovered and hit him with his other fist sending him flying back. He twisted through the air where he finally landed on his feet skidding several feet back.

With Evangel out of the way Windscar held up both hands towards the robot, one open-palmed and the other pointing at it. Immediately, the wind picked up kicking up lose sand and gravel from the ground as well as debris from wrecked cars and cement from destroyed pieces of sidewalk, all of which began swirling around the robot. Whenever it tried to move its arms or its whole body out of the torrent of wind buffeting about it large pieces of debris would smack the limbs back in place. A grinding sound could be heard as the sand and grit scraped along the metal skin of the minotaur robot slowly increasing in intensity where the top layer of paint was already coming off revealing the shiny silver metal underneath. Idle Hands seemed more amused by this than anything and began dancing in a circle giving the heroes obvious looks whenever he turned in their direction, making it clear he had full control of the situation as he hummed some random tune to himself.

The madman's display was getting on Dragonfly's nerves. She wanted to, in the worst way, fly over there and beat that smug attitude of his out of him but with that lingering threat of the robot blowing up... She turned to Windscar, "How long is it going to take?"

Windscar's already displayed frown deepened, "It's not as easy as it looks. I'm holding the thing in place and using whatever's around to cut through the skin of this thing," she spared Dragonfly a quick glare before bringing her full focus back to the robot, "And before you ask, the joints are covered in a mesh, the sand just gets caught in it and won't cut it. I can switch over to trying to open up the slashes Evangel already made but we may as well let him get back at it. That armor's tough as hell," she said with a note of disappointment at herself.

Dragonfly sneered at seeing Idle Hands watch them with a cheshire grin and waved "innocently" at her when he saw her looking at him. Dragonfly growled at that before a thought occurred to her and she let an unfriendly smile show back at him confusing him as she turned back to Windscar, "We've been going at this all wrong," she told her as she called Evangel over to them, she continued when he was close enough without having to raise her voice too loud. "Keep doing what you're doing Windscar but, instead of trying to cut through that armor use your powers to gum up the insides. Evangel, turn that thing into a sieve, with all that sand going through it'll be sure to screw up its circuits by damaging them or causing static charge. Either way it'll go down," she explained. Evangel nodded and turned to engage the robot as it disentangled itself finally from Windscar's parachute. Windscar, for her part, released her hold on the robot allowing it to move more freely as she now focused on moving all the dirt she kicked up to enter the holes Evangel had cut and was about to add.

Idle Hands scowled at their new strategy but quickly covered it up with another of his frequent predatory grins as he went back to conducting his imaginary orchestra. "Now it may not seem like it but I do fight fair. I could have easily made a virus that could eat the human body from the inside out as a plague to wipe out a good deal of the population on Earth, but I don't and you now whyyy?" he asked as he did a twirl spinning in place, "Because it's NOT SPORTING!" he shouted as he produced a gun from under his lab coat and pointed it at Windscar.

Dragonfly reacted instantly grabbing Copy Cat who was in the line of fire behind her so she could both her and Windscar as she turned her back to Idle Hands and ducked her head just before several shots rang out. The first four shots bounced harmlessly off her armored backside like she thought they would. The final shot was the lucky bastard as she felt a sudden jab of pain in her back, "Ah fuckfuck shitshitshit," she swore out as she jerked back feeling the muscles in her back cramp up in the worst charlie horse she had ever felt up till now. Her top left wing was pointed at an odd angle from her other wings. The bullet had hit the wing at the joint where it lead into her back under the more flexible portion of her armor. Thankfully, it didn't cause any permanent damage but damn if it hurt like a son of a bitch!

Over with the robot, Evangel was doing is best, striking the robot without risking harm to Halt who was still trapped inside. With the assistance from Windscar the two were able to disable the minotaur's mouth laser. As the robot took a swipe at Evangel, he ducked under it and stepped around slashing at its back. In response, the robot turned around but not to hit Evangel. But to open its forearm and fire the steel rod at Evangel point-blank at him. Evangel, once again, was able to bring both swords up to block just as the rod was fired sending him airborne and flying off several city blocks away.

"Fuck," both Copy Cat and Dragonfly gritted seeing their heavy hitter go flying off.

Windscar herself only grimaced as she finally dropped her arms in exhaustion, "I'm sorry, I can't go any longer, all I'm doing now is clogging the holes," she said as she took another breath. The robot turned back around and raised another arm to fire at them. "Look out!" Windscar shouted as she waved her arm and hit it with a massive wall of air knocking it off its feet where it landed hard on its back. On that, a large crack could be heard as its chest opened slightly.

Seeing this, Dragonfly wanted to pry it open but didn't have any means. Her knives weren't long enough to do the job. She was growing frustrated until she spied the unusual sword/ax weapon that Copy Cat lost earlier. Without hesitation she flew over to the weapon, still feeling the effects of the charlie-horse, and picked it up and flew over to the robot that was just sitting up as it got up and drove the length of the sword part, from top to bottom, down through the open chest piece and began trying to pry it open. The metal groaned and creaked on protest as she continued as she did her best to also pin the robots arms with her legs.

Idle Hands looked bemused, "Oh look, the little bug lady is trying to save her teammate. While I hope she realises that she's playing with a bug zapper," he teased as he gestured. The robot's skin became electrified and started shocking Dragonfly.

She cried out in pain as the electricity ran up her arms but remained where she was. Despite the increasing pain she was receiving she refused to let go and used the pain to drive her forward. She wasn't going to let what happened to her happen to anyone else on her team. A second later the robot finally shoved her off to the side. However this only help, combined with her persistence, the chest opened finally if only slightly, show a ragged Halt inside. Dragonfly got up shortly after still shaking from the effects of the electricity running through her and glanced to Copy Cat, "Get ready," she told her. Copy Cat nodded though not quite sure what she meant but had a hand in her satchel anyways. With her teammates acknowledgement Dragonfly flew straight at the robot. With both hands on either piece of the opening pried it open fully revealing Halt underneath. He looked like hell. He was half conscious and there were a few wires sticking out of his body. "Dragon..," he mumbled as he briefly recognised her before his head drooped. A dark look fell over Dragonfly's face as she remove the wires from Halt's body and pulled him free and flew back and away. She didn't need to tell Copy Cat anything as she was already in action and pulled out a heavy energy rifle and fired it into the still open torso of the robot which in turn exploded in a much satisfying fireball before the remaining pieces fell over in a smouldering ruin.

With the robot finally destroyed, Dragonfly left Halt in Windscar's care as she and Copy Cat turned to Idle Hands standing there with a stoic look on his face as he turned to leave but saw Evangel running up the street where he was going to leave.

"Alright," he said in resignation but still had a cocky look on his face, "I give up," he said as his claws suddenly detached from his wrists in a puff of pressurised smoke. Once his claws hit the ground he deliberately stomped on them wrecking them, a single claw twitched in protest before stopping as Idle Hands raised his now stumped arms in surrender.

Copy Cat's lip quivered as she growled in anger, "You 'give up'?" she accused threatening to bring her rifle on him.

Idle Hands only shrugged, "I'm crazy, not stupid," he answered like it was the most obvious thing to say.

Copy Cat's face darkened as she put her rifle away as she stomped up to Idle Hands and punched him across the jaw with enough force to send the villain on his ass. "You're damn lucky team Valiant doesn't kill," she hissed as she pulled out some new restraints that would secure the villain.

With the robot destroyed and all the villains secured, Copy Cat lead Windscar over to where she kept Drake and Danny both of whom she bolted to the side of the building.

While they waited for the police to arrive with transport for villains Dragonfly turned to Drake, "Listen Drake," she said stressing his name much to his derision, "Which of you was it that put this whole thing together? I know all of you are lone wolfs and don't work with other villains so who's the leader here?"

Drake spat at her, "All I care about is that I have killed the one who stole my name. You'll get nothing else from me," he said with a self righteous grin.

Before anyone else could react to his statement Idle Hands started giggling again and when everyone's attention was on him he spoke out in a sing-song voice, "I know who it i-iss," he said with a toothy grin.

"No, don't tell them anything," Drake cried out.

The villain's reaction to the other sparked Dragonfly's interest so she walked over to Idle Hands and lifted him up by one hand by the collar of his lab coat, "Tell me what you know," she ordered him in a low voice.

Idle Hands didn't react to the painful way she pick him up but answered her question with a grin, "A month ago, a man came to town with a plan most foul and promises for all. He promised the Princess a court, Danny wanted infamy, remote wanted money, so humdrum a reason. And 'Drake' a name he desired." he said in a childish way, not quite a sing-songy voice.

"And what did he promise you?" Dragonfly asked, her eyes narrowed.

"He came to me with a tongue of silver but it didn't matter. When I knew the chaos of his plans I freely offered my skills. Providing machines to enhance powers and provide a means for vengeance. He even told me what you want to knnnow next."

"And what is that?"

Idle Hands leaned forward as much as he could, his grin became predatory, "Where. He. Is," he stated softly.

Dragonfly's eyes widened momentarily before narrowing again, "Tell me," she ordered in a dark tone. Idle Hands, after a short laugh told her where he was waiting, after which she dropped the madman to the ground where he stumbled a bit before falling back on his ass.

As she relayed the information to her teammates the police arrived along with several ambulances, one loading Halt into it before driving off as the police gathered the villains into the police transport. Remote was already waiting for his partners in crime.

"I'm going after him," Dragonfly told her teammates and Windscar, "I can get there faster than anyone else right now and it would be very bad if he got away," she told them as she was getting ready to fly off. Before she did so Copy Cat stopped her.

"Dragonfly wait," she said as she pulled out a set of restraints from her satchel and handed it to her, "Bring him back alive. He answers to the justice system, not us. We are not jury and executioners understand?" she asked with a worried look in her eyes.

Dragonfly took the restraints and looped them over one of the handles of her knives without having anywhere else to store it. "Of course I'll bring him back. Why would you say something like that?" she asked confused.

Copy Cat pursed her lips in worry before answering, "Did you already forget what you were about to do before I stopped you?"

Dragonfly stopped herself, she looked up into the air for a second before looking back into Copy Cat's eyes, "I'll just bring him in," she promised her.

Copy Cat stared at her for a moment before nodding and letting go of her arm.

With some final reassurance Dragonfly flapped her wings and was instantly off into the air and headed in the direction of the place where the unknown person was apparently waiting. The place in question was and abandon storehouse in the outskirts of the suburbs of the city. When she arrived she touched down in the parking lot of the storehouse surprised of how calm everything seemed. This set her off in overdrive as she expected something worse. With frayed nerves and a knife in hand she entered the building through the main door. On entering she could see that the building had been made into a sort of living space. She could see the influence of such as one section was full of Disney merchandise while another was a work bench with half finished robot animals. But what drew her attention squarely was a man sitting behind a desk you would see in an office building for a high executive.

The man was a stark contrast to everything else. He was clean shaven with short-cropped light brown hair and was smartly dressed in a business suit. Seeing her enter he stood up and walked around the desk, "Hello," he greeted her, "My name is Jacob Hyers, and you are?" he asked almost gentlemanly. This put Dragonfly off, not expecting this situation from some one who orchestrated the murder of a super hero and several innocent bystanders.

"I go by Dragonfly," she told him deftly, "Am I safe to assume that you are responsible for everything that happened in the city?" she asked accusingly.

"I am," he replied. He then reached into his coat and pulled out a gun making sure to hold it in a way to make it impossible to shoot it safely and placed it on the desk behind him. "Would it surprise you to know that professionally, I work as a psychiatrist for a living?"

Dragonfly quirked her head at this wondering why he brought this up, let alone where he was going with this.

"It's true," he said simply as he sat on the edge of his desk away from where he set the gun down. "And would you like to know what else? I am a base-line human," he stated with amusement. "I, a base-line human, convinced a group of developed villains to kill, or at least try to kill, a super hero team. What do you think of that?" he asked. Before she could say anything he spoke anyways, "Perhaps I should give you some reason, personal history you could say, as to why I did what I have. I am, to put it simply, a sociopath. I have personally killed several dozen people before now," he revealed, showing no shame in what he just said.

"You're a shrink and you kill people?" Dragonfly asked incredously, "How do you live with yourself? Do you make victims out of your patients too?" She had, without her notice or meaning to, pulled one of her knives out.

The man frowned, "I keep my personal and professional lives separate I'll have you know. No patient of mine has ever suffered at my hands and have actually gone on to quite productive lives," he stated with pride in his voice, "One of my former patients is a highly successful celebrity who used to be a self-destructive hoarder before coming to me for help," he told her as if that would convince the hero. It didn't. "The problem I had," he went on explaining, "Is that as one becomes what could be called a serial killer it gets harder to feel that special rush one gets from that first kill. So, I guess at this point I should just stop refering myself in the third person as it seems to be getting silly at this point since you have no idea what I'm talking about on the personal level. Where was I? Oh yes, as time goes on it becomes less special and I feel less and less. It got so humdrum that, before I had my epiphany I had kidnapped over a dozen people and placed them in a building that was a complete death trap, like those humourless Saw movies. Imagine my surprise when one of the people I had kidnaped turned out to be a developed super hero. I believe her name was Foreshadow."

Dragonfly stiffened on hearing the name. Foreshadow was another local hero that she had approached months back when she was still just Dragon. She dressed as a ninja and was trained one as well. Her powers were surface telepathy or being a deep empath which allowed her to pick up surface thoughts and intentions from people around her. Combined with her ninja training, she was a potent fighter. A little over a month ago she had been found dead, in costume, with a bullet between her eyes. A manhunt had gone on for weeks for her killer but there was so little evidence that it quickly became a cold case despite Tobias' attempts to influence the homicide department to continue. Now she was standing in front of her killer who freely admitted to the deed. Dark thoughts began to swim around her mind about what she wanted to do to the monster. The gemstone in her chest began to feel like it was burning again. He continued.

"She revealed her identity to the others so that they'd trust her so she could lead them out safely. And she almost did had I not been waiting with a gun in each hand at the final door. I waited thinking intently that I wasn't going to shoot anyone with the gun in my left hand. She believed what I thought and walked through the door. She barely saw the gun I held before I fired. I finished off the others quickly and found where Foreshadow kept her suit. I put her in it and dumped her near the park. I was quite surprised by the effects afterwards. There was the usual stars and stripes funeral," he said with a dismissive wave, "But after that, something wonderful happened. Regular everyday people who lived around the park where I dumped the woman's body formed a neighborhood watch reducing crime in the area to the lowest levels they have ever been. Kids were picking up trash and cleaning up the area. Seeing those actions made me realise something. The human race had become lazy and the reason for that was because of people like you," he said pointing at Dragonfly, "You and others like you. All of you 'developed' heroes and villains have reduced the human race to stagnation. It was so simple that I laughed for hours when it came to me. Why should any base-line human do anything for themselves when a developed 'hero' would do it for them? An alien invasion, the worlds military will sit back and let the 'heroes' and the more territorial villains would take care of them. The police well stand back not bothering to arrest a developed villain, letting the 'hero' do the work for them. Ever since I witnessed what happened at the park I looked elsewhere. Boston has made a remarkable recovery since a few heroes and villains died. I had come to the conclusion that all developed will have to die if the human race is to break its stagnation." He paused to look at the gun he had placed on the table, "I killed her with that gun," he told her with a sly smile as he stood up from sitting on the side of the desk but walked away from it. "It was surprisingly easy to manipulate the local developed villains. A single match as it were. The death of a hero to start things off," he let out a small chuckle, "You and your friends were supposed to kill the villains in retaliation, I was almost certain that fool Drake was going to die first. But I'm relatively new at this so it is not unexpected for things to start slow," he went on.

Dragonfly spied the gun on the table and after a few quick steps she was close to the table and picked up the pistol, holding it in her hands, "This is the gun that killed Foreshadow," she thought to herself as she looked towards Jacob and thought of how he had also killed her through Drake. Her hands clenched in anger. "This man was directly responsible for killing her and Foreshadow as well as many innocent bystanders with his own hand. She had to stop him. There was no other choice. If she just arrested him he could escape to kill more innocent people. With a burning fury she raised the gun in her hand and aimed it at the man. She gasped as the pain in her chest became excruciating causing her to stager. This only seemed to spurn her on as she renewed her efforts to end this monsters retched life.

Just as she was about to pull the trigger she heard a voice in her minds eye cry out, "STOP!" it pleaded. Dragonfly did momentarily as she recognised the voice of the spirit woman.

Dragonfly blinked as she brought the gun up again, "I'm sorry but he has to die," she told the voice.

Again she was stopped by the spirit woman's voice, "Don't do it," she cried out to her, "I have seen the kindness in your soul. Don't let him take it."

Dragonfly was barely standing to the pain in her chest, "I have to do this now," she responded in quiet resolve, tears running down her face.

"Look at him," the spirit woman told her.

Confused Dragonfly blinked, "I am."

"Look at him," the spirit woman told her more firmly.

For a moment, Dragonfly didn't understand before she finally switch to her altered vision and was shocked at what she saw. A sickly inky black cloud was coming out of Jacob straight towards her. He was doing something to her she realised. With a thought she produced a sprite to have it intercept the cloud. When that happened her knees buckled and she would have fallen had she not grabbed on to the desk for support as all the hate and fury suddenly left her. She could still feel it through her sprite but she was under control of it and held it between them. She was confused as she thought the man said he was base-line but now that she could think clearly she knew what he wanted her to do.

"You want me to kill you," she said at last surprised and shocked. "Why would you want me to kill you?"

His smile grew, "What would it look like if a developed 'hero' killed a base-line human that offered no resistance?" he countered, "Either way, kill me now or send me to jail, eventually, my legacy will prevail." he said simply. "Dying here, I'll be a martyr. Going to jail, I will start over. And become a symbol as a base-line human that saved the human race by convincing the developed to kill themselves."

Dragonfly put the gun back down on the table, "No," she said flatly. "You're not going to be either. I can see what you are now and like it or not, you are developed."

Jacob's eyes widen and he looked off as if to review his memories at her declaration until he refocused on her again with a look of hatred on his face, "No," he countered, "There's no way I'm like one of you filthy developed," he spat. "I'm smarter than you developed, that's how I was able to convince the villains to follow me. Princess had daddy issues, Drake was obsessed with his family honor, that's how I was able to manipulate them," at this point he was practically foaming at the mouth, "They were all so weak minded!" he shouted. "And after I kill you it won't matter," he said as he dove for the gun on the table. A futile gesture as Dragonfly was between him and it and se caught him and quickly dispatched him, knocking him out.

The pain in her chest had cooled since she had broken free from the crumpled man's influence. But even still, she wished she could do so much more to him for what he had done, "You're lucky I'm not that kind of person," she told the unconscious man as she picked him up to take him back to the authorities. He had a lot to answer for.

Epilogue:

Of the one hundred and twenty-three people that were taken hostage by the group of villains that day, a total of thirty-four were killed. Team Valiant recovered Lodestone's remains and turned it over to the Protectorate so they could give the fallen hero's loved ones final closure. Halt recovered from his ordeal rather quickly. Drake, Idle Hands, Princess, Remote, and Jacob once his developed powers and previous actions came to light, were all intured in Mount Prometheus. Danny was remanded to an asylum for treatment and care as was no longer willing to make his own decisions mumbling that his decision killed everyone.

Dragonfly had visited the woman she injured while she was in hospital for treatment and physiotherapy in the weeks following. Her husband had initially insisted on suing Dragonfly but was chastised to silence by his wife who insisted that Dragonfly saved her. Dragonfly blushed at the praise feeling that she didn't deserve the praise but couldn't object the heartfelt thanks from their five year old daughter thanking for saving her mom.

About a month later after the events that changed Lucy's life, she walked through the lobby of their base to meet with their liaison to the local police forces. She had since had her long hair braided into one long pony tail to keep it under control while she flew or fought. She smiled as she approached the man waiting just inside the door. She smiled on approaching the man as he was her former partner.

"Hello Mr. Dunwhich, welcome to the headquarters of team Valiant," she greeted him shaking his hand.

"Please, just call me Phil," he told her with a bashful wave. He looked around the lobby, "I never imagined that you guys would be set up in a former police station," he added in appreciation.

"It seemed appropriate at the time, I've been told," she said happy at his approval. "If you'll come with me, I'll show you to your new office," she said turning around. As she glanced over her shoulder she caught Phil looking up her backside who in turned blushed and became flustered when he realised he was found out. Lucy smiled at his response. "I have heard from Tobias that you were quite the handful," she said making conversation and smiling to herself at her private joke.

"Hey, I've had to pull his ass out of the fire more than a few times," he responded hotly but playful, "I don't know if he ever told you, but he had a nasty habit of not checking behind doors when we go to clear a room," he said slyly.

Lucy stopped mid-stride and turned on her heels forcing Phil to back up to avoid her wings as he was following so close, "Actually, he said the same about you," she told him with a smile and a quirked an eyebrow in challenging his claim.

"Yeah," he admitted rubbing the back of his neck admitting the truth, "I owe him more than a few times," he said with a wistful smile thinking of the good times they had. "It's a shame that he got killed," he added with a pained look.

Lucy looked down at the floor, "Yeah," she agreed quietly, "I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for him," she said feeling the sting of tears in her eyes threatening to come forth.

"Me too," Phil agreed looking off again.

Lucy managed to compose herself and pointed to the door beside them, "This is where you'll be working. I've heard it used to be the former dispatch room but don't worry, its since been remodeled so don't worry about being stuck in the corner surrounded by old equipment," she assured him. "If you need any help you can call for Evangel or Halt and they should be able to set you up if you get stuck. I have to go see Copy Cat about something," she told him and left after he gave her his thanks.

After making her way to Copy Cat's work shop she saw Brenda there, out of uniform like her, standing there looking at her with a dazzling smile as she sauntered over to her and grabbed her hand and lead her out of her workshop and down the hall with barely a, "Come on" said. Soon enough, they were standing in front of a door to the washroom. Lucy noticed that the MEN/WOMEN's sign had been replaced with a dragonfly sign instead. Lucy looked at Brenda's cheshire grin as she gestured for her to enter. Rolling her eyes she pushed open the door and found the room had been gutted and redone with a single toilet sitting in the middle of the room. "Oh god," Lucy said wholly embarrassed feeling her face go beet red. She knew she should have expected something like this but she wasn't expecting what could only be described as a literal porcelain throne.

"Try it out," Brenda told her plainly.

"What?" Lucy asked in surprised almost screaming the name but Brenda only turned around.

"You heard me," she chastise, "You still owe me a talk and I don't want any interruptions. So, sit down, do your thing and meet me back in my workshop," she said over her shoulder as she walked out the door.

Lucy sputtered a moment but deflated in defeat as she turned to the toilet in defeat. Much to both her relief and embarrassment it was far more comfortable than what she had been using till then. So after she cleaned herself and washed her hands and returned to Brenda's workshop where she was waiting for her by the door to her personal training room.

"Well? How was it?" she asked Lucy. Lucy herself felt her face burn in embarrassment as she admitted it was more comfortable. "So," Brenda started, "About what we were talking about. You know my feelings for you still haven't changed. I still love you," she looked down bashfully, "What do you feel about me?" she asked timidly looking up with her eyes at Lucy.

Lucy stared at the apparent seventeen year old girl before her as she thought about her. She knew that she enjoyed her company and they were able to speak candidly with each other. And while she knew that Brenda was far older than how she looked, her appearance was the only thing that held her back when she was still Tobias. But now after everything that's happened and with Brenda's admission of her love for her even though she's changed so much. And Lucy had to admit that she did have feelings for Brenda. She had almost died, in fact she had died, and she had to admit that life was even more precious and delicate now. All this told her that she should cherish everything she had because there was no telling when everything would be taken away. She looked at Brenda, who was still looking unsure of the situation and opened her mouth to speak, "I love you too," she told her meaning every word.

The most beautiful smile came on Brenda's face as she reached out for Lucy's hand and pulled her with her into her training room, which seemed to become much smaller then when she was in there last but was still pretty large and looked like a bedroom with a full sized bed and romantic mood lighting. Once they were inside the door closed and disappeared behind them.

"Where did the door go?" Lucy asked, a little concerned.

"I locked the door," Brenda answered, "For the next two hours we're both locked in here. Don't worry though, if something happens and they need our help, I left instructions for them to open the door if they need to but I don't want any interruption," she said seductively as she kissed Lucy with a deep unreserved passion. Lucy felt her body respond pleasantly to the kiss.

"How's this going to work?" she started to ask, "My wings don't exactly make bed play comfortable."

Brenda gave her a knowing smile before saying, "Gravity off." And the two started to float off from the ground as she embraced Lucy.

Lucy started to protest again, "But how does th-oohh," she moaned suddenly as Brenda rubbed a leg under her vagina. "Maybe this will work," Lucy thought absently as she went in to kiss Brenda.

Two hours wasn't enough for the new couple.



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