The Return of Nevermore part 16

Joselyn nervously looked over the edge of the floating shell, staring at the buildings and streets below them. They were near the last obelisk, but even if she hadn’t known that, she still could have guessed.

Innocent people who’d been transformed into Circuit Monger’s drones, filled the streets below. Groups of them moved in formation, going from building to building, looking for other people to assimilate into their numbers. And as if that wasn’t enough, several drones stood on nearly every roof top, though it took Joselyn a few seconds to realize why. They had been placed there as lookouts.

“We’ve been spotted,” Joselyn announced. There was no way those drones could have missed their floating metal shell.

“Then we can probably expect to run into Circuit Monger pretty soon,” Counterweight pointed out. “And maybe Praxis.”

“Damn,” Invincible Woman grumbled, looking a little uncomfortable at that. “I hate fighting someone I like…”

“At least she didn’t infect you,” Counterweight pointed out.

Joselyn nodded agreement, remembering something that Interface had said right before they’d left. “It takes me five seconds of solid contact to interface with a person,” he’d told them. “From what I’ve heard described, I believe it takes a similar amount of contact to transfer this virus… A single moment of contact shouldn’t be long enough for you to become infected, but be extremely careful anyway.”

“When you fought Praxis,” Joselyn reminded Invincible Woman, “she hit you…”

“You don’t need to remind ME of that,” Invincible Woman grumbled.

“I was just reminding you of what Interface told us,” Joselyn continued wryly. “Getting punched isn’t a problem. Just don’t let her grab hold of you…” She looked around the shell since that warning went for everyone. “A brief contact probably won’t infect us, but if any of those drones actually get a chance to grab hold…” She shuddered at the thought.

“It looks like we’ll get a chance to test that out,” Counterweight pointed out. “Incoming.”

Joselyn saw Praxis flying towards them, and though she normally would have been a welcome sight, her glowing green eyes proved that she was still infected. Without saying a word, Invincible Woman leapt out of the shell and flew straight at the infected hero, and a moment later, the two of them were playing a form of aerial tag.

“Don’t let her touch you,” Ghost Boy called out, right before he floated out of the shell as well.

“I guess this is my stop,” Chris announced, giving Joselyn a faint grin then leaping over the edge of the shell.

Counterweight gasped, “But he can’t fly…”

“No,” Vickie agreed. “But he can absorb kinetic energy, so once he hits, he’s going to be fully charged.”

Joselyn nodded, looking over the edge at Chris and feeling worried, but not about his jumping from a great height. She was worried about him being down there by himself, while surrounded with an army of drones.

“Drop us off down there,” Joselyn instructed, pointing down to a fairly clear space.

“Gotcha,” Counterweight responded, already lowering them to the ground.

As soon as they landed, Joselyn and Vickie climbed out of the metal shell while Counterweight gave them a quick salute and then floated back up into the air again. Joselyn would have preferred to have Counterweight help them a bit more, but the other hero had been injured in the earlier fight, and probably shouldn’t have been doing even this much.

“Okay,” Vickie asked as she looked around. “Where’s this Circuit Monger?”

“There,” Joselyn answered, pointing in the direction of the pillar. She grimaced and looked around. “But we should probably focus on these guys first.”

Joselyn gestured to the drones that were starting to come towards them. They looked like normal civilians, except with glowing green eyes, and moving with an eerie synchronization. She gulped at the sight, suddenly wishing that she hadn’t watched that zombie movie last week.

“They can’t catch what they can’t see,” Vickie announced, reaching out to grab Joselyn’s hand. “Stay close.”

Vickie activated her powers, and a moment later, everything suddenly went black. Joselyn grimaced at suddenly finding herself completely and totally blind, unable to see anything other than pure blackness. She hated not being able to see, though her sixth sense tried to compensate by giving her bits of information about her surroundings. Unfortunately, it wasn’t nearly enough to make up for her lack of sight. However, Vickie could still see.

“This way,” Vickie instructed, gently pulling Joselyn after her. After a few seconds, she laughed.

“What’s so funny?” Joselyn demanded.

“Some of the drones,” Vickie explained with a chuckle. “A couple of them came into my dark field, and now they’re just standing there like idiots…”

Joselyn grinned at that, relieved that this really was working. “They’re waiting on instructions,” she said with a chuckle. “Your power really is cutting them off…”

A minute later, Vickie dropped her darkness field and suddenly Joselyn could see again. She blinked several times at the sudden return of the light, then looked around. Vickie had led them to an area that was closer to the obelisk, and all of the drones were hold back and avoiding them.

“How are the others doing?” Joselyn asked, only to see Invincible Woman flying past overhead while being chased by Praxis. “Oh. That good.”

Invincible Woman abruptly stopped and turned around, so that Praxis practically flew right into her punch. As soon as Invincible Woman made contact with the drone hero, she responded by giving her a kick as well, then flying off. Praxis didn’t hesitate to go after her.

“She’s keeping Praxis occupied,” Joselyn said.

“I can’t believe Invincible Woman is really Miles,” Vickie said in amazement.

“And I’m sure she has a hard time believing who you used to be too,” Joselyn pointed out. “Now, where are the others…”

Then as Joselyn watched, she saw Impact leap from the roof of one building to the roof of another. She nodded approvingly. He’d chosen a smart way of avoiding the drones, since there were only a couple of them up on the roofs and he could easily get past them. However, that still left Ghost Boy.

Before Joselyn could locate exactly where Ghost Boy was, she saw Circuit Monger. Circuit Monger looked exactly like the pictures she’d been shown. She had a statuesque metal body that was green and dark grey with black trim. Dark grey cables came from her head, resembling metal dreadlocks. And at that moment, she was flying straight towards them.

As soon as Circuit Monger landed on the ground, a mere fifteen yards from where they stood, Vickie muttered, “Why do I feel like we’ve got a Terminator after us?”

“And where is Sarah Conner when you need her?” Joselyn added with a weak chuckle, not taking her eyes off the villain.

In an emotionless voice, Circuit Monger stated, “Four intruders have been identified as Lady Knight, Invincible Woman, Ghost Boy, and Counterweight. Two intruders remain unknown. Identify.”

“She doesn’t know who you are,” Joselyn pointed out with a faint smile since this was something that she’d been counting on. “She doesn’t really know what you can do yet…”

“We’re here to stop you,” Joselyn called out, trying not to show how afraid she was at facing something as powerful as Circuit Monger. She wasn’t at the same kind of power level, and she knew it. However, as she quickly reminded herself, she wasn’t helpless either. Force had learned that the hard way.

“Interference is futile,” Circuit Monger responded. “This unit is too powerful for you to defeat. Prepare to be upgraded.”

Then as one, all of the nearby drones began to march towards them. Joselyn held out her hands a glowing pink bubbles appeared in front of her, then pulled together and formed into a bo staff of glowing pink energy. She braced herself to fight, silently reminding herself to keep the drones away from her.

Suddenly, a car flew through the air and smashed into Circuit Monger, sending her flying back amidst the pile of metal. Joselyn grinned at the sight, then looked over to Chris, who had come down off the rooftops and had joined the fight. However, Joselyn’s delight only lasted for a moment. A burst of blue energy tore through the wreckage of the car, then the remains were tossed aside as Circuit Monger dug herself out.

“We’re going to kick your metal ass,” Chris yelled out.

“Organic units are obsolete,” Circuit Monger responded while drones continued to advance. “Upgrade or be deleted.”

“I think we need a strategic withdrawal,” Joselyn said, nervously looking at the sheer number of drones. They were starting to fill the streets and to surround them. She began backing away from the drones while Vickie did the same.

“We’re surrounded,” Vickie announced unnecessarily. Joselyn could see that for herself. The drones were beginning to come around from the other direct, cutting off their escape routes.

Ghost Boy suddenly appeared beside them, teleporting into place. “I’ve got you,” he announced, grabbing hold of Joselyn and floating up into the air with her, carrying her out of the range of the drones.

Joselyn wasn’t worried about Vickie, who was more than capable of avoiding the drones. Not only could Vickie absorb electro-magnetic energy, but she could use that energy to increase her strength, speed, and agility.

As soon as Joselyn was out of range, Vickie was in motion, running away and dodging through an opening between some drones. She slipped out of their reach and continued running. The drones turned and began following after her.

The drones advanced though Circuit Monger remained where she was, not taking any direct action. At the moment, she seemed content to let the drones do the work for her.

“Hey rusty butt,” Chris yelled, right before throwing another car at Circuit Monger.

This time, Circuit Monger saw the car coming and flew up into the air, avoiding the car which smashed into the ground just a short distance away from where she’d been standing. She held out her hands and fired blasts of blue energy at Chris, who immediately ran and dove behind a parked car.

“RUN,” Joselyn called out, knowing that Chris must have used up most of his stored energy by throwing those two cars, and wouldn’t have much left. Until he could absorb some kinetic energy, he wouldn’t really be any stronger than a normal person.

“I’ve got to put you down,” Ghost Boy told her. “You’re too heavy…”

“Are you calling me fat?” Joselyn teased, noticing how Ghost Boy immediately tensed up at that. Of course, she knew that Ghost Boy didn’t have any enhanced strength, and he was probably pushing his powers as hard as he could just to take her up into the air with him.

“Now I regret using that one on my ex,” Ghost Boy muttered as he set Joselyn back down in a relatively safe spot. A moment later, he vanished, teleporting away.

“Watch out,” Joselyn called out to Chris, who couldn’t move as fast as Vickie.

“Don’t worry,” Chris responded as he backed away from some of the advancing drones. However, more drones kept appearing, pouring into the streets in vast numbers. He moved closer and closer to Vickie, as they were both being surrounded.

“Damn,” Joselyn complained, feeling worried for her friends. However, a moment later, she had to focus on herself. Several drones were now coming straight towards her. She focused on the closest one, a large man and commanded, “Stop where you are…”

The man stopped for a moment, then started coming for her again. She focused on her power and repeated the command, but it had no effect. It seemed that Circuit Monger’s control overrode her mind control.

“That is a problem,” Joselyn muttered, forming a new bow staff and swinging it at the approaching drones before she turned and ran. She paused long enough to form a couple throwing daggers and fling them, keeping her aim low so that she’d hit their legs rather than anything vital. After all, they might be mindless drones, but they were also innocent victims.

Circuit Monger hovered in the air, watching her drones advance. Then she landed again, right in front of the drones, leaving nothing between her and Joselyn’s friends. She raised her arms, apparently deciding to finish dealing with Vickie and Chris herself.

“Come on, come on, come on,” Joselyn repeatedly nervously. She looked in the direction of the obelisk and then to Vickie and Chris.

Suddenly, Joselyn ‘knew’ that it was time to act. Ghost Boy appeared in the air a moment later, and they simultaneously cried out, “NOW!”

Vickie grinned at that, an instant before she and most of the street vanished into a black cloud. Joselyn stood outside the area of Vickie’s power, but Circuit Monger and many of the drones had been trapped within.

“Gotcha,” Joselyn triumphantly exclaimed as every other drone suddenly stopped moving and just stood there. Vickie was jamming Circuit Monger’s communications directly.

Though Joselyn couldn’t see anything inside the black haze, between her powers and her common sense, she had a good idea of what was going on inside. Circuit Monger opened fire, but she fired powerful beams of concentrated electro-magnetic energy…energy which Vickie immediately absorbed.

A loud cry from Invincible Woman drew Joselyn’s attention up, to where she saw Praxis rapidly falling towards the ground. Invincible Woman flew towards the infected hero, catching her before she could hit. Joselyn gulped at the sight, knowing that any lingering contact was dangerous. However, Invincible Woman didn’t seem to care as she landed and set Praxis down on the ground.

“Circuit Monger pulled all the drones away from the obelisk,” Ghost Boy told her, gesturing to the large number of drones that were now filling the streets and surrounding them. “And Velvet has her cut off…”

“I’m on it,” Invincible Woman said, giving a worried glance towards the area of darkness before flying up into the air and straight towards the obelisk.

Seconds later, several loud BOOMs filled the air. The first came from Invincible Woman slamming into the base of the obelisk, while another one came from within the darkness. Then as Joselyn watched, the darkness vanished and she could once again see what was occurring. Circuit Monger was holding out her arms, revealing several tiny missile arrays that were built into her forearms. From the smoldering crater in the street, it was clear that the villain had changed weapons.

“You missed,” Vickie taunted, well away from the smoldering crater, though the blast had knocked her off her feet. Chris was still holding her hand, having been led around in the darkness by his sister, who’d had no problem seeing.

Another BOOM came from the obelisk, right before the stone pillar shattered and fell over. Almost immediately, Joselyn ‘knew’ that the barrier was gone. “WE DID IT,” she called out triumphantly.

“Did you hear that?” Vickie exclaimed as she flipped off Circuit Monger. “We just took down your stone pillar and that barrier…”

“You failed,” Chris added just a moment later, looking rather smug.

“Negative,” Circuit Monger responded, not showing the least bit of concern over the loss of the obelisk. “The structure’s destruction is of minor consequence. Its primary purpose has already been achieved…”

“What?” Joselyn gasped in surprise. She’d expected Circuit Monger to at least be upset that the obelisk had been destroyed, not to shrug it off as though it wasn’t even important.

“The structure was obsolete,” Circuit Monger announced. “As are you.”

With that, the drones once began to advance and Circuit Monger raised her arms to launch another attack. Sudden, an SUV dropped from the sky above Circuit Monger, smashing the metal villain into the ground. Joselyn jumped back, staring at the mass of metal, which had an android arm sticking out from beneath it.

“Did I do that?” Counterweight asked with a bad Urkel impression while floating in the air above the ruined vehicle.

“You did it,” Vickie exclaimed, nearly bouncing with excitement. “You took out Circuit Monger…”

“I don’t think so,” Joselyn responded, grimly pointing to the drones, which were still moving towards them.

Then, as if on cue, the ruined car began to groan and move as the metal villainess began to push it off her. Joselyn stared at the sight for a moment with a very bad feeling. Circuit Monger had probably been damaged by that attack, but she could repair herself pretty quickly.

“We need to get her while she’s down,” Joselyn called out.

However, before anyone could act on that, the drones swarmed in around Circuit Monger, making it impossible to attack her without also hitting them. It would only be a minute at most before the villain was free, but Joselyn didn’t want to wait for that.

“Let’s get out of here,” Joselyn yelled, gesturing to Counterweight who was supposed to be their transport. “We did our job. I’m sure some of the others will be happy to deal with her.”

“I’m on it,” Counterweight said, right before she began ‘falling’ to the side, in the direction of where she’d left the metal shell.

Ghost Boy floated after Counterweight while Vickie and Chris ran in that direction, away from all the drones. Joselyn grimaced and started to run, only to find herself grabbed from behind and lifted up into the air.

“I’ve got you,” Invincible Woman told her.

All of them quickly reached the metal shell, which Counterweight immediately levitated up into the air. As soon as they were out of range of the drone army, Joselyn let out a sigh of relief. However, they weren’t safe yet…not until they were out of range of Circuit Monger to.

“We did it,” Invincible Woman exclaimed with a broad grin. “We took down that damn obelisk…”

“All we had to do was trick her into luring the drones away from the obelisk,” Ghost Boy pointed out.

Vickie nodded at that, adding, “And cut her off long enough for you to take it down…”

“Yeah,” Joselyn agreed, though much more somberly. “But what she said about the obelisk being obsolete…”

“What did she mean?” Chris asked, looking just as worried as Joselyn felt.

“I don’t know,” Joselyn admitted. “But whatever she meant, I’m pretty sure it isn’t good.”

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