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MoM5: Stinger Interlude

DigitalAmber Nov 19th, 2019 95 Never
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  1. MoM5: Stinger Interlude
  2.  
  3. They were closing in. Canaveral could hear their feet pounding on the pavement. His lungs ached and his legs burned from the exertion. He had to stay ahead, he couldn’t afford to let himself get caught by Denny’s gang. He wanted to stop, he needed to stop, to catch his breath. But he couldn’t stop, not if he wanted to get out of this alive.
  4.  
  5. He’d been an idiot to think he could rob Denny’s gang. He’d barely gotten inside the door before they’d seen him. He hadn’t worn a costume, nor had he brought weapons. They would only make him stand out, and he’d wanted to remain completely unnoticed. Canaveral regretted that decision now. He wouldn’t be able to threaten the gangbangers and bluff his way out of this. He should have just played it safe and quietly collected resources, rather then trying for two goals at once by targeting a gang.
  6.  
  7. He was going to die. He was going to be another statistic, another independent cape who hadn’t lasted long enough to do anything. Canaveral didn’t want that. He didn’t want to die.
  8.  
  9. He rounded a corner, ducking into an alley. Hopefully he could lose them here. If he could get out of sight long enough, Canaveral knew everything would be alright. He just had to ignore how heavy his limbs felt and how he felt like he was slowly dying with every step. He couldn’t breathe. He could only wheeze and desperately grasp short gasps of air. He couldn’t take much more of this. He had to stop soon, even if he couldn’t. It felt like his lungs were trying to tear themselves from his chest.
  10.  
  11. He rounded another corner, skidding to a halt. He frantically backed up, before realizing he was trapped. Behind him was Denny’s gang. In front of him was a woman, walking down the center of the street with an air of confidence. The moonlight illuminated her, it’s soft glow making her blond hair practically seem white. She was a shorter woman, and she wore a plain white lab coat with a logo Canaveral couldn’t quite identify. A short purple cape seemed to extend from the lab coat’s collar, and it appeared to billow behind her as she walked. A white unadorned domino mask stretched across her face.
  12.  
  13. Footsteps pounded out of sync behind him. Denny’s gang has caught up. He sprinted towards the cape. The unknown was better then being cornered by gangbangers. She barely glanced at him, giving him only the slightest hint of a nod.
  14.  
  15. A silence suddenly crashed over the street, and Canaveral glanced over his shoulder. The cape had pulled out an extravagant looking gun from somewhere. It was black, steadily sweeping into a red the further back it went. She pointed it towards a random gangbanger.
  16.  
  17. The gang edged forwards nervously, their entire demeanor shifting as they went up against a threat they didn’t know of. A few flicked their switchblades open and shut, murmuring to each other quietly.
  18.  
  19. The woman spoke, her voice ringing clear, “Just so you know, this thing causes sixth degree burns if it hits you. For reference, that’s hot enough to burn through bone. So if you don’t want to have a burning hole torn through your body, I suggest you all flee like the rats you are.”
  20.  
  21. The gangbangers stood there for a long moment, as if having to use all of their collective braincells to decide what to do. The cape lowered her gun and pulled the trigger. A bright flash of light erupted out the barrel. He could hear a sizzling, popping sound, along with a few screams of terror.
  22.  
  23. The gangbangers ran, leaving Canaveral alone with the unknown cape. He raised his hands over his head, backpedaling and trying to catch his breath. The cape hummed, lowering the gun to her side.
  24.  
  25. She stuck her hand out, “You were an idiot to not bring your gear. Cranial.”
  26.  
  27. He blinked, cursing under his breath. She knew. She knew he was a tinker somehow. Begrudgingly, Canaveral accepted the handshake. “Canaveral. Thanks for saving my bacon just now.”
  28.  
  29. Something was wrong with her eyes, He noticed. She never focused them in one place for too long. They were always on the move, flitting from point to point. She nodded, “Of course. I couldn’t just let you die. Wouldn’t have happened if you had kept yourself armed, of course.”
  30.  
  31. Canaveral sighed, “I was trying to be stealthy. That would have just drawn attention.”
  32.  
  33. The corners of Cranial’ lips turned up in a grin, “And you did such a wonderful job of doing that without any gear. What is it you make that’s so obvious?”
  34.  
  35. She was incredibly to the point. “Rockets. Fireworks too. But mostly just rockets.”
  36.  
  37. Her smile grew wider, “Rockets, huh? That’s why you were being chased, because you pointed a rocket at the wrong person, am I right?”
  38.  
  39. Canaveral shook his head, “Material run.”
  40.  
  41. Cranial nodded, “Ah. Materials, the bane of every tinker out there. And those idiots were the only source of materials around here?”
  42.  
  43. He shrugged, “Something like that.”
  44.  
  45. Her next words took me by surprise, “I could help you with things like that. Materials are nothing to me.”
  46.  
  47. Alarm bells rang in my head, “Why do you want to help me? What do you get out of that?”
  48.  
  49. She sighed, “No strings to be seen. All I would ask of you is that you join my group.” She led a hand up to silence me, “We don’t do anything illegal, and we’re not a gang. We’re just a group of tinkers who share resources and cooperate, nothing more.
  50.  
  51. Canaveral stood there silently, thinking about to. If what Cranial said was true, he would be better off with her group. Gathering materials sucked. If she could do that part for him, then she was a miracle worker. “Fine, I’m in.”
  52.  
  53. She smiled. It was an off putting expression, one with far too many teeth. “Perfect. Welcome to Toybox, Canaveral.”
  54.  
  55. ———————
  56.  
  57. The man once known as Canaveral hovered in the air, overlooking the city. Part of it was his city now. He’d managed to find a few neighborhoods to patrol and call his own. He didn’t have too many qualms about being a supervillain really. If he hadn’t conquered part of Fresno, that asshole Cartridge would have. Cartridge had already taken more territory then he should have.
  58.  
  59. If he had still been a young boy with a fixation on rocket ships who went by Canaveral, he might have let Cartridge keep that territory. But he wasn’t, he went by Stinger now. And he was going to take back those streets that Cartridge had stolen.
  60.  
  61. Stinger soared through the sky, propelled by the jetpack he had made. His golden armor gleamed somewhat in the sunlight. The city zipped by, and from the budget he was at, it looked tiny. It looked insignificant. People were tiny dots from how high up he was, and his territory was no better then a few lines. It didn’t matter how insignificant it had been, he was still going to take back his territory, come hell or high water.
  62.  
  63. He let himself plummet to the ground, jetpack kicking in moments before he would have hit the ground. It strained and shook, but it flared to life and stopped him from hitting the ground. He looked around, searching for his rival. Cartridge should be here, he’d challenged the tinker to a fight.
  64.  
  65. A green-gray metal rod shot out of the ground next to him, quickly inching its way further and further into the sky. He rocketed back, zipping out of the way before the pole unfurled into a mess of jagged leaves  and branches that he personally knew were razor sharp. Cartridge didn’t cause that attack, he couldn’t make things like that. They weren’t his specialty.
  66.  
  67. Which left Sprout, a locally based mercenary that both he and Cartridge had hired out at one point or another.
  68.  
  69. Another pole burst up, this time below his feet. He pushed off of it, jetpack carrying him safely into the air before it erupted into a spiked mess. He swiveled around, searching for where Sprout was.
  70.  
  71. She was hiding under the awning of a store, her green and white bodysuit standing out. Stinger stared at her for a moment, before rushing forward. He felt himself crash into something, his jetpack straining against an invisible force. He could force himself through it, but it felt nearly impossible to achieve that. Suddenly, the invisible wall seemed to pop with a burst of sound, and Stinger spiraled into the sky as a wave of air rushed past him. His jetpack stabilized him, but a metal pole shot up under him, sending him nearly crashing to the ground. His jetpack barely saved him.
  72.  
  73. The sound of metal scraping against metal echoed through the street as the pole bloomed, it’s razor sharp metallic leaves dragging across Stinger’s armor. He soared forward, only to soar into another wall again. He could vaguely make it out, the air distorted in that location. He rocketed into the air, activating the auxiliary thrusters for extra speed. His angle shifted, and he felt the burst of air that signaled the wall had exploded. He rocketed forward, knowing better then to stay stationary. Stinger scanned through area, glancing back under the awning.
  74.  
  75. Cartridge had bailed, but he’d sent a team of mercenaries in his place.
  76.  
  77. Standing alongside Sprout were her teammates, Puff and Ringo. Puff wore white and lightly blue tinted robes, while Ringo looked like a stereotypical cowboy, except camp colored. Sprout and Ringo both smirked at Stinger, while Puff’s face was neutral. Puff held a box to his arm, one which he recognized as Cartridge’s work.
  78.  
  79. Ringo raised an over adorned gun, and Stinger flew to the side. Almost immediately, he was stopped, and then was launched to the right by a strong blast of air. One of Sprout’s poles dinged into him, and he rocketed away before it could unfurl.
  80.  
  81. The time for dodging was over. Stinger touched his arm, pressing down a panel on his armor. The armor was thicker then it needed to be, which was something he had done on purpose. From the panel Stinger had touched rose a small rocket. He turned his arm, pointing it and the rocket at the mercenary trio. He clenched his fist, and the rocket shot forwards. The panel closed, coming up again a second later with another rocket.
  82.  
  83. The trio had already started moving by the time he had pointed the rocket at them. It stalled in the air, before being blown back. It exploded before it reached him the explosion tearing a hole in the awning.
  84.  
  85. Ringo was the lowest priority target. Sprout was the highest due to the danger her power could cause. Stinger tracked her the moment she had started running, his arm following her movements. A second rocket launched itself forward from his arm. A pole shot up from under Sprout, pushing her into the air. The rocket slammed into the pole. It bent and it’s jagged leaves had holes scattered around them. A cry escaped Sprout as she crashed to the ground.
  86.  
  87. Stinger soared higher then necessary as he approached Sprout. He could just barely make out the hint of Puff’s power just before Sprout. Something tiny slammed into his back for a brief moment, and he twisted around to see what had hit him.
  88.  
  89. A small seed was buried in the pavement, roots rapidly spreading out from it. The seed sprouted open, a bulb pushing itself out as if it were time-lapsed. He flew up as a thorny vine shot out of the bulb, whipping through where he had just been. Ringo was annoying, but he was small fry compared to his allies.
  90.  
  91. Stinger slammed into a pocket of Puff’s power ascending. Almost the instant he hit it he was launched into the ground. It was too close to pull up with his jetpack. Stinger groaned, his head ringing as his armor took the brunt of the impact. He would still have some bruises that would be sore after that.
  92.  
  93. Ringo’s first seed had shriveled up, but a second one had sprouted right next to it.  It’s thorny vine lashed out, coiling around his ankle. Stinger was abruptly pushed off the ground, only for the vine to hold tight and drag him off the pole. He was stopped by one of Puff’s walls. It’s explosion knocked him back, and he groaned as he felt himself collide with the sharp leaves of Sprout’s pole. They scraped across his armor, cutting lines down it. He pushed himself up, rocketing forward to avoid the pole growing up under him. Seeds launched themselves from behind him and burrowed into the ground. Stinger didn’t look, he aimed the rocket behind him and fired, darting forward in the meantime to avoid the plants. He spun around, surveying the scene. A veritable forest of poles has bloomed, though there were a few that had bent where the rocket had hit. Stinger flew, taking care to go travel in a line that couldn’t easily be blocked by Puff. He soared over the impromptu wall, rocket at the ready. A hail of seeds assaulted him the instant he made it over. His rocket fired, the explosion ridding the pavement of seeds.
  94.  
  95. The mercenary trio was nowhere to be found.
  96.  
  97. Stinger soared upwards, determined to get a bird’s eye view of the block. Faintly, he could hear sirens in the distance. Wherever the trio were, they didn’t poke their heads out. He could see the PRT van trundle along down the road, and he saw a colored figure rapidly appear and vanish, warping past buildings and streets. He growled. Today’s fight had been a disgrace for him. Cartridge hadn’t even shown up and he’d been utterly humiliated. This couldn’t stand.
  98.  
  99. Stinger zipped back to his base, determined to get started on his next project. It was one he had been working on occasionally, but he hadn’t fully committed to it. That changed today. The death of Toybox would hamper the project, but it was still doable. Hearing about their death had hurt a bit, admittedly. They had been the closest thing to a family he had, especially after he committed to villainy. He even sent them rockets and other tinkertech occasionally. He still couldn’t believe they were dead. He’d left Toybox a while ago, but they had Cranial leading them. She was a wonderful person and his personal favorite member of Toybox. He couldn’t put his finger on the reason why, but it seemed that sometime after meeting her he had simply realized how great she was.
  100.  
  101. Without Toybox this project would be much harder, but he still had a fair amount of Big Rig’s drones in working condition. They weren’t the easiest to understand, but that was common with tinkertech and it was still better then not having drones at all.
  102.  
  103. He’d been a bit inspired by Star Wars when he’d thought up the idea, if he was being honest, but the idea of a miniature Death Star was too good to pass up. Of course, it would satellite sized rather then planet sized, and it would fire rockets rather then lasers, but it had enough similarities in Stinger’s mind.
  104.  
  105. The hardest part of the project was actually putting the satellites up in space.
  106. He had a few dozen satellites that he wanted to put in space. He also wanted each satellite to be able to destroy a building at the least and to be able to fire multiple times. He couldn’t go up and resupply the satellites, so he wanted to get the most he could out of them.
  107.  
  108. However, all that meant that he would have to launch a box the size of a school bus into space. It was more cost efficient then individually sending each one up, plus a lot simpler in execution. However, that meant I would have to build a rocket large enough to lift and guide the box all the way into space, which was something that both required a lot of fuel and was going to be large. It was definitely doable, however.
  109.  
  110. Before Stringer got started though, he felt like checking his thread on PHO. Reputation was a bigger part of supervillainy then most people thought. Cranial has taught him that. She had kept Toybox shrouded in mystery and wrapped it in vague threats whilst giving it the appearance of a bottomless pit of tinkertech and resources.
  111.  
  112. There was a singular private message in the inbox, which was odd. He never messaged anyone, so he shouldn’t be messaged. This account wasn’t even tied to his villain identity, which made it even weirder. It consisted of two words.
  113.  
  114. ADSIGNATOS LIBERANDUM
  115.  
  116. Stinger puzzled over what it meant. It looked like it was Latin. He didn’t know any Latin, nor did he know anyone who knew Latin who would message him randomly like this. His mind raced for options, struggling to piece things together. His head felt heavy, sluggish even. He felt like the answer was on the tip of his tongue, but he couldn’t figure it out. His vision felt like it was blurry even though it wasn’t. He blinked, and the world felt like it was underwater, in slow motion, and that the room was spinning all at once. His thoughts clouded themselves, and his current train of thought slipped away. Something was off, he knew something was off. But any solution and path to a solution seemed impossible to reach. It was only a thought away, but those thoughts wouldn’t come. His existent ones didn’t connect. They stayed disjointed, swirling in a useless distortion. Those two words seemed to echo in his mind, wrapping around it. He would try to think, but they repeated, drowning everything else out.
  117.  
  118. Suddenly, everything clicked. A single PHO post later, and Stinger began trying to think up solutions to the new problem he had found himself facing.
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