A note from SoggyRedToast

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I don’t know whether to be relieved or horrified, Erich wondered as he saw lights bobbing in the distance.

It seemed that true to form, the New Brotherhood had far more information than they should, and were entirely aware of the 'secret' escape tunnel.

Either way, the prospect of imminent violence was a welcome reprieve from sitting in the dark waiting nervously for something to happen.

For the last few minutes he’d been listening to the sounds of fighting going on above.

By all indications it was going well for the defenders. All of the entry points were holding, and so far there had been no indications of a meta human presence amongst the attackers.

Whether that meant that the New Brotherhood had none remaining beyond the Hangman, or that they were being held in reserve, no one knew. Either way, it was giving Hard-Light’s crew ample time to cut down the attacking chaff.

Should I even call it that anymore? He pondered as he trained his weapon on one of the flashlights bobbing in the distance. With Hard-Light missing, isn’t it Bronte’s crew?

He supposed, if the man really was missing, their wasn’t much point in renaming the gang. Even with Sarah’s leadership, it probably wouldn’t be around long enough to warrant a name change anyway.

"Wait for them to come into range." Grey’s voice whispered over the comms. “With any luck we can take them all in the first salvo.”

Just like his, her hard-light barriers were offline. The powerful protective system would have been obvious in the pitch black of the cellar, and would have given away their planned ambush.

Normally, that would have been a perfectly fine trade off, but given that none of the other people with them had the advanced barrier system, Grey decided that blanketing everyone with concealment was better than leaving two people with great protection and everyone else without any.

Erich didn’t quite agree with that line of thought, but he was willing to concede that he was a less than objective observer, given that he would have been one of those amply protected people.

The most amply protected, he thought grimly as he watched the lights come ever closer.

Not that they were all he could see. His suit had built in night-vision as a given, so he could see the approaching Brotherhood gangsters in reasonable detail.

Despite being part of what should have been a surprise attack, they were little different from the other thugs he had come across in his time with Hard-Light. They were dressed in casual clothes, wielding an assortment of weapons, and moving as more of a mob than a disciplined unit.

No rocket launchers, he noted with relief.

Just the usual assortment of small-arms. Which he promptly relayed to Grey, along with a rough count of their numbers.

The olive-skinned woman nodded, “Get ready.”

Erich whispered into his suit, “Aim assist on.”

“Acknowledged.” Gravity’s voice intoned through the suit's speakers, Erich’s arm locking up as the limb moved to follow the reticule linked to his eye.

Erich centred it on a young woman who was near the front of the pack. She was covered in tattoos affirming her allegiances and prejudices to the world, but in that moment he could only think of how young she looked.

He would be surprised if she was even a day over eighteen.

“Fire.” Grey’s voice echoed loudly through the darkness.

Erich felt the recoil shoot through his arm as his weapon fired, the bolt of energy released striking the young woman straight in the midsection. Given the tightly packed nature of their foes, he had overcharged the weapon in advance, so the resulting blast struck not just his target, but people behind her as well.

He found to his surprise that he felt nothing as he surveyed the gore. No shame. No horror. No guilt.

Even the nausea was a tired muted thing.

Humans are such adaptable creatures, he thought*.*

Still, he felt some small tinge of envy for the lackeys to his left and right. Given the darkness of the tunnel, they saw none of their handiwork as they opened fire. Hell, they didn’t even really see what they were shooting at. They shot at distant lights rather than people. Intellectually of course, they would know they were shooting at people, but it was still a very different sensation to see a light falling in the distance rather than a human being.

By the time he was ready to fire again, the short firefight was all but over. Caught completely out in the open, the Brotherhood members had been massacred to the last within moments of the first shot ringing out. A group of ten reduced to zero in seconds.

He had to give credit to her, Grey knew what she was talking about.

I wonder what her history is?

He dismissed the idle thought as soon as it came up. It didn’t matter. He was going to be gone soon enough. A new identity.

Perhaps he would go by John this time?

"Right." Erich said once he was sure every one of their attackers were dead - something only he could confirm with his night vision, "That’s that.”

Rather anti-climactic really.

“Don’t.” Grey said as she heard the telltale sounds of someone fumbling for a torch. “More may show up.”

Which meant the lackeys were going to be sitting in the dark for even longer. Alone with their thoughts.

Erich wasn’t totally sure that was a good idea.

The people with them weren’t soldiers. They hadn’t killed before. Even with just a quick glance around, he could see similar symptoms to what he experienced after his first kill. Fear. Nausea. Disgust.

Not the kind of things you wanted the people you might need in a few minutes to be dwelling on.

“Don’t you think it might be a good idea to give them a breather?” He asked as he heard the telltale sounds of someone throwing up.

Hopefully they didn’t do that right next to their cover, otherwise we’re all going to be stuck with that smell for a while.

And considering the stagnant nature of the air down in the cellar - and the fact that they had an open door to an old sewer system right next to them - the air quality was pretty piss-poor where they were at to begin with.

Grey shrugged, “They don’t have to be happy. They just have to shoot when I tell them to, at what I tell them to.”

Well, I tried.

If Erich could have shrugged within the confines of his suit, he would. It wasn’t like he cared about anyone's mental health beyond his immediate needs. He just didn’t want an emotional breakdown taking one of their fighters out before the next attack happened.

Although we might get lucky and have there be no next attack, he hoped.

Although given that he was stationed down here, he doubted that would be the case. It wasn’t like Sarah would keep him out of the fight as a result of their ‘relationship’.

The suit was now the gang’s heaviest hitter, given that Hard-Light was gone. Sarah didn’t have the luxury of keeping it out of the fight even if she wanted to.

Which she definitely didn’t.

Tentative feelings of… affection he may have felt for the unstable woman aside, he was well aware that she was using him. Any affection she might display was probably faked. A ploy to pull him over to her side.

There just wasn’t a hell of a lot he could do about it besides ride it out.

…or get the hell out of dodge, he thought as his mind swung back around to his burgeoning escape plan.

A plan he could put into motion the second Hard-Light was confirmed to be dead.

...Maybe Gravity might want to come with? She’s not exactly enamored with the whole villainy thing?

He ruthlessly slapped down that line of thought as soon as it registered.

It would be a stupid risk. An unneeded one that could have dire consequences if Gravity was even slightly more loyal to her father’s organization than he thought.

Never should have thought of it, he groused.

All this… social contact was making him strange.


“We’ve got another wave incoming.” Grey hissed, as more lights filled the tunnel.

“Great." Erich sighed.

I really need to get out of this place, he reaffirmed in his mind, as his targeting reticule centered over another person’s face.

An older man this time.



Gravity sighed as she gunned down another target, which proved to be enough to send the rest scampering back into the trees surrounding the estate. Around her, other members of Lopez’s team continued to fire at the fleeing skinheads, but Gravity refrained.

She hated the racist punks as much as the next guy, but she found something inherently distasteful about shooting someone in the back.

"This is Gravity, we’ve repulsed the assault on the west servants entrance. Still no sign of Meta presence.” She said into her comm unit.

“Confirmed.” Sarah’s business-like voice answered, “They’re pulling back from the main entrance hall as well. No Metas here, and Grey says it’s much the same down in the cellar.”

So, they had known about the escape tunnel. That was worrying. She had always known the gang was something of a sieve when it came to information, but the escape tunnel’s existence was very much on a need to know basis.

Still, that was Sarah’s problem to worry about. Not hers.

“Stay vigilant everyone,” Sarah said over the mansion wide line, “That first attack was probably a probe to test our defenses. We can expect whatever Metas they have to come in with the second attack.”

Still, it took a good five minutes of tense waiting for the second assault to come.

It was an unusually long amount of time given that most conflicts between criminal factions were brief and bloody affairs. An inevitable result of the attacker’s need to be in and out before a police or Guild response was mustered.

The cops might drag their feet when it came to responding, but they would show up eventually; if only to maintain the rapidly disintegrating fiction that law and order was being maintained within the city.

“Should we redeploy?” Lopez asked deferentially as shadowy figures flitted through the treeline across from them.

“Nah,” Gravity shook her head carelessly, “If Sa- Bronte, wants us to move, she’ll tell us. We can pull out when that happens.”

Besides, she’d much rather be doing something useful, as opposed to sitting around waiting for the call.

This time their enemies were far more cautious on their approach. Rather than striding across the lawn as if they owned the place - assuming it to be all but defenseless with Hard-Light missing – they mostly stuck to the cover of the tree line and took potshots.

“Not going to do you much good though,” She said as she eyed one particular figure who seemed to be yelling orders to the others. “John, you ready?”

The team’s best marksman nodded, bringing his scoped laser rifle smoothly up to his shoulder as he rested the cruck of it against the window frame.

Gravity felt her power pass through her, her mind turning blank as she focused on the sensation of lifting the distant body up into the air. As her power worked, the world became simpler. Not a place of humans, grass and trees. Just mass.

Mass and movement.

Distantly she heard a crackle of ionized air and felt the mass she was lifting lessen as some of it dissipated explosively into vapor.

Recognizing the signal for what it was, her power faded, and once more she was back in the regular world. Things were more than abstract concepts of shape, size and weight once again.

“Good job,” She breathed, as she spied the distant downed figure that mere moments ago she had lifted into the air.

“Ready for the next one?” She grinned.

The man nodded.

“Right,” She said, firing up her power once more as she spied her next target.

It was around the fifth such repeating of this pattern that Sarah’s voice came over the comms, disrupting her concentration and sending her target clattering to the ground before he had even really been lifted.

The blonde woman yelled, “Trucks incoming! Approaching the front entrance at speed! Mechromancer and Gravity, get the fuck over here!”

Gravity hissed with irritation, before scooping up her gun.

“That’s our cue people!” She yelled, crouch walking back toward the hall, “Reserve team, relocate to the main entrance immediately!”



“Fucking run!” Sarah yelled as she realized with horror what the truck’s plan was.

Already her people were scrambling back, and she joined them just in time.

The first truck crashed into the front steps of the mansion and continued onward, momentum carrying it into the front door of the mansion with enough weight and force to crash through them, and much of the wall they were attached to.

The entire mansion shook with the impact, Sarah and her people being sent sprawling as dust and debris flew through the air as the truck – now tipped onto its side – slid to a screeching, agonizing, stop.

Just a few meters from where Sarah had fallen.

“Everyone, ok?” She shouted as she tried not to cough from all the dust that had been thrown up.

There were a barrage of 'yes’s' to her question, but there were a few pained no’s interspersed throughout.

Cursing, she brought her gun up to peer at the now thoroughly wrecked entrance hall, and truck wedged within it.

“Gun’s up people, get to cover!” She yelled, “They’ll be coming through any minute.”

To their credit, her people were quick to react, moving to nearby bits of cover while dragging their wounded allies with them. She noted as she dived into her own bit of cover, that most of their injuries were centered around the legs; a place the vests barrier system didn’t cover.

Well, at least they can still shoot, She reasoned as she aimed her laser pistol at one of the two places one might squeeze past the wrecked truck to gain entrance to the mansion.

“Christ, I thought were fighting Neo-Nazi’s not the Yakuza!”

Sarah whipped her gun around in alarm, only to curse as she saw who had spoken.

“Gravity get your ass down here!” She hissed, zero tolerance for his sister's mildly racist remark, “I need every gun I’ve got squared on the entrance."

“Yeah, fine.” The woman in question huffed as she started directing Lopez’s people to spread out. “Where’s the second truck?”

Sarah shrugged, “It pulled up short of the mansion. We expected the second one to do the same, which was why we were caught off guard when it accelerated instead.”

She had been expecting many things from this ‘New Brotherhood’, but a kamikaze attack was not among them. Olivia's Yakuza remark certainly held a small grain of truth to it.

We’re criminals for god’s sake, she raged. It’s hard enough to get ahold of decent fighters in the first place, let alone ones willing to martyr themselves.

Gravity clattered into cover next to her. “Seems that Mechromancer's not-”

A loud clang interrupted whatever Gravity was about to say, drawing gun barrels from all over as her people honed in on its origins.

The turned over truck.

“Hose it.” Sarah said without preamble.

Gunfire ripped into the truck from all angles in a continuous spray of laser fire and bullets, filling the vehicle with holes.

This wasn't the movies. The vehicles exterior provided zero protection from small arms fire.

Which was why, only after a full ten seconds of continous fire did Sarah raise a hand for people to stop.

Even then it took a few extra moments for the last trickle of fire to die down. This was not a room full of disciplined soldiers, after all.

Silence filled the room, broken only by the clangs of metal cooling after being rapidly heated by high intensity beams of light.

“No one's coming in.” Gravity said warily.

Yes, Sarah had noticed that as well.

“The question is wh-”

The weakened metal of the truck’s bed burst open as a massive furry thing leapt out of it.

“Shoot it!” Sarah shouted with alarm, putting actions to words as the thing bounded towards her.

Gauntlets, she thought, dropping the gun even as the creature bore down on her.

The gunfire started, but the shock of the creature's reveal had delayed it for too long. The creature was right on top of her, teeth glinting in the light as it’s maw opened wide.

She wasn't going to be fast enough.

A note from SoggyRedToast

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About the author


Bio: A supervillain in the making

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