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“Let’s keep moving.” Erich said, as he started walking down the hall.

Myra looked like she wanted to argue, eyes leaping between him and the hospital room. In the end though, she rolled her eyes and followed after him.

It seemed that whatever questions she had, she was willing to put them aside, or at least wait until they weren’t waist deep in Nazis before raising them.

Which is good, because I know exactly what I’m going to have to do if she gets even a hint of what she’s actually looking at.

He didn’t want to do that. But he would.

Not without hesitation, but without a doubt.

The fight from there became kind of rote. Myra’s people split off down the varied catacomb of hallways to deploy their explosives.

Every now and then Erich could hear gunfire as they came across roaming members of the Brotherhood, but given the briefness of it, it seemed that Myra’s people were winning.

With any luck, they’d find Hangman soon. If not, well, he was willing to settle for dropping an entire hospital on the guy.

It would be suitable payback for their last meeting.

Assuming the guy’s even present, a voice niggled away at the back of his mind.

He dismissed it.

It didn’t matter if he wasn’t.

They had to take out the hospital anyway. At the very least, it would weaken the New Brotherhoods position. Perhaps enough for the Red Squares to get involved.

Which wouldn’t be a total disaster once the werewolf menace had been taken care of.

Still alive then, Erich?” A familiar voice echoed through the hospital’s scratchy old intercom. “I must admit. That was an oversight on my part. I had assumed Hard-Light’s organization crippled and the survivors fled.”

Erich felt his blood run cold, even as he wondered why the Hangman wasn’t using his ‘real’ name. It would have been a convenient way of muddying the waters with his allies.

“What can I say?” He responded over an open channel, utterly sure the telepath was listening, “I’m tenacious. Like a cockroach.”

“Quite.” The voice responded, “not unlike that worm Integrity. Why you’ve even managed to build a new suit.”

Erich glanced over to see one of the hospitals camera watching him, before he blasted it.

“Spoilsport.” Hangman chuckled, “I wonder if this one has the same fail-safes as the last one?”

Erich scowled, banishing the phantom sensations of his suit closing in around him with anger.

“Why don’t you show yourself and find out.” He snarled, glad that Gravity wasn’t present to hear this. Not that he thought she would do anything about it.

With the revelation that she was unbothered by his escape plan, he figured she was pretty safe. The only people he really had to fear learning the truth of his previous contributions to Hard-Lights organization was the man himself and his daughter.

Neither of which still posed a threat to him.

“Perhaps I will?” The voice laughed, sending a shiver down Erich’s spine. “It’s not often I get to kill a rat twi-”

The man was cut off by a loud gunshot.

“I think that’s enough of that.” Myra said as she lowered the smoking barrel of her machine pistol from the sparking remains of the nearest intercom speaker. “If you’re quite done chewing the fat, perhaps we can get out of here before more Brotherhood goons, or the cops, show up.”

Momentarily stunned, Erich nodded slowly, almost slapping himself for being baited like that.

“Yeah, let’s get out of here.” He huffed, getting his head back in the game. “Are all the explosives in place?”

The purple woman nodded, “last of my people just radioed in. We’re good to go.”

“Then let’s get the fuck out of here.” Erich said, resisting the urge to insist that they stay to hunt down the telepath now that he knew the meta was here. He’d have to settle for dropping the building on him, hopefully before he esca-

Actually… he thought as an idea came to him.

“Drones. Search and Destroy. Priority Target.”

“Acknowledged.” The machines intoned, splitting up to head off in different directions, the one with the sparking leg lagging behind.

Myra, and the two goons of hers that hadn’t split off to place the last of the explosives, watched them go.

“Damn waste.” The woman said, the barest hint of frustration in her voice as ‘limpy’ disappeared around the corner.

Erich shrugged, as he started walking back the way they came. “Always more where that came from.”

Although, with Hard-Light no longer acting as a source of Artificer parts he didn’t know exactly when he would be able to produce more. The competition for Artificer created parts on the black market was totally cutthroat. Hell, most of Hard-Light’s income came from selling off his own failed experiments.

“For you maybe.” The purple woman sighed as she jogged forward to act as the groups point man. “Unless you’re willing to reconsider my earlier offer?”

Erich shook his head. In other circumstances he might have seriously considered the woman’s offer of more work, but his recent criminal experiences had served to more than put him off.

No. He was getting out of this city, and he was taking his hard-earned cash with him. What came after that… well he’d think of it when it came to him.

Maybe open another tech store?

Might even take Gravity if she’s interested, he amended, deliberately not thinking of Sarah’s current state.

“I’m sure the veritable piles of cash Gravity is paying you will soothe your offended sensibilities.” Erich pointed out.

To his surprise, the gang leader did perk up at that, “True.”

“How are things looking outside, Gravity?” Erich radioed.

“Same as before,” Gravity responded, “Though I’m now down to just the one drone. No idea what happened to the other one. It just started smoking before keeling over.”

Erich grimaced, “a bullet must have gotten in or shook something loose.”

He could almost hear the woman’s shrug over the line. “Maybe. Either way, be careful on your way out.”

She didn’t need to tell him twice. He was very conscious of the fact that he was in a building that was rigged to blow at any moment.

“Your people ready to leave?” He asked, turning to the massive purple bruiser as some of the gangsters who had peeled off to place explosives earlier trotted back into the room.

“Mostly.” She said after a few moments listening to her own comms, “one of my teams has stopped reporting in.”

Erich felt a shiver run down his back as a sense of déjà vu ran through him.

“Do you want us to go look for them?” He asked reluctantly.

Myra just looked at him like he was the crazy one. “Fuck no. They’re either dead or too dumb to use their radio. Either way, if they’re not here when the rest of my teams arrive, we’re leaving them.”

“Roger that.” He grinned, remembering why he liked the foul-mouthed gang leader.

“Movement!” One of Myra’s gangers shouted, drawing them both from the moment as they turned their weapons towards the double doors the man was aiming at.

“Our people?” Myra asked, only to receive a shrug in return.

“Great,” she hissed, “everyone start moving. Me and the tin-man are staying behind to act as rearguard.”

Myra’s people needed no further prompting, dashing from the room even as Erich directed indredolous eyes at the woman.

“Oh, don’t give me that look,” the woman said without even having glanced at him, “you and I have the most protection. Makes sense for us to bring up the rear.”

The fact that neither of them would have to perform the role if he hadn’t sent off his bots on a search and destroy mission went without saying.

Sighing, Erich acknowledged her point, slowly walking backward with the woman while they both kept their eyes on the set of double doors at the end of the hall.

Which was why the pair of them got to see in detail as the doorway exploded off its hinges as another werewolf burst through.

“Another one!?” Myra roared in disbelief, even as she yanked the trigger on her oversized gun, sending masses of lead at the creature.

Erich wasn’t any slower, as he let rip with all four of his weapon systems at the creature even as it kept coming. Charging mindlessly down the hall as round after round pelted into it, sending Erich’s heart leaping into his throat as it bore down on them.

Not going to kill it fast enough! He thought, hands raised ineffectually as- Myra tackled it, casting her gun aside.

The pair of massive figures slammed into the hospital wall with enough force to smash straight through it, leaving Erich in an empty hallway as the sounds of violence echoed from the newly formed hole in the wall.

He considered running. Given that Myra had just talked about abandoning her own people, he doubted she would have held it against him. They weren’t friends. She hadn’t just acted to save his life. The werewolf had been a threat to both of them.

He half turned, ready to move.

And stopped.

He tensed again, willing his legs to act, but they stayed pinned in place. Motionless.

Grey’s face flashed before his eyes. Pleading. Betrayed. Angry.

He shook his head, as he cast aside the memory.

…He’d done the right thing. The smart thing. He kept telling himself.

His legs refused to move though.

“…Shit.” He cursed as he turned back around and dashed into the hole that Myra and the werewolf had passed through.

…and nearly got his head taken off by a stray swipe from the creature’s claw.

“Shit!” He cursed as he fell back into the hallway from which he’d came. Still, he got a great view of the battle going a few feet away.

Myra and her foe hadn’t traveled far after busting through the wall. The pair were duking it out in the way only bruisers could as they thoroughly demolished the bathroom they were in. Even as he watched, Myra, blood streaming from claw marks across her face, slammed half a toilet over the werewolf’s head.

Her eyes widened in surprise when she saw him, no doubt wondering why he hadn’t run away. Still, she was pragmatic enough not to question her good fortune.

“Shoot it!” She roared.

Erich didn’t need to be told twice. He also didn’t need to worry about friendly fire.

Myra was bulletproof. The werewolf was not.

It did have a mean regenerative factor though. Which meant he had to be… surgical about this.

“Weapons One, Two and Four. Manual Control. Eye Reticule.” He hissed, not even waiting for the suit to acknowledge before he started firing.

It was difficult to keep track of in the frantic melee going on in front of him, but he determinedly kept his eyes on the creatures head as his weapons started firing.

“Hesitate a little asshole!” Myra hissed as bullets pinged off her steely skin, leaving marks that would no doubt blossom into impressive bruises with time.

“Hold it still, woman!” Erich roared back as his guns stitched massive holes across the creatures body as it struggled in her grasp, claws digging into her as it clawed madly at her arms. “I need to get off a headshot!”

Which was made all the more difficult by the fact that their was a minute amount of lag between the movements of his eye and the reticule.

“I’m trying, ah, fuck!” The purple woman hissed, grimacing in pain as the creature suddenly latched onto her throat with it’s teeth.

Perfect, Erich thought as the act momentarily stilled the monster’s head.

Four guns fired at once, practically obliterating the werewolf’s head, and spraying Myra liberally with the contents of its brain pan.

The woman still held on for a few more moments to the twitching corpse, before realizing that it was in fact, a corpse.

Dropping it, she slumped to the floor, taking massive gulps of air. Erich wasn’t much better, as he slumped against the bathroom wall, blood rushing in his ears as his legs shook from leftover adrenaline.

“You didn’t run?” The woman finally asked.

Erich shrugged.

The woman grimaced as she gingerly probed at her wounds with her fingers, “didn’t take you for the type to be a White Knight.”

“I’m not,” he muttered as he checked his ammo counter.

Twenty percent remaining, he frowned. Not good.

“Your gun's in the hallway.” He said, “grab it, and let’s get out of here.”

“Don’t have to tell me twice,” the purple woman said as she clambered to her feet, wincing as her wounds made themselves known.

“You still able to walk?” He asked as he noted how stiffly she was moving.

It would be just his luck that after going out of his way to save the gang leader, she would end up too wounded to move, and he would end up having to abandon her. Because he sure as shit wasn’t going to be able to carry her, even if she did help. His current suit could barely sustain its own weight, let alone someone else’s.

“I’ll be fine.” The woman huffed as she pushed past him and out into the hall. “I already owe you for saving my ass. No chance in hell I’m about to owe you another.”

Despite himself, Erich felt a chuckle slip out of him as he stepped out after her.

A chuckle that turned into a choked snort as something slammed into his side and sent him sailing through the air.

He lay sprawled across the ground for a moment, dazed by the blow even as he choked for air.

I think I may have cracked a rib, he thought blearily.

Not that he knew what that sensation felt like given that he was more of an ‘indoor child’, but he reckoned the sensation of raw bone deep fire running down his side was a pretty good indicator.

“Shields Down. Weapon Two Disabled. Weapon Four Disabled.” Gravity’s robotic voice informed him. “Power Core Compromised.”

Something grabbed him, by one of his remaining weapon mounts he thought, and dragged him to his feet.

“Move, Erich!” Myra’s voice roared in his ear even as she put action to words by bodily pulling him with her, sending more pain stabbing through his side.

He didn’t complain though, instead he focused on putting one leg in front of the other as he tried to jog along side her, a feat made more difficult by the pain in his side and the sudden sluggishness of his suit’s response.

As they reached a corner Myra spun while running to fire a few rounds back down the hallway. Erich used the opportunity to glance back himself, and when he did, he felt his blood run cold.

“Oh,” he said, with a voice that held only the slightest hint of hysteria, “it seems that the Hangman has my suit.”

Then he ducked around the corner as another pulse blast rocketed into the wall, sending debris and dust flying through the air.

“That motherfucker stole my suit!” He yelled as he sprinted for the exit with all he was worth, pain in his side no longer quite so relevant.

“Shut up and keep running!” Myra shouted as she slipped past him.

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About the author

SoggyRedToast

Bio: A supervillain in the making

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