Like, honest to God, clicking and whirring metal humanoids controlled by a semi-intelligent A.I.
Just when Kimmy hadn’t thought superhero school could get much stranger, she walked into a giant room filled with angry robots.
This school rocks! she thought as she began to attack the mechanical warriors. At top speed, the robots and her friends looked like they were moving through molasses. She bobbed and weaved through the metal arms, letting them swing where she had been seconds before. She had gotten halfway across the room before she thought to check on her friends. Glancing over her shoulder, she caught sight of them. The three of them stood, shoulder-to-shoulder, facing down an seemingly endless horde. Even from here, she could see they didn’t stand a chance.
With a sigh, Kimmy angled herself around and shot back to her friends. She set her shoulders and hit one of the robots square in the back. The bot went flying over her friends’ heads.
“Oh, damn,” Terry muttered distractedly, loosing a small bolt of lightning at one of the drones.
“Where’d’ya need me, boss?” Kimmy asked, catching her breath.
Ben grappled with one of the robots. Grasping it under the arms, he twisted violently, flinging it into its friends.
“Gwen, take point,” he ordered. “Terry, keep at her left and blast anything that gets too close. I’m taking the right.”
“Kimmy,” he said while turning to her, shoving another robot back as he did so, “you gotta keep us covered. If you see something that looks like a serious threat, get rid of it as fast as possible.”
With a shout, Gwen finished off the two robots she had been battling.
“Alright,” she barked. “Form up.”
Terry fell in at her left, Ben to her right. Kimmy merely stood behind them, ready to go at a moment’s notice.
The small group began to shuffle forward through the horde.
Electricity flew from Terry to the robots. Short, small bursts of deadly lightning lancing into the metal bodies. He marched forward untouched, with more and more mechanical husks falling to the ground around him.
Ben was reaching into the holes of the robots’ armor at the joints. He kept ripping out tons of wiring and other important-looking mechanical stuff, causing limbs to go dead and some to shut off outright.
Gwen was swiftly dispatching bot after bot in a violently graceful fashion. Her limbs and torso twisting and thrashing in an amazing display. Punch rolled into kick rolled into an elbow in a metal face.
Like dancing, with more blood, Kimmy thought. Or scrap? Oil?
She was shaken from her daydream by a sound behind her. Without looking, Kimmy dove to the right, coming up at super speed and sending her right fist directly into her assailant’s chest. The robot buckled and fell backward, but just as quickly another took its place.
“Alright, time to work for a living,” she murmured.
In a second, she was ripping into the ranks of the robots. She started to circle her friends attacking the first two rings of robots. Shooting between them at super speed, she snatched bits of metal and ripped them off as she sped past.
She slowed to a halt back behind her friends. Immediately, some fifteen robots fell. The four of them surged forward into the gap, but just as quickly they were surrounded again.
This is gonna be a long day, Kimmy thought glumly.
Terry was having a surprisingly easy time fending off the robots. He had figured out quickly that he only needed a small electrical shock to deactivate them, and was managing to keep pace with the horde. Eventually he fell into a sort of trance, just stepping, raising his arm and firing.
After what could have been minutes or days, the small knot of humans reached the door on the other side of the room. It was closed, and did not seem overly inclined to open. They drew themselves into a protective semi-circle by the exit.
“What now?” Gwen shouted as she dispatched yet another robot. Although she had seen the most action by far, she was hardly even breathing heavy.
“Maybe there’s a fake rock with a spare key around here someplace,” Kimmy joked.
“There’s a control panel there,” Ben replied, jerking his head at a section of the wall. “I can hack the door but it’ll take time.”
“Time we don’t have,” Gwen shot back.
“Which brings us to option two,” Ben said evenly, dropping yet another of the androids. “If Terry can hit that panel with enough electricity, the whole thing should short out and the door will open.”
“Should?” Kimmy asked.
“Yeah, should,” Ben answered. “It’s the fastest plan we got.”
“I’ve got it, guys. Don’t worry,” Terry said, reassuring himself as much as his teammates.
Slowly, he backed away from the line of robots. Terry turned to face the portion of the wall Ben had indicated. After a bit of searching, he ripped off a piece of the wall to reveal the control panel. He stepped back and raised his arm.
Terry had to focus hard. He had never called up this much power before. At least, never intentionally. He could feel the power mounting inside him. His flesh rippled with goosebumps like he had just been dumped in icy water. He felt the power churning within him. With a cry, Terry released all the energy, directing it along his outstretched arm. The instant the lightning left his arm, Terry felt strange.
His vision flickered, his muscles shook. Suddenly he no longer saw the brightly lit battle room.
He was back in the dark alley, the alley where he had been recruited.
The alley where he had almost killed a man.
He saw his lightning flying, but not for a control panel. Instead he saw the deadly bolt flying straight at the man’s chest. He could see the fear on his face. Smell the ozone in the air. Register the defeat in his eyes.
Then, just as suddenly, Terry was back in the battle room. The door was open.
“Terry?” Kimmy asked, looking back at him.
Terry opened his mouth to speak but no words came out.
His knees buckled, and for an instant, Terry was falling.
Then the world went black.