Collaborative Fiction = RENEGADE
Highlander dispatched the Zandraxi trooper quickly, rescuing the elderly dowager and her servo bot from its dangerous threats.
“Lady, ye should watch the company ye keep,” Highlander snarled as he delivered a crashing left hook to the head of the servo bot, destroying it instantly.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING,” exclaimed the lady. “That’s Reggie; he’s my servant. My late husband helped build him!”
“Ye can’t trust mechanized people, lady,” the big Scotsman warned. “They’ll turn on ye in a wee minute.”
The snarling Scotsman delieved a brutal stomp to the fallen servo bot as a another voice ran out,
“HIGHLANDER, STAND DOWN!”
The unmistakable voice of authority belonged to Silver Paladin, who arrived just then accompanied by Infinite Tempest and Arcane Ace.
“Stay outta this, brass breeches,” warned Highlander. “This dunna concern the likes of ye,”
“I said Stop!”
Highlander picked up a piece of Reggie and hurled it toward Paladin who managed to deflect it at the last second.
“What the -,” said Tempest.
“His eyes, they’re -,” said Ace, ducking as a piece was fired in his direction.
Ace continued, ”Paladin, did you see his eyes?”
Silver paladin, somewhat stunned at having to deflect a missile thrown at him, said,”No.”
Ace responded, “They were glowing red. Typical case of demonic possession.”
Highlander stomped off into an alley and disappeared from sight.
Silver Paladin exchanged a troubled glance with Arcane Ace. "Must be a Friday."
"Huh?" Infinite Tempest cocked his head to one side. "Why is that?"
"Highlander is possessed by something again. Always seems to happen the day before the weekend," Silver Paladin replied. He brought out his BADGE communicator. "Contact: Fiona."
"We haven't seen or heard much from him or her since they left the Star Force a while back. I wonder what trouble he is in now?" Arcane Ace said.
"Hello, Fiona," Silver Paladin said into his comm unit. He covered the microphone with his free hand. "I got sent to her voicemail." He removed his hand. "Highlander is here in town and just destroyed some old woman's robot. His eyes are glowing with a mysterious red energy and Ace thinks he might be under some possession thingy again. Call us back. We'll try to keep him corralled until you tell us what you want done with him."
"So, babysitting duty?" Infinite Tempest asked.
"Keep an eye on him and make sure he does as little more damage as possible," Silver Palidin said as the three of them followed after Highlander. "Yeah, babysitting duty."
It took some time, but the intrepid trio caught up to the big man. He was standing in a dark alley, engaged in a conversation with someone … or something. The language was unfamiliar, but Arcane Ace could identify bits and pieces of the what was being said.
“Gentlemen,” Ace finally whispered. “This is not good. Not good at all. I can pick up parts of what’s being said, and we’re not talking demonic possession. It’s an ancient language, but I’ve heard references to Legion. I’m wondering if there was something planted in his mind before he escaped from Legion.”
“Like what,” Paladin asked.
“Suggestion, maybe. I have a hunch that this may not be Highlander … or at least not the Highlander we know,” Ace said.
Just then, Paladin’s communicator went off. It was Fiona.
Paladin whispered, “Fiona, do you know where Highlander is?”
“Yes, he’s helping Ric repair the tractor. Do you need him?”
“Are you sure that’s where he is?”
“Of course, I can see them. They’re about 30 yards away from me. What’s going on?”
Silver Paladin activated the camera on his comm device and focused it on the giant Highlander before them. "Does he have a twin?"
Ace smirked regretfully. "He did have a brother..."
Infinite Tempest nudged Ace in the side to silence him.
"What was that?" Silver Paladin asked.
"Nothing that matters," Infinite Tempest answered. "She says this is not Highlander, so I say it is time for us to find out who he is."
With that, Infinite Tempest launched into the air as electricity crackled over his body.
"What's going on," Fiona asked again. "That's not my husband. I've telepathically checked. Highlander, my Highlander, is here with me. Where are you at?"
Silver Paladin activated the locator app on his device. "This alternate seemed to know who the three of us are and is speaking what Ace believes is referencing the Legion." Being magically created out of Chaz Hamilton's essence, a foul thought entered Silver Paladin's mind. "Could they have cloned Highlander somehow when he was with them?"
"YOU ARE NOT THE HIGHLANDER I HAVE FOUGHT SIDE BY SIDE WITH!" Infinite Tempest shouted from above the two individuals in the alley. "WHO ARE YOU?"
To emphasize his question, I.T. launched a bolt of lightning into a cluster of metal trash cans, exploding them in a violent eruption of food scraps and other debris.
"This went south fast," Ace said as he brought up his mystical wards with a wave of his hand.
The apparently faux-Highlander responded to Tempest’s attack by doing something the real Highlander couldn’t do … it took to the air. A blinding flash of red light that progressed through the spectrum, culminating in a bright Indigo colored flash, and the figure was gone.
“Whoa,” muttered Arcane Ace. “I’ve never seen the big man do that.”
“I think we can be certain that’s not the real Highlander … unless he’s been hiding attributes all this time," Silver Paladin mused.
Infinite Tempest slowly settled down beside them, “I lost him. He just … wasn’t there, anymore.”
“We saw,” Paladin responded. “He had to be traveling near the speed of light instantaneously. I don’t understand that. I think it’s impossible.”
“Impossible or not, we saw it,” stated Ace. “Now, who’s gonna beiieve us?”
"I've got it on video," Silver Paladin said as he held up his comm device. "People will believe us. We have proof. And Fiona can be a witness to the fact her husband is home with her. I'll upload the video files to BADGE HQ and see if there have been any other sightings."
"Good idea," Infinite Tempest said.
Ace stroked his chin as he moved into the area that the imitation Highlander spoke with the other being. "I'm going to see if I can recreate the image of who he was speaking with."
"How are you planning on doing that?" I.T. asked.
"How else?" Ace smiled and made a flourishing gesture as he presented a magic wand out of his sleeve to I.T. "MAGIC!"
With a deft sweep of his archaic wand, Ace seemed to draw tiny wisps of light from the darkness in the alley as he incanted. Each time he completed his circle, a ball of light grew at the tip of his magical tool until finally, on his thirteenth revolution, the ball dropped to the ground and exploded in a display worthy of the 4th of July. The light revealed the after-image of Highlander and a strange looking alien being that clung to the brickwork of the building they stood next to.
"Fiona," Silver Paladin called Highlander's lovely wife again. "The imposter flew away on us. Don't know where he is going, but be cautious. There's no good reason not to think it may be heading to where you and your husband are so it can continue to imitate him."
Arcane Ace: ID 23078
The faux Highlander took aimat a structure that housed a fashion boutique – a lot of glass and expensive contents.
Shattered glass flew everywhere, showering the side walks and injuring a number of pedestrians, although none were hurt badly. A nearby emergency room would be busy for a while though.
The impostor flew on, ignoring the gunshots of a pair of policemen and a handful of gang members who had tangled with the real Highlander in the past. It was apparently seeking out another target. It elected to blow out the windows on a transit bus it encountered,
What was its purpose, aside from random destruction?
I was in my snowy owl form when I flew overhead a transit bus as its window exploded into a shower of glass. "SCREEECHHHH (Translation: What the heck did that???)
Flying lower, I spied a giant of a man tromping down the street. He walked as if he carried enough pure rage to ignite the city. He had a familiar bearing of a hero I'd seen before, but I couldn't place his face or costume. I landed ahead of him on the street and shapeshifted into my Madam Marvelous persona.
"Is there something wrong, sir?" I placed my hands on my hips, just like my favorite TV superheroine did in her show and waited for him to answer. My thoughts were far more active as I prepared myself to defend myself should he decide to turn his bad mood on me. I kept the form of Gar of BADGE in my mind, ready to summon his stony gargoyle body and strength to protect me if he wanted to talk with his fists instead of his mouth.
He strolled forward toward me, his mouth caught in a snarl but he didn't become any more aggressive in his approach.
"Please, let me help you if I can," I said. "There's no reason to destroy things today, is there?"
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
The Highlander clone, look alike, or whatever sobriquet you may use to describe him or it, glowered at the lady standing in front of him. The red glow of his eyes deepened, then brightened as he stared her down.
Suddenly, twin beams of energy shot forth from the eyes, propelling Madam Marvelous backward through a store front, shattering glass and sending her crashing through several display cases, stunning her. Just as her journey through the world of merchandise ended, the trio of heroes who had been on the trail of the miscreant arrived.
Silver Paladin landed closest to the giant and was quickly and rudely greeted by a backhand to his armored chestplate, sending him crashing into the side of a garbage truck across the street, clipping Infinite Tempest, who had landed nearby.
As Tempest reeled sideways from the glancing blow, the figure took off slamming into Arcane Ace and traveling upwards and put of sight.
‘Well, that was uncalled for,” Ace muttered as he picked himself up off the pavement and hurriedly checked on Tempest and headed toward Paladin.
I shifted to Gar's gargoyle body as the beams of energy struck me, throwing me backward into a store window. His dense stone skin protected me from damage but not embarrassment. What a rookie move, expecting him to slow down and listen to reason. I stood up, letting shards of broken glass and window frame drop off my chest and wings and headed back out through the opening he made with my un-elegant entrance.
The red giant was gone, but three heroes had gathered and dusted themselves off after possibly encountering the same ruffian.
"Gar?" A voice spoke from within a sporty suit of silver armor.
"Um, no. I just look like him," I said as I shifted back into my heroine form. "I'm Madam Marvelous. Do you know who that guy in the red suit is?"
"Not exactly," a second man said. "He looks like a man we know. Highlander, formerly a colleague of ours from the Star Force. Neat trick, by the way. Being able to change your appearance like that. "
"It's not a trick," I said. "It's what I do. Who are you guys? Are you the reason this guy is in such a bad mood?"
The man with the sunglasses, goatee, and silver bands on his arms smiled. "I'm Arcane Ace. Magic's Wildcard." He pointed at the other two, one after the other as he introduced them. "That's Silver Paladin with the swords and the other guy sparking with electricity is Infinite Tempest."
"And no, we didn't cause his bad mood. He seemed to have it when we crossed paths with him." Silver Paladin said. "We were trying to figure out who he was meeting with in a dark alley, but somehow ended up chasing him over here instead."
"Not my fault." Arcane Ace said. "We heard a commotion and followed the noise."
"I don't feel like playing cat and mouse chasing after him." Silver Paladin walked to where the giant man stood before flying off. "Could you figure anything out from what you discerned in the alleyway?"
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
Then, Silver Paladin’s comm went off. It was Highlander.
“Aye, lad,” said the giant Scotsman. “What be happenin’ there?”
Paladin relayed the story to the big man, along with the theories the three of them had postulated regarding the angry doppelganger.
“I wouldn’ be for puttin’ anthin’ past the Legion,” he said. “They may have indulged in some clonin’ for all me know. They did some bad things, as ye know.”
Ace and Tempest shared some thoughts with the big Scotsman, who volunteered his services to asssist in the endeavor to bring the ne’er-do-well in.
“I don’ wanna get in the way, but I’m ready to help if you need me.”
“Just stay handy for now,” Paladin said. “We’ll keep you posted.”
"Keep you posted?" Arcane ace scoffed. "If something were running around destroying things with my face, I wouldn't sit on my butt and wait for someone else to solve my problems!"
Infinite Tempest nodded. "Highlander, do you have any idea who the other you might have been meeting? Do you have contacts in the area he could have been trying to use?"
"It isn't very clear why your alternate is doing what it is doing? So far, it is random property damage." Silver Paladin said. "If he is a clone of you, can Fiona reach its mind or sense it?"
Madam Marvelous looked between the three Star Force members. "If it flew off, I'll see if I can find out where it went. You can reach me on my comm unit. I'm with BADGE too." With that, she transformed into a white and black falcon and launched into the air.
"Let's circle around and see if we can find who Fakelander what talking to," Silver Paladin said. "Let's split up and see what we can find out."
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