Silver Paladin sat in the co-pilot chair beside Catalyst in the Star Force Cruiser as they flew to Las Vegas. He marveled at the vehicle his companion created, knowing that on his best day he could never come close to the skill at engineering Catalyst possessed.
“This is very impressive. Did you design it yourself?” Silver Paladin asked.
“Reworked alternate BADGE shuttle designs.” Catalyst replied. He wore a modified helmet with mirrored lenses resembling those worn by aviators in old photographs that connected to his neural prosthetic which allowed the deaf man to hear. “Applied latest technology and an energy-fold engine.”
Catalyst tilted his head, clearly searching for words to dumb-down his explanation so that non-scientists would understand. “Like a magnifying glass. Makes energy bigger. More powerful. Very clean.”
“Interesting. Could you apply that to any energy generator?”
Catalyst shrugged. “Most likely.”
“Can the two of you stop yammering?” Wyldfyre spoke up from his seat in the passenger’s cabin. “We need to get to Vegas.”
Silver Paladin turned to look deeper into the cruiser, surprised by Wyldfyre’s enthusiasm. “This is a first. You’re usually not so eager for a fight.”
“Who’s talking about getting to the fight? I managed to get tickets to see The Blue Man Group: The Next Generation.” Wyldfyre pulled some pieces of paper out of one of his carrying pouches. “With everyone else showing up to the fight, Robbie the Robot is going to be the one in danger.”
“You are a piece of work, aren’t you?” Silver Paladin said. Wyldfyre had so much untapped potential as a warrior when it came to pure damage, but he lacked any interest in honing his skill or using it effectively. “Are you seriously thinking of skipping out on us and going to a show?”
“Why not? You guys got this covered, and I need a day off. I’m hoping to surprise Futurina with a night on the town. Some dancing, a show, a little va-va-voom--,” Wyldfyre wiggled suggestively in his seat, “--if you know what I mean.”
Silver Paladin stared silently at Wyldfyre for a moment, his face hidden by his mask.
“Or maybe you don’t.” Wyldfyre shrugged as he weakly chuckled. “You go hero boys. I’ve got better things to do?”
Silver Paladin turned his head back to face Catalyst. “Why did we wait for him again?”
“That’s what friends do,” Catalyst said. He flipped a few switches and a slight vibration shook the vessel as landing gear lowered. “We almost there. See many energy signatures.
As the city rolled up below them, it wasn’t hard to spot the other heroes attacking the giant robot. Red and blue lights reflected off the glass of skyscrapers from police vehicles. An evacuation siren blared, notifying the citizenry to flee the city. Las Vegas looked more like a foreign city in a war-torn country than the haven for entertainment and debauchery it was known for.
“Put us down as close to the fight as you can,” Silver Paladin said. He pointed at a sizable parking lot next to one of the casinos. “Do you see that there? Can you manage to land there?”
“Easy,” Catalyst said. The Star Force Cruiser tilted to one side and slowed as Catalyst mentally controlled the decent pattern. The roads were full of cars and trucks heading away from the battle. Only a few sparce vehicles remained in the lot.
Wyldfyre undid his seatbelt and stood up. He leaned on the frame of the vessel with one hand and peered out the small window in the doorway. “Aww. Come on guys. The show’s on the other side of the city. Can’t we circle around and land closer to the theater district?”
“Unbelievable,” Silver Paladin said under his breath.
“This good spot,” Catalyst said. “Landing in three, two, one.”
Without the countdown, nobody in the vehicle would have noticed the cruiser landing. Perfectly free of any shift in movement, the Star Force transport landed softer than a down feather falling from a baby chick’s bottom.
The door slid open with the standard swoosh sound. Wyldfyre jumped down to the ground before the ramp fully descended. “OK. Message me before you guys head back.”
Catalyst and Silver Paladin followed him out.
“You have to go through the fight to get to where you want to go. Might as well go with us. Maybe we will need your help.” Catalyst said.
Wyldfyre crossed his arms and sneered at Catalyst. “You did that on purpose, didn’t you?”
“Maybe,” Catalyst replied. “Let’s go.”
“Jerk,” Wyldfyre said. He stood and glared at the other two as they began to run toward the battle with the giant robot before chasing after them.
The sound of battle between hundreds of heroes challenging their enormous opponent filled the street, creating threatening echoes from every direction. The crack of several strikes of lightning snapped overhead and flared off the windows of the buildings.
“I guess Infinite Tempest made it here,” Silver Paladin said. He activated his communication unit, signaling to BADGE and the rest of the Star Force that they had arrived.
“Yeah, we’re the slow pokes of our league, but at least I’m the best looking one.” Wyldfyre said as they crossed the roadway surrounding the park.
“Who are you calling slow?” Catalyst said while activating his jetpack. He lifted into the air silently and hovered above the others.
“You’re the tech expert, Cat. Where will this robot be most vulnerable?” Silver Paladin asked.
“Inside its armor.”
“That’s helpful.” Silver Paladin extended his enchanted blades. “Let’s try this again. Where will the best places to target be to get inside where it is vulnerable?”
“I didn’t make it! Won’t know until I see it.” Catalyst shot back. “I’m a genius but I don’t know everything.”
The streets were mostly clear of people. A few stragglers beat on the windows of cars jammed up on the road heading out of the downtown area, begging for aid out of the field of battle. Most were helped as the others hoofed it alongside the traffic as they moved. The three Star Force heroes traveled unimpeded toward the main event until a woman in a glittering, showgirl costume stepped out from a nearby doorway.
Aside for the garish red and pink feathers that created her headdress, one other physical attribute glaringly stood out. Her belly protruded out to the point of looking like she was going to explode. She stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and crouched down as she clutched her stomach. “Help me!”
Directly in Wyldefyre’s path, he had no choice but slow and sidestep to miss her. He stumbled and slammed into the exterior wall of the clothing shop she exited. “Lady! Ever heard of moving your ass?”
“I need to get to Desert Springs,” she said. She struggled to breath and her face contorted with pain. “I’ve been waiting… for an… for an ambulance.”
“What for?” Wyldfyre asked.
The woman’s eyes went wide. “I’m in labor you idiot!”
Silver Paladin stopped beside her and caught her arm before she fell to the ground as her knees went limp. “You do know there is a giant robot attacking the city right now, maam?”
“I don’t think the twins care about that RIGHT NOW, shiny!” she spat. “They have plans of their own, so it seems.” Giving up her attempt to remain on her feet, she lowered the half her body not supported by Silver Paladin to the ground.
Silver Paladin eased her down to the sidewalk.
“You two go ahead,” Catalyst said. “I help her. Can fly her to the hospital.”
“I’M NOT FLYING ANYWHERE WITH yyyyooouuu,” her scream turned into a wail of excruciating effort.
“It’s the fastest way to get you there. I won’t drop you.” Catalyst landed and took out one of his scanning tools. “I’m Alan. What’s your name?”
She fought for breath. “I know who you are. Everyone knows who you are… I’m Tiffany.”
“Tiffany. I can get you to where the doctors are.” Catalyst said.
“I’m not flying.” She paused briefly and took air in with short gasps. “These two are coming and I won’t have you flying me anywhere while one of them pops out and dangles as we’re two stories in the air.”
Wyldfyre shook, obviously disturbed by the image. “Can’t say I’d blame her for that.”
“So what do we do?” Silver Paladin asked.
“Let me get some water,” Wyldfyre scanned the business names painted on the businesses on the street.
“What for?” Silver Paladin asked.
“They always ask the men to boil water on the TV.”
“You are an idiot,” Silver Paladin said to his companion.
“Do you have a better idea?” Wyldfyre asked loudly.
“Calm down, you two,” Catalyst said. “She’s not waiting. The babies are coming now.”
Tiffany screamed. “THAT’S WHAT I’VE BEEN TRYING TO TELL YOU!!!”
Silver Paladin moved to the side of the sidewalk, facing the cars heading out of town. “Are any of you doctors or nurses? First responders? We have a woman giving birth here.”
Through the glass windows, many people had out their phones and had them pointed at the three heroes and the woman. Nobody answered the call for assistance.
Tiffany screamed again.
“Paladin. Give me your cape,” Catalyst said.
“Yes. I need your cape for a blanket. Help Tiffany onto it.” Catalyst ordered. “Wyldfyre, get ahold of anyone else in the area and see who can help. Crossroads or Krystal Fae. Someone who can teleport or open a portal.”
Wyldfyre nodded, pulling out his communicator.
Silver Paladin removed his cape and helped Catalyst to slide it below Tiffany. “Umm. Well. How are you feeling?”
“How…do…you…think??” she replied through gritted teeth.
“I’m sorry, miss. I don’t know anything about birthing babies. I wasn’t even born myself?” Silver Paladin said. “An energy beam struck a reporter and a mirror and suddenly, there I was.”
Tiffany closed her eyes and failed to respond, except to take Silver Paladin’s nearest hand and squeeze.
“She’s close. The first baby is beginning to… travel south?” Catalyst said as he studied his computer screen.
“Travel south!” Wyldfyre laughed. “Is that the scientific term?”
A bright light flashed from beside Catalyst and Krystal Fae appeared. She looked at the three crouched men surrounding Tiffany and smiled. “I think I got here just in time. Honey, let’s get you to a hospital.”
“Thank YOU,” Tiffany cried.
Krystal reached out and touched the pregnant young woman on her shoulder and the two of them disappeared in a flash of light. As she faded from sight, she left one word hanging in the air. "Men!"
Catalyst, Silver Paladin, and Wyldfyre exchanged glances and stood up, each giving a sigh of relief.
“And we thought we were in trouble when they said we would be facing a giant robot in battle today,” Wyldfyre said.
“Oh, so you’re going to help fight it now, are you?” Silver Paladin asked.
“One of us has to be responsible. The two of you can’t handle pressure at all. I need to be there to supervise.”
“I’m not saving you if the robot tries to step on you. I’m going to laugh.” Silver Paladin shook his head and began running toward the battle once more.
Wyldfyre laughed and winked at Catalyst. “Not if I push him under it first.”
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