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Bound No More, Part 2
By Sean McDonald

    Several members of the Onami Strike Force had gathered at the office of the Modern Arcane Guild of Investigation in Paragon City Hall.  They came bearing a doll.  “Azuria, we need to talk,” said one of them, clad from head to toe in black armor with blue runes inscribed on it.
“It must be important if five of you came just to deliver a doll, Spectreblade,” City Hall’s liaison to the city’s magic-based heroes replied.
“You think?” retorted electricity-wielding former gang member and tech-head Voltech from behind his sunglasses.
Their leader, PhoenixHawk, got down to the business at hand.  “This is about the murder at the History Museum.  The victim is with us right now,” he said as his glowing green eyes turned toward the plaything.
“Her soul’s been bound to that doll,” Spectreblade explained.  “Just like the spirit that’s bound to this armor.”
“That poor woman,” News Flash said, the mentalist remembering how he sensed the presence of the soul crying out to him.  “Is there anything we can do to get her back?”
Azuria answered, “That depends on the condition of the body.”
There was a moment of silence.
The silence was broken by Thauma Guard. The tall force field-forming woman with pitch black skin and spiked hair spoke. “This makes it even more important that we catch whoever did this.”
“Right,” PhoenixHawk agreed.  “This villain made off with whatever was in that chest, bound this woman’s soul to a doll, and what’s worse, he seems to have an interest in us.”
“Aren’t you jumping to conclusions here?” Voltech said.  “One of the guards thought she might have unleashed something from that big box.”
“That’s a possibility,” their leader acknowledged.  “Everyone in this room has seen weird things like this first-hand.  But we still need to find more evidence.”
“We’ll have to hurry.” The shrouded knight said.  “Who knows when he’ll decide to make his next move?”

    Meanwhile, in an alley in a neighborhood not far from City Hall, a man in a demon mask was trying to rip a purse from the hands of its rightful owner.  As she struggled with the gang member, something silently approached them.  The woman was soon on the alley floor.  The gangster fell backward as she stopped resisting and fell.  Before him a metal form, seven feet tall, and seething with energy appeared.  His fists still glowed with the power he channeled into them for his attack.  The thug looked at the few spots of dark metallic gray that still showed through the orange rust.  But upon closer inspection, there was a baroque pattern to it, and in the center the armor’s chest was a hole, through which only darkness could be seen.

    He spoke, his voice resonating from his hollow core.  “A Hellion, I presume.”
“Yeah…what do you want?” the gangster said, trying to hide his fear.
“I am told you rouges deal in magical artifacts. Am I correct?”
“That’s right.  But you’ll have to talk to the Damned about that,” he said, referring to what the higher ranks called themselves.
“Then take me to them,” He bellowed.

    The lackey led the suit of armor to his leader.  “Yo, Mammon.  We got a visitor.  He wants to talk about the goods.”
    Mammon got up from his carved stone chair.  It was just one of the trappings this man placed in the room to make it look like the court of a demon. “So, you want some artifacts do you?  What’s your name?”
    “You may call me the Armorbound,” he answered.  “And I’m not here to buy.”
    “Then what do you want from me?”  He turned to his servant and spat, “This guy better not be a cape.”
    “I mean you no harm,” the Armorbound said.  “Perhaps you may have heard about what happened at the History Museum.”  As he said this, he made a fist which began to glow.
    “So that was you, huh?  I’m listening,” the wannabe demon replied.

    A few days had passed since the Onami Strike Force found the doll, and there were still no leads.  The investigation continued, along with others.  Voltech and News Flash were patrolling the neighborhood of Steel Canyon looking into a string of disappearances.  They came across two lunatics in surgical masks and aprons covered in all manner of grime carrying a body bag into a waiting truck as two sewn-together abominations looked on.  “Dr. Vahzilok’s goons never fail to make me sick,” said News Flash, adjusting his fedora.
Voltech answered, “Well, what are we still standing here for.  Let’s clean up that mess.”

    Voltech took a moment to let the sensors in his sunglasses lock onto one of the mad doctors.  He charged up an electrical blast and let it loose.  His fellow disgrace to medicine turned around, drawing a cleaver. “Oooh, hero parts,” he said longingly as he charged at Voltech.
    “I don’t think so!” News Flash yelled as he went to work, hypnotizing the doctor.  The madman stopped in his tracks and instead started to disassemble one of his creations.  The other zombie lumbered forward and began spewing green vomit on the mind controller.
    “Eeewww, disgusting!  I just had this suit dry cleaned, too,” he screamed.  He willed the abomination into the air and slammed it down to the concrete.  The other doctor got up, looking to pay Voltech back for zapping him. He pulled out a dart gun and fired.  News Flash caught the dart with his mind, stopping it just short of its target and redirecting it to the zombie he threw to the ground.  It stopped dead and collapsed.  An electrified fist from Voltech brought the doctor down.  The other mad scientist snapped out of his confusion and saw that he had undone his work.  “NOOO!  MY WONDERFUL CREATION!”  He cried as if for a child.  The mad surgeon was distraught.  He turned, cleaver held high in the air, making it the perfect target for an electrical blaster like Voltech.  One more well-placed shock and it was over.  “When will these guys learn?  It’s not nice to chop people up for parts,” Voltech said.
    News Flash wasn’t as enthusiastic.  “I sense something.”
    “What?  Are there more of them?”
    News Flash walked out of the alleyway and pointed down the street at a crowd of Hellions.  “There.”
    “Now what do you suppose they’re up to?”  Voltech used his glasses to zoom in on the action.  “It looks like they’re getting ready for another fire party.”  The gangsters were dressed in their gang colors and satanic regalia, their leaders wearing their demon masks and brandishing their weapons.  Most of the mob held conventional weapons like guns and knives.  Some had no need for weapons thanks to the fire-wielding abilities that came with high rank in the Hellion hierarchy.  But there was one near the back of the group with a strange gilded scepter adorned with a red jewel on its end.

    “Are you sure this stick’ll work?”  Mammon asked.
    “Of course it will,” Armorbound answered, hidden within an energy field, unseen by the heroes.  “I am well-versed in forging relics like this one.  Now, just point it at whatever you would like to see consumed, and it shall burn.”  Mammon did as the metal stalker commanded, raising the staff toward a nearby apartment building.
    He’s forging one way or another.  Let’s see if this trinket works, he thought.
    News Flash felt a pang of psychic energy as smoke began to pour from the second-story window.  The mob of arsonists let out cheers as they saw what Armorbound’s gift was capable of.
    Voltech spoke.  “That would be our cue, my friend.”


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