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Bound No More, Part 4
By Sean McDonald

    Spectreblade had missed all the excitement.  His fellow Onami Strike Force members filled him in on what happened.
    “This wasn’t a typical Hellion arson,” said PhoenixHawk.  “This time they had a villain working with them.”
    Voltech turned toward News Flash, who was still holding the scepter Mammon wielded.  “And they used that MacGuffin over there to start it.  He nearly torched me with that thing!  But other than that, the guy using it was a wuss.”
    The mentalist News Flash had something to say as well.  “I could sense when the scepter was being used.  It was just like the doll we found at the museum.”
    Spectreblade began to see the connections.  “So, we finally have a lead on that case.”  There was one other detail he needed to know.  “And the villain?  Tell me about him.”
    Thauma Guard answered him.  “He called himself the Armorbound.”
    That was it.  Spectreblade felt his armor tense up at the sound of the name.  It was a name the shrouded knight knew by reputation.  “This is bad.  This is very bad!”
    “You know that guy?” Voltech asked.
    “I myself haven’t fought him before, but the soul within my armor knows him all too well.”  Spectreblade paused briefly.
    Voltech grew impatient.  “Well, out with it!”
    The knight answered.  “He is the one who bound the spirit to this armor!”

    The Armorbound continued to watch the heroes, unseen.  He was still weak from fighting Spectreblade’s teammates, and decided not to risk capture.  As he left the scene, he brooded over what had transpired.  He thought to himself.

    “So, you are a ‘hero’ now?  You’ve managed to turn your retribution into a benefit.  I was wrong to bind you to that armor.  I sought to make you suffer, as you had made me suffer.”  As the metal stalker leapt among the buildings of Steel Canyon, he continued to remember the past.  “But I was wrong.  I sought to give you eternal torment and instead I gave you near-immortality.  I was a fool.  But no longer.  Now I, too, am no longer bound by flesh.  After all, I could no longer enjoy my old form after what you put me through.  Soon, I will take back the gift I gave you.”

    Back at the scene of the arson, the team was preparing to leave.  Then from out of a nearby alley a shambling form came charging at them.  It was instantly recognizable as one of Dr. Vahzilok’s creations.  The patchwork man had a black box on its back, the stench of death wafting from it, and a swarm of flies flocking to it.  It spoke as best it could with what was left of its mind and vocal cords.  “You… hurt… Armorbound!”
    “Just great,” Voltech shouted.  “News Flash and I already got barfed on once today!”
    Spectreblade leapt toward the being, sword drawn, his armor’s dark energy erupting forth to shield him.  He swung his sword upward, slicing off the creature’s sewn-on arm.  It continued to attack with its other arm, but that one, too, was sliced off of the body it was never meant to be on.  The abomination knew defeat was imminent.  It began to concentrate.
    “Get away!  It’s gonna self-destruct!” shouted the ebony-skinned Thauma Guard as she summoned forth dark tentacles from the ground with her magic to keep it still as her teammates ran from the coming explosion.  The monster ended its pitiful existence in a spectacular fireball, but the team got out of range quickly enough to be unscathed.
    “Well, that was pointless of him,” Spectreblade said.  “Not only did he not beat us, he gave us a clue.  Now we know Dr. Vahzilok’s in on this, too.”

    In City Hall, in Atlas Park, Azuria was having a rough day.  She had yet another relic housing a soul for the Modern Arcane Guild of Investigation to guard.  Voltech delivered the scepter to them, who then put it in the MAGI vault.  But now Azuria had another problem.
    “So, what’s your name, hero?”  It was her job to help Paragon City’s magic-based heroes get their bearings, but this one was different.  He was dressed in camouflage, carrying an assault rifle and had two bandoliers across his chest.
    “I am T3h W00t!” the strange man replied.  “That’s t-three-h w-zero-zero-t!”
    “Are you sure you’re at the right contact.  I think you want to talk to the guys over at DATA, or maybe ELITE.”
    “No, I’m at the right place.”
    “Judging from you weapons, you look more like a technology-origin hero, or maybe natural.”
    “No, I’m Magic, babe!” the misguided one rambled.  “I got so much mad skills, it must be magic!”  He gestured with his assault rifle, recklessly waving it around, and he hit someone in the face with it.  He turned and saw a menacing, rusty orange shape fade into view.  “Oh, sorry, dude,” he said.  The one he hit responded with an energy-charged fist to the face.
    “Oh, no!”  Azuria recognized the metal armor.  “Armorbound!”
    T3h W00t looked at the Armorbound.  “So, you’re a supervillain, huh?  What kind of noob tries to sneak into City Hall?”
    Armorbound responded, “I succeeded, did I not, ‘Magic Man’.”
    The fool answered.  “Don’t make me blast the daylights out of you.”  There was a brief pause.

    “HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!” Armorbound’s laughter echoed through the MAGI office.  “’Blast the daylights’ out of me?  Ha!  You amuse me, little magic man.”
    T3h W00t made good on his threat and shouted “W00000000t!!!” as he opened fire.  When he ran out of ammunition, he looked around.  The office was littered with bullet holes on the walls, shards of pottery and damaged artwork on the floor, and Azuria cowering behind the cover of her desk.  But Armorbound stood unharmed as the bullets ricocheted off his energy aura.  The metal stalker retaliated with a devastating blow to the misguided one’s head, knocking him to the floor with the rest of the debris he created.

    The Armorbound turned to Azuria.  “Now, I’m here about a certain scepter.”

    TO PART 5 >

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