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Author's Chapter Notes:

Finally cleared some room on my plate so this story will be getting a lot more focus from me. Next chapter should come much sooner than five months. 

The night was what it was. Copious amounts of wine followed by a myriad of stories. The juicy bits that could fill novels:  the battles, the affairs, the tech, typically in the first few drinks when the mood could be kept jovial. Then, a few drinks later, came the bits that would actually sell novels, focused on the four d’s primarily; the drugs, depression, dementia, death. The rest of the city celebrated the hero. Nicholas mourned his father. He was probably the only man left alive that really knew the man, and Elliot would be his ear for the night. He owed the old man that much.

His father slipped off to sleep at a modest time of 10 at night, and not feeling tired Elliot perused the lab.  His father had a sentimentality his grandfather never did. Aside from the suit and jetpack Elliot’s grandfather kept a scant few press clippings and stories. It was hard to say if he was like that before the calamity or if it just another side effect. Maybe Nicholas, seeing what happened to his father later in life, was encouraged to keep mementos of all his escapades because of this. 

Even with all of his dad’s stories there were things he didn’t immediately recognize. There were trophies, medals, destroyed armors, burnt costumes that were simply before his time. Then there were little knickknacks like playing cards, seemingly innocent wooden soldiers, things that undoubtedly had a story attached to them that Nicholas either never elaborated on or Elliot had long since forgotten.

Then there were the ones Elliot would never forget, as they were distinctly tied to his youth, and quite a few tied to old bruises and scars.

You’d never know it looking at the old armor as his dad had finished filling the bullet holes. It didn’t pay to have a sidekick that looked like they had been gunned down a dozen times or so, no matter how accurate that thought was. It wasn’t a knock on what his father had designed though, far from it. There were a dozen bullet holes that had left their mark out of the thousands that never so much had left a dent.

The bad old days had really been bad. Elliot looked on those days with nostalgia but still remembered the times they had to stich him up at the free clinic lest their secret identities be discovered otherwise. Auntie Helen is what he called the doctor there. She’d given him a lollipop after stitching his side. She’d give him two if she needed to pluck a bullet or shrapnel out. Didn’t matter that he was a teenager at the time, a lollipop’s a lollipop.

It occurred to him if he told this to a therapist his dad would likely be seeing serious jail time, but the thought of somehow punishing his dad never came to mind. Elliot had his problems with his father to be sure but it had nothing to do with the pain he went through as a child. When the government was failing, and hundreds were dying in the streets, that he only suffered an occasional shrapnel wound was likely a blessed childhood.

With some reluctance he turned away from the relic and walked the rest of the gallery.

The problem was that his father couldn’t move on, Elliot had. He spared brief look at the armor next to his old one and a briefer stab to the chest, but could acknowledge that Mrs. Brandt had moved on as well.

What made his father different? Was he just a product of his time? No, his mother was a product of their time. She was the only one in the immediate family not to don a suit, though Elliot wouldn’t have been surprised if there wasn’t a few monstrous mom armor, or fabulous fiancé battle suit hidden away in his father’s designs.  She supported their efforts the whole way; working both as medic at home, and stalwart ally for them in the treacherous world of politics. When peace came to the city she retired and that was the end of it. She just wanted to live the rest of her life in peace and solitude. For the most part his father accommodated her, up until the day she died, and then it was right back to the drawing board.

Was the mission, even a defunct mission, more important to him more than Mom? It was a question he struggled with for years. Even now his devotion to the mission unsettled him.  He came to conclusion though that it was his father’s coping mechanism. From here till Elliot was finally forced to bury him. his father would design, build, and probably revolutionize the defense industry in the privacy of his basement.

His introspective journey led him to his father’s latest project. He couldn’t look past the implications. What it was meant for, why it would be needed. Was it just an example of doing something because Nicholas just felt he had to?

There were certain aspects of the bad old days Eliot missed, but they were few and far between. The thrill, that intoxicating adrenaline rush, an addiction he regretted and resisted. That could be controlled, handled, his longing for just how close he was with his mother and father during the bad times couldn’t.  They were the one family whose lives got worse as things got better.

Nostalgia plagued him more than most of his generation.

He looked to the new armor, had his father even tested it out? His fingers hovered over the helmet coming ever so close to just picking it up. His line of thinking progressing with every passing second. A quick jaunt around the city, for old time sake he told himself. He’d test it out, get the feeling out of his system, and probably make his dad happy to boot.

Considering his other hand was still clenched around the wine bottle he had all the reason he needed why that was a terrible idea. He was being silly; it was just kid’s stuff, something he and the city and had grown out of.  Elliot poured himself a final glass and lifted it towards the armors direction. 

“To nostalgia.” Eliot toasted before he forced himself to turn away and banish any other thoughts from his head.


Douglass wasn’t the brightest of sorts but every so often synapses would alight and grant the burly man a spark of insight. It came to him as he dutifully followed the Doctor through the heart of the city, or at least attempted to.  Saturday was the height of the Anniversary weekend and the streets reflected it.  Even for a man of Douglass’ stature, wading through a veritable sea of people proved a challenge, and the poor doctor following behind could only move at a snail’s pace. As such inspiration struck the brute. “Is today really the best day to do this Professor?” He didn’t like questioning the doctor as he felt it was a waste of the good man’s time. He always felt he would see the answers as obvious if he was even half as brilliant as the doc. “I mean, not to question, but aren’t there just too many people?” He said, politely making his way through the milling crowd. Douglass would smile and was happy to note most were quick to make way once they saw he was in a hurry. Gentle dullard that he was it didn’t occur to him that his looks took him farther than his manners.

“You’re not incorrect Douglass.  I could possibly manage the same on a less busy day, and it would certainly increase our progress. However there is one quality that such a crowd provides. To illustrate whatever point he was attempting to make the good doctor began to dig into his bag. “Oh dear, it seems I do struggle with these dramatic reveals, a moment Douglass.” The wiry man said feeling flush in his cheeks as he struggled to procure the item from his bag.

Douglass nodded though still didn’t quite understand. What was the point of making it harder on themselves? Still questions aside it was a nice day, and even if the doc hadn’t needed his help he’d likely be out today, and if they kept along the route they’d at least get to see some of the parade. As Douglass rose to his tip toes to catch sight of what floats may be headed down the next street over Mutatio revealed his device with a flourish.

“Is that the thingy?” Douglass said taking a glance back. The doctor shuddered but didn’t correct him.

“Yes and I do believe it is time we used the crowd to our advantage.”


The sound of the television was an unwelcome one. Along with nostalgia, stories of grandfather, and the occasional bout of depression, the annual Saturday hangover was all part of the festivities. While the windowless workshop spared him the torturous light of the sun, there were some things that just couldn’t be avoided. One of course was that no matter how much his father had imbibed the night before he would always be a morning person.

“I will gladly hop into that armor of yours if you can just ignore the parade this year.” Elliot groaned burying himself under the covers that lined the surprisingly comfortable pull out bed. There were proper beds in the floor above but given how much he drank the young man didn’t trust himself on the stairs.

“And you so used to love the things when you were little.” His father noted with disappointment.

“That was before I realized there was approximately 2 minutes of entertainment in a four hour display.” Attempting to burrow under the sheets for some scant protection from the overly cheery announcers describing the beauty of overly adorned go carts traipsing at 5 mph.

“Well despite you not being in the festive spirit I can still enjoy a bit of tradition.”

“Can you enjoy that bit of tradition on mute?”

“Without your whining it wouldn’t have the same atmosphere.” The old man chuckled and Elliot resigned himself to a morning of such. Call it instinct, call it experience, but Elliot could tell without his father saying anything that something was wrong. Ignoring the throbbing in his head he tossed aside the covers walked to where his father was now watching the screen.

What should have been a garish display of civic pride was quickly turning into reenactment of some of the darker days of the ‘bad times.’ Up and down the parade route scores of people were hijacking and at times setting the floats ablaze. Perhaps far more unsettling was how quiet the rioters were. There was no shouting of slogans, no angry chants, just boring methodical anarchy.

“They’re being controlled.” His father stated without looking away from the screen.  Elliot didn’t question it. While he liked to consider his instincts sharp, even if dulled by a few years of normalcy, his experience was nothing compared to his dad’s.

The older man tapped a finger to his lips in thought. Elliot could tell he was thinking through every would be thug with a lazer rifle or would be city conqueror he had encountered over his lengthy career as the ‘Gold Standard’.

After a moment he snapped his fingers and smugly grinned. “Master Cerveau, we had a few run-ins oh,” That grinned turned into a wince as the number of years became apparent, “well it was before your time anyway. Had this thing for mind control.”

“Old man back for revenge?”

His father waved it off dismissively. “Unless he’s orchestrating this from a nursing home I’d rather doubt it. He was up in years back when I was your age.” This caused his brow to furrow. “That technology is under lock and key with the council, no positive applications for it, well none that didn’t violate several civil liberties.

“Probably just some guy who rediscovered the science behind it. Surprised it doesn’t happen more often to be honest.”

His father nodded but didn’t look all too sure of that response but whatever questions he had were dismissed as he continued to watch the action unfold. More seemed to join the merry band of miscreants as they worked in unison to bring down a Santa Claus float.

“No.” Eliot stated. Not in response to the Jolly old elf being deflated but to what he knew was coming.

“I didn’t say anything.” Nicholas stated defensively. Elliot positioned himself so he could look his father in the eye. It only took a second to spot what he was looking for.

“You can’t even fit in the suit anymore.” He said, bluntly pointing a finger at his father’s midsection to which Nicholas took some offense.

Noticeably sucking in his gut the older man stood. “I have no thoughts of doing so,”

“Good the police will handle it.”

“but if I did I have made necessary arrangements.”

“Oh god does the Gold armor have a beer belly now?” Elliot was joking but only partially. If his father was crafting entirely new armors just to collect dust, modifying old models didn’t seem so farfetched.

“Not that I am going to do anything,”

“Because the police are going to handle it.” Elliot again interjected, though he could already sense it was like trying to push back the tide.

Nicholas gave a token nod of agreement while rummaging through various lockers, shelving, and storage units. Tossing bits of equipment, old blueprints, and the occasional moldy rag out of his way before stumbling upon whatever he was searching for.

“Still, you know when was the last time either of us gave this parade a visit, that official seal of approval?” Nicholas questioned, already trying out his excuse. Elliot was already in the process of accepting his father’s actions but wanted to see how far he would go.

“Think it was still a teenager.” Elliot said dryly, only perking a brow once his father had found what he was looking for. Despite the technical apparatus that were attached to it, it was unmistakably a girdle. His father favored him with only a slightly ashamed look.

“We live in peaceful times, over indulgence is a just a side effect we must deal with.”

“mmhmm.” There would be no stopping him and Elliot wouldn’t try. Even though Nicholas was getting up there in age if backed by the police this situation should barely take ten minutes. The city would appreciate it, the crowds would love it, and it would likely end this weekend on a high note. There was only one catch.

“You know what would go over really well?”

“No.” Elliot stated before the words were barely out of his father’s mouth.

“I can’t believe I raised such a wet blanket.”

“It’s your own rule. One stays behind to provide additional intel. Mom’s not around anymore and given your current state,” he said with a pointed look at the girdle, “I think it’s wise that you have someone looking out for you.”

Nicholas couldn’t very well argue this, especially since it allowed him to indulge without a hint of guilt, still there no denying that hint of longing.

“Well I’d love to have you out there.”

It was the direct appeal that held the most sway with Elliot. When his father beat around the bush it was so much easier to dismiss him.  He hesitated in his answer before finally shaking his head.  “It’d be overkill.” Elliot said without much conviction. “Besides if your fat ass can’t handle it the new Dynamo armor’s right here.”

His father couldn’t very well argue that either, but he could tell it was only a matter of time.  Badgering his son would do nothing. Leading from the front however might have some merit.

“Alright, you know the monitoring devices. Standard take down protocol. Fast and easy, should be back before lunch.”


The good Doctor watched the scene unfold with mixed feelings. Watching the people scatter as those under his control ran amuck filled him with no joy. He had given precise orders, only general chaos and a hint of property damage, they were to cause no actual injuries. In addition aside from some token resistance he wanted none to directly engage the police. It wasn’t as efficient as it could be. With Cerveau’s device he could literally ask them to lay down their lives and they would without a word. It would certainly give him more time to do what needed to be done but his actions in the end were for all of their benefits. The citizens of Archimedes had suffered far too long for him to add significantly to their sorrows.

He even tried to console the massive Douglass as a beloved cartoon character was brought low by the mob. “It isn’t very pretty, but it could be a good deal worse, now are your friends where they need to be?”

Douglass didn’t take his eyes away from the float but did nod. “All at the council building though they’re not going to be able to get past the security there.

“Not remotely an issue my friend.” He pulled Douglass along away from the chaos. Joining the crowd as they hurried away from the scene and passed by the oncoming police cruisers who were headed toward the scene. Douglass gave an especially nervous glance at them. As someone who ran afoul of the law in the past he wasn’t eager to be on their radar again.

“You needn’t worry dear Douglass.” The doctor said as he fiddled with his sphere, it already pulsed with power, a dull repeated rhythm that glowed with a deep shade of magenta.  With another press the pulse’s pace increased and its shade change to nearly pink.   “The second stage is already in motion, and we shall be the last thing on the mind of the police.”


Lindsey’s head throbbed. It had been hard to focus all day, and considering just how little attention her job required it was saying a lot. If she was smart she would have just called it a day, but it was too late for anyone to take her shift and the facility always needed two people on file. The petite blonde pressed her hands against her forehead as if sheer force of will would drive the pain away.

“Hey, I think you might need this.” The only other person in the facility smiled down at her and offered her a cup of coffee. Nick was a new hire fresh out of college and looking for the best way to pay off his student loans as soon as possible. Government facility that was as demanding as watching paint dry seemed to fit the bill. He was fit, sporting short cropped brown hair, and best of all hadn’t been worn numb by the job just yet. Lindsey wasn’t afraid to admit she liked him.

“You’re a lifesaver.”

“What can I say, makes me feel more important than the rest of this.” He slumped in his chair propping up his feet. The monitoring equipment wasn’t picking up anything unusual, not that it ever did, Lindsey suspected it stopped working years ago and no one had quite caught on. Though there was that one time…the sharp pain that racked her brain felt like someone had stabbed her right between the eyes.  Her coffee splattered across the linoleum floor as she clutched at her head. The pain fading a heartbeat later but she found herself exhausted.

Nick smiled in that way that always put her at ease. She was really glad to have landed this shift. Some of the others took their job as a matter of life or death. It was good to be paired with someone on the same wavelength was a godsend most nights. But even Nick’s cute lopsided smile wasn’t enough to ebb the pain this night.

“Perhaps coffee isn’t enough.” He said partially joking but empathetic toward her plight. She nodded dully and made her way toward the woman’s bathroom.  Her shift had just begun and it was already too much. She thought about finding one of the many abandoned rooms and just resting her head for the rest of her shift.

She could barely find her footing as she stumbled down the hall, the headache was so agonizing she would swear her vision was blurring. She practically crumpled against her locker hoping to find something for her headache, but instead of grabbing for pills she found something somewhat more appealing.

There was her unused side arm. Standard issue for the facility though it had never been needed in all the time that she worked there. Lindsey stopped bothering to wear it as it made her uncomfortable, but as she ran a fingertip over the rubber grip she felt her headache lessen. As if by magic she knew how to make the headache go away entirely.

Logically it made no sense, she knew that, but at the same time she couldn’t help herself. Nick smiled once again on her return, only having a moment of surprise before the gun retorted twice with resounding finality. He’d never know why and Lindsey scarcely knew either to be honest. His body slumped to the ground spasming and with cruel detachment she put another bullet into his chest.

 No she didn’t understand but it did feel right.

Somewhere in the back of her mind the rational part of her mind screamed at her but it was dismissed; the distant mental protests little more than a gnat buzzing in her ear. 

The doors were a relic, never meant to be opened unless a miracle occurred, and yes her thoughts told her a miracle had occurred when the master had arrived. The Master! How could she have forgotten? The master’s will no doubt. She gleefully stood over the forlorn and ancient console and punched in the code. The light above the worn and rusted doors flashed green and slowly drew themselves open.

Immediately the room was bathed in a pink light. The only safety the rest of the world had from the remains of Archimedes. She should have been terrified at this prospect, horrified over what she had done.  Instead she exited the facility and stood before the massive pink wall that contained the once prosperous city. Soon the wall would fall and her master would have need of her no matter how much that voice in the back of her head screamed.


“Boss? Boss?” Douglass shook the frail professor as gently as he could. Sweat perspired down his forehead in concentration as he clutched the pulsing sphere. Eventually Aaron looked up and favored the lout with a gentle smirk.

“I do apologize, it does take a bit more effort because…well it would be hard to explain, needless to say our back up has arrived and we are ready to begin."


Chapter End Notes:

Apologies if the story was a little rough my BEFL (best editor for life) is currently unavailable.

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