Her body trembled as she fought to slow her breathing. Uncoiling from her squatting position, she focused on Drudge’s shoulder blades, his hands still smoking from blasting the guard station. She hoped any noise she made would not carry in the grand lobby of the Klein building.

“Ladies and gentlemen, do not fret,” Drudge’s voice boomed and carried a hint of theatrical drama. “I am not after your meager earnings. I am after the items in the vault. No more interference and I will be on my way.”

The large figure took his time stepping over the prone forms of the people that were caught unaware during his attack. Tinkerbelle, with her mechanical creations, fought Drudge’s henchmen. The henchmen were now unconscious, and her robots were destroyed. Drudge had ended the fight by demolishing the guard station, taking the robots with it and wounding Tinkerbelle.

Now that Tinkerbelle was upright, her bruised and masked face darted to the random technology lying about the cavernous room. There were tablets of various sizes, cellphones, a hearing aid, three electric scooters, a coffee maker, and a combination fax-printer-scanner device within five steps of her location. That was the range of her control, she figured.

Extending her fingers of one hand she focused on all the technology within range. Her hand glowed a faint purple hue and her focus shifted to Drudge’s back, who high-stepped over a toppled stroller. The hearing aid hovered then slapped into the palm of her extended hand. A momentary glance at the coffee maker caused the encasement to separate and splay wires, tubes, and other inner workings. The hearing aid zoomed for the coffee maker, and then both merged their components and circuitry. Two tablets, three smart phones, and a solitary flip phone also joined with the coffee maker-hearing-aid device. A scooter righted itself and moved to the table where the newly merged devices floated. The seat shifted and the handlebars bent in an odd shape. Wires, power supplies, and gages shifted or melded together to become one new device.

Drudge stopped his advancement. Tinkerbelle froze, her breath caught, and she shivered. Her costume had rips and tears along the arms, legs and torso. A trickle of blood ran from her nose, over her lips, then dropped off her chin. Several feet past Drudge, something shifted, and he continued on his trek.

Tinkerbelle’s eyelids sealed over, her lips peeled back exposing grinding teeth, two red in color. The color around her hand spread to the other hand and darkened. The devices within range jerked to the air and waited to be used.

“So, you think you have what it takes to defeat me,” Drudge’s voice reverberated throughout the vaulted marble room. She grunted as a response. This pulled a deep, dark and powerful laugh from Drudge producing goose bumps on Tinkerbelle’s arms and neck. She grunted again to refocus.

Several cellphones and tablets melded into a second device. The two remaining scooters, along with the office equipment, merged and trundled to the first amalgamation. The second digital array followed suit, causing an equipment cyclone around the table three feet from Tinkerbelle. One by one, each device or piece of equipment, added itself to the base device, making it larger and more robust. Tinkerbelle’s eyes were shut against anything that Drudge might do.

Drudge turned in place, showing his flat smile and shook his head.  He took a step towards the young woman and her swirling devices. “Young heroes are so predictable.  Especially offspring of established heroes.” Drudge shrugged and pursed his lips while maintaining his current pace and direction. “They never measure up.  Fall short.  Can’t cut the mustard.” Again, he laughed.

Tinkerbelle’s eyes snapped open, showing a bright orange glow. The cobbled equipment, as one unit now, shambled towards the advancing Drudge and halted out of striking range of the well-muscled killer. Sparks emitted from the waist high automaton, and a tangle of wires fell to one side with the end lost in the rubble. Drudge spat forth a guffaw reminiscent of a schoolyard bully. He held his stomach and bent forward, wiping his eyes as he straightened.  Several people moaned in unison and a whispered prayer could be heard.

“Droid. Alpha one. Engage.” Tinkerbelle spat the command through tight lips and clenched teeth. A snap hiss and a grey, translucent sphere encased Drudge.  Taking a slow staggering step forward Tinkerbelle uttered, “I don’t have to defeat you.” She dared one more step. “I have to stall you.”

Drudge’s eyes bored through the field separating him from the young female hero, digging into hers. He threw an eyebrow up when he saw it and the smile drained from his face, chiseling his features in hate.

Cocking a basketball-sized fist back and slamming it forward, it met resistance in the grey field, causing the entire container to darken for an eye blink. It held without so much as a crack appearing. Drudge sneered with trembling lip, scrunched nose, and narrowed eyes. Igniting his fists with his destructive power, he swung twice more.  There was no visible effect to the field.

Tinkerbelle inhaled and let it out.  Repeating this, she stopped shaking.

Her flat tone belied the cheerful gleam in her eyes, “Droid. Alpha two. Engage.” A digital readout of a percent lit up. It counted backwards from one hundred. It blinked ninety-nine then jumped to ninety. Tinkerbelle tilted her head and gazed at Drudge, “You still have to breathe, don’t you?”

The percent readout jumped again. First to eighty, next came seventy-five, then to sixty.
Drudge’s eyes went wide as did his mouth. Spittle left his lips and collided with the surrounding field. The veins on his neck bulged and his back arched.  There was no noise on the outside of the field.

The display changed to fifty and flashed to forty.

One of Drudge’s knees flexed, then they both folded, putting the villain on all fours. Drudge’s mouth was still open and his shoulders heaved.  Sweat poured off his nose. Ramming his head into the field produced a bruise between his eyebrows and nothing more.

The display flashed thirty-five, thirty, twenty-five.

Drudge fell flat on his face, only his chest moved.

Tinkerbelle looked beyond the prone villain, smiled and waved the entering costumed people towards her.  The Sound Guard, Seattle’s premier hero group, stood around the sphere, some had mouths agape and others were wide eyed.

The display read twenty, ten, then zero.

Tinkerbelle chuckled, “Droid. Disengage.”

With a snap hiss, the grey barrier disappeared.  The Sound Guard snatched at Drudge’s appendages and one of them clamped on manacles that were made from a mysterious component.

“So,” Tinkerbelle said to Mach, the team speedster and leader. “About that position that ISN’T a sidekick.”


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