The one to make the first move after the exchange of attacks was the lizard-man. Spinning around as he swept his tail around in a wide arc. Ace reacted quickly by summoning a short-spear and stabbing it into the ground, intercepting the attack. He soon followed with a kick to the lizard’s back, which mostly served to make him take a step forward.
However, his partner didn’t lose the chance to try and take a shot, pulling her revolver and shooting at the man’s back. However, the rubber bullet strangely lost most of its speed a few meters before even reaching the man, to the point that even Ace could see the bullet flying by the end of its trajectory, and by the time that it reached the lizard, it simply bounced harmlessly.
While the two heroes stared surprised for a moment, the villains reacted quickly. The magician pointed his hand towards Ace and the ring in his hand started to shine dangerously. While they were both caught by surprise by the magic, their experience spoke louder, making the two dive away from the simple but more than effective fire-ball spell.
Before either of them could recover completely, Lizard quickly turned on towards Dead-shot, bringing down his clawed hand over the hero, who managed to escape by rolling out of the way. Grimacing slightly, the cowgirl hero quickly kicked the ground with one of her boots, which ignited into a burst of flame propelling her forward near the ground until she jumped up in a flip and landed on her feet, immediately holsting the guns and pulling out the larger rifle held by the magnetic lock on her back.
“Being close never was something I was particularly good anyway.” She said before taking an aim and pulling the trigger.
The gun-fire was much louder than anything that had echoed previously, showing the gun’s extra firepower. This time even the lizard looked worried and quickly moved away, only to see as the bullet made a small crater on the wall behind him.
“THAT’S NOT SOMETHING A HERO SHOULD SHOUT!” The magician shouted back before taking a jump back and putting his hand down his side, pulling out a hidden pistol and aiming at the knight hero.
However, by the time he pulled the trigger, Ace had already scrambled away from the place he was aiming and swung his blade at the man’s weapon. He grimaced slightly when he felt the sword slowing down suddenly, as if cutting through cloth.
Putting some extra strength behind his hand, he managed to overcome the strange denseness that was probably the man’s magic. However the blade lost most of its strength by the time it reached the man’s weapon, and at most served to leave his hand mildly numb due to the impact.
“You and your convenient magic should just die.” Ace complained. “It would save me so much money if I could use magic like that…” He complained even more before stepping in and bringing his whole body into a body-blow.
Feeling as if he was passing through a thick curtain, he quickly swung the blade as soon as the feeling passed, aiming for the man’s chest. Despite his aggressive tone, his swing avoided any vital points, which allowed the man to manage to fall back and re-create the dense air wall around him once again.
Hearing a sudden shout of warning coming from Deaddie, Ace turned just in time to see as the lizard swinging the massive claw at him. Raising his free hand, he parried the attack with the gauntlet, but not before being blown back a few good meters. Stabbing his sword on the ground, Ace managed to stop his movement, only to see the same villain charging at him.
Grimacing at the sight, Ace quickly stored the short-spear with his magic, before extending his arm and pulling back another weapon. However, before he could stand up, a feeling of cold extending over his leg. Reacting quickly, ace turned down to see his own legs sealed into a small block of ice. Gritting his teeth, he quickly raised his head back up and parried the claw with the over-sized gauntlet that he had summoned.
Due to the bad posture, he didn’t manage to dissipate the impact, and felt as his leg on the ground burst into pain. Luckily, the metallic gauntlet that was near the size of his head, despite being considered a blunt weapon by his magic, had a more than excellent defensive capacity, so the attack lost most of its impact against the metal.
However, when the lizard started pummeling him, even his main defensive measure could only hold it so far, so he felt as the impact only damaged his legs more and more.
But this wasn’t his biggest worry as of now, turning to the magician, he saw as he aimed the pistol at him and a frown appeared on his face.
The loud bang echoed on the street when the bandit pulled the trigger, but due to his inability to move, the bullet traced a perfect trajectory towards his chest.
“GAAAH!” A shout echoed as the bullet hit the hero’s chest with a speed that was clearly more than enough to pierce the metal armor that protected him. The lizard grinned satisfied before turning back and looking at the gunner girl who was at the distance.
However, much to his surprise, the girl looked indifferent while aiming down at her rifle. No, actually, she had a wry expression while doing so.
Still, she pulled the trigger, and soon the green-tipped bullet left the muzzle of the rifle, traveling dangerously fast towards the lizard. Widening his eyes, the moment the lizard saw the bullet he tried to put his arm in front of his body, but even with all the speed his body granted him, it wasn’t enough for him to protect himself in time.
The bullet hit him right in the chest, and he prepared himself for the impact, but much to his surprise, the bullet simply disintegrated, releasing a green gas that flew to his nose.
He soon gasped in pain as the poisonous gas reached his nose, making a sharp pain run through his body for a moment. Incomparable to the bullet impacts he felt previously, this time it came from within, so even all his scales couldn’t stop it.
Raising his eyes, he saw as the girl quickly started reloading the gun, putting on a strange bullet in its place. With him right in front of his companion, the magician couldn’t take a clear shot at her, so she had all the time to reload the gun and aim down at him again.
His eyes widened in fear as he quickly understood that there was no escaping the next shot.
But before the girl even pulled the trigger, he felt as something hit him on the back of his head. The feeling vaguely familiar as he fell to his knees, seeing an armored boot standing right besides him. Not even a moment after the gunshot echoed, but the bullet passed above his head, aiming for the magician behind him who shouted in surprise.
“I guess I can also add illegal possession of guns to your charges.” The girl said in a cocky tone as she pressed a button on the rifle and the fiber-rope that left the barrel started being reeled in, bringing with it the gun the magician was using earlier, caught in a sticky substance.
“Couldn’t you have done that earlier?” Ace complained to her while storing his sword away. “I just lost five bucks because of that damned bullet, you know?”
“Aren’t you a cheapskate? Those five bucks just sacrificed its life to save your own!” The girl said in a joking tone while unloading the gun and throwing it away from the thieves.
“I’d rather that there was no noble sacrifice at all!” The knight said while pointing his sword to the lizard’s neck and turning serious. “Now, if you don’t want things to end badly, it would be better if you stopped right here and now.”
“How… I’m sure I shot you!” The magician said surprised.
“Like N other thieves haven’t shot me before.” Ace said before frowning. “Why the hell do you guys always think we wouldn’t have a counter measure against the most well known and used weapon from nowad-WOAH!”
His complaint was interrupted when the magician quickly shot a fireball at him, the lizard took this chance to quickly stand back up and grab hold of the sword that Ace held in his hand, before crushing it with his bare fist.
As Ace stared at the scene in shock for a moment, the magician quickly took on the chance to aim another spell at him. Being flung back by some invisible force, Ace fell to the ground and rolled a bit before standing back up besides Dead-shot, who had already replied the previous aggression with a shot towards the magician, who slowed the bullet with a thick wall of compressed air and had the lizard come in to stop it completely. The bullet shredded on impact, releasing some small metal fragments that stuck to the lizard’s and mage’s body, but aside from that it didn’t do much else.
“…My sword…” Ace muttered in an almost inaudible voice.
“Huh. To think that a toothpick like that would be enough to cut me.” The lizard said before spitting on the ground as if in disgust.
“Well, I find the wind-wall to be more annoying.” Dead-shot said with an annoyed tone while quickly changing the bullet on the rifle in her hand. The empty cartridge jumping up only to be caught by her hand and be shoved back into her pockets. “…running out of city-friendly bullets…” She murmured while giving a glance towards Ace. “…You’ll take the lizard?” She asked with a wry smile.
Ace simply nodded while storing the remaining of the blade before looking blankly to the two man before nodding.
“Yeah… The wind wall is annoying.” He said in a monotone before turning to the lizard. “Do you have any idea of what you just did?” He asked, his anger seeping from his voice.
“Broke your little toy?” Lizard said before darting forward, his movement as fast as a snake, his claw aiming for Ace’s head. The magician quickly crouched to the side, dodging the blow before moving his hand gauntlet towards the man’s gut.
However, as always, the strange thick air slowed his hand greatly, sapping most if not all of the blows strength before it reached the lizard’s body.
“that sword… it was… it was…” Ace said angrily before using his free hand to summon a new weapon. “IT WAS WORTH TWO DAYS OF MEALS!”
“THAT’S WHAT YOU ARE COMPLAINING ABOUT?” The magician shouted in reflex before quickly using his magic on the magician, trying to stop his summoning. Ace quickly reacted to his magic, despite not being able to see what it was, and dodged to the side, only to hear as something impacted on the street besides him. “Besides, from what I saw, all you can do is swing weapons around. Against my wind-wall and Slither’s scales, you are pretty much useless.”
His voice sounded confident and smuggish, but contrary to what he expected, Ace didn’t seem all that bothered by it, as all that he did was let out a brief chuckle.
“Doesn’t that mean that as long as I have a weapon enchanted with air-cutter, it means that I don’t have to worry about your wall, right?” He said coldly. The man blinked surprised for a moment, and while the duo looked at him confused, he quickly finished his summoning and brought down the massive two handed weapons against the lizard. “I’LL MAKE YOU PAY ME BACK FOR WHAT YOU DID TO MY SWORD!”
The lizard instinctively reacted by bringing his hands over his face to protect himself, but once he remembered that his scales would protect him from any cutting wounds, he quickly lowered his guard. Regret filled him as he saw what was approaching.
A two handed war-mace punctured through the shield of compressed air with a scary ease, hitting the lizard right in the middle of his body with enough speed to send him flying back a few meters until he hit the wall with his back.
Shocked, the magician stared at the supposed air-cutter mallet and his knocked back ally. The moment that the scene played, Dead-shot took on the chance to aim another bullet at him and pull the trigger.
He immediately reacted by putting up the usual barrier, and seeing that his friend was out for the count, he quickly created a small ice wall to end the bullet’s momentum. As exhaustion showed on the man’s face due to the strain of fast casting, a small smirk formed in his lips as he sent three small ice spikes towards the girl.
With a leap back to avoid the first two spikes, the girl used the hilt of her rifle to block the remaining magic projectile. By the time she recovered, however, the man had already prepared the next salvo, so with a click of her tongue, she threw her rifle away and brought up her two pistols.
Quickly setting her target to the four spikes using the display in her sunglasses, the classic looking guns whirred into life as they prepared the shot.
From the moment she took out the revolver out and the icicles were destroyed, less than half of a second had passed.
While the magician grimaced and prepared his next tactic, his instincts made him dive away just in time, as the war hammer from Ace missed him by a hairs breath. Scrambling back to his feet, he glanced at the duo for a moment. Noticing that now they had the advantage in numbers, he quickly turned on his feet to flee.
Not even one step later, a strong electrical discharge on his shoulder made him falter his run. Turning his head to the source of the pain, he saw a small bullet-sized drone of kinds sticking to his shoulder. While the shock was only enough to stun him for a brief second, it was enough for Ace to catch him.
Even with an emergency wind barrier and ice wall, it wasn’t enough to stop the knight’s furious blow that quickly knocked him unconscious
Walking over to the magician, dead-shot gave him a brief and light kick to check if he was out for good before making a peace sign towards Ace.
“Score two for the good guys!” She said cheerfully. “And geez, thanks for the help. I was having a hard time dealing with these guys.” She added a bit more seriously.
“I’m seriously considering if it truly was worth it.” Ace replied with a sad tone.
“Oh, come on! It was only a sword!” She nudged him, trying to cheer him up. “The bounty from these two should be enough to pay for the sword and more!”
“But if it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t need to pay two meals worth of money on another sword!” He replied with a tone that made one think he was crying. “Anyway, is this a new bullet?” He asked while picking the small drone up and giving back to her.
“Yup!” She replied cheerfully. “It’s a prototype taser drone. Sadly it’s too small to add any real homing system, so I have to tag the target first.” She pointed to the shredded remains of the previous bullet that stuck to the magician’s shoulder.
“I see. No wonder that bullet looked oddly fragile before.” Ace commented before giving a look to the mace in his hands. “I seriously need a better non-lethal takedown weapon.” He grumbled.
“Is that even considered non-lethal?” Deaddie asked wryly before shaking her head. “Well, leaving that aside for now, I think that you dealt with them pretty well.” She commented while watching him with the corner of her eyes. “What about taking the rank-up test? You should be able to pass it as of now, don’t you?”
“I’m not sure.” Ace replied with a sigh before shaking his head. “I’ll have to wait a couple of months before the public tests begin anyway. I don’t really have much spare money to pay for a particular test.”
“I see…” She nodded thoughtfully, different from the other times he spoke about the money, this time she didn’t feel that it was a cheapskate moment, seeing how for most people, the test was extremely expensive. “Well, I’ll wish you luck then.” She said with a smile as Ace nodded thankful. “Anyway, what was that you asked me yesterday? About needing to talk to me?”
“Oh yeah!” Ace quickly turned to her as she brought up their talk they had throughout the game earlier. “I… met a person who is in an odd situation, and I wanted to know if you could use some of your gear to scan her, seeing how my magic isn’t working.”
“Scan… Her?” Dead-shot asked slightly confused. “Wait, YOUR magic didn’t work? What do you mean?” She asked with a frown.
“It’s a bit complicated…” He said wryly while trying to scratch his head, only for the helmet to stop his hand. “Anyway, think you could do it?”
“Hmmm… Sure… I guess?” She replied a bit suspicious before blinking. “Wait, where exactly were you thinking of doing the scan? Why not take that person to a public hospital?”
“As I said, things aren’t exactly that simple…” Ace replied with a sigh. “That’s why I wanted to ask you if you could take us to your base where you could examine her in private.”
“My… Base…?” Dead-shot asked a bit surprised.
“Ermm… Yes? I do remember you telling me that you had a secret hideout or something.” Ace said before quickly adding. “But, well, if you want to keep it a secret, I’d unders…”
“No, no no no. It’s fine…” She waved her hands frantically to interrupt him. “It’s just that… I wasn’t expecting someone to go and visit me, so I’d like to take some time to tidy things up a bit before doing that.” She said worriedly, making ace nod with a wry smile before looking back. “Anyway, for now we should start by taking these guys to the depar… Huh?”
“What?” Ace asked confused, seeing the girl’s surprised before following her gaze, he cursed. “Goddamit.”
The lizard, who had recovered way faster than what they expected was now running away, going towards one of the alleys in a frenzy run. The two heroes cursed again in unison, and while Dead-shot aimed at him and tried to interrupt his run, Ace quickly darted after him, the hammer being carried behind him as he activated both of his movement and strength enchantments on his armor.
But the lizard had a head-start that left both of them unable to truly reach him before he could take a turn towards the main street, where they would be unable to use their full power to stop the man. Decided to not let that happen, Dead-shot pulled the trigger on the pistol, but with most of the strength lost due to the distance between them, and the fact that the rubber bullets were naturally ineffective against the lizard, all it did was make him stumble. Ace took this chance to run towards him.
The distance between them was a bit too long, though, and even with all his enchantments, the moment the man disappeared through the main street he would get on a difficult position. Even worse if he had the good mind of turning back to human it would make identification downright impossible.
However, something surprising managed to stop the man’s mad dash.
“What the hell is this?” Lizard shouted surprised as he tried to remove the thing blocking his vision. He grabbed the cloth and yanked it off of his head, confused, as he saw what looked like a trench coat that had tangled with his head.
However, this moment of confusion was all that the heroes needed to deal with him. With Dead-shot landing a custom bola bullet on the man’s legs, removing his movement range, Ace quickly ran up the wall with his magic before falling back down, using the gravity to increase the power behind his mace.
The blow was as powerful as one would expect, the head of the lizard slamming on the ground in a fraction of a second, probably causing a concussion for good this time. Luckily, his body was a lot stronger than a normal human’s so Ace had no reason to hold back with his attack.
“…Talk about luck…” Deadshot said while approaching him once again and taking out a small sphere from her pocket. Pressing it against the lizard’s hand, it expanded into a thick foam that hardened around his wrists, forming an instant handcuff. She made the same thing with his legs just to be sure.
“I don’t think it was luck…” Ace said with a wry smile as he picked up the hooded trench-coat and looked it up and down. With the corner of his eyes he caught sight of the blue culprit hiding atop an AC unit of the building.
“Huh? isn’t that…” Dead-shot asked confused as she gave the clothe a better look. “Isn’t that your old uniform?”
“Yup.” He said with a nod before turning to look around. Seeing that the street was still empty thanks to the previous warning, he turned to look at the small trace of blue slime that was peeking at him from above. “Well, might as well… Pria! You can come down!” He shouted.
“Pria? Who’s… WAAH!” Jumping back in surprise, Deaddie quickly opened some distance between her and the blue jelly mass that appeared between her and Ace. As she looked at it in shock, once again she was shocked, as it quickly oozed its way around Ace before gathering itself in a larger blob that towered almost to his shoulder before features started forming on it. “What… The hell…” She said while her hands instinctively took her revolver and held on the grip.
“Whoa, whoa whoa! Calm down!” Ace said while raising his hands and putting himself in front of the strange being. “It’s alright.She’s harmless.”
“She?” Dead-shot asked confused before shaking her head. “Can’t you see it’s a monster Ace?” She said nervously while motioning for him to move away. “What if it eats your or something?”
“She? Eat me?” Ace asked before laughing and taking a step to the side, revealing that the blob had taken on the shape of a girl, who immediately hid herself behind Ace once again while peeking at Dead-shot a bit scared. “Do you really think that she would be able to harm a fly?”
“T-that’s…” The girl’s word died out on her mouth while looking at the slime-girl confused, much to her surprise, the one ace called Pria, shrunk a bit, as if trying to hide even more of herself behind the knight’s back. No matter how much logic and precaution shouted at her, she really couldn’t bring herself to see that girl as a threat. After a long sigh, she let go of the gun and lowered her hand. “I understand… it’s just that…” She peeked at the girl once again. “No matter. I’m sorry.”
“See, she’s not going to hurt you.” Ace said, this time turning towards Pria, who turned to him worriedly, much like a kid when the parent’s brought a person they don’t know to the house. “It’s alright. Dead here is also a hero like me, so no need to worry.” He said in a kind and calming tone. While it did work to make the girl calm down, she still eyed him worriedly, grabbing hold of his sleeve while looking at the other hero. “Anyway, thanks for the help.” He said while giving her the over-coat. “So, could you please put this on again?”
Staring at the two surprised, Dead-shot sighed while she watched as the girl took on the jacket and started putting it around her, a small smile appearing on her face when she had Ace help her with buttoning.
“I’ll… ermm… Go and call the cops… ” She said wryly, surprising Ace. “And you’ll explain to me what’s going on later, okay?” She said. Ace nodded a bit confused before she turned away and brought out her cellphone. A sigh escaping her lips as she tried to calm down the storm that was in her head. “…Just what the hell is going on?”