Published by Quintin Fortune at Shakespir
Copyright 2016 Quintin Fortune
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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“…And police are still quiet on the events that happened on Halloween night at the notorious Tower of Tears,” the reporter announced. Deadguy leaned out of the mini-kitchen to look at the television. “Critics say the police are hiding something from the public, while Lieutenant Ramirez has continued to deny the claims.”
The image on screen switched to Lieutenant Ramirez, looking as annoyed and upset as usual. “Again, we are working with the F.B.I to find the cause and or culprits of this act.”
“No comment,” Our Hero stated, shaking his head. In the back of his mind, he knew exactly what happened. There was a secret war going on. A group hidden in the shadows, fighting against…something. He clutched his head. The headache had popped up again. “I know, narrative,” he growled. “Just shut up.”
He watched the news for a few more moments, both listening and ignoring the local stories before turning the television off and heading to work. “Good morning Misses Avarence,” he said to the rotund gray-haired woman that sat on the stairs in front of his apartment building. She smelled like she was already on her third cigarette.
“Go fuck yourself,” she growled.
“Ah, you have a heart of gold,” Deadguy remarked. “You’re an inspiration to us all.”
“I wish I were dead,” she spat as Our Hero started off down the sidewalk. It was a nice November morning. There was a small chill in the air. The trees were awash in a sea of autumn. The kids were shaking off their sugar comas from the past few days and heading off to school. Halloween decorations were being removed as holiday ones began peeking out at the people passing by.
Deadguy arrived to an empty Office. “Usually I’m not the first one in,” he remarked. He spotted a note on his desk.
Had a call come in. Valk’s out…somewhere and
Kiri called out sick. Donuts in the break room.
“Fantabulous,” he remarked as he crumpled up the note in one hand and threw it away. “At least there’s free donuts.”
He walked into the break room to find a cloaked figure sitting down at the table. A cup of tea was steeping before it. The hood covered the person’s face, but the arms gave away the pale complexion.
“Is Jill speaking in euphemisms again,” he questioned. “Wait, she’s never used euphemisms.”
“Hello Hero,” a soft voice from under the hood said just before taking a sip of tea.
“Well, hello Beautiful,” Deadguy remarked, feeling his heart skip a beat. “Is your name just as lovely as the rest of you?”
“Maybe,” she said. She pulled her hood back just enough to reveal her face. “I’m Lilith, Azrael’s little sister.”
Our Hero’s brow furrowed. “What,” he asked flatly.
“Azrael’s my brother,” she repeated. “I’m sure he told you about me.”
“Nooo,” he said in disbelief. “Nonononono. Just…no. The way he was talking about you made it sound like you were a kid.” He motioned his hands up and down in front of her body. “You are definitely not a kid. And too damn hot.”
“Don’t get any ideas,” she said.
“First: Too late. Second: I’ll leave that for the Internet.”
Lilith raised an eyebrow. “Excuse me?”
Deadguy swung his arm across him, acting as if he was sweeping something horrible away. “Not now, we have more important things to deal with. Like, how the hell did you get in here?”
“The front door was open?”
“How did Jill not notice you?”
“Are you actually going to answer any of my questions?”
“Are you actually going to ask any questions I know the answer to?”
Deadguy threw up his hands in frustration. “Nevermind! I just came in here for donuts. Actual donuts, not…forget it.” He covered his mouth, trying to collect his thoughts. “Let’s try this again.” He plopped into the seat opposite her. “I’m sorry about your brother,” he said.
“I’m not here about that,” Lilith commented.
“You’re not? I thought that the loss of Azrael-”
“I didn’t loose him,” she cut him off. Deadguy gave her a quizzical look. “We’re necromancers. We don’t loose family members.”
“Well that has to make the holidays entertaining,” he remarked.
“I need your help,” she explained, ignoring his comment. “There is something weird going on and I think you’re the only person that can do something about it.”
“Alright, sign me up,” Deadguy declared.
Lilith was taken back. “That’s it? You’re not going to ask why?”
“When other ask ‘why’, I say ‘because reasons’. I’ll help you because whenever someone needs the help of the Professional Hero Extraordinaire, they get me.”
The necromancer covered her eyes. “This might not have been the best of ideas,” she sighed.
“So when do we get started,” DG asked.
Lilith stood up to leave. “I will be back by to pick you up around 6. The concert doesn’t start until 8, so we will have plenty to time to get there.” She brushed past him as the door chime rang.
“Wait, is this a date,” he called out.
“You’re not my type,” she called back. A moment later, Jill Nemo poked her head into the break room.
“Who was she,” she asked. “What have I told you about bringing your little goth fangirls into work with you?”
“She’s not a fan,” Our Hero remarked, plopping down into one of the chairs. “But she is something.”
Later that night, Deadguy and Lilith walked into the darkened nightclub known as The Obsidian. The place easily earned its name, as no one there wore anything other than black. A deep, torturous bass thumped through the air that was tinged with alcohol and sweat. Our Hero looked around with a stupid grin on his face while the necromancer tried to secretly hold her nose.
“I didn’t know you wanted to take me Christmas shopping,” he said, rubbing his hands together.
“This place reeks,” she complained.
“Oh, that’s just the smell of hormones and angst,” DG explained. “It’s common for a Thursday.”
“It’s Monday,” she corrected.
Deadguy thought for a moment. “Right,” he said finally. “That might explain a few things.”
“Why,” Lilith asked, sounding funny from trying to speak while still pinching her nose.
“Will you stop holding your nose? You look weird.”
Lilith simply glared at him. “How can you stand the smell of human desperation,” she asked.
“Apparently you’ve never been in a bar at last call,” Deadguy noted. He reached over to pull her hands down, which resulted in the two of them slapping each others hands. “Stop it! You’re embarrassing yourself,” he hissed.
“It’s not my fault this place smells,” Lilith argued.
“Then why did you even bring me here?”
The crowd started cheering as a lone spotlight flooded the stage. Under it stood a woman with raven black hair curled up around her neck, dressed in white bandages. She started to sing, her silky voice washing over the crowd like a siren’s song. “Okay, can I have her for Christmas,” Deadguy asked.
“Just wait,” Lilith replied slowly, almost as a warning.
The woman slowly looked up at the crowd. That’s when Our Hero noticed something unsettling. The singer’s skin was discolored. Her eyes were empty and sullen. She looked as if she had just crawled out of the grave. As her song continued, the crowd started to sway.
“That’s just an effect, right,” Deadguy asked. “Makeup and contacts.”
“No,” Lilith answered coolly. “She’s real. A real zombie.” She turned to him. “You still want her for Christmas?”
“A little, yeah,” DG said, sounding worried.
The crowd continued the sway. Deadguy looked around. The crowd’s eyes started to turn as empty and sullen as the singer’s. A few groans came from nearby. Their flesh started to turn from pale to a sort of rotten discoloration. “This is why I brought you here,” Lilith hissed, trying not to draw attention to them.
“She’s turning people into zombies,” Deadguy yelled. The entire crowd turned to face them. Lilith flipped the hood of her cloak up in an attempt to hide her face. He threw his arms up in annoyance. “Again with the undead!” The crowd of zombies started to growl, in anger and in hunger. He ripped his fingerless fighting gloves out of his long coat pocket and slammed them on. “Time to start laying down justice.”
Lilith grabbed him by the arm and started for the door. “No! You can’t fight them,” she said.
Deadguy resisted. “If I don’t stop them here, the city’s doomed.”
“Just trust me,” she shouted. Our Hero relented and followed Lilith out of the Obsidian. The zombies just stood there, watching them leave. They continued running for a few blocks before Lilith stopped and began catching her breath. “Need to
“Maybe if you didn’t wear fifty pounds of leather,” Deadguy remarked.
“Standard outfit for all necromancers,” she explained. “When dealing with the various forms of the undead, the living dead, and animated dead, leather is best to keep you from getting injured.”
“Okay, so what was that all about,” DG asked, still watching to see if the zombies would follow them.
“This was meant to be a reconnaissance mission,” Lilith state. “Go in, confirm or deny rumor, and get out.” She stood back up, finally catching her breath. “Now that I know what’s going on, I’ll need to get some information to figure out how to deal with her.” The necromancer started walking back to her car.
“So you’re just going to leave me here,” Deadguy yelled. Lilith’s slick black car zipped off into the night. “Yep. You just left me. Hope this doesn’t become a running theme.”
Deadguy stepped out of his apartment building, ready to greet the day. The day, as always, had other plans. He took in a breath of air, and nearly hacked his lungs out from all the second-hand smoke coming from Mrs. Avarence. “Whoa. More powerful that a locomotive,” he commented.
“I’ve outlived all the doctors who said it would kill me,” she grumbled.
“That’ll teach ‘em,” he remarked before heading off.
“One day, you’ll feel what I feel,” she yelled.
Our Hero started walking towards the bus stop when a familiar black car pulled up beside him. The passenger side window rolled down. “You’re not going to work today,” Lilith called out.
He stopped and peered over at her. “Pretty sure I am.”
“No, you’re not. I already bought you for the entire day,” the necromancer replied. A few onlookers gave Deadguy a few nasty glances.
“Say that a little louder. I don’t think the tabloid magazine down the way heard you.”
“I already contacted your employer and she should be clearing it through the right channels any minute,” Lilith explained.
Deadguy’s phone suddenly rang. “Pro Heroes. Deadguy he-”
“Deadguy, it’s Jill,” his boss cut him off. “Some business calling themselves Les Morts Vivent has hired you out for the next few days.”
“I’m glad I was consulted about it,” he said.
“Their money’s good, so they have you…” There was a brief pause. “until Friday.”
“Can I at least stop by and get some coffee,” he asked.
“You’re on their time now. Get your own coffee.” With that, the line went silent.
Our Hero looked back at the car. Lilith unlocked the passenger door and patiently watched him. He shook his head and sucked air through his teeth. “You promise to at least respect me in the morning?”
“Get in,” the necromancer ordered.
He reluctantly crawled into the vehicle and she began to drive. “Can we at least stop for some coffee,” DG questioned. “Maybe a donut? Or a bagel? Or maybe even a muffin. Oo, I know. Let’s go get some pancakes.”
“Already ate,” Lilith replied curtly.
Deadguy slumped in his seat. “What’s the plans for today? Wait, is it my birthday and you’re taking me to a surprise party?” The necromancer reached into the backseat when they pulled up to a red light and dumped a file folder into Our Hero’s lap. “And we get right down to business.” He pulled out a photo of a young lady. “Hey, she’s cute. Who’s this?”
“Caitlin Myers,” Lilith explained as Deadguy continued looking over the information. “The lead singer from the show we saw last night. She used to call herself ‘Zombie Girl’. Now she calls herself the Zombie Queen.”
“So what’s her story,” Our Hero asked, enamored by one of Caitlin’s old publicity photos.
“She started out as just another techno-slash-goth singer,” the necromancer said, turning a corner. “Then one night, she showed up like that.” She reached over and flipped the page. “Started a new sub-genre of music called ‘Necrotica’. Anyone who hears it is temporarily turned into a zombie.”
“It’s not permanent,” Deadguy questioned, flipping through some papers.
“No, thank Hades,” Lilith sighed. “It’s a form of hypnosis. We’re not sure how it’s done…”
“You keep saying ‘we’,” Our Hero interrupted. “You don’t mean your brother, do you?”
They drove in silence for a moment. “No,” she answered. “I mean the NecroShip.”
“That’s not a boat made out of bones, is it?”
“No. It’s an order of necromancers from around the world, along with all of history,” she explained.
“Uh huh,” he said, not sure whether to believe that statement.
“What she’s doing is highly dangerous,” Lilith continued. “Not to mention illegal.”
Our Hero looked up from the paperwork, one of his eyebrows arched. “What do the cops have to do with this?”
“Not any living laws,” she explained. “But the NecroShip has a list of laws that govern how all necromancers and necrosensitive beings should act. Breaking them is not a good idea.”
The car pulled up to another stop. “What have you got for tunes,” Deadguy asked, pushing random buttons on Lilith’s radio.
“Hey,” she exclaimed. “Will you…stop it! Don’t…” Her commands fell of deaf ear as he continued messing with the stations. “STOP pushing BUTTONS!” The station flipped back and forth until it stopped on a J-Pop station.
Our Hero had a look of pure joy on his face. The necromancer had a look of pure horror.
“Hero Dance Party,” he announced, cranking up the music and jumping out of the car.
“Deadguy! Get back in the…” Lilith started, then stopped once she saw Deadguy dancing on the sidewalk. “This isn’t funny. Get. In. The. Car.” He couldn’t hear her over the music. She continued watching as several people started dancing with him. “What in Hades is…no one does that dance anymore.” She let out a frustrated growl, then slammed her palm onto the volume knob. The music stopped suddenly, causing everyone to stop dancing.
“Way to be a buzz kill, Lil,” DG complained.
“In the car. Now,” she instructed, pointing at the passenger seat.
Deadguy hung his head like a child that had just gotten in trouble, then jumped back in just as the light turned green. “Fine, so no food, no coffee, no fun. Where exactly are you taking me, then? Boring Central?”
“I don’t think that’s a real place,” the necromancer remarked. “We’re heading back to the Obsidian. I have arranged a meeting with Caitlin through her manager.”
“This early in the morning?”
“I had some help from his deceased grandmother. Via dreamspeak.”
“Well, okay then.”
The two pulled up to the parking lot of the Obsidian. The only cars there belonged to the management and employees. None were cars you would expect to see in the parking lot of a gothic nightclub save one: a hearse. “Bet you the hearse belongs to Caitlin,” Deadguy stated.
“Nope,” Lilith disagreed. “The janitor.”
“How do you-”
“Great Uncle’s inheritance. He’s not happy about it.”
“Do you ever turn off?”
“Do you ever stop trying to be funny?”
Our Hero stopped. He tried to think of a response, but nothing happened. “You better be glad your cute,” he said finally.
“I thought you had feeling for Caitlin,” Lilith called out, not stopping her stride.
They entered the nightclub. The place looked completely different during the day. The lights were on, making the entire place look more like a velvety bar than a gothic club. A few of the janitorial crew was cleaning up the mess from last night along with fixing up a few things for tonight. “Alright boys, take five,” the bartender called out as the two walked in. The place cleared out except for Caitlin sitting in a booth near the stage.
“Yeah, not ominous at all,” Deadguy commented.
“Caitlin Myers,” Lilith called out. “I’m here to stop you.”
The singer stood up slowly. “Is that so,” she remarked. “With who, this idiot of a hero?”
“Better to be thought a fool,” Deadguy started.
“I don’t think we’ve met,” Caitlin said to Lilith. “Who exactly are you and what do you mean by ‘stop me’?”
“I am Lilith of the NecroShip. You, Zombie Queen, are to relent at once or suffer the consequences.”
Lilith and Caitlin stood a few feet away from each other. “A real necromancer,” Caitlin purred. “I thought you were just stories to scare little zombie kids.”
“Only the ones that misbehave,” Lilith replied.
“Zombie kids grow up,” DG asked.
“Mentally, not physically,” she answered curtly.
“Huh,”shot out from the side of Our Hero’s mouth.
“Are we going to just stand here and banter or are you actually going to do something,” the Zombie Queen growled.
“I’m up for more bantering,” Deadguy said. “Bantering means I’m less likely to get killed. Wait. No. More likely. Never mind.”
“Deadguy,” Caitlin said. “Why are you wasting time with this cow?”
Our Hero pointed at Lilith. “Person. Not cow,” he corrected.
“Zombies call humans ‘cows’,” the necromancer informed him.
“Well that’s just rude,” he replied.
“Join us,” she continued, turning her attention away from Lilith. “Lead my children in this world and help us take our rightful place at the top of the food chain.” She moved in closer, her lips mere inches from his. “Be my Zombie King.”
“Are we still bantering,” DG asked. “Because that’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all week.”
Zombie Queen slammed her hands onto Deadguy’s chest, knocking him off his feet and almost across the room. “I gave you a chance,” she yelled.
Lilith quickly stood between them and said something that he couldn’t understand. The Zombie Queen covered her ears and ran off as fast as she could.
Our Hero sat up and rested his arms on his knees. His chest felt like someone had hit him with a wrecking ball. Twice. “Tell me something I don’t know,” he muttered.
“Beg pardon,” Lilith asked.
“What was all that about,” he asked.
“A little incantation that scares away the undead as soon as they hear it,” she explained, offering her hand to help him up.
He took her hand. “Didn’t affect me.”
“I guess that means you’re not undead,” she said. “Answers a few questions. Brings up more.”
“Mulling over questions is code for coffee time,” DG declared. “Let’s go!” He ran out of the club while still holding Lilith’s hand.
Deadguy brought two cups of coffee to the small table by the window. Lilith was writing something on a napkin is a series of weird swirls. He sat the cup down with an audible THUNK. The necromancer stared into the cup. “What’s this,” she asked, confused and annoyed.
“It’s coffee,” he answered, taking a sip.
“So’s your hair.”
She sniffed it. “It smells burnt. Did they burn it? Is that why it’s black?”
“Have you seriously never had coffee before,” he asked. “Just drink.”
She took the slightest of sips, then sputtered as she slammed the cup back onto the table. “That’s horrible!”
“Hey now,” Deadguy defended. “Be nice. The baristas are right over there.” He took another sip of his. “Put some cream or sugar in it or something.”
Lilith reached over to the condiments sitting on the table. She grabbed one of the white containers and dumped a large bit into her cup. Deadguy noticed it just as she was about to take another drink. “Um, that’s-” he started before she made a strange noise and spat the coffee back out. “Salt,” he finished.
He grabbed a few napkins and started to wipe up the coffee off the table and himself. “How about I just get you some water?”
“Yes, please,” she stated.
A quick change of drink and he was back to look over her writing. “So, what’s all that?”
“Hm,” Lilith questioned, not looking up.
Deadguy tapped on the napkin covered in swirls. “What are you writing?”
“I’m trying to sort things out in my head,” she explained. “About something I read about long ago.”
“There is a legend in the NecroShip about a being called Agrion ec Kon. The Dead One,” Lilith explained.
“This is going to lead into a flashback, isn’t it,” Deadguy asked.
“Just shut up and listen,” she snipped.
Millenniums ago, when humanity was young and magic was new, there lived a man with a heart as black as night.
He was an unkillable warrior. An unstoppable conqueror. No form of sword, spear, or sling could slay him.
They say that Agrion was the master of the most potent and darkest of magics: Necromancy. The power flowed in his blood.
Agrion ec Kon walked the young Earth, using the bodies of slain enemies as soldiers in his undead army.
One day, while invading a village, Agrion came across the young woman Fegrin and found his heart beginning to beat.
He found love, something that was missing from his life. He stole the woman away and kept her locked in an elegant palace.
He promised her anything her heart desired. Wealth. Land. Finest clothing and food. All his offers were met with only tears.
After some time, he relented and begged to know what would end her crying and bring gladness to her heart.
Through her tears, she wished only that her father was by her side. Agrion culled the dungeons to find Fegrin’s father, Enki.
Once father and daughter were reunited, Agrion announced a grand celebration to signify the union of him and his beloved.
Little did Agrion know, but Fegrin and Enki, along with one of Fegrin’s bodyguards, plotted to end his reign once and for all.
As his future wife, Fegrin had access to everything Agrion owned, including his necromancy scrolls and objects of power.
Among the Dead One’s possessions were the Scroll of Banishing Death and the Disk of Entrapment.
One the day of the union, Enki launched his attack on Agrion ec Kon. The two fought viciously, but Enki had the upper hand.
With the aid of Fegrin’s heart and her bodyguard’s courage, Enki was able to lock the Dead One away in the Disk, never to return.
“Riveting,” Our Hero said flatly. “You could make a fortune on the movie rights alone, but that doesn’t sound like me. I’m not a king. In fact, I have a boss.”
“I don’t know,” the necromancer replied. “That’s just what the legend says.” She fell back in her chair and crossed her arms. “I personally don’t believe it.”
“The story or that I’m this Angry Ecto Cooler schmuck,” DG questioned.
“Agrion ec Kon,” she corrected. “and no, I don’t believe you’re him.”
“Why not,” he asked, taking a sip of coffee.
“For one, you’re nice.”
Deadguy was taken back by this comment. “Did you just give me a compliment,” he questioned.
“And two, I have seen you fight,” she continued. “You try to save lives instead of take them. That is not what Agrion en Kon was like.” She looked out the window at the people passing by. A few were giving them weird looks. “Honestly, I see you more as the unnamed bodyguard.”
“That would make me a lot older than people think,” he remarked.
“I didn’t say you were the bodyguard,” she defended. “Again, I don’t believe the story is true anyway. It’s just a fable to tell about how Lord Enki came into power.” She got up. “I think there’s something going on with Caitlin that I can’t get a fix on. I need to do some more research.” The necromancer started for the door. Deadguy reached out and grabbed her arm. She looked down in shock.
“It’s rude to leave without saying ‘bye’,” he commented.
She paused for a moment. “Bye,” she spat out.
He let go of her arm. “I’ll see you later,” he replied.
Lilith hesitated for a moment, then left Deadguy by himself.
An entire day had passed while Deadguy waited for Lilith to return. Which was fine by him, because it meant he didn’t have to do any work. Not that he didn’t like being a Professional Hero, he just didn’t like the parts that involved being shot, stabbed, or blown up. It was Wednesday evening, and Our Hero was settling in to read over one of his new comic book trades when there was a heavy knock at the door. “Did I order pizza,” he questioned. Throwing the door open, he saw Lilith standing on the other side. Her eyes were wide with panic. “So that’s a ‘no’ on the pizza.”
“What pizza,” she questioned, then shook the question off. “That’s not important. We have work to do. Now.”
Our Hero grabbed his long coat and followed after the necromancer. “Mind filling me in? Like why you look like you’ve just seen the end of the world?”
“Because I have,” she shot back as they raced down the stairs. “The Zombie Queen is a spirit that inhabits certain ‘Chosen Ones’ in order to raise an army of the dead and destroy our world,” she explained. They were out on the sidewalk as Deadguy threw his coat on. “The only way to defeat her is to get her to reveal her true name.”
“And her true name is…?”
“Couldn’t say,” Lilith huffed. “It has never been recorded because whoever banishes her…” Her voice became quite. “Dies with her.”
Our Hero grabbed her by the shoulder and spun her around to face him. “Lilith, don’t worry. I won’t let anything happen to you.”
She gave a sad smile. “I know you’re just saying that to make me feel better.”
“Is it working?”
“A little, yes. Besides, I’m a necromancer. I know when I’m going to die.”
“Then let’s go. We need to stop sexy zombie Rumpelstiltskin before any unrepairable damage is caused.” Lilith gave him a confused look. “That was a weird nickname for the Zombie Queen, wasn’t it?” Lilith nodded slowly. “Okay. So, we’ll forget I said that and go to…where are we going?”
“The Obsidian,” she replied. “She’s there all week.”
Deadguy looked Lilith over. “I should have guessed, you’re already dressed the part.” He started walking off as the necromancer looked over her clothes.
“This is how I normally dress. What’s wrong with my outfit? Deadguy? Deadguy!” She followed after him.
The two arrived at the nightclub. The music inside was blaring, and it sounded like the Zombie Queen had already taken the stage. “We don’t have much time,” Lilith exclaimed. The two rushed in, but Deadguy was stopped at the door by one of the bouncers. He was a large man that didn’t look as if he had ever had a laugh a day in his life.
“Um…I’m with her,” he announced.
“I know who you are,” the bouncer growled. “I got a message from the boss. You’re not allowed to start any funny business.”
“What? Like, Clowns-for-Hire?”
The bouncer shivered. “Just don’t do anything stupid,” he barked before letting Our Hero in. He found that the magic that the Zombie Queen was using was already taking effect. Several groups and turned into zombies, and other were in the process. Lilith was trying to fight her way through, but not making any progress.
“Not going quite as planned,” DG questioned.
“Just hush and help me,” she replied.
Deadguy looked around. “You could sneak around through the bar,” he suggested. She started for the bar as the Zombie Queen ended her song.
“Now, the time has come, my children,” she announced, her voice booming over the microphone. “Go forth and bring this world to its knees!” The crowd began to shamble towards the exit.
“Deadguy! Block the door,” Lilith called out.
“Why,” he asked as the zombie hoard advanced.
“You really need me to explain what would happen if they got out,” she asked.
“Got it. Just call me Zhang Fei,” Our Hero said, grabbing a push broom and rushing to stand in front of the doors leading outside.
“Who,” she mouthed, the just shook her head and chased after the Zombie Queen.
The hoard slowly lurched towards Deadguy, their eyes empty. Their groans low and disturbing. ‘Alright Hero,’ he thought. ‘These aren’t real zombies. Well, they are, but they’re not.’ He shook his head. “It’s a bad day when you confuse yourself,” he remarked. One lurched at him. “No. Bad hypno-zombie.” He shoved the attacker back. The zombie stumbled, bumping into a few others behind him. They protested with grunts, then pushed him forward.
The hoard shambled forward, trying to overwhelm Our Hero when something crashed through the ceiling window. A giant suit of gold armor stood up from the cliched one-fist-hitting-the-ground landing. Its chest contained strange gems in the shape of a V. Strips of crimson hung from the silver double shoulder pads. Millions of wires connected to a bullet-shaped golden helm with a V-shaped visor.
The zombies looked up at this intrusion, not quite sure what to do. Someone started pushing through the crowd. “Skitch,” came a command. “Outta my way. Move it or lose it.” Deadguy shoved the last of the zombies out of his way with the push broom, then slammed the end on the ground like a guard at a castle. “The hell were you thinking,” he yelled at the armor.
“Um…” a voice through the helmet’s mouthpiece mumbled. “About what?”
“You just come crashing through the window and do that stupid little superhero landing-”
“It looks cool,” the armor interrupted.
“Ah tah tah tah. Don’t interrupt me,” DG stated. “You could have killed somebody crashing in like that.”
The armor looked around. “They already look dead to me,” he declared.
“No. No, they’re not. They’re hypno-zombie…it’s, it’s a thing. They’re under control by that Zombie Queen up there and…”
“Zombie Queen,” the suit yelled. “That’s who I’m here for.” He spun around to face the stage, pointing at Caitlin. “Zombie Queen, I am Vendetta of Venatores Mali. You are to come with me at…who’s that?”
All eyes turned to Lilith trying to sneak up behind the Zombie Queen. “Um…hi?”
“Kill them,” the Zombie Queen screamed. “Kill them all.” Black tendrils sprung from her hands, slapping Lilith away. She went flying off the stage and crashing into a table.
“Lil,” Our Hero called out, rushing to her side. “You okay?”
The necromancer tried to stand up with the aid of Deadguy. “I’m fine, but she’s strong. We need to weaken her somehow.”
“I’m all ears,” DG said.
There was the sudden sound of lasers being fired. The two looked over to see Vendetta starting to fight the zombified crowd. “You wouldn’t happen to have any high-powered magnets on hand,” Deadguy questioned.
“We need to get them away from her,” Lilith commanded. “And him away from them.”
“I got an idea,” Our Hero suggested. “Hey, Bolt Brain.”
Vendetta shook off a couple of zombies trying to bite his arm off. “Did you just call me ‘Bolt Brain’,” he yelled.
“You see any other idiots with golden candy-coated shells,” Deadguy shot back. “We’re going out for nachos. You think you can handle things here?”
“You’re running from a fight,” Vendetta questioned. “What kind of hero are you?”
“One that doesn’t feel like getting bit,” he replied as the two rushed outside by way of the fire escape. They only made it a few feet when they heard CLONK CLONK CLONK following them. Deadguy looked back to see Vendetta running after them. Following him was part of the shambling hoard of hypno-zombies. “Well, I guess he does have some brains in that tin can.”
“How can you spit such vitriol at him,” Lilith questioned.
“Dunno,” Our Hero replied. “Just feels like the right thing to do.”
“Turn here,” Lilith called out, grabbing Deadguy’s arm and quickly bolting down a side alley. They started down the alley, Vendetta was a few clunky steps behind. Behind him, the zombie hoard shambled after them. They slid to a stop in order to catch their breath.
“Why are we running,” Vendetta asked.
“Why are you running,” DG snipped. “Don’t you have rocket boots to fly or something?”
“Boys. Later,” Lilith interrupted, pointing at the incoming hoard.
“More running,” Vendetta complained.
“You’re the one who thought it was a bright idea to run around in a suit of armor,” Deadguy noted as the three took off again. “Quit your bitching.”
A few meters down the alley and they came to a screeching halt. A wooden fence blocked their path. “Looks like we’re making our stand here,” Lilith declared.
“I hope you don’t mean last stand,” Vendetta suggested.
“Why? Don’t want to get zombie drool on your cape thingy,” DG remarked.
“At least I don’t wear cheap long coats,” the armor shot back.
“Will you two shut up,” Lilith yelled. “I’m trying to concentrate.”
Deadguy glared at Vendetta. “You think you can refrain from blasting people away this time?”
Vendetta’s visor briefly flickered red. “You actually going to fight instead of running away this time?”
The two stood shoulder to shoulder, ready for the incoming hoard. They came at them fast, barely giving Our Hero time to throw a punch. A few quick strikes and he was able to push back. An elbow to the face knocked one zombie backwards, crashing into a couple behind him. Behind them, Lilith started chanting in that same strange tongue she used before.
There was a surge of force from the zombies, as if they were trying to get through them to get to the necromancer. Vendetta spread his arms wide, trying to hold back as many as he could. Deadguy shoulder checked those that pushed through. “I hope she won’t be much longer,” the armor commented.
“Oh, if only you could fight as well as you snark,” DG replied, shoving away a few more zombies.
Lilith yelled the last part of the spell, throwing her hands towards the crowd. A wave of lavender energy redirected from around her to the zombies that Deadguy and Vendetta were desperately trying to hold back. The sullen, undead features faded from the group. The people shook their heads as if waking from a bad dream.
Deadguy looked back at Lilith as she struggled to stand. He rushed to her aid. “Whoa,” he commented. “Take it easy.”
“I saw something,” she said weakly. “A battle between…” She closed her eyes, trying to remember. Her eyes shot open, staring daggers into Vendetta. “You! What in HADES were you thinking?” She shrugged off Our Hero and stepped up to him. “Who are you anyway? Wait, don’t tell me. You’re in armor, which means your going to lie about your identity.”
She cupped her hands together and breathed gently into them. A faint blue glow emerged. It shot out and flew around Vendetta at blinding speed. The glow jumped back into Lilith’s hands, then she gently inhaled it back inside her. “Frank Rush,” she said, almost as if accusing him of having such a name. “One of the accursed ‘Venatores Mali’ the NecroShip had been having problems with.”
The name Venatores Mali stabbed Deadguy’s brain, causing a massive headache. “Not again,” he moaned.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the armor defended. “Wait. What are you talking about?”
Lilith stormed off through the crowd. “Just stay away from me,” she yelled.
Deadguy followed her, while Vendetta followed him. He stopped the armor. “Whoa, Bolt Brain. Where do you think you’re going?”
“Following you,” he announced. “I still have to take down Zombie Queen.”
“No no no. You, stay here, and I leave,” DG instructed.
“No. I’m going with you,” he insisted.
“Or, better idea, listen to the woman that has control over the dead and leave.”
“Necromancer don’t control the dead,” the armor stated.
“I don’t care what they do. GeeTeeEfeOh.” Our Hero walked off after Lilith, leaving Vendetta confused. The two raced back as fast as they could to the Obsidian. Once inside, they found the Zombie Queen drawing blood red energy from the remaining zombie hoard. “Okay, Plan B,” he questioned.
“There is no Plan B,” Lilith replied as she strode towards the stage. “We take her down or we die. That’s it.”
Vendetta crashed through the ceiling window, standing in Lilith path.
“Why did you break the other window,” Deadguy yelled. “Dumbass.”
“I thought I told you to stay away from me,” the necromancer growled.
“This is a matter for Venatores Mali now,” he replied. “Take your little boyfriend and go home.”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” Lilith shot back with a chuckle.
“Is anyone going to do anything about the Zombie Queen,” Deadguy questioned.
“I was here first,” she declared. “You can just go home and…and…polish your armor.”
“Supernatural being. Growing in power,” DG pointed out.
“Go back to your little goth girl party,” Vendetta remarked.
“She starting to glow,” Our Hero observed. “That’s not a good thing.”
Lilith craned her neck to look around Vendetta. “Oh no. Move!” She cut around the armor and started for the stage. Deadguy was a few steps behind. “Keep the rest of the hoard at bay,” she commanded.
Our Hero noticed the push broom he used earlier. Trying to kick it up with his foot, all it did was whack him in the nose. “That went over better in my head.” He picked up the broom and held it firmly. “Let’s try this again.” Within moments, he was fighting off the zombies that were trying to charge the stage. A few strikes rendered the first few attackers incapacitated. He made his way back to Vendetta to make sure the man didn’t do anything to hurt the hypnotized victims.
“Got her in my sights,” Vendetta commanded, aiming at the Zombie Queen. Deadguy missed an attacker and ended up hitting the gauntlet. The shot fired off into the ceiling. Even though the helmet hid his face, Our Hero knew Frank was angry.
“Get outta my swing zone,” DG yelled before charging back into battle.
There was a crash as Lilith used a few souls to throw the drum kit at the Zombie Queen. The two battle with souls and magic on the stage, creating an eerie light show. Deadguy was almost bitten while watching the show. “Off,” he yelled as he tossed the attacker aside.
Lilith and the Zombie Queen continued their struggle, unaware of the war taking place in the crowd. The necromancer threw up a spell to stop her, but she slapped it away. “What makes you think your pathetic little necro magic can stop me,” the Zombie Queen growled. “I am Nevcroxxa, Queen of the Dead!”
“How many X’s in that name,” Lilith asked.
Nevcroxxa stopped, caught off-guard by the question. “Two,” she answered. “Why?”
“Just making sure,” Lilith replied, slapping her hands palm down on the stage. She said an incantation and a violet web crawled out from her fingers. The web caught Nevcroxxa, trapping her in place and quickly creeping up her body. She screamed in pain as the webbing started to glow. The light shifted from violet to indigo, then quickly pulled back into the stage.
Caitlin fell to the ground. Lilith managed to catch her in time. The zombie effect faded from the crowd, but not before Deadguy could stop himself from punching a pretentious looking man in the face.
“Um…they’re not zombies anymore,” Vendetta stated, as if sharing a secret.
“Oops,” Our Hero replied flatly.
“She’s fine,” Lilith announced. “She’s alive.”
“Yeah, and so are you,” Deadguy added.
Lilith managed a weak smile. “Yeah, so am I.”
“Well, it looks like my work here is done,” Vendetta announced, putting his hands on his hips.
“You didn’t DO anything,” DG yelled. “You just ran around, shooting lasers and shooting off your mouth.”
“That’s fifty percent more than what you did,” the armor shot back.
Deadguy spun to face Vendetta. “You wanna go? Let’s go.”
“Anytime, Dead Chump,” the suit threatened. The two were about to get into a fight when Lilith jumped off the stage.
“Both of you. Stop it,” she ordered. “You’re acting like children.”
“He started it,” Vendetta mumbled.
Deadguy glared at him.
“I don’t care,” she yelled. “You, traitor, go home. And you, Deadguy, you’re a hero. Start acting like it.”
“Fine,” Vendetta sighed. His boots started to flare as he blasted off through the only ceiling window left unbroken. Deadguy threw his arms up, pointing at the mess.
“Deadguy,” Lilith stated. He looked at her, still pointing at the hole in the ceiling. “I don’t care. Let’s just get out of here.”
Deadguy and Lilith stood on the rooftop of his apartment building, watching the sun rise and bathe the city in a warm glow. Below them, the sounds of the morning commute was reaching its crescendo.
“Thank you,” Lilith said softly, breaking the silence.
“Huh,” DG asked. “What did I do?”
“For helping me.”
“Ah.” The two continued to watch the sun rise. “It’s all par for the course, helping people. You, on the other hand…” He plopped his arm across her shoulders and drew her close like an old friend. “The city owes you a great deal of gratitude.” He let go and leaned over the edge of the building. “You hear me, New Tao? You owe this woman your thanks, so start showing it!”
“I got somethin’ to show her,” a voice below them yelled.
“What? Don’t make me come down there and give you the Bitch Smack of Justice,” Our Hero yelled back. Lilith started to laugh. It was something he had never heard yet. “Ya know, I think old Az would be proud of you.”
She smiled warmly. “I know he would be.”