Published by Quintin Fortune at Shakespir
Copyright 2016 Quintin Fortune
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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A man awoke in a rundown motel room. He looked around. Rubbing his eyes, he felt as if his mind was full of concrete. He noticed he wore a simple black t-shirt, black jeans, black boots and fingerless fighting gloves. A black trench coat and a black baseball cap laid across a ratty chair near the window of the room.
He rolled out of bed. His body felt like it had just ran a marathon while boxing with a bear. He stumbled into the bathroom. There, he finally got a look at himself in the mirror. Or at least what he assumed was himself.
“What now,” he complained to his reflection.
The Professional Heroes stood in Averson Park, looking up at a man hovering above them. The trees and grass moved as if affected by some phantom breeze. Deadguy appeared as if he was visibly holding back some great pain.
“Zionus,” he growled.
“You remember me, Corpse,” the man asked.
The other Heroes turned to Deadguy. “You know him,” Jill questioned.
“I don’t know,” he answered. “All I know is the name ‘Zionus’ is ripping my brain in two right now.” He pointed an accusative finger up at the man. “What the fuck did you do to me?”
“This conversation does not involve you,” the main said. He waved his hand, and Our Hero suddenly collapsed to the ground. Kiri rushed to his side.
“What did you do to him,” she yelled.
“Rebooted the system, as mortals say,” he answered, no hint of emotion in his voice. “He will be fine in ten minutes.” He landed on the ground and started towards Jill Nemo. Valkadaidan stepped in front of him, but was flung aside as the man made a motion of someone swatting away a fly.
Jill summoned all her courage. “If you are the leader of Venatores Mali-” She suddenly found herself unable to speak as the man held up his index finger.
“You will listen,” he said. “Yes, I am the leader of Venatores Mali. I am Zionus. We were not responsible for the death of those officers.”
“Yeah. You’re doing a swell job of convincing us of that,” Kiri remarked under her breath.
Zionus turned his head a millimeter in her direction, then turned his attention back to Jill. “You, as the leader of the Professional Heroes, will call this manhunt off.”
Jill shook her head, her face clenched in bitter determination.
She nodded slowly.
He reached out to her forehead. “ Then, I regret that I must resort to this…” He stopped as Hopebringer slammed onto his arm. It didn’t draw blood, but did cause a backlash of power that knocked Valkadaidan off his feet. He looked over as the Dragon-Blooded jumped to his feet. “I am a god,” Zionus declared. “What hope do you have of stopping me?”
“For a god, you’re a real idiot,” Deadguy remarked, shaking off whatever effect Zionus had caused. “We’re Heroes. We live on hope, and powered by justice.”
“How-” he started, but was cut short as Deadguy charged him. He barely dodged the attack from him as Valkadaidan struck from behind. A sword materialized in his hand. It was the same size and shape as Hopebringer, but with a demon’s head for a hilt and bloodied horns as a cross-guard. He swung back and blocked Valk’s blade. He opened his hand and sent Deadguy flying back with a blast of energy.
Kiri zipped back and caught Our Hero just before he slammed into an oak tree. “Need a lift,” she asked cheerfully.
“Yeah, I need to go up to Smack-A-Bitch Lane,” he answered.
“You got it,” she replied. She flew back with his in her arms. He held Masamune forward like a battering ram.
The two Heroes came within mere millimeters before Zionus turned and slammed them both to the ground with his elbow. Shots were fired, and he swatted away the bullets. Still fighting off Valkadaidan, he reached out with his mind and ripped a great elm tree out of the ground and hurled it at Jill. She rolled out of the way just in time, and the tree was sent crashing into the forest at the edge of the battlefield.
Zionus turned his attention back to Valkadaidan. The two crossed blades a few more times, then with the wave of his free hand, he sent the Supreme Warrior flying away. He felt something slam into his back. The attack caused him to take a step forward in order to regain his balance. He slowly turned to face Deadguy, Masamune in hand. He looked as if he was stopped in mid-swing.
He looked as if he had just made a huge mistake. “Um…love tap,” he suggested.
Zionus’ face remained stoic, but Our Hero could feel the leader’s eyes burning with anger. He flung his hand out and sent Deadguy flying backwards once again. He tumbled a few meters before collapsing in a heap at the edge of the forest.
“You have made a grave mistake,” Zionus boomed. Then, in the blink of an eye, he was gone. The professional Heroes stood looking as each other.
“Did…did we win,” Kiri asked, her helmet sliding open.
“We’re alive,” Our Hero stated, brushing himself off. “I’d say that’s a win.”
“The battle, maybe,” Valkadaidan said. “but not the war.”
“If Zionus want’s a war, he’ll get one,” Jill declared.
Deadguy walked into the Office of the Professional Heroes the next morning to find a makeshift war room instead. Army personnel were running back and forth with papers and smart tablets. Others were looking over monitors or maps laid out on clear plastic setups. Jill was at her desk, speaking with General Pathitikos. Valkadaidan stood between the two Army soldiers from yesterday and his weapon rack, arms crossed and ready for them to try anything.
“Boss,” Our Hero yelled over the commotion. “What the blueberry pancake HELL is going on?” He felt someone ram into him from behind.
“Move, DeeGee,” Kiri fussed. “You are not making me late for work again.” She pushed past him then stopped. “Military tech,” she muttered in awe, her eyes wide. “Santa’s real,” she squealed, rushing into the madness.
Deadguy reached out in a failed attempt to stop her. “Kiri, no. Stop,” he said in a monotone voice.
“Deadguy,” Jill’s voice called out from across the office. Our Hero noticed she was waving him over while still talking to the general.
He stopped behind the two soldiers on his way over. “Biggs. Wedge. Just a word of warning: He’s fast. Faster than you can ever imagine. Don’t. Blink.” The soldiers tensed up as Our Hero walked away, chuckling to himself. “What’s up, boss,” he asked as he plopped down in Jill’s chair.
“From now on, I’m your boss,” General Pathitikos announced.
He stared at the general, not believing a word. “No you’re not,” he argued.
“Yes I am,” the general replied.
“No, you’re not. You don’t sign my checks, you don’t call the shots.”
“But I do,” Jill said. She sighed regretfully. “And the general has been given orders to ‘coerce’ us into cooperating with him.”
“It’s called an Executive Order,” the general corrected.
“Sounds more like forced servitude,” DG remarked.
“Call it whatever you want,” General Pathitikos remarked. “You’re still under my command until the threat of Venatores Mali is eliminated.”
“Do I get time off for good behavior,” Deadguy asked.
General Pathitikos glared at Our Hero. He looked back at the general with contempt. “As I was saying, General,” Jill said, breaking up the tension. “What we need is something to draw the entire team out. All the ultimatum did was cause their leader to shake his finger at us.”
The two started discussing strategy while Deadguy looked around the Office. Valkadaidan was still standing guard of his swords, but the two soldiers looked like they were about to either attack him or run for it. Kiri was bouncing around one of the drone monitors, trying to figure out the technology while the army personnel controlling it kept gently pushing her away. Over by his desk, a few soldiers were looking over Masamune, laughing to themselves about it. He thought what would happen if any of them tried to pick it up, but none of them did.
Lost in his own little world, Deadguy snapped back to reality and looked around. Everyone had stopped moving. Sounds had abruptly stopped. Even things being tossed around were suspended in mid-air. “Oh no,” he groaned. “I’m tripping balls again, aren’t I?”
“Hello,” a female voice behind him said softly. He jerked around to see the same Chinese woman that he encountered a few weeks back. “It’s good to see you again,” she greeted with a soft smile.
“You again,” he exclaimed. “Who are you?”
The woman was briefly taken back, but quickly regained her composer. “It’s still there,” she commented. “Listen, Deadguy. You’re the only one that can stop this.”
“Zionus is this close to declaring war on the Heroes,” she explained. “You need to stop it.”
“And how, exactly, do you know this?”
“You don’t remember me. I know you don’t,” she explained. “I’m Genia Lee. We use to…that’s not important. There’s a reason you don’t remember, and if you continue this path to war, you may never find out.”
“Can you be any more vague about that,” he snipped. “You mind giving me a few pointers on what to do? Refuse to fight? Go on vacation? Put sleeping pills in Pathitikos’ coffee?”
“I don’t care what you do,” she replied. “Just end this before it gets worse.”
The area was suddenly abuzz with activity once again. “Deadguy,” Jill called out, snapping Our Hero back to reality. “Did you catch a word of that?”
“Use buttermilk for fluffier pancakes. Got it.”
“No,” she corrected. “Not even close.”
Morning turned to afternoon as the Office of the Professional Heroes was still busy with Army personnel. The mess meant that any sort of actual business had disappeared. With all form of mobile devices having been confiscated, it also meant the Heroes had nothing to do but drink coffee and stare at each other.
Which is exactly what they were doing in the closed break room. Deadguy sat at the table, fighting the urge to say something. Anything. Jill sat across from him, drinking her coffee like it was a normal day. On his right, Valkadaidan was in a deep meditation. On his left, Kiri was doing something under the table.
“Jill, seriously-” DG started, but was stopped once their boss put her finger to her lips. He went back to drumming his fingers on the table.
“Maybe you should have a cup of coffee,” Jill suggested.
“I already had five,” Our Hero stressed. “I can hear colors!”
“And we’re clear,” Kiri said.
“Finally,” Deadguy sighed.
“So who was she,” Valk questioned.
Deadguy raised an eyebrow. “Who was who?”
The Dragon-Blooded glared at him. “In the span of a second there appeared the scent of a woman, the scent of ozone, and you were looking around as if something was amiss. Who was she?”
Deadguy sat back. “I don’t know. It’s…” He began to rub his forehead. “Time stopped, something happened, and then time resumed. I feel like someone was there, but there’s nothing there. It’s like someone went into my brain and just deleted the person.”
“Huh,” Jill said, not believing him.
Deadguy rubbed the bridge of his nose. “All I know is that she wanted me to stop this war that was about to start between us and them.”
“Them who,” Kiri asked.
Our Hero gave her a look. “One Direction. Who do you think?”
“I don’t know,” she defended. “We’re always about to go to war with some group or another every week.”
“This is true,” Jill remarked wearily.
“We’re taking on Venatores Mali,” Deadguy explained. “Still. Although I have a feeling that it’s not going to end well.”
“For us or for them,” Valk asked.
Deadguy drummed his fingers on the table. “I’m not entirely sure.” He got up and went to look in the mini fridge on the counter. “How long had this fried rice been in here?”
“You were the one who put it in there,” Jill replied.
He pulled it out and started eating. “We send out a message that Zionus himself responds to. Get our asses handed to us on a silver platter. He leave once I landed a hit. And now some woman is saying he’s about to wage war on us.”
“What would make a god-like being leave after just one hit,” their boss asked.
“He was trying to intimidate us,” Kiri answered. The other Heroes looked at her. “I was looking over the readings from the battle last night. His power is almost off the charts, but they were seriously suppressed while we were fighting.”
“So when I hit him…”Deadguy started.
“He realized he couldn’t intimidate us,” Valkadaidan finished.
Our Hero plopped down in his chair. “Wonder how long we have?”
“Before what,” Jill questioned.
General Pathitikos entered. The Heroes all turned suddenly, as if their dad had caught them doing something. “Why do all of you look guilty,” he questioned.
“We’re trying to figure out who took the cookie from the cookie jar,” Deadguy remarked.
“You don’t have a cookie jar,” he observed.
“And you don’t have kids,” Jill muttered over her coffee.
“Intel has just reported that Venatores Mali are getting ready for something big,” the general reported.
“How do you know,” Our Hero asked. The room suddenly went dark, and Zionus’ head and shoulders appeared before them like a hologram. He was staring at Deadguy.
“Because I told them,” he answered.
“You’re an asshole, you know that,” DG snapped.
“Hey,” Jill called out. “You have something to say, say it to me.”
The image spun around to face her. “Very well. I have seen the future as it will happen if you continue to fight us.”
“Two officers are dead,” she stated. “Either cooperate or-”
“You will die,” Zionus stated, cutting her off. “I would recommend you consider your team before your misguided sense of justice.”
“My team? I have an immortal with draconic powers, a wise ass that can’t die, and a technological mad woman,” Jill listed.
“You may have the powers of a god, but you are not God. We beat you once, and we’ll beat you again and again and again until you give us what we want.”
Zionus looked down on her, unfazed. “Midnight. Downtown. We will end this.” With that, the image disappeared and the lights came back on.
“Who the hell was that,” General Pathitikos asked, pale as a ghost.
Jill looked across at Deadguy. “That was Zionus,” she answered. “The leader of the group you’re wanting us to take down.”
“He claims to be a god,” DG continued. “And we’re just the atheists to take him down.”
“I’m not atheist,” Jill explained.
Our Hero stood. “It was meant to be one of those bad ass ending statements,” he remarked. “Thanks for ruining the moment. Let’s go, we have a war to get ready for.”
The Professional Heroes found themselves back in a familiar scene, this time in the vast, empty Downtown New Tao. They stood in the small park that was a result of the city’s Enviro-thon Initiative from almost two decades ago. The normally brightly lit billboards were out and the huge television stood silently high up on a building that once was a church. The normal bustle of cars and people were gone due to the military’s blockades.
Deadguy was getting a few warm-up swings with Masamune while Kiri was running last minute diagnostics on her upgraded Mecha Maiden suit. Valkadaidan leaned back on a tree, his eyes closed in meditation, as Jill checked over her gun.
“Are you going to be able to handle yourself this time,” Jill questioned.
Our Hero stopped swinging. “No cameras, no problem. Besides, taking down god-like beings is nothing new for me. I’ve beaten Orochi at least a few dozen times.”
“That’s a video game,” Valk remarked.
“Series,” DG corrected. “Video game series. You play them too.”
Jill checked her phone. “It’s almost Midnight. One last-” She was cut short as a sudden surge of power rippled through them. The Heroes turned to face Zionus. With him stood Genia Lee, Vendetta, and Kothrec.
“Who brings their pet to a battle,” Our Hero asked, pointing at Kothrec.
The minotaur snorted his disapproval.
“Shouldn’t he be on a leash,” he continued.
“Enough,” Zionus said, his voice reverberating through the battlefield. “I am not known for giving leniency to our enemies, but I will give you one last chance to walk away.”
“The time for negotiations is over,” Jill said coldly. Valkadaidan readied Hopebringer. Kiri’s visor slid down over her face. Deadguy propped Masamune on his shoulder. “The people demand justice.”
“So be it.”
Deadguy and Valkadaidan charged at Venatores Mali. Kiri took off into the night sky. Jill took a few steps back and aimed. Kothrec charged at the Heroes, meeting Valk halfway. He brought down his massive battleaxe, but was blocked by Hopebringer. Our Hero continued on, narrowing his sights on Zionus. Vendetta took flight, ready to fight Kiri in the air. Genia Lee rolled off to the side and took aim at Jill.
Deadguy swung Masamune and was blocked by Zionus’ blade. The two pushed against each other’s weapons. “This is Masamune,” DG stated through gritted teeth. “What’s your sword’s name?”
“This blade is known as Doomslayer,” the leader replied, trying to keep from losing ground. “It can vanquish evil with one cut.”
“Well good thing we’re the good guys then,” Our Hero quipped.
Valkadaidan and Kothrec traded blows so fast that the weapons became a blur. Only the sparks their hits made were evidence of their use. The Dragon-Blooded heard someone singing. The voice was distant, but sounded strangely familiar. He shook it off, concentrating more on the giant blue bull in front of him.
Kiri and Vendetta flew circles around each other high above the battlefield, looking as if a fairy and a dragon were locked in battle. Vendetta fired off a few blasts of energy from the gems on top of his gauntlets, but the Techie quickly dodged them. She retaliated with a few shots of electricity that bounced off his armor. “You can’t win,” Vendetta boomed
“Heard that one before,” Kiri shot back.
On the ground, bullets race through the air as Jill Nemo and Genia Lee tried to take the other out as quickly as possible. Jill’s single handgun was no match for the double-barreled handgun that Genia used, but what she lacked in firepower she made up for in speed. By the time Genia was able to fire a shot, Jill had fired two in two different areas. Another shot slammed into the trashcan she was using for cover, but it didn’t come from Genia’s direction. “Kiri, they have a sniper somewhere,” she called out. “Take ‘em out.”
Kiri dodged a few of Vendetta’s energy blasts, then zipped away to scan across the building tops. On top of a squat three story building stood someone with a gray, wide-brimmed hat. They had a sniper rifle aimed at the battle. “Cheater,” she muttered. With a few well-placed bolts of electricity, the Techie managed to knock the sniper away from the ledge. The sniper looked up, and Kiri saw a woman with a skull tattoo on her face. “Huh. Weird,” she remarked just as she felt an energy blast slam into her back.
Deadguy watched out of the corner of his eye as Kiri fell from the sky. He had to do something. He smashed his boot onto Zionus’ foot. The leader remained unfazed, but his did raise an eyebrow from behind his dark sunglasses. “What was that meant to do,” he asked.
“Distract you,” Our Hero answered. The hieroglyphics on Masamune began to glow green. Deadguy gave one last push, knocking Zionus off balance. He started off towards Kiri. He got only a few steps before a force grabbed him and threw him against a tree. He felt a great pressure pushing him further into the tree. Zionus stood across from him, his hand held out.
The leader didn’t hold for long as he was knocked aside by Kothrec. The two tumbled out of the park. The minotaur barely got to his hooves before Valkadaidan was upon him. The Dragon-Blooded started beating punch after punch on the minotaur’s muzzle. Blood began to draw as Kothrec grabbed the attacker and threw him down the street. Kothrec chased after him.
Jill and Genia watched the spectacle for a few moments before they turned their attention back to each other. “Be reasonable,” Genia pleaded. “You Heroes are in over your head here.”
“Not the first time,” Jill replied. She tried to fire her gun, but it clicked in protest.
Genia retaliated by trying to fire her gun, but it also clicked to say it was empty. They stared each other down, then Lee ran at Nemo, meeting her with a quick right hook. She staggered back, then responded with a punch to Genia’s stomach. The two traded punches and kicks until something large came crashing to the ground.
Vendetta crawled out of shallow crater that sat before the building that held the giant television. He took a few steps forward before Deadguy charged up and swung Masamune. The attack knocked the suit through the building and out of the other side.
Our Hero barely had a moment to celebrate as a giant ax crashed onto his back. He felt blood and air fill up his lung as he began to fall. Kothrec was standing over him, ax held high. The was a blast of electricity that knocked the minotaur off his feet. Another blast of energy sent him flying down the street. Kiri flew close overhead. “Don’t just lay there,” she stated as she flew after her target.
“You’ll have to give me a moment,” he sputtered as his body began to heal.
Jill was fending off Genia when a faint song hit her ears. It was soft and soothing, like a lullaby a mother would sing to a child. It sounded foreign. Something she never heard her mother sing to her. The song was suddenly cut short. A woman with wet curly brown hair was thrown out onto the battlefield a few meters from where the two women were fighting.
“Megyn,” Genia called out.
Valkadaidan leapt out from the hiding spot as the woman started to get up. Blood was dripping from her mouth. “A siren,” he questioned.
Genia rushed to the siren’s side. With a quick spell, a faint white light formed in her hand. She touched it to the siren’s cheek. The blood zipped back into her mouth.
“Wait. They have a siren,” Jill asked. “I thought they stayed at sea?”
“Doesn’t matter,” the Dragon-Blooded replied. “They’re cheating.” He readied Hopebringer.
Genia swept her hand. An arc of reddish-orange energy knocked both Heroes back. Valk was able to catch Jill before they slammed into a car.
“What was that about cheating,” Jill asked as they recovered.
The fight had lasted through the night and into the day. It had traveled from the park across town and towards Lake Muh. The giant lake that connected the cities of New Tao and Davenshire stood as crystal clear as it always did. This time, though, it had a blue minotaur floating on his back near the piers. Most of Venatores Mali was trying to recuperate and get ready for Round 2. The Heroes, on the other hand, didn’t look as if they were fairing any better. Jill was trying not to fall asleep. Valkadaidan was massaging his shoulders. Kiri was fanning herself,trying to not overheat in her suit. Only Deadguy seemed unfazed, staring down Zionus from across the way.
“Deadguy,” Jill called out. “Deadguy!”
Our Hero was shaken from his thoughts. “Wha-at,” he complained.
“What’s on your mind,” she asked.
“Food,” he remarked. “I ordered a pizza but it hasn’t arrived yet.”
“Most pizza places don’t open until Ten,” she said.
“No wonder it’s taking forever to get here.”
“You’re using humor to hide your feelings again,” their boss stated. “What’s on your mind?”
He was about to comment when he heard a faint, familiar voice calling out to him from the barricade. It sounded like ‘Agrion’. He looked over to see Lilith trying her best to gain his attention. She made a grand motion for him to come over there. “If you’ll excuse me for a moment, my adoring fans need me,” he replied, walking over to the necromancer before anyone could protest. “I though you said I wasn’t Agamemnon,” he questioned.
“Agrion,” Lilith corrected. “And it was the only way I knew to get your attention over everyone else calling ‘Deadguy’ over and over.”
“Here to show moral support,” he asked.
“No. Worse. There’s an unseen force that manipulated other to cause this battle,” the necromancer answered.
Our Hero leaned in. “What ‘unseen force’?”
“The kind that you can’t see,” she answered.
Deadguy began to say something, but stopped. He glared at her for a moment.
Lilith smirked. “This all started after Samhain,” she explained. “Someone has been trying to get the Mayor to declare Venatores Mali and the Professional Heroes as terrorist groups. Someone who has it in for both teams.”
“We’re, at best, a glorified protection agency,” Deadguy stated. He thumbed over his shoulder at the group they were fighting. “Them, I can believe it. But we’re the good guys. Says it on all our business cards.”
Lilith shrugged. “A hero to some is a villain to others.”
“Come on,” DG said. He grabbed Lilith and pulled her over the barricade.
“Hey,” a police officer called out. “You can’t do that.”
“It’s alright. She’s part of the team,” Our Hero replied as the two ran back to the rest of the Heroes. “Alright. Tell them what you told me,” he said.
“First, I regret we can’t meet under better conditions,” the necromancer stated. “I am Lilith of the NecroShip. We have done business before.”
“We have,” Jill questioned. “When was this?”
“Les Morts Vivent,” she replied. “One of our many business fronts.”
“What is the NecroShip’s involvement this time,” Valk questioned.
“We have nothing to do with this fight,” she answered. “We have our own issues with them.” She pointed over at Venatores Mali. “But that is our fight and no one else’s. No, this battle has been manipulated from the start by their enemy and yours.”
“Chaos,” DG questioned.
“No. Someone else. It’s hard to tell. We got all the information we could out of Ian before he passed from this world.”
“Ian,” Jill asked. “The mayor’s aide?”
Lilith shrugged. “He’s just as confused as the rest of us. All I do know is that the source of these machinations is coming from the Tower of Tears.”
“Wait,” Kiri interrupted. “Wasn’t that blown up a few weeks ago?”
The necromancer pointed over her shoulder. Some distance away, the Tower of Tears stood unblemished. The top was in tact. “Huh,” DG said. “Think we can get whoever did that to fix the potholes on my street?”
“That’s not important right now,” Jill stated. “Looks like we’re fighting a war on two fronts, which means we need to take out whoever has decided to hole up in the Tower of Tears while keeping Venatores Mali at bay.”
“So what’s the plan,” Valkadaidan asked.
Jill stared at the other team. They were beginning to regroup and starting up for the next round. “Kiri? Take Deadguy and head over to the Tower. See what you can do about ending this madness.”
“Uh, boss,” Our Hero questioned. “That’s going to leave just the two of you against a god and his underlings.”
“Three,” Lilith corrected. The Heroes turned to look at her. She pulled a skull out of her cloak as she threw it off to reveal her black battle armor crawling with curly runes. She closed her eyes and whispered an incantation. The skull’s eye sockets emitted purple flames. It began to float up, resting above her head. She opened her eyes, now flooded with the same purple flame. Wisps of purple smoke seeped out from the handcuffs of her armor.
Deadguy stood, mouth agape. “That was freakin’ awesome,” he yelled. “Did you see that?”
“Yes yes. Very cool,” Jill replied. “Now get going.”
“Going.” Our Hero turned to Kiri. “You got the Guber app in that suit?”
“Or we could just fly over there,” the Techie suggested. She held out her hand.
He tucked Masamune under his arm and took her hand. “Don’t drop me.”
“I guarantee nothing,” she replied as the two flew off. The cityscape zipped by under them. Deadguy tried to hold on to his hat as best he could. “Uh oh,” Kiri remarked. “We’re being followed.”
“Who the hell would follow us this high up,” DG questioned. He looked back to see Vendetta with Megyn in his arms. “Oh.”
“Think they’re looking for a fight,” Kiri asked.
“I don’t know about you, but an air battle might not be a good idea for me,” Our Hero stated. “Let’s get to the Tower and deal with it once we land.”
The Heroes landed without any incident from their followers. The two members of Venatores Mali landed behind them, ready for a fight. Deadguy had his arms crossed. “If you two want to have a go, let’s make it quick,” he said.
“Why,” Vendetta asked. “What do you gain from working with Agonil?”
The Heroes gave each other confused looks. “Aragorn who,” Kiri questioned.
“Agonil,” Megyn corrected. “The leader of the Ombra.”
“We’re not working with Umbrella,” DG declared.
Vendetta covered his visor with his massive hand. “Okay, so you’re not working with the enemy. What are you doing here?”
Our Hero pulled the Techie close and turned their backs to them. “What do you think? Should we tell them?”
The two turned back to their antithesis. “Fine. We got some report that whoever or whatever started this fight between us resides here.” He thumbed the tower. “How it was reconstructed in under two weeks is beyond me.
“It’s magic,” Megyn replied. “He knows many forms of dark magic.”
“Make a note of that,” DG said to Kiri. “Fixing things quickly is dark magic.”
The Techie nodded curtly, then gave him a confused look.
“Anyway,” Vendetta said. “We need to at least get out of plain sight before something happens.”
Deadguy and Kiri, along with Vendetta and Megyn, hid behind some bushes as they looked over the front gate. The area was still closed off, but very few people were in the area anyway due to the giant battle going on. “So, how are we going to sneak in,” Vendetta asked.
Our Hero glared, looking him up and down. “You couldn’t sneak into a metal concert,” he remarked. “Besides, I don’t think there’s any skylight windows for you to smash through.”
“He does like doing that, doesn’t he,” Megyn questioned.
“Thank you,” DG said. “I’m not the only one who noticed that.”
“Um…situation at hand,” Kiri suggested.
“Right. We might need to employ some subterfuge,” Deadguy stated. He turned to Megyn. “How good are you at enchanting?”
“I’m a siren,” she answered slowly. “I sing. I’m not really that magically-inclined.”
He turned back to Kiri. She was suddenly dressed like a pizza delivery person, complete with box. “It’s about damn time my pizza got here. Wait, how did you do that?”
“Nanotechnology,” she answered. “One of the perks of the Mecha Maiden suit is I can disguise myself.”
“You would make a killing in the fashion industry,” Our Hero remarked. “And also make it obsolete.”
The Techie didn’t hear his remark as she walked up to the front gate and banged on it hard. The door creaked open and a small imp peeked out.
“Yesss,” it hissed.
“Pizza for ya,” Kiri replied in a Brooklyn accent. “Anchovies and human flesh.”
“Isss the flesssh fresssh,” the imp asked.
“Flayed from the bone this mornin’,” she answered, lifting the lid. “Wanna see?” A giant nano fist shot out from the pizza box and knocked out the imp. Deadguy and the others quickly ran in before the door could slam shut. Kiri changed back into her Mecha Maiden armor while they began to survey the bottom floor.
“Nowhere to go but up,” Our Hero declared. “Um…where’s the stairs?”
The visor on Vendetta’s helmet began to glow red. “Was here last time…ah! Found it.” He fired a bolt of energy from his gauntlet and blasted a hole in the ceiling. The light and debris caused the outline of an invisible stairway to reveal itself.
“This story just keeps getting better and better,” Our Hero commented.
“What,” Megyn asked.
“Nevermind,” he answered. He looked at the siren. “Have you ever thought about getting a hair dryer?”
“Can we deal with that later,” Kiri questioned. “We have a sinister plot to unravel.”
Deadguy pointed towards the hole leading up to the second floor. “Right. To ACTION!” He charged up the stairs and found himself face to face with a giant, angry demon. It’s coal black eyes burned with anger as foam started to form around the edges of his massive mouth. “Um…he did it,” Our Hero stated as he pointed to Vendetta coming up behind him.
“Duck,” the armor commanded. He did just as a bolt of energy flew over his head and slammed into the demon. The rest of the team followed behind him as they found the entire floor cluttered with demons.
“So much for an easy task,” Deadguy complained.
Megyn began to sing. It was a retched tone, sounding more like razor blades in a blender than any actual rhythm. The demons in the room screamed as they covered their ears with their hands. Within seconds, they began to burst into flames and disappear.
“What did you do,” Kiri questioned.
“Song of the Archangel,” the siren replied. “Destroys all but the most powerful of demons.”
“That’s what angels actually sound like,” DG asked.
“That’s just what the song is called.”
“Could we hurry it up,” Vendetta announced, already halfway up the stairs to the next floor.
The others followed to find the floor looking as if it was plucked from a war zone. Within this place stood soldiers from ancient wars wandering the area. Their flesh was pale and rubbery. Their eyes sullen. The soldiers stopped and turned to face the group. They fell upon the group before anyone had a chance to react. The four responded quickly by fighting back. Every hit causing one of the soldiers to disintegrate. The battle lasted no more than a few minutes until the four were surrounded in a giant ring of dust and armor.
“War. War never changes,” Deadguy commented. There was the sound of something exploding far away. He and Kiri rushed over to the closest window. “That sounded like it came from the lake.”
“Wow,” Vendetta remarked. “Really?”
“What happened,” DG asked.
“Um, well. That spiky-haired guy, Valkadaidan, and your goth girlfriend just knocked Big Z halfway across Muh,” the armor reported.
“She’s your girlfriend,” Kiri questioned, sounding upset.
“I wish,” he replied, still looking out the window. “But, if wishes were horses. We got work to do.”
The Heroes and the Hunters fought their way up to the giant double doors that led to Agonil. “Should we knock or…” Deadguy started. Vendetta blasted the doors off its hinges before he could finish. “…we could just do more property damage. Way to go, Bolt Brain.”
“Again with the door destroying,” someone inside protested. The dust settled to reveal a robed being with giant horns coming out from the top of the hood.
“How did you do that,” Our Hero asked.
“Do what,” Agonil asked.
“Speak in bold.”
“What are you…never mind. Why are you here?”
“Because-” Vendetta started.
Deadguy cut him off. “Hold on, Shiny. This is my series.” He turned to Agonil. “I’ll ask the questions here. Why are we here?” He paused, trying to think. “Forget that question. Better one. Why did you set us up to fight? I know you have something against Venatores Mali, because they’re on first name basis with you, but why are you dragging us into this?”
“I’m not dragging you into anything,” he answered. “A friend of mine said it was a good idea. He’s quite influential, you know.”
“Hannes,” DG declared, slamming his fist into his open hand. “I knew it.” He took a step forward and pointed. “In any case, knock off all that evil.”
The burning yellow eyes narrowed into a glare as Agonil leaned on his throne’s armrest. “Are you a god,” he questioned.
“I got this,” Our Hero remarked to the others. “Yes.”
The demigod flicked his wrist, sending a wave of blood red energy at the group. The Heroes and Hunters were sent flying back. Deadguy slammed into the top of the door frame. Kiri managed to grab the door frame. Vendetta pulled Megyn towards him to keep her from getting hurt as both were hurled into the stone wall.
“Deadguy,” Kiri yelled as they regained their footing. “What the hell, man?”
Our Hero stood up, dusting himself off. “A wise man once said ‘If someone asks if you’re a god, you say yes’.”
“Lovely,” Vendetta grumble. “We’re going to die from pop culture references.”
Deadguy fixed his long coat and cracked his knuckles. “Alright, this bitch is toast,” he declared.
Vendetta’s giant gauntlet fell on Deadguy’s shoulder. “No,” he stated. “We’re not going through this again.” His armor began to glow. “I will take care of this.” He blasted back into the throne room. Within moments, the armor was shot back out into the hallway, collapsing mere inches from the rest of the group’s feet.
“My hero,” DG said, his voice oozing with snark.
“I’d like to see you do better,” Vendetta shot back.
“Guys,” Megyn said. “Is bickering a good idea right now?”
“Yes,” the two answered at the same time.
“Screw it,” Kiri announced. She grabbed Vendetta and pulled him back to his feet. Her fairy wings sprung out from her armor’s back. “Huh,” she remarked.
“What,” Vendetta asked.
Her nano armor was covered in a rainbow glow as she held onto him. “What kind of energy does your suit use,” she questioned.
“It utilizes Zionzium. A type of gem that’s formed from the residue from the souls of the departed,” Vendetta explained.
The two Heroes just stared. “You made that up,” Deadguy replied.
“Don’t look at me,” the armor defended. “Take it up with Zionus. He’s the one that created them.”
“Forget it,” the Techie huffed. “I have an idea. Vendetta, you have enough power to fire off a blast of energy?”
Vendetta held out his free hand. An orb of light yellow energy began to form. “Yea, I’m good.”
Kiri clenched her fist. The electricity from her armor encircled her hand. “On three, we fire at the same time.” The energy began to build up as she began to count.
Our Hero looked to Megyn. “Think you can fire off a ear-piercing scream?”
The siren nodded quickly.
When the two armored fighters fired off their combined energy attack, Megyn took in a huge breath and let out a wail that rattled the very walls. Agonil twitched, trying not to let the sound affect him. He barely swatted the blast of energy away. When he pulled his hand down, Deadguy was right in front of him. Our Hero swung Masamune with as much force as his tired body could summon. The villain summoned an obsidian scimitar and blocked it at the last second. The two were locked in combat, each pushing against the other.
“When did you get this,” Agonil questioned. “You didn’t have it last time?”
Deadguy arched an eyebrow. “Last time? What last-” He didn’t get a change to finish the sentence as Agonil sent him flying back.
“Why are you Heroes fighting me anyway? Are you not suppose to be fighting the Hunters?”
“He’s just trying to turn us against each other again,” Kiri stated.
Deadguy pointed at Agonil. “You don’t know anything about Heroes, do you? Whenever the true villain is revealed, the two sides stop fighting each other and team up to take down the real threat.”
“Idiot’s got a point,” Vendetta agreed. “We’re not their enemies any more than they are ours.” The four fighters stood shoulder to shoulder, ready to take down Agonil.
“You four really think you’re any match for me?”
Our Hero shrugged. “Maybe.”
“That…will not be necessary,” a familiar voice above them announced.
“Oh, hey Deus ex machina,” DG yelled at the floating figure of Zionus. “Fancy meeting you here.”
“Your sarcasm is not needed.”
“Bite me. We got this. No one called you.”
“Actually,” Vendetta said. “I did. Protocol A.”
“Sounds like an ointment,” Our Hero remarked.
“I will handle this.” Zionus waved his hand. The room began to blur. A second later, it cleared up to reveal the four standing back at Lake Muh. Jill was locked in a shooting battle with Genia while Lady Grey was trying her best to pin down Lilith. Kothrec and Valkadaidan were holding on to each other as they tried to land a punch, both taking the brunt of battle fatigue.
“Hey, guys,” Deadguy exclaimed, waving his arms above his head. “We have a greater evil to face.”
“No. You do not,” Zionus replied. “Agonil has been dealt with.”
“Yeah, and if you had your own series, we might have known what you did,” Our Hero shot back. “But oh well.”
Zionus glared at him, then waved his hand. The two teams were forcibly separated and placed at opposite ends of the battlefield. The Heroes were placed near them while Venatores Mali was placed at the opposite end. “Heroes. The one that caused this atrocity has been subdued.”
“That’s great,” Jill responded. “What about the cop killer?”
“Ombra has a member that is a shifter,” he explained. “One that can take on the abilities of whomever she turns into.”
The Heroes exchanged looks. “Her,” Jill questioned. “There’s another?”
“Could we settle this later,” Deadguy interrupted. “I’ve been fighting for the past eight hours. I’m beyond tired.”
“Very well,” Zionus stated. “Our fight is over.” He then went to rejoin his team. Vendetta and Megyn followed a few steps behind.
“Someone’s cranky,” Kiri said.
“It’s a mystery for another day,” Jill remarked. “But, Deadguy has a point. It has been a long night.”
“We’re getting paid overtime for this, right Boss,” DG asked.
“Take that up with the government,” Jill replied.
“Which means nope,” he mumbled. He looked across the battlefield at Venatores Mali. Zionus was staring back at him. “I got something to take care of real quick,” he stated, walking over to the other team. Zionus started walking towards him. The two met in the middle.
Deadguy crossed his arms. “I want this headache gone,” he demanded.
Zionus simply waved his hand and the headache disappeared.
“I want my memories back, too.”
“That…I have no control over.” He turned just as Genia jogged up to them.
Deadguy cut glances between the two. “She did it?”
Genia nodded solemnly. “It was a long time age,” she explained. “If you knew about us, about what happened, I didn’t think even Zionus could have stopped you.” She wrapped her arms around his neck. “But I think enough time has passed.” She kissed him, and his mind was flooded with memories of when he was part of Venatores Mali.
He blinked as she pulled away. He stumbled back, trying to sort through all this information. “Hold…hold on,” he stammered. “I only remember a year. Maybe two.” He glared at Zionus. “Where’s the rest? My life? My name?”
“‘I cannot say,” the leader responded. “You were a blank slate when you found us.”
Our Hero sucked some air through his teeth. “One answer leads to more questions,” he grumbled.
“I can only say that you are older than you appear,” Zionus added.
“Care to give me a ballpark figure on that one?”
“There are events in history going back centuries that point to you.”
With that, the three parted ways and rejoined their teams. Deadguy came back with a look of resignation on his face. “Everything okay,” Kiri asked.
Our Hero gave a weak thumbs up.
“What was that all about,” Jill questioned, nodding towards Venatores Mali.
He looked over just as the other team teleported. He managed to lock eyes with Genia Lee. “More questions,” he sighed loudly. “Questions that won’t be answered until I get some sleep.”
“Best idea ever,” Jill agreed. “Heroes. We’re closed until Monday.”