Prologue

September 3, 2004

Circle mystics raged through the club, killing or wounding anything and everything between them and their prize. Several men in suits were firing at them, but the bullets could do little against a behemoth’s tough hide. That is to say, most of the bullets were useless. One of the men was brandishing an assault rifle, loaded with armor piercing rounds. Like the others, even in spite of his superior firepower, he was dealt with quickly.
Finally, they reached the room where their target, a descendent of Mu and a mighty fine singer, was hiding. She had wedged herself behind a large speaker, which, much to her dismay, was nowhere near as daunting an obstacle to those large winged beasts as she had hoped.
A mystic in black stepped forward, “Child of Mu, you will accompany us back to our city and assist us in a ritual.” Black smoke emanated from him, pooling around his feet and peeling the paint from the walls.
“And what if I refuse?” The young woman asked, reaching for anything in the immediate area that could be used as a weapon. The best she found was a microphone stand. Figuring this to be better than nothing, she grabbed hold and swung it with all the might she could muster. The stand struck the mystic’s arm, bent at an unnatural angle then melted away near the point of impact.
The ancient member of the Circle chuckled at this. At least this one had fire in her veins. The spell would be even more potent for it. “Whelp, there will be no refusing. You cannot resist the Circle. Come peacefully, and we’ll make this as painless as pos-“ At that moment, the mystic found that his body’s vertebrae had been severed at a rather inconvenient position on the spine. He would’ve worried about this longer had the culprit not just scythed its way through much of his heart and left lung. Even as he crumpled to the floor, the behemoth at his left and the other mystic on his right found themselves in what could be considered a rather unique predicament. After all, it isn’t every day that two creatures of entirely different species find their sternums being split before they could even react. Both of them fell the same as the first.
“Sera Dalton, I presume?” Asked a man dressed in crimson, the symbol of the Phoenix emblazoned on his shirt.
“That really depends on who’s asking,” Sera responded, looking over the man in front of her. His clothes were baggy, his hair was bright white, his eyes were glowing, and his face was covered. Stranger still was how her eyes were drawn to his right glove, “You can understand my not being exactly forthcoming with someone I’ve just met. I mean you haven’t even introduced yourself yet.”
The thought hadn’t really crossed his mind. The crimson clothing, the bright glowing eyes, and the symbol on his chest were usually enough to tell anyone who he was. Still, it had been terribly impolite not introducing himself before asking questions. Genuflecting before the now-standing young woman, he said, “Forgive me, milady. I am Kadmon, and I was called here to protect a Ms. Sera Dalton. Assuming that you are she, I believe it would be safe to pledge my sword in your defense.”
Sera blinked a few times, taking in precisely what this guy had just said. “Wait a minute, YOU are Kadmon?” He nodded, “You looked taller on TV. Anyway, mind telling me what this is all about?”
“Milady, those men were members of the Circle of Thorns. As is common among their cult, these had been sent to hunt down a descendent of the ancient nation of Mu. As you may have already gathered, you are one, as am I.” He was still kneeling, and the presence of broken bits of speaker on the floor didn’t make this room one of the more comfortable ones to be respectful. Beyond that, the position was starting to give him a backache. “Milady, may I please stand now?”
“On one condition,” She said, pointing at the kneeling paladin, “Stop calling me ‘milady.’ That sounds way too old-timed for me.”
Kadmon looked at her, “Of course, m…. Ms. Dalton.” A bead of sweat dropped from his hairline down past his right eye. That had probably been too close, and likely would’ve resulted in even more time with his knee on the sharp bits of speaker remains were it not for that skillful cover-up. He mentally patted himself on the back and stood. “Shall we be going? I do believe I cleared all of the other mystics, but I would advise caution regardless.” Slowly and carefully, the pair made their way out of the club, retrieving Sera’s formerly unconscious bodyguards as they went.
“I can’t say that this hasn’t been an interesting tour so far,” Sera said after they’d exited the building, “If you want a job as one of my guards, I’d happily pay you well.”
“My apologies, but at present my duty is to the city.” Kadmon thought on this statement for a moment, “Although, as long as you are here, I suppose it would be alright to act as your guard.”
Sera smiled and grabbed his arm, “Great, because my next show is in Kings Row, and I’d rather not go there with just my other bodyguards.” She dragged him into the limo and sped off to her next gig.

Chapter 1: Don’t Kill the Messenger

Present day

“In sports, the Paragon Heroes League has already met its first setback, with Tanker halfback Unmovable Stone breaking just about every bone in Blaster left tackle Eternal Flame’s body during practice earlier.” Kadmon didn’t really know why he had bought a TV, but at least in not knowing why, he did know to get the biggest one he could possibly fit in his apartment without the downstairs neighbors finding it in their living room. He had often thought on this while watching many different mind-numbing reality shows, sitcoms, and weather reports. “In entertainment, ‘The Rise of the Council: Shattered Column’ was a huge box office success, raking in close to $45 million its first weekend alone. Mike in the switch room is telling me we have someone related to the film on the line right now. So, everyone out there in the viewing audience, give it up for the old leader of the 5th Column himself, Requiem!”
The voice that came over the speakerphone on set was decidedly not Requiem. For starters, it was fairly common knowledge that Requiem wasn’t German, and yet the person they were trying to pass off as Requiem was using a very poorly imitated German accent. Beyond that, Requiem was anything but timid, even though the impostor was, somewhat poorly, trying to make it seem like Requiem would’ve been nervous about having his voice going over the airwaves. Kadmon had fought Requiem before, and he knew that the old Nictus wouldn’t be so easily frightened by a little media exposure. Of course, he also knew that in a bunker somewhere under the city, Requiem was also watching this particular news program, and he was fuming. However, being the calm and collected monster that he was, he turned to his computer and smiled maliciously as he typed up an order to have that building razed. In truth, Kadmon could hardly blame him.
“Alright everyone! Lets have a great big round of applause for Requiem!” There were some canned ‘Boo’s played after the caster finished, “In related news, singer/songwriter Sera Dalton, who wrote and sang the opening theme, will be in town on tour starting next week.”
Suddenly, a portion of the kitchen counter crumbled to dust. This could easily be explained by saying that Kadmon’s hand twitched in just such a way to cause him to cast a minor disintegration spell, but it would be much more fun to leave it to the imagination. With all the grace and speed of a waterlogged camel on liquid Teflon, the hero darted into the kitchen doorway, taking a chunk of it with him, tripped over the couch, landing flat on the floor in front of it, and took advantage of the myriad features that his massive TV contained to rewind the news program a minute. “-er/songwriter Sera Dalton, who wrote and saang the opening theme, will be in town on tour starting next week.” He was unsure whether he should be happy because she was coming back, or start cursing uncontrollably knowing that she hadn’t forgotten the promise he’d made last time, just as she was getting on the plane to Europe.
Understandably, he chose the latter. After several minutes of this, Kadmon looked over at the clock. It was half-past noon already. With a snap of his fingers on his bandaged right hand, his costume, which had, in fact, been designed by Ms. Dalton herself when she decided that she didn’t want her bodyguard to be dressed in a brighter color than she, appeared to replace the clothes he’d woken in (incidentally, the clothes Kadmon had been wearing when he went to sleep were actually mostly made up of the old crimson costume). He tipped his hat slightly at his neighbor across the hall, a fellow hero named Aidan Aird, more commonly known under the name Atomic No. 90, who had only just woken up after hearing the better portion of the apartment building shudder under the force of Kadmon’s mighty curses.
As Aidan bent to pick up his newspaper, he said “You realize there’s no way you’ll be getting your security deposit back if you ever move out, right?”
Kadmon moved his left thumb and forefinger under his sunglasses, rubbed his eyes, then shook his head, “I can make the wall look like nothing ever happened. Besides, What are the chances you’ll ever get yours?” He grinned behind his brown muffler, “I’ve seen the walls in your place. You should consider actually getting a microwave and not just cooking your food by hand.”
“Hey, why bother spending money on something I can do myself for free?” Kadmon considered his neighbor’s point. “Seriously, I can’t see why you bother to spend any of your hard-earned cash on things when you could just as easily magic them up.”
“I use my magic for self-defense, Aidan. To use it for something as base as acquiring material goods would be… err…” His finger was now mere centimeters from the bridge of his fellow hero’s nose. This was the worst possible time to forget the point he was trying to get across, and, unfortunately enough, the time he most often lost his train of thought.
Aidan put his hand up defensively and shoved Kadmon’s finger away, “I think the word you’re looking for would be ‘smart.’ You magician types are always so serious about your tricks. Anyway, did you hear that girl is coming back to town? What’s-her-name…”
“Sera Dalton, and you knew her name.” As Aidan attempted to belabor the point that he hadn’t remembered, Kadmon pointed at his forehead, “Regeneration isn’t the only trick I have, remember?”
“Yeah, yeah. Y’know, you take all the fun out of stuff like that.”
“I try.” With that, he walked to the elevator. He knew he had a very long day ahead of him. He had to meet up with Stampead before making his way to the ferry at Talos Island. Crimson had wanted to see him in person for some reason, and he knew that when that old nut bag wanted to see him in person, something had to be terribly wrong in such a way that he couldn’t fix by himself. Of course, with a metahuman on the job, things just seemed to fall into place pretty quickly. Then there was that thing at the post office, and the fact that he had yet to return any of Jack’s books, and that meeting with Akarist, and… Kadmon sighed as he flew into the air. If it weren’t for the fact that his body didn’t tire, the sheer volume of stuff he had to do would probably exhaust him by itself. The only reason he slept at all was because he knew that everyone else knew better than to bother him while he was sleeping. Something untoward might happen in such a situation, similar, but not limited, to being blasted through a wall or three by a wave of dark energy.

Several hours later…

Kadmon’s right hand throbbed painfully. The one point on his body that his regenerative powers had no jurisdiction over simply HAD to be the one he’d thrown out first to intercept that Zeus Titan’s giant cannon. He knew that he had a way to let it fix itself, but also knew that he would much rather just go to the hospital and have it fixed there. To let that power loose for something as minor as a broken hand would be irresponsible and potentially lethal for anyone on the wrong end of it. With a slight grunt of effort he lifted into the sky, headed back in the direction of his apartment, and fell asleep on the couch. He didn’t care that he’d forgotten to go to the post office. He didn’t care that he still had Jack’s books sitting on his coffee table. All that Kadmon truly cared about at this particular moment in time was getting as much rest as he could before Sera arrived in Paragon City. He knew that, according to the Rune of Recovery embedded in his chest, he had no need for sleep, or even rest, but he also knew that any moment he wasn’t being bothered to save kittens from trees or cars from bodies of water or citizens from themselves was a moment he truly couldn’t live without. Let another hero do the rescuing for a little while, goodness knows there are enough of them to go around.

Chapter 2: Memories

A week later…

The air rippled and light bent at a point in the air roughly five hundred fifty feet above Skyway City International Airport. A pair of green orbs observed the sky due east of themselves. These orbs were searching for an intercontinental flight that was scheduled to land twenty-five minutes earlier. Or it could have been that it was scheduled to take off twenty-five minutes later. It was little things like these that always had Kadmon confused. The transit system was the whole reason why he flew everyone on his own power. Granted, flying in the city limits was slow going thanks to the speed limits and the “Fly Safely” laws. Speedsters weren’t allowed to do more than 90mph in the city; flyers weren’t allowed to pull more than 55mph. All because of some scientist or another saying that an impact on a solid concrete building at high speeds would likely shatter every bone in the spinal column of a flyer and every bone in the body of a speedster.
It should be noted, for the records, that Kadmon hated scientists. They ruined all the fun that a medieval man could have in a strange place like Paragon City. Who but a scientist could have ruined the fun of drinking from a lead mug? Sure, lead was poisonous and caused insanity, but everyone did it back in the twelfth century. It wasn’t so uncommon for there to be a village idiot who had overdone it on both the alcohol and the lead, but that really made things more interesting. Kadmon closed his eyes and sighed heavily, ignoring the roar of something coming through the air, something that was getting closer by the second. At least there was television, which had more than its share of idiots to keep things interesting.
Kadmon opened his eyes just in time to avoid being inconveniently sliced to pieces by engine three. Watching the plane land brought back memories of the last time he’d been at this airport. Sera had given him a substantial amount of money before boarding the plane with Sean and Colin McCleary, her two closest bodyguards (who, incidentally, had been the first ones to be knocked out of commission during that battle with the Circle the previous September). Of course, mere seconds after she’d gotten on the plane she came back out with a round box. She insisted that Kadmon open it then and there, seeing as she wouldn’t be back in town for several months, and with the way heroes kept their things, there was a fair chance it would be utterly obliterated before she could be back to see it again. Inside the box was a brown hat, the same shade as the rest of the costume she’d designed for him. It had, over the course of the last few months, become Kadmon’s most prized possession. It added a certain “something” to his costume. Of course, it took a while for the smell of Sera’s perfume to wear out of the hat, but Kadmon didn’t mind, even if it HAD given away his position at some of the most inopportune times.
Bringing himself back to the present, the hero flew down alongside the aircraft, shedding his invisibility as he went. A sidelong glance into a first-class window revealed the unmistakable face of Colin, red-haired with a goatee and wearing sunglasses not at all unlike his own. Sean, his twin brother, was across the aisle, and was easily distinguished from his four-minute elder brother by a stark lack of facial hair in any way, shape or form. Both of them kept their gaze straight forward, as they were both very much afraid of heights. Speeding up a bit, Kadmon peeked into the next window and saw her. She was just as stunning as when she’d left. He couldn’t help but grin behind the brown muffler (He’d had the foresight to remove the cape from the back prior to embarking on this little trip). Cautiously, he edged closer and tapped on the window. This caused a slight jolt in the two bodyguards in the row behind, both of which felt compelled to look out the window. Sera looked out, waved, and then signaled for Kadmon to back up. Of course, not being particularly adept at these hand signals, he had no clue what she was trying to tell him to do. He noticed something was amiss when the window edged closer to him, struck him fully in the face, and helped Kadmon successfully make an arse out of himself before he even had a chance to say a word.
In rapid response to being struck fully with an airplane taxiing to its parking space, Kadmon dropped from the sky, hit the ground, and rolled for a solid forty yards before hitting into the terminal. Amazingly, his hat stayed on his head through the entire thing. Where a normal man would’ve likely just stayed down and waited for someone to come over and laugh unmercifully at him before actually helping him to the nearest paramedic, it was a hero’s duty to get up, dust himself off, and say that the entire thing had been planned out ahead of time. At least that’s what Kadmon did as he got up and dusted himself off. Anyone near him would have heard the unusual sound of bones mending at an alarming rate and vital organs covering up their own puncture wounds.
As Sera stepped off the plane and into the terminal, she was greeted by legions of adoring fans that were screaming for autographs, pictures, and various other things. Of course, there was the one guy, dressed all in brown, which had recently summoned his cape, and was now standing silently against one of the airport pillars. His form lost cohesion momentarily as he stepped through the crowd. He stopped near the singer, genuflected, and said, “Welcome back, milady.”
She looked down at him for a moment. “I’m sorry,” She said, with a bit of a smile, “I can’t remember precisely who you are.”
Kadmon’s shoulders sunk momentarily. Of course, he knew she was trying to be funny. “I was one of your bodyguards during your previous tour.” He said, simply. If she wanted to have fun with this, he wouldn’t let something as trivial as mind reading get in the way of that.
“I dunno, I don’t really remember having any metahumans on staff…” She looked at the front of his hat. His eyes weren’t glowing, and for her experience with the hero, she believed that meant he wasn’t currently using his powers.
“You designed the costume I’m wearing right now.” Kadmon struggled to keep his glow to a minimum. If his eye glow penetrated his sunglasses, it would be bright enough that Sera might notice. “And, I’m fairly certain you wrote a song about me that you sang while on tour in France.”
“It’s not really ringing any bells…”
“The song was called ‘My angel wields a broadsword,’ if I’m not mistaken. You sent me a CD with your autograph on it.” Kadmon tilted his head a little further to the ground. Hiding his glow was becoming much more difficult, “I’m sorry to say I haven’t actually bothered to listen to it yet.”
She grabbed Kadmon’s right arm and pulled him up. “What do you mean you-“ She started, but cut herself off when she saw the familiar green aura seeping past his sunglasses. With a smile and a light punch to his chest, she said, “For the record, the song was called ‘My Guardian Angel.’ What you said was just the tagline.” The five-and-a-half foot tall woman pushed the hero along now. “And what did I tell you about calling me ‘milady’?”
There was a fair amount of storytelling from both the hero and the singer, each detailing what they’d been up to during the last several months. Kadmon talked about traveling to different worlds, battling alternate versions of Paragon’s finest heroes, and his repeated run-ins with Nemesis. Sera found it somewhat odd the her hero friend kept saying that he’d killed Nemesis, but then ran into him again not a week later. In response to his wild stories, Sera talked about forgetting which side of the road to drive on in England, and not really understanding a word that came out of anyone in France. The incident in England had almost given Sean a heart attack.
Their stories concluded for the time being, Kadmon opened the door to Sera’s limo. “Where will you be staying while you’re in town?”
“Eh, one of those nice hotels in Skyway City, I think.” Her index finger rubbed her lower lip as she thought, “It’s the Hotel Geneva, or something like it. Anyway, I’ll call you when I get there. You still have the same phone, right?”
With a snap of his fingers, the very same cell phone he’d performed that trick with back in September appeared in his hand. “Same P.O.S. standard issue hero’s phone. I would’ve liked to get a new one, but I’m not technically allowed to. Maybe something with polyphonic ring tones or something…”
Sera got a good laugh at that. “Back when we first met, you didn’t even know how to use that phone, let alone know to care about the lack of features.” She sat down into the limo’s passenger area, “You’re getting better at this modern age stuff all the time.” The door shut, and the vehicle headed away from the airport. Kadmon looked down at the phone in his hand. The clock read 6:24 PM, which told him that now was as good a time as any to get back to his regularly scheduled patrols.

Chapter 3: Lowbie Bashing

In his head, he already had the better portion of the tour’s schedule mapped out. This was taking into account likely attacks from any number of villain groups, some at the same time. Of course, working the schedule out meant that Kadmon wasn’t watching where he flew. At least two office buildings paid the price for having had been built where a hero who didn’t have time to pay attention to pain would fly.
Bits of glass were immaterial to a regenerator. Of course they would stick in and draw a little blood, but they would just as quickly be ejected by the rapid regeneration of skin cells, and the blood would pull itself back in. Windows were small-time, much like various poisons, diseases, and fire. It would take something more solid to stop a flyer going the speed limit. Something akin to a building built to take the Rikti War and only tip 20 degrees or so. Fortunately for both the building and the hero, Kadmon snapped back to the present mere moments before what could have been best described as a catastrophic collision. Performing a feat not uncommon to absent-minded flyers, he came to a full stop mere inches from the wall. The reason, in Kadmon’s mind, that it would’ve been catastrophic wouldn’t have been the shattering of his bones and the difficult to repair impact damage to the stone so much as it would have been the ruining of his hat. After all, the hat had survived being lit on fire by Infernal, irradiated by Antimatter, sliced by Chimera, smashed repeatedly by Black Swan, Requiem and Nemesis, and had barely avoided being disintegrated by Tyrant. To let it be destroyed by something as ignoble as inattentiveness would’ve been a crime in and of itself.
An hour into his patrol, while toying with several Skulls, Kadmon’s phone rang. “One moment, gents.” He said, and then shouted with an animalistic fury that struck terror into the large group of thugs. With a flick of his wrist, the hero produced his phone. “Hello? Ah, evening Sera. All unpacked I assume? Good, good. For a drink you say? All right, I’ll be there shortly; you sort of caught me in the middle of something. Righto, talk to you then.” The phone vanished as he hung it up. Looking around, it was plainly obvious that some up-and-comers had taken advantage of the large group he had quaking fearfully. This was clear from the fact that the Skulls, who had been shooting at him and trying to hit him with any number of common household items mere moments earlier, were now lying on the ground, twitching from electrical injuries, still smoking from being on fire, and trying to stem the blood loss from scores of claw wounds while waiting to be picked up by the authorities. The seasoned hero couldn’t blame these greenhorns for taking a share of his fun. They needed all the experience they could get, and a stationary target is still a target. Kadmon lifted off and made for the exit to Skyway. For kicks, every so often he would freeze a gangster trying futilely to snatch a purse from the iron death grip of one of Paragon’s pedestrians. Invariably, not moments after doing this another young hero would swoop in and take credit for bagging the villain in the act of accosting a civilian, even if all the accosting was well over with by now thanks to the fact that the bad guy had stopped moving after catching a glance of Kadmon’s Medusa-like gaze.

Chapter 4: Drinks and Discussion

The hero landed outside the Hotel Geneva, flicked himself into something less heroic (known by many magi as a mystical garb called 'jeans and a t-shirt'), walked in, and asked where he could find Ms. Sera Dalton's room. Understandably, the attendant at the desk asked what his business was there. His response was simple and to the point.
"A little liquor and some conversation, I believe." This answer didn't net a positive response, as the attendant pointed him in the direction of the bar. Kadmon's hand met with his face as it had many times in the past. "Look, Sera called me about ten minutes ago and invited me up to have some drinks."
The attendant looked at him funny, "Why would she call you? You don't look to be anyone particularly special."
Kadmon groaned at this. His runes were arguing about how to properly deal with the situation. He had the answer already and did his best to ignore them. With a flick, he was once again in his costume, armored up and eyes aglow with mystical energy. "Do I look like anyone particularly special now?" He asked, a vein in his forehead beginning to protrude slightly. The guy behind the desk nodded sheepishly. "Now then, would you kindly direct me to my friend's hotel room?"
"R-room 227, sir. It's up the ele-"
"Thank you." He said flatly. What was the world coming to when a hero had to get in-costume to be recognized as who they were? The situation's resolution had at least gotten those two to shut up and behave for a minute. Those runes were the whole reason why he had an axe to grind with the Circle. If they hadn't been sentient, the whole arrangement could've been bearable. The elevator door opened and Kadmon stepped in. He tapped the "2" on the wall, then leaned on the opposing wall to think. The first line of thought was to send the muffler and cape back to the apartment. It would be remarkably difficult to drink through them. The next was the two small children and their parents staring at him.
"Mommy," The little girl said, "Why is that guy wearing a cape? And why is he wearing sunglasses inside? And-"
Thankfully, the door opened to the second floor before he had to listen to any more questions or the possible answers. If there was one thing that Kadmon hated more than having to listen to arguing sentient magical runes, it was children asking inane questions and their parents responding by questioning his sanity. Room 227 was on the exact opposite end of the building. This wasn't all bad, as it gave him time to prepare himself both mentally and physically for what was ahead (it isn't common knowledge, but Regenerators always prepare both their mind and their body when readying one or the other). A light knock on the door and several seconds later, Kadmon found himself sitting at a table in Sera's hotel room, patiently awaiting his drink while talking more about the events of the last several months.
At Sera's request, Kadmon produced his license from under his left pauldron, showing that he was, since the third of December 2004, security level 50 and could access any part of the city he felt was necessary. He noted that, at the time of their first meeting, he was a paltry security level 33.
"You've come a long way since then," Sera noted, "So, how is that... y'know, rune-thing doing?"
Kadmon lifted his right arm, showing the black armor that encased it. "It wasn't easy, but I discovered something in the Circle's home city to help contain it. This baby helps take a lot of the pressure off of my mind." The drinks finally arrived, "I meant to ask you this earlier - Will you be needing my services again?"
Sera looked into his sunglasses. Finding this to be inadequate, she reached over and removed them and in so doing looked straight into his bright green eyes. "I would love it if you would join us for the tour. After all, having a superhuman on staff always helps to keep the maniacs out." She smiled as he reached to retrieve his sunglasses. "You already know the schedule. The first show is tomorrow at the Club in Founders Falls. 7:30 PM, don't be late."
Kadmon took one last gulp of his drink. Being a regenerator took some of the fun out of drinking, unfortunately, as his body would process and eliminate the alcohol before it could have any of its normal effects on his body. “It’s getting late. You should probably get some sleep.” He said, pushing his sunglasses so they sat properly, “Thank you for the drinks, and I’ll be sure to be there tomorrow.” He gathered himself and stood. “As for right now, I have to get back to my patrol.” With uncharacteristic speed, he left the room, went down the elevator, and left the hotel.
Sera walked over to the balcony, holding something her heroic friend had left behind. She silently counted to ten then held the round object out. A man-shaped ripple in the air accepted the item and moved it up above a pair of green glowing orbs, where it promptly faded from sight. “See you tomorrow, Kad. Don’t do anything stupid before then.” The orbs darted off into the sky with an affirming nod.
TO PART 2 >
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