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Siren’s is Calling
By Myths n’ Wraiths

  “How does he do it?” Vindea asked in a voice that could barely be heard over the costal breeze that was washing over Siren’s Call. The young blaster sat casually on a charred metal support beam that protruded from what was once the fifth floor of a coastal resort. Her long slender legs were pulled up close to her body, her elegant bare arms wrapped around her knees. Her long blonde hair was caught in the steady, salty breeze and it shifted itself gently around her body, concealing her beautiful features as it waved in the wind.
    “He is not like you and me,” Myth replied evenly, despite his fatigue. The leader of the group of mutants known as the Dogs of War leaned wearily against the outside of a blown-out window frame which was situated only a few feet above Vindea’s perch. His white hair was smudged with ash and dirt and his young face was etched with both focus and fatigue. “Most people, no matter how good they are, have moments when they go beyond their average skill and become truly brilliant. For me it was the day that I killed my parent’s murderer. I have been through much since then; I have learned and grown, I have become more powerful. There have been times when I have defied reality with what I have accomplished but that day… for me that was the day that I was unbeatable. For Wraith…” Myths voice trailed off as he looked far below him at Siren’s coast. “… It is every day of his life.”

    I eat this, Wraith’s subconscious spoke to him. His hands moved on their own accord. His feet danced in perfect unison with his shifting body. The dark energies which he held sway over coursed through his body and into his clenched fists where they seeped from his pores, sucking the life energy from any organics that where unfortunate enough to receive one of the Scrapper’s powerful blows.
    This is me; the words roared from his soul. This is who I am, this is what I do. I do not make them fear me; I am their fear.
    A powerful blow slammed into his abdomen, driving him backwards and causing his feet to dig into the soft sand of Siren’s beach. He took the blow, allowing his hyper-regenerative body to dissipate the pain and the damage of a bruised rib almost instantly, in order to trap his attacker’s fist and respond with a powerful blow to the shoulder.
    A howl of pain echoed out when the Brute, who had plowed his right fist into Wraith’s stomach, had his corresponding shoulder snapped out of place by the Scrapper’s relentless, savage hands. Ducking under a poorly aimed swing, Wraith brought his fist up into the Brute’s solar plexus, knocking the air out of the villain’s lungs and forcing him to double over in pain and gasp for air.
    The bounty alert for this villain had identified him as Crucible, a particularly ruthless juggernaut that had earned his bones in the Rogue Isles by spearheading a prison break from Bricktown’s infamous ziggurat. The name and the reputation meant nothing to Wraith, however; in a matter of moments he would be nothing but a fleeting memory. The Brute’s name, his face, the pain of his powerful blows, even his foul smell would all be forgotten and he would return to the Rogue Isles in shame and in pain; Wraith would see to it.
    Pressing his attack, Wraith threw a powerful hook into the Brute’s body causing him to stumble back from the force of the blow. Pausing for the briefest of moments, Wraith allowed Crucible to begin to catch his footing then, coming up off his feet, and pouring the entire weight of his body behind his fist, threw a powerful punch squarely into the Brute’s chest.
    With his victim knocked off balance, Wraith saw his opportunity to finish Crucible off, but a flicker of motion in his peripheral vision caused him to jump backward on instinct. A blast of brilliant energy lanced over Wraith’s shoulder close enough to singe his shirt, and slammed into Crucible with all the force of a freight train. Wraith spun in mid air and looked up to see an athletically built villain in a red and black leather costume hovering almost twenty feet in the air.

Frey cursed at his luck. How could I have missed? the Dominator’s boggled mind questioned. Not only had he missed the Scrapper, but his most powerful blast had instead hit a fellow villain, burying him in a shallow, sandy grave.
Frey began to wonder for the first time why he had even come to Siren’s Call. The feelings of bravado he had felt when faced with the prospect of combating the arrogant, beloved, poster boys of freedom quickly faded when his mind pondered what a man who could batter a Brute would do to someone with his own meager physical stability. He cursed again when he saw the darkly clothed Scrapper leap effortlessly into the air and come sailing toward him.
    Feeling an irrational panic begin to sink into his heart at the Scrapper’s approach, Frey spun in the air, defying both the law of gravity and physics and began to fly away. Frey’s heart skipped a beat when Wraith caught hold of his broad, black, leather belt before he could make good on his escape. He tried to break free of the Scrapper’s grip by spiraling away but Wraith’s grip not only held firm but offered him enough leverage to kick upward and slam his foot into Frey’s face.
    The pair began to fall instantly but Wraith seemed to pay their growing velocity no mind. The feral mutant let loose with a series of blows to his victims mid section, his hands moving so fast that all that could be seen of them was the trail of dark energy that they left in their wake.
    Retaliating on instinct, the Dominator released a quick blast of fiery energy which clipped Wraith in the shoulder, singing his skin and burning away his already torn shirt. The Scrapper’s retaliation was merciless. He boxed the sides of Frey’s head with enough force to burst the man’s eardrums and clutched his skull in a crushing grip. The dark energies began to flood Frey’s mind, draining his very consciousness and sapping his focus.
    Blindly, the Dominator released a panic shot of pure energy in an attempt to save himself from the relentless beating that he was receiving at the hands of his ruthless opponent. Despite his pain and lack of focus, there was no way he could miss at point blank range. The blast exploded between the pair of battling men and sent them sailing along the horizon in opposite directions before crashing into the shallow costal waters.

Crucible shook his head in an attempt to clear his blurry vision and the throbbing pain that wracked his mind. It did little good however, since his head was surrounded by sand. Forcing his stiff limbs into motion, he began to pull himself out of his untimely grave. Using his spiked fists and armored arms as plows to dig himself free, the Brute slowly made his way from the earth.
    Reaching sunlight once again, Crucible stumbled shakily to his feet just in time to see the Dominator that had buried him and the Scrapper that had battered him, disappear into the waves. Relief flooded through his mind at the sight of Wraith’s body crashing helplessly into the waters of Siren’s beach and an immense hope that the Scrapper would not be coming back out soon followed. These emotions however, were quickly replaced by regret.
    “I am Crucible,” he proclaimed loudly, chastising himself for the moment of weakness. “I fear no one. The kill should have been mine!”
    Crucible truly believed the words that went through his mind at that moment. He had proven himself time and time again in countless battles. He had always managed to come out on top no matter what adversity he had faced. It was because of his relentless determination and fearless heart that he had triumphed time and time again; which is why he truly felt confusion when his heart skipped a beat and his adrenaline spiked at the sight of a darkly clothed man leaping from the cresting waves of the ocean.

Wraith landed nimbly on the soft sands of the beach. His shirt was now little more than tattered shreds and the singes on his chest were still fading, but his eyes had lost none of their focus or fury. He scanned the terrain around him with the patience and perception of a hawk looking for its next prey and he almost chuckled when he spied the Brute’s sand covered form less than a hundred yards away. A faint splashing sound and the sight of a battered red and black leather outfit proclaimed that the Dominator had also managed to struggle back to consciousness and was flying slowly toward land.
Forcing a moment of restraint and patience, Wraith allowed the two villains a moment too make eye contact and instantly, silently make a pact against him. They were a team now, joined by their hatred for him. He had united two people that he could have more easily defeated if they were alone; he had joined two men and made a lethal team out of what would have otherwise been two easily manageable miscreants; he had brought a greater danger on himself and jeopardized the outcome of the ongoing war in Siren’s Call. He… didn’t care.
    Wraith crouched slightly, tensing his powerful leg muscles, then sprung nearly fifty feet in the air and landed on what was left of an old water tower. The brash mutant fixed his adversaries with a withering stair. “Run or fight,” Wraith shouted in a clear deep voice. “Makes no difference to me. Just remember this, the line is drawn here,” he continued, pointing towards the shoreline and moving his arm to draw an invisible line across its white sands, “and I hold that line.”

    Vindea couldn’t help but smile when she heard those words echo across the shore. Pride welled in her chest at the sight of her companion standing alone against the filth and refuse of the Rogue Isles.
    It had been three days since the Dogs of War had initially responded to an emergency call, which requested all available heroes to report to Siren’s Call. The devastated port had been overrun by Arachnos forces and villains were on the verge of destroying the last of the Longbow troops that defended this zone from full out invasion.
    The entire team, as well as many other heroes, had responded to the call. After a long ruthless day of conflict, they had managed to press the forces of evil back from the war wall and bring a level of stability to a fight that promised no true ending. Despite the always effective Emergency Teleport System, there had been casualties on both sides and after twenty-four hours of bloodshed and pain, few fighters on either side held enough spirit to continue the assault.
After that first day the majority of the heroes, including many of the Dogs of War, left the coast to resume their obligations inside the city. Wraith; however, refused to leave. The determined mutant was like a predator among a flock of prey, and though he had been beaten, pierced, blasted or otherwise injured to the edge of death many times over the past thirty-six hours, he had not relented in his fight.
    Since Wraith stayed, Vindea also remained; though whether her motivation came from devotion or admiration, she could not tell. She couldn’t explain Wraith’s appeal; it certainly was not his charm or charisma. He was in fact the most defiant, ruthless man she knew; yet in his defiance could be found steadfastness and his ruthlessness held a passion that inspired. In battle the line between love and loyalty can become blurred, but one thing Vindea was sure of was that whenever Wraith fought, she would be ready to fight beside him. No one could survive on their own forever, not even Wraith. After all he had suffered to bring peace to Paragon, when that one moment arose that he would need help, Vindea promised herself that she would be the one that would be there to stand beside him.
    Myth was in many ways the same in her eyes. Wraith’s empathic, twin brother was a born leader, a man who could inspire her with his mere presence but the inspiration he provided was not the same as Wraith’s.
No, not the same, she thought to herself and glanced up at Wraith’s white haired twin. Like any good leader, he had refused to leave the zone while his brother or any of his team remained behind but he did not posses his brother’s resilience; few did.
    Vindea’s soft blue eyes returned to Wraith’s solitary form just in time to see the two villains swooping in him. Even from this distance she could hear the sound of Wraith’s fists pound on the Dominator, his first target. She could see very little detail of the fight but she had no doubt, based on the howls of pain that came echoing up from the skirmish, that Wraith was executing his target with extreme prejudice. Less than a minute had passed before the slim red and black figure collapsed to the ground and Wraith turned his attention to the Brute, who had been trying in vain to pummel the distracted Scrapper.
    The two impressively built, super powered men collided with startling force. Vindea could hear the two shout and grunt in exertion while they traded blows in a raw display of savage power. The two men battered each other with every ounce of strength they could muster, the percussion of their blows being so loud that they echoed across the shore.
    “No one beats Wraith through stamina,” Vindea almost laughed. Seemingly in response to her statement, the Brute faltered and collapsed to one knee. She watched Wraith catch the heavily built man by the throat and began striking Crucible’s face mercilessly with his closed fist until the armored figure hung limp in his unwavering grasp.
    Myth chuckled and mumbled, “Not much of a sportsman is he?”
    “No,” Vindea responded dismissively. “Sportsmen are people that have the luxury of losing. He is a soldier and he fights like one.”
    Suddenly Myth stiffened in his perch and his eyes snapped out of their tired fog and into focus. “There’s some one else out there,” he whispered.

    Wraith cast Crucible’s limp form off the water tower with no more respect than he would show a bag of compost and slowly turned in a complete circle, scanning his surroundings for any other threats. Finding none, he wiped his brow with a blood stained hand and let out a long sigh.
    He never saw it coming; the piercing and mortal fire of pain just appeared in his chest. Where there had been nothing but clear air a second earlier a gothic garbed woman now stood, a twisted smile etched on her angular face. Wraith wanted to strike out at her, to retaliate for the crushing pain that filled his chest but his fists, which moments earlier seemed to have a consciousness of their own, now hung limply at his sides.
    Reluctantly, Wraith broke his eyes away from the woman’s face. His vision abandoned the black make-up and dark, unruly hair, to look down at his fists. His eyes however, never made it to his hands. They focused instead on a glistening steel blade that protruded from the center of his chest.
    “So,” the woman sneered at Wraith. “You’re the one holding the line. I pity those people that thought they could sleep safely tonight because you were here protecting them.”
    Wraith could feel darkness closing in him, he could sense the icy cold tendrils of death creeping in on his heart but still he forced himself to look back up at the Stalker that had claimed her victory over him. Reaching deep within himself Wraith willed his hand to reach up with blinding speed and snatch her by her narrow neck, pulling her face to within inches of his own. A weak, sneering smile formed on his lips. “Y-you’re gonna l-love this part,” he said, coughing up blood on her pale lean face.
    A blinding bolt of horrendous energy plowed into the Stalker so suddenly that she did not even manage a scream until just before her body slammed into the side of a decaying, old building. The scream ended abruptly, replaced by a faint moan from her unconscious throat. Falling limply from the side of the building, where she had left a small crater in the already crumbling steel framework, the Stalker’s body looked more like a sack of tossed bones than a human form.
Watching the Stalkers body hit the ground and bounce lightly off of the cracked pavement, Wraith’s grin turned from twisted to satisfied. “S-see, wasn’t t-that great?” He mumbled weakly.
Slowly, the wounded Scrapper sunk to his knees, his shoulders slumping and his head hanging low with exhaustion. Taking a deep breath, he grasped the hilt of the katana that still protruded from his chest. With as much speed as he could muster Wraith yanked hard on the hilt, dragging the blade from his chest. No matter how fast he pulled at the blade however, there was no avoiding the pain. The feeling of the razor sharp steel grind against his ribs and carve his lung tissue reverberated through his body. A horrific cry of agony escaped his lips and a gush of blood spurted from his chest when the blade fully escaped his flesh.
The world spun around him and darkness grasped his mind in a vice like grip. The sword fell forgotten from Wraith’s hand and he collapsed to the ground, grasping at his gaping wound. He sucked heavily at the air around him, just to have it bubble out between the fingers that clutched at the hole in his chest.
Helpless to breathe, Wraith lay in a growing puddle of his own blood, with his mouth hanging open and his chest squirting black fluid and air. Stubbornly refusing to accept an immediate trip to the nearby medical facilities, he waited in unreal agony for his body to overcome its nearly mortal wound.
    “We’re here.” He heard the gentle voice sink through the fog of pain. Along with that pleasant female voice, the familiar presence of his twin brother settled in around Wraith. Less than a second later a wave of healing energy swept over his body and he felt the unbelievable relief of air filling his lungs. Suddenly the fog of pain and the chill of death fled him and Wraith found himself coming nimbly to his knees.
    Vindea rested her hand gently on Wraith’s shoulder. “Easy there big guy; that one was kind of close… even for you.”
    “All just part of the game,” Wraith said in a low gravely voice.
    “Some game,” Myth replied with a grin that mirrored his brother’s. “Ever think that maybe you should redefine your rules? All these near death experiences of yours can’t be good for your already shaky psyche,” he teased.
    “Didn’t realize there were any rules too redefine,” Wraith replied.
    A low hum cut into their conversation and Wraith quickly snatched his cell phone from one of his cargo pockets. The luminous screen proclaimed a simple message.
        No bounties available.

    “Well, guess they all got tired of dancing,” Wraith said with a shrug.
    Vindea giggled, though her throat and body were so tired it came out more as a cough. “Does this mean we can finally go home?”
    “Unless Wraith likes hanging around here for the scenery,” Myth replied.
    “Never cared much for the beach,” Wraith said, rising from his knees and stretching his newly restored abdomen. “I think they got my message. Let’s book.”
    The trio turned their backs on Paragon’s war-ravaged coast just when the sun began to set. Its fading light caught the faint fumes that rose over the villain’s island base and cast the evening sky in a pink hue. The twins paid the celestial light display no mind but Vindea could not help but glance over her shoulder for a moment in silent awe.
    “I wish that everyone could enjoy this. These past few days would be worth it all if the citizens could one day return here and see moments like this,” she whispered low enough so that only Wraith could hear her.
    The dark haired scrapper glanced over his shoulder at the dimming skyline and shook his head dismissively. “That’s not why I fight,”
    “Then for what?” Vindea persisted. “You just spent three days battling out here; why?”
    Wraith just shook his head. “It’s who I am. It’s what I do.”


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