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Return to Darkness
Part 1 – Your Allegiance

By Eli J. Litzelman

    RoboZon stepped into the train and sat down.  Most of the passengers where heroes.  They ranged from a four-foot little giggling girl in a pink skirt, to a hulking eight-foot rock figure who had about as much sense of humor as the origins of his skin.  One guy in a tux was having a heated discussion of politics with another guy in a tight fitting suit of red spandex.
RoboZon saw no one he knew and sighed with relief.  He had just fought a lair full of the Circle and his brain was not up to conversation.  But just as he was relaxing he heard someone beside him.
“Hey, you’re RoboZon, aren’t you?”
“Yes.”  RoboZon did not look up.
“Nice new costume.”
“I’m new in town; going to Atlas for registration.  Where are you going?”
“Heard something about Council activities in Steel Canyon.  Going there.”
“Didn’t I hear something about you being one of them, a long time ago?”
“‘A long time ago.’”

“I think I’m going to like it here.”
RoboZon put his hand on the young man’s shoulder.  “Provided you don’t get yourself killed, maimed, or go insane, you’re probably right.”
“Um, sure, right.  I’ll see you around sometime.”  With that he left the train.
He was followed by the man in the tux, still yelling as the doors closed in front of him.
RoboZon was alone once again, rubbing his head.  He reviewed what his contact had told him:  a group of Council minions had ransacked an office in Steel Canyon, they had taken an estimated four hostages, and it was rumored that a special lieutenant had overseen this attack.  Basically, an average case.  It was unusual that they had chosen that spot to attack, which seem completely useless.  But he’d probably run into the reason on the mission; he typically did.
RoboZon pulled out a newspaper and started reading.  Toward the middle of the paper he saw his name:  RoboZon Saves City from Circle.  With all the heroes running around saving the city, it was no surprise that he was in the middle of the paper.
RoboZon put his newspaper down beside him and stood up; his stop had come.  He walked out of the train, jumped off the railing, drifted slowly to the ground, and heard a voice that sounded vaguely familiar.
“RoboZon.”  Vandal stood straight and tall as always.  His pair of MK II Wolfpack Robots had already taken out the police drones and now stood at attention beside him.
“Vandal, it’s been awhile.  You know, I’ve always wondered:  how did you escape Statesman that night you where working on my legs?”
“I took a secret escape route.”
“What do you want, Vandal?”
“Your allegiance.”
RoboZon laughed.  “You think you’ll get my allegiance?”  He laughed again.  “No, you won’t get my allegiance.  Even with a migraine headache I can still beat you.  Remember, I studied your robot creations.  I know their thought processes and the exact wire to deactivate them without an explosion.  I studied under you and quickly overcame you.  You’re no match for me.”
“You still have one lesson to learn:  that of numbers.”  Vandal snapped his fingers twice.
Out of the shadows, over two dozen troopers came.  Most of them were Dark Vampyri, with a few Darkwolfs as punctuation.  The light of the full moon illuminated them and the slice of lightning only helped to show the full extent of their mutation.  A soft drizzle of rain began to fall.  The droplets rolled off the straw on RoboZon’s hat.  Even with the rain, his cape glided sideways with the wind.  Without thought, he put his left foot forward in fighting stance.
An eager robot launched a missile toward the hero.  As RoboZon said before, he knew the robot’s thought processes and had estimated this line of thought.  He dove through the air sideways and made an arc until he had lined up the Wolfpack robots.  He then flew straight toward them, taking a single wire from each droid as he passed. 
A Darkwolf jumped forward to block the flying hero’s path.  RoboZon stabbed the mutated man with the wires he still held in his hand.  The villain screamed as the electricity tore through him.  The metal master loosened his grip and the villain fell to the ground, writhing in agony.
RoboZon causally reached into his robe and pulled out a small device often used for teleporting unconscious and dead villains and tossed it toward the now unconscious Darkwolf.  The villain vanished.
The remaining Council members made a circle around RoboZon.
Another hero came out of the train and saw the commotion below.  He jumped over the rail, his hands lit with energy.  A vampyr saw the hero descending and launched toward him; the hero was dead before he reached the ground.
Vandal looked at the legendary hero in the middle of his minions. “Take him.”  He then turned and got into a limousine.
The vampyri screamed a vicious war cry and charged forward, their hands cloaked with a dark energy.
    Seeing no apparent way to avoid dozens of claws, RoboZon chose the only option:  up.  He hovered six feet off the ground as the enemy crashed into each other below.  At least two were down.  He then put his feet on two heads and smashed them together with a crack.  Extending his legs back out, he took out two more on his way down.  He stopped six inches from the ground and continued fighting, alternating blocks and hits.  Even in mid-air his stances were perfect. 
    RoboZon turned parallel to the ground to avoid an outstretched arm and punted upward.  He came back upright with a low-block and finished with a palm-strike, lifting the vampyr off the ground.  He was then hit in the back by five outstretched claws.  His body surged with dark energy.  He spun around with his elbow down, hitting the arm of the Commandant and ripping five long gashes through his own cape.  He then broke the targets arm and sent him back into the other villains trying desperately to get to the hero.
    A vampyr saw his opportunity.  While the hero had been bothering with another Council member, he had left his back to the real enemy.  The vampyr’s attack was swift.  He leaped from behind and took down his opponent with ease.
    RoboZon hit the ground with a jolt.  His air filter was torn off and a strange white liquid was poured into his mouth.  Try as he might, the hero could not stay conscious and soon passed out.

    Archer sat up with both hands encased in fire.  Even though everything in his apartment was in place and not moving, he knew something was wrong.  He released all the fire from his hands except for one finger and used it to light various candles in the room.  He then sat down in a wooden chair to contemplate. 
    He could not shake the premonition that something was different, somehow amiss.
    Archer considered for a moment and thought it would be wise to consult his apprentice, Daughter of the Wood.
    “Are you awake, DW?”
    “Huh, wha?  Oh, it’s you.  What do you want?”
    “Have you noticed anything out-of-the-ordinary?”
    “No, not really.”
    “Are you sure?”
    “Well, if you want to be specific, the small Chinese restaurant beside my place went out of business, which seems odd because every time I saw it, it was practically full.  But, I don’t think it’s in any way going to cause a major world crisis.”
    “No, I don’t think it will cause a world crisis, and no, I don’t think that’s what I'm worrying about.  But, thank-you anyway.”
    “My pleasure.  And now, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll get some rest.  Goodnight.”
    Even though Archer was looking at the ground, his thoughts were elsewhere.  He stood up and got himself some water.  He knew he wasn’t going to get any sleep for awhile and turned on a few lights. 
    Being tired, he yawned, scratched the back of his head, and cracked his neck.  He then took a sip of the water and set the glass down on a coaster.  With three steps, he was back in the living room.  He sat cross-legged on the floor and closed his eyes. 
His mind began to work, poring over ideas.  Thinking at an obnoxious rate, he passed from one subject to another with remarkable ease.  The torrent of thoughts began to blur, uniting together into a single unit.  His mind then cleared and emptiness remained.  He sat there for a long time, his eyes closed, but after awhile it was apparent the answer to what he was worried about would not be solved tonight.
    Without opening his eyes, he leaned back, uncrossed his legs, and tried to take advantage of the remaining night. 

TO PART 2 > 

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