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Vengeance: Rotting Flames

A man in a cape looked around for potential enemies. In a city of villains it never hurt to look before you leap. The base portal in sight, the figure quickly flew into it.

"Blightlord! It's about time you got here, the base is about to be attacked in only five minutes and you just now show up?!"

"Yes, Elitist, I know about the raid, but unlike those of you who are reliant on the more technological advances of society, my mystic abilities allowed me to teleport a few deadly concoctions as my slaves bashed in that meddlesome Sea Witch's skull," replied the group's master of death.

"Impossible, I configured this base to resist any attempts of teleportation inside anywhere except the entrance which I covered in turrets just for our friends," replied Techno Tyrant, the robotics master of the Masters of Mayhem. Very intelligent when it comes to technology but such an inferior mind when it comes to the arcane.

"Yes you made sure to stop device-induced teleportation but not mystical."

"Like this?!" yelled a hero as he and somewhere near ten others appeared in the base.

"Yes like that," Blightlord smirked at the heroes' confusion at their inability to move. "I placed a special poison that causes your muscles to become stiff. You will regain movement once you are returned to Paragon City via your medi-porters. Another thing you forgot, Tyrant, was that they can still teleport out with technology, making your nice prison area, Knave, a waste."

A sinister man appeared behind the heroes who looked like he was about to strike the one with a tail in the back. "Now why did you have to go ahead and give me away like that? I was just about to send this little beauty home." He smirked and patted her head till she hissed at him. "Feisty for one in your position aren't you kitty."

"No she's just waiting for me to give the order to have you all pummeled," said a hero completely encased in armor. All the heroes prepared themselves for the fight.

"But my potion!" protested Blightlord.

"Yeah I had Hyper-Man look up your file and felt like a good ol' antidote spell would take care of any poisons you had ready for us," said a hero wearing a hood, his costume with flame signs everywhere.

"Doesn't matter, there are more ways to take out heroes than tricks and stealth" said Elitist as he charged forward and began to attack a big man with blue and yellow armor.

"Yeah just cause we can't cut you from behind doesn't mean we won't fight in front," said a second Stalker, AphexTwin, as he materialized next to Knave of Spades. They both went to different targets. Knave to attack some goofball with goggles and claws while Aphex went to fight a guy with a hood who kept making Smashing Pumpkin scream in fear at some horror only he seemed to be able to see.

Editor ran at this one Tank with a beard and spiky hair who had started to help the guy in blue and yellow armor fight off Elitist. Editor got a few shots in but both Tanks turned on him at once and smashed him straight into the base recclaimator, damaging it beyond repair by the bases fabricators. If any villains were seriously wounded in this fight they'd have to stay in the hospital for a while.

The girl with a tail and cat ears was making some kind of weird heroes to join the fight, or so they thought. She ordered the phantasms to attack the base interior, blowing up generators and such.

"Hey! It took me hours to get that room to look right!" yelled a furious woman with pink hair just before she assaulted her mind.

"Beat it clown!" yelled a man who seemed more hyper than a child who just ate a bag of sugar. His hands covered in electricity, he jumped with his fists, crackling with electricity, in the air and came down hard on the woman. She screamed and covered her eyes but didn't feel the blow. She looked to see the hero on the ground and struggling to get up. She was confused until she saw a small group of robots leap over her head and begin pummeling the hero. She grinned at Tyrant and resumed her mental assault on the one who smashed her hard work.

Blightlord quickly raised his undead slaves and imbued them with dark power. He searched the battle for the one who had countered his poison. That one would become his living-dead slave. "Where did that one go..."

"Right behind ya!" Brawler said as he let himself become visible and froze the villain in place. He knocked on the ice and laughed. "You're not so dangerous without those potions are you?"

Brawler was going to continue his taunting but got a sword slash on his chest. He looked up in surprise at the zombie horde attacking him. He quickly launched fire bolts to burn them up while keeping their master "cool."

Jack Power and Chris Lancelot fought their opponents almost as fiercely as they fought back. They were getting nowhere alone so they attacked Editor together. He tried to dodge but got himself hit in the head instead of the stomach. The concussion from the blows activated his medi-porter as he fell to the floor. The heroes grinned and began to try the same on Elitist until they heard a scream of pain that they recognized as Phantom's.

Smashing quickly recovered from his ordeal and took Editor's place while Aphex hurried over to fight the hero that was covered with armor who was about to help the claw guy take out Knave

Super Shard looked left and right as he snuck through the compound. He had heard Phantom's scream and almost turned back but Hyper's orders were clear. He had to get to the villain base's main control room. Without control the base's items would all be unable to function and many of them would explode.

He hurried along, invisible, and there he saw it. Wall-to-wall databases made him whistle in appreciation; just cause these were made and used by villains didn't mean the tech-freak didn't appreciate good quality devices like these. He was pretty sorry his mission was to destroy them.

"Oh well, time to get to work," he said and he began encasing a database in ice to make it easier to smash with his energy fists.

Or at least he tried to; he fell to the floor with smoking laser holes in his back.

"Tsk, tsk, tsk," said a robot. He kicked the hero over with his foot and looked at his face.

It was smiling.

Shard lept up and smashed the robot against a wall. "Laser proof armor, a Blaster's best friend."

"No one can smash the mighty Retro Bot!" cried the mad machine.

Shard proved him wrong and watched the villain fade away to the hospital.

Shard resumed his work freezing the databanks, then smashed them for good measure.

A red alarm sounded and Hyper yelled, "Mission accomplished! Let's get out of here!" and he and the other 'Kickers grouped around Burning Brawler, who had just finished off the last of the zombies, and Brawler cast the spell to leave the base.

The villains who weren't in the hospital looked around at the smoking machines in their base. Techno sent a stream of curses at the site, now wanting to think about having to rebuild everything and Harley was equally furious at the damage to the details she had placed so carefully.

Then they looked over to a slowly thawing villain in the corner. "Hahahaha! Looky here, the big master of decay is a popsicle!" Smashing grinned as he placed a hand on the ice and melted it.

Blightlord raised his arm and launched a ball of guck that covered Smashing's body than hardened, freezing him in place. "I don't take kindly to being mocked."

He stormed off to his room, which was still intact being the only room without items that use control or even energy. He had much planning to do if he was to exact revenge on these heroes.





Especially that fool Burning Brawler....  

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 Blightlord was hunched over his Alchemy table, muttering to himself as he looked through his "recipe book" trying to find the proper potion ingredients for scrying without a personal item.

"Let's see... eye of newt? Gods can that be any more cliché'? No, no, must find something more powerful." He turned pages rapidly until he found a page with a picture of a mirror, the ingredients and measurements on its glass. He smiled at this potion that would enchant any mirror for several hours.

He walked over to the rotting shelf on the other side of his room. On the shelf were hundreds of jars, each containing different ingredients from garlic to pickled eyes to things that would sicken you to know how they were acquired.

He grabbed some jars and moved back towards his table, which was covered with vials and tubes and a complicated system of clear rubber wires and oddly shaped glasses for mixing and heating potion ingredients.

He pulled out a wooden bowl and what looked like a small club. He opened one of the dirty, old jars and hand in his hand some roots. He counted out a few and tossed them into the bowl, then he started to mash the roots into a fine powder.
He grabbed another jar and reached inside. He took out a small plant that one would have sworn where daisies, except these "daises" were black with purple pollen in the center. He picked off the black petals and threw them in then filled a vial with water and rubbed the pollen, careful not to get any on his fingers, into the vial. When the pollen hit the water it created a puff of smoke in the shape of a skull. Blightlord grabbed the last jar and ripped off the rubber seal, trying not to gag on the awful stench. Inside was a rotten egg, the egg of a gryphon to be exact. He cracked it open and green goop fell into the bowl. He took the vial he had put the water and pollen in and dumped that in next.

He grabbed a spoon and began to mix the ingredients. Satisfied he lifted the bowl and took the cap off of one of the beakers connected to the rubber wires.

He poured the liquid and watched it separate to different wires and travel through the network. As it twisted and turned the potion went black, then blue, now purple, then finally a sickly green as the concoction all regrouped in the last glass.

Blightlord took the glass and walked over to a grand mirror, taller than he, and poured the liquid over it. He sat down in the stone gargoyle chair and muttered an incantation. It would be a few minutes before what he wanted to see was clear enough for him to glean anything important from it, but he knew he had time because he heard footsteps coming to his door.

The door was kicked in and there stood that brute Smashing Pumpkin, obviously angry, but this was nothing new when he was speaking to Blightlord.

"All right I wanna know, and I wanna know now. What the hell did you put in that guck?! I musta washed this suit a dozen times and I still can't get the freakin' stench out!"

"Maybe it's not the potion. You are getting close to your yearly bath."

"Oh ha-ha rot boy. I need to get this crap off my suit I have a date tonight!"

Blightlord knew this was a lie but decided to humor Pumpkin.

"If you really want to know what is inside that potion I will tell you. I used a dash of wolfsbane, a touch of powdered emerald."

"So why the hell do I stink!"

"Now let me finish! I also added some of Techno Tyrant's hair, that grease adds to the range of the mechanism by a whole ten feet!"

Smashing's eyes began to go wide and his mouth began to open in disgust, but Blightlord didn't stop there.

"I also used some of the cesspool water in Mercy Isle for the green coloring and it's unusual ability to strengthen the hold of the concoction. Then there was some snake venom to help make sure that even if the victim resisted the affects, he'd still be finally ill. Finally I added cat urine, for the smell and the way it seems to make the drying of the potion instant."

"Son of a-" Pumpkin ran out of the room yelling curses at Blightlord as he hurried to burn the suit and take his yearly bath.

"That last one was a bit over don't you think? I know he's easy but still... that's just disgusting, and I stab people in the back."

"Of course not Knave," replied Blightlord as the Stalker appeared. "Anyone who fools themselves into thinking they can speak to me like that deserves a little trauma."

"So what are you doing with this mirror?" asked Knave.

"I want that hero from the fight yesterday to suffer but before I can capture him I need to know where to find him."

"Revenge eh? Gonna have him ruffed up?" Blightlord nodded. "Well, if it was me, I wouldn't hurt the person who humiliated me." Blightlord turned and looked at the Stalker, a little surprised by the statement. "I'd attack his family," Knave finished and a devilish grin spread across his face. Blightlord smiled as well under his helmet and yelled "Familia!" at the mirror. Knave left as Blightlord patiently waited for the mirror to change views from the hero to a woman and a boy who, to Blightlord's surprise, were actually fighting a group of Warriors, and winning!

This will be a most interesting game.

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 "Tyrant! I need information."

"What for Blight?"

"Revenge," said Blightlord.

"Revenge huh? Yeah I can help with that, for a price of course."

"I'll make you a deal, you give me the information I want and you won't end up as my next slave."

Techno Tyrant shuddered at the thought of being a slave, especially Blightlord's. He turned around to his computer and began pulling up files. "I just got this thing fixed yesterday so I hope you're not looking for much. Those heroes did a number on this place, what I wouldn't give to get back at them."

"Maybe you'll get the chance if you give me what I need. I'm looking for information on two heroes, aliases Danica and Void Brawler."

"Hmmmm.... mother and son? What are you planning here Blight?"

"Keep looking at their information, I'm sure you'll see."

"Ah I see. These are that fire dude's family. The one who turned you into a rotten popsicle. I think I see where this is going but just to be sure, what are you planning?"

"I want to kidnap them, torment the hero, and finally kill all three. The usual villain vengeance plan."

"Uh huh... well only one problem... hard as I try I can't get their address. Looks like you'll have to get them to come to you.... how though I don't know."

"Group affiliations. Now."

"Let's see.... this Danica girl is a member of some group called 'Kickers in Training, looks like a reserve group for the clowns who attacked last week."

"And the boy?"

"'Kickers Kids... looks like a super-powered boy scouts deal. Mostly younger relatives but a few offspring. That seems like a prime target."

"Attacking a group of children? You are trying to ruin my reputation aren't you? No I think I'll organize a raid for this reserve group. Danica will hear of the raid and come searching for me with her son sneaking behind. I'll swoop down and take them."

"So how are you going to let the hero know you have them? ...Blight?"

Tyrant swiveled around in his chair but Blightlord was nowhere to be found.

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 Nine villains walked up to the raid teleporters. One walked over to the keyboard and configured it for their destination.

They all reappeared inside what looked more like a mansion than a base. "I can't wait to smash this place in," said Pumpkin, grinning ear to ear.

Elitist and Editor were thinking the same thing he was but were more interested in waking up some of these heroes to the sounds of their bedroom walls falling in on them.

Harley was doing her best to keep her insanity in check but it was quickly becoming a one-sided battle with the mayhem about to begin.

Aphex and Knave were watching some heroes on their way to bed and chuckled at what they imagined their expressions would be at being cut in their sleep.

Retro, Blightlord, and Techno Tyrant began calling in their henchman and equipping them for the fight.

A hero was heading to the base portal but stopped when he saw a group of super-villains standing there. He turned to run and tried to cry out a warning to the others but Harley quickly silenced him with a mental dart. Knave ran up to finish the hero but the medi-porter took him before he had the chance. Cursing he rejoined the group.

Elitist looked at the others and nodded. They ran into the hallway and in the first few seconds of destruction sent five heroes to the hospital.

Harley seized a group of heroes and forced them to see their worst memories causing many to fall to their knees. Aphex and Knave took advantage of this and sent them each one by one to the emergency room.

Smashing would knock over pillars onto unsuspecting Blasters and Controllers who were trying to keep everyone under control, taking half of the people who could have organized a retaliation far from the base.

Elitist and Editor decided that breaking into rooms by making new "doors" would be a fun idea. The heroes that weren't immediately sent to the hospital by the wall coming in on them were taken out quick enough.

Retro and Techno began taking revenge for the destruction of the base's hardware by their lead group. They destroyed anything they deemed important and destroyed the small statues of the 'Kickers leaders with glee.

Blightlord had a different plan. One woman saw that the heroes would not win this battle, so instead of letting people die she organized a retreat. She herded the heroes over to a secret exit in the meeting room, doing her best to keep some of the newer recruits from panicking.

Blightlord moved slowly, menacingly, behind the heroes, his eyes dimming to the black of his soul. With a flick of his wrist, he called his undead minions to his side and commanded zombies to fire vomit at the escaping heroes. Some were sent to the hospital from acid burns but many kept moving past the pain that was eating through their flesh.

The heroine finally got the group into the meeting room and opened the escape tunnel. As the heroes fled through the opening she began to barricade the door to slow the rotting man's approach. As she shoved the meeting table up against the other furniture she had placed she heard the hacking sounds. She feared there might not be enough time to get the others to safety.

She rushed the last couple heroes into the passage and was about to climb in herself but knew there was not enough time. She quickly closed the door and heated her hands to weld the door shut, then walked to the front of the opening, standing defiantly with an aura of flames around her.

The undead broke through and immediately charged the heroine. She sidestepped with her hands aflame and lit the zombies on fire. The villain, Blightlord, smirked as one of the zombies fell down, dead for the second time. He raised both of his hands to the sky, invoking the power of the Muck that coursed through his veins. The body rose in a pillar of shadow and its spirit separated from the body, which was thrown to the floor.

The ghost's gleaming red eyes looked at it's second killer, Draconus Spirit, with a hate so intense that it could freeze any lesser hero in their tracks.

As Blightlord commanded another zombie to take the limp one's place Spirit began to create a bonfire around herself in an attempt to ward the henchman off. The zombies ran in with a stupid grin on their face while the Grave Knights and Lich assaulted her with shadow-magic.

The darkness entered her body and she could feel it squeezing her organs, clouding her thoughts. Fighting to regain consciousness she turned the zombies assaulting her to ashes and moved to attack Blightlord.

She lept across the room at him but a smoky tendril grabbed her leg, causing her to fall face-first to the floor. She looked back at the Lich that was grinning hungrily at her. She tried to burn the tentacle but the fire just passed right through it. She tried to pull herself to the villain; if she could just grab his ankle she could send him to a fiery death.

The ghost came at her moaning horrible and threw ectoplasmic nightmares at her. The ghost's aim was poor and hit a mirror, causing the attack to reverse onto it sending it to its final resting place.

She pulled towards the cackling villain but was his by a forceful burst of darkness that sent her further back.

She sat up in a daze and felt something constrict one of her arms, then the other, and finally her remaining leg. She looked over at the remaining undead until a final tentacle wrapped around her neck, slamming her head to the floor.

Blightlord walked next to her and breathed a horrible poison that made her feel weaker, to weak to hold onto the flaming aura.

He aimed his arm at her to launch a glob to temporarily contain her so she would not cause any more trouble the rest of the raid. He was about to launch it when he thought, what if they only saw this as a retaliation? No he would have to make sure that those heroes saw it as a message. Danica may not seek revenge if all they died was wreck their place.

Blightlord called his Grave Knights over to him and pointed at the girl, the eyes behind her helmet wide in fear. The undead soldiers stood on each side of her and raised their swords, point down. Spirit tried to scream but could not make a sound. The blades fell and she never made a sound again...

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 Blightlord sat alone in his room watching the mirror, listening to the conversation. It was much better than any of the drivel Smashing watched on television. There was the hero who had encased him in ice, despite his name, and the one who seemed to be one of their leaders, the one wearing full body-armor and a helmet.

The one in the helmet came up to Burning Brawler and began talking to him, the sound was faint but just loud enough that Blightlord could hear the conversation.

"Brawler, did Danica go the KiT base at all last night?"

"No, ever since we got that apartment we haven't needed our rooms at the bases for much except places to keep any items we need. She was supposed to go this afternoon though, it's her friend Draconus Spirit's birthday."

Hyper had always thought it was good at certain times that people couldn't see his expression. He felt that way more now than ever.

"There was a... a raid on it last night by the villains we sabotaged."

"Is everyone ok?!" Brawlers asked. The base was made more as a lodging area than a defensive building, not to mention none of the heroes there were ready for that kind of fight.

"The base is in ruins and there are a few in intensive care. Some will be getting out of the hospital this week and there are a couple who are already back in the base with some other 'Kickers working on repairs. There was also a group that was able to escape. Spirit led a group to the escape tunnel in the meeting room, thanks to her we have about ten or twelve who made it out fine."

"That's great! For something like this I think we should have her promoted to the main 'Kickers."

"Normally I'd agree, BB, but we have a problem."

"What is it?"

"She stayed behind to make sure the others got away. She sealed the passage with her still inside the base so the villain wouldn't be able to follow the others. From what we can tell she fought him as best she could but she... she's dead."

Brawler looked at Hyper-Man in shock. He had met Draconus Spirit before with Danica. She was one of the nicest heroes she had ever met and now she's dead. He put his head in his hands doing his best to fight back the emotions inside him. But then he remembered Danica.

He bolted from his room leaving Hyper behind and ran for the telepads. He gave the coordinates for the apartment.

When he appeared inside the only person he saw was Matt sitting on the couch watching TV. "Where's your mother?" Brawler asked.

"She just left a few minutes ago. What happened at the base? She got a phone call and I heard something about a raid, then she ran out of here. What happened? ...Dad?" Matt got off the couch and looked at where his dad had been standing but he was gone already.

If something's happening, Matt thought, I wanna help. So he ran into his room and put on his costume.

Brawler materialized in the KiT base and was shocked at the amount of damage done. Not one wall had been left untouched, it was a miracle the building was still standing. There was a group of Trainees and a few 'Kickers cleaning up the mess with Jack and Chris doing most of the heavy lifting.

Brawler ran for the meeting room as fast as he could. He came to opening and skidded to a stop at the sight inside.

There were signs of a fight all over the walls and floor but that's not what he saw. In the center of the room he saw Danica, her head in her hands looking at the floor sobbing at the horrible scene.

No one had taken the body away yet. There was Spirit, her arms, legs, and neck held down by now lifeless inky black tentacles. The villain didn't order his minions to remove the swords, they were still pinning her to the floor. Worse yet he had removed her helmet so that everyone could see her expression of terror, of pain.

Brawler put his hand on Danica's shoulder and tried to lead her away from the awful sight but she wouldn't budge. All of a sudden her head snapped up and she concentrated deeply, becoming invisible. Brawler could still hear her footsteps as she ran out of the room. Brawler thought she was leaving to find a quiet place to grieve and Brawler almost went with her but thought maybe she maybe just wanted to be alone right now.

He'd wish he had followed her soon.

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 Danica held in her hand a crumpled note. She had found it pinned to the door of the room where her friend had died. It said 'If you want revenge meet me in the cemetery.'

She knew it was a trap but she didn't really care. All she thought about right now was planting her heels in his neck. She was so furious she didn't see her son following her in the shadows.

She saw the large iron gates and thought how fitting a place this would be to kill this villain.

She walked through the courtyard; the dark night and eerie fog making it seem like a horror movie. She saw a large a mausoleum in the distance and flew over to it.

She kicked the large stone door and broke it in. She looked inside, if a villain was going to try to ambush her it would be here. She saw a large stone coffin in the center of the room. She ran towards it and didn't see Void behind her, flying up to conceal himself in the shadows of the top corner.

Void felt a rough hand grab him and cover his mouth and as he tried to struggle he gagged on the smell of the hand just below his nose. It turned him around to face it and the sight made Void's eyes go wide and he fainted at the sight of a grinning, rotting face.
The undead knight jumped down from the corner and the thud made Danica turn around. She saw her son in its arms and she ran forward to save him. She would have if the lid on the coffin hadn't flown off, revealing a Lich that used the same tentacles to hold her in place that it had used on Spirit. She turned back at the Lich just as a third figure came down from the roof shadows.

"Hello, Danica. And the famous Void Brawler," he said mocking them both just with his tone.

"Let me go now! Only a coward would kill someone like this," she said reminding him of the way he had killed her friend.

"Oh I have no intentions of letting you go, or even fighting you. No my dear, you are bait."

"Bait? What do you mean bait? You killed Spirit!"

"She was merely a tool for drawing you out for an even bigger prize," Blightlord wished she could see the dark grin on his face, "your husband."

Danica had never felt so foolish. She knew she was walking into a trap but didn't know it wasn't set for her. "You're a monster! If you're keeping me hostage at least let Void go."

"No, I think having you both will make my plan all the more perfect. Now hold still, this will not be pleasant... for you anyway."

He inhaled deeply and blew out a large green spray that covered Danica and Void. Danica felt her legs go limp and she began to fall to the floor.

As she fell she felt her consciousness slip and she fell into a deep sleep...

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 Burning Brawler was sitting on the couch at their apartment staring at the clock. Matt and Danica were both gone. He assumed Danica was venting her frustration on some Council, you had to feel bad for them, but Void was past curfew. He did normally get an extra hour when on special missions but his contacts said they hadn't seen him since yesterday.

He walked into his and Danica's bedroom and grabbed the locater. "They're both together, that's good. Wait a minute... their in the cemetery?" He suddenly had flashbacks to all those movies where people would get buried alive by plotting villains, but there's no way they'd be able to do that to Danica. But then there's Void...

Brawler left the apartment in a hurry.

As he flew over the cemetery he checked the locater. He looked up and saw they were inside a mausoleum. He saw the destroyed door and was sure he found the right place.

He saw three stone coffins, and the one in the center was open. But it wasn't that one he was concerned about; it was the other two with "Danica" and "Void Brawler" engraved on their lids.

He rushed over to break them out but couldn't move his legs. He looked down and saw some black tentacles gripping his legs. He tried to pull out of them but they just squeezed tighter. "So you finally came. For a moment I was worried you wouldn't take the bait." The villain from the base, Blightlord, left the shadows with his Grave Knights behind him.

"Let them go. I'm here so there's no reason for you to keep them."

"Actually, I planned on just killing all three of you, if you'll read the center coffin." Brawler did and saw he had his own name engraved on it.

"The only person who's going to die in here is you!" Brawler dropped a patch of flame that shriveled the tentacles.

"I think not," said a voice behind him. A black-hooded zombie raised a shadowy hand that darkened the hero's vision. "You guys are as dumb as you smell," said Brawler. He lit a hand and the shadows disappeared at the light.

"Charge!" commanded the villain and his Grave Knights ran in a hungry rush. They drew their swords and hacked at the hero. Brawler flew out from the "x" their swords formed and launched quick bursts of fire. The Grave Knights lifted their swords to deflect the blasts but the flame heated the metal to a temperature so intense, the zombie's hands caught fire which spread through their entire body, turning them to ash.

"No matter," Blightlord said. He closed his eyes in concentration and a large rumbling could be heard outside. "There was a reason I decided to lure you into a graveyard," he said. Suddenly some things appeared in the doorway. "Because here," he continued as dozens joined them, "I have complete control!" he said. Suddenly the things rushed into the room, a horde of zombies each with a hungry expression on its face.

Brawler turned to face them and raised his hands to the ceiling. He called down a fiery rain that set many of the zombies on fire and created a small domino affect thanks to the close quarters.

A small group almost reached him until he threw a patch of fire around himself that would take off the zombies’ feet, making them lose balance. Suddenly he heard a large inhale behind him; he turned to face the villain behind him but was too late to do anything. Blightlord blew out that horrible green breath of his and Brawler suddenly felt his legs go weak.

The villain raised an arm to fire something at him. When Burning tried to fly out of the way he felt sluggish and the stuff hit one of his legs, stiffening it instantly. Brawler saw him prepare to fire again but his leg was firmly stuck to the floor. The second fire hit his other leg locking it down like the other one. He was about to melt it off when he realized he was no longer in the fire patch.

He turned just in time to get a zombie smack in the face and a bite on his arm. He struggled to get out of the guck that the villain had fired before the other zombies overwhelmed him. He started to create another fire patch when a group of zombies tackled him to the floor, snapping his feet out of the goo.

They began to pummel him until he covered himself in fire, burning the zombies and warding the others off. He threw an explosive fireball at the minions incinerating many and setting fire to some which would spread to others.

Blightlord began calling more zombies to his aid when suddenly a loud crack was heard. They both turned to the stone coffin with the broken lid. In the blink of an eye Danica lept out and heel kicked Blightlord's helmet, splitting it instantly in half.

He covered his face and ran down the stairwell behind him, into the catacombs. Danica almost chased after him until she heard her husband fighting the remaining zombies behind her.

She turned around as he flung another explosive blast. She lept into the middle of them and quickly swept their feet out from under them. As they fell to the floor she palm-struck a few, snapping their heads off of their rotted necks.

As the zombies' attention turned to her Brawler quickly threw a few bursts to take out the outer ones.

With only a few zombies left Danica flew up into the air so they would all crash together in the center. She quickly slammed down with her stiletto heels, impaling two of the zombies’ skulls while crushing the other two with her palms.

She ran over to Brawler and hugged him deeply, apologizing for going to the trap. They heard a muffled yell and quickly turned to the third coffin. Danica smashed the lid open and Brawler pulled Void out.

"This is why we tell you to stay home when we're fighting bigger threats," he said.

Void didn't reply, just followed them as they ran down the stairs to take down Blightlord.

As they entered the catacombs the smell of the rotting bodies assaulted them. They moved on and followed the footprints in the dust Blightlord had left behind.

"Wait a minute, doesn't this guy fly?" asked Void.

"Now that you mention it yeah he did. So why wouldn't he?" asked Burning.

"Because its a trap," said Danica.

Suddenly the entire room's occupants rose from their resting places. Skeletons and zombies and some dead heroes rose.

"Hold on," said Brawler. Danica and Void grabbed his hands as Brawler flew up to the wooden beams holding up the ceiling. "Ok we should be safe up here," he said.

A low, gravelly voice behind him said, "I think not."

They turned to see a former hero, his cape and costume tattered flying up to attack them. The dead man launched himself at them like a rocket. Danica ducked and grabbed the man's outstretched arm, then flung him back the other direction, sending the body into the wall and leaving Danica with a weapon.

Brawler lit the fist of the arm and Danica threw it down into the crowd of zombies attempting to get at them. As they began to catch fire many began to climb the bookcase-like indents in the walls where they were laid and suddenly saw a way to get at the family.

Burning threw exploding fireballs in an attempt to get rid of the ones hungrily clambering to the top while Danica and Void Brawler quickly knocked out the ones who made it to the top.

"I don't get it, for every four we take out ten seem to take their place," said Void as he used a shadowy fist to turn a skeleton into pick-up sticks.

"That's because we're fighting the wrong enemies," said Brawler. He looked at the exit on the far side of the room and saw the flickering red light of a ritual being performed. "Grab my hands," he said and he flew them over to the door. Danica quickly kicked the sides of the entrance bringing the stone down to barricade them from the horde.

They heard chanting in the room ahead and a loud, explosive sound as the re-animation ritual progressed. The peeked their heads around the corner and saw the villain Blightlord reading from a tome while holding a sacrificial knife in his hand. As his minions banged drums and danced around the cauldron emitting red smoke, Blightlord held his arm over it. He took the knife and slashed his wrist but instead of blood, dark ooze fell in.

The smoke turned a sinister shade of purple and a large moaning came from the cauldron.

"On three," said Burning. "One.... two.... go!" They charged into the room, Void sped at high speeds, smashing the zombies, while Burning and Danica ran at Blightlord.

Blightlord quickly reacted by first freezing Void in his tracks with one of his toxins while leaping out of the way of his parents. They turned and lept at him as Blightlord attempted to reload his toxin launcher.

Blightlord knew if he was going to get his revenge and complete this ritual he would need to act fast. He launched another blast of the toxin and froze Danica in place. He let Burning pin him against the wall, letting him see his scarred, rotted face.

"Good job, you've found me, escaped my minions, seemingly foiled my ritual and now have me in the perfect position for annihilation," he said.

Brawler's hand covered itself in flame as he formed a fist, ready to incinerate the man who'd tried to kill his family.

"But the thing is, if you kill me here, I'll only return. And when I return I will find your wife and son and I will kill them, and if you manage to stop me again I will only keep returning. You will never be rid of me. No matter how many times you win, you will, eventually, lose. And when you do.... you'll lose it all," Blightlord said, his grin almost insane.

The flame on Brawler's hand disappeared for a moment and Blightlord took that as a sign that he was getting to him. "You might as well let me go," he said as he injected a serum into Brawler.

Suddenly Brawler's eyes went blank as he said, "Might as well," and set the villain down.

"In fact, you might as well just throw yourself and your family into that cauldron over there. It would be so much easier to do than live with the fear of my next return."

"You might be right," said the hero. He turned to his wife and son just starting to regain control of their body, and winked. Suddenly they were paralyzed again, including Burning, by the toxin.

"You honestly think I don't know when my serums didn't work? I am a master of the powers of death and decay, and you insult me this way?" His audience unable to do anything else, Blightlord turned his back to them and continued. "I'll sacrifice you and your blood will finish my true revenge! It will grant me more power than that ridiculous Recluse and I will finally be able to crush those insufferable oafs I have needed for far too long! I'll wipe the grin off of Smashing's face and put Elitist into his proper place, at my feet. And best of all, I will have eliminated the one who thought he could humiliate me and never see me again."

During his monologue Blightlord didn't notice the three heroes regaining control of their bodies. He turned around in time to get a shadow-fist in the face. Blightlord lept back as Danica attempted to do the same and got a blast of fire hitting his stomach.

As the fire burnt him he didn't have enough time to dodge Danica's next kick that knocked his feet out from under him. Void quickly placed a net of shadows over Blightlord to keep him from rising. Burning stood over him, ready to launch a killing fire.

Insane with rage Blightlord did his best to buy time, "You can't kill me. You'll never kill me. The only way you'll ever be rid of me is if die, and I will hunt you until I make sure that happens. I'll kill you the way I killed that pathetic Draconus Spirit!"

Danica screamed in rage and stabbed her stiletto heel into the villain's throat. Murky, black goo came from the wound and Blightlord grinned. "Until next time," he said as his body melted into the stuff and disappeared into the floor. All that remained was the armor that Danica smashed relentlessly till her knuckles bled and the armor was flattened. She sobbed at the loss of her friend, letting her rage turned to grief.

Burning and Void helped her to her feet and carried her to the door on the other side of the room.

The opened it and their eyes stung from the sudden light of sunshine.

Two weeks later...

'Kickers and Trainees in black tux and dresses gathered around a grave covered in flowers as the pastor read the eulogy. The heroes knew that the final battle had been won but they couldn't help feeling it was all a loss. The pastor finished and they each said their goodbyes.

Hyper-Man, wearing his watch so he could come in something other than his costume, laid a medal down on the flowers. "For your bravery in a crises you are promoted to the Buttkickers of the Fantastic. We just wish that you were alive to know it."

Danica, James, and Matt were the last ones left. They read the inscription on the grave, 'Hero, 'Kicker, Friend to the end.'

They left with the others remembering the inscription and never forgetting.

The End...  


TO:
Nemesis:
Recurring Nightmares/Freind or Foe





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