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The Void

A young hero sped through the busy street of Atlas Park. He couldn't believe he had almost forgotten he was supposed to go meet his friend by the statue of Atlas.

Void Brawler had almost completely memorized the flow of mid-afternoon traffic here. He could zip between the moving cars and rarely had to dodge out of the way. He didn't even cause any accidents.

He would take the sidewalk but its more difficult to maneuver between people than cars. He didn't know why, it just was.

Before he could even see the statue clearly he saw the long line of yet another costume contest. In a matter of seconds he closed the distance and saw one of the participants was the friend he had come to meet, Danny Stones.

Danny was here because of some family mission. Danny's family for generations used their inherited powers of incredible strength and the ability to use the earth as a shield from harm to try to clean up their hometown. His father had finally done it, leaving him with no city to clean up. That’s why Danny was in Paragon City. A place that really needed some cleaning up and would definitely make him more famous than his father if he succeeded.

As the winners were announced Void grabbed his friends collar and pulled, yanking him off the platform. "Hey! I had a shot at winning that thing!" he protested. Void looked at his costume, black pants, a white shirt, and an open suit jacket with a black mask... yeah he definitely would have won...

"Sure ya would. Sorry I'm late. I had... something I had to do."

"Mission took longer than you thought?"

"Uh, yeah sure."

A group of heroes walked by and as they did Void's eyes followed one in particular. "You alright?" asked Danny. "Dude they noticed you're staring." Void's head snapped back. "Lilac?"

"What? No! I just thought I saw someone stealing something... from the Magi vault..."

"Isn't that in Galaxy City?"

Void had started to look behind him again. "Hey, what's that lump on your head?"

He looked back at his friend again. "It's nothing. Just... I don't wanna talk about it right now. So weren't we gonna go bust up some Skulls?"

Danny nodded and they hurried over to a supposedly abandoned warehouse in Kings Row.


The two boys walked into the "abandoned" and run-down warehouse. They walked slowly, looking left and right for signs of an ambush. Suddenly they heard footsteps. A Skull was running across the hallway and stopped in fear when he saw the heroes.

Taking a few nervous steps back, the gang member attempted to pull his weapon. Void Brawler felt a tingle on the back of his neck and instinctively jumped aside as a chemical vat fell from above the two.

The Skull had been a distraction for his comrades.

Void managed to avoid being crushed but his friend wasn't so lucky. Skulls appeared from around the corner and leapt down from above, wielding bats, knives, and even sledges.

"Hehe, c'mon, all of you against me? You guys don't stand a chance." A knife whizzed by his head, almost piercing his ear. "Uh huh... NOW!"

The vat tipped over and trapped the Skulls. The empty bowl becoming a temporary holding cell. From the dust raised, a person made of rock stood. The rock slowly fell away, and there stood Danny unharmed. He quickly grabbed some large crates to add weight to the top, keeping the gangsters from breaking free.

"Ready?" he asked.

"Yeah."

They moved on, this time looking above them as well. They saw a small group of Skulls talking to each other. "I'll take the one leaning against the wall and the guy on the top shelf, you get the two playing cards," said Void. His friend nodded and moved into position, his body slowly being encased in rock.

Void hovered near the guy on the shelf, sticking to the shadows as Danny readied himself to leap at the two playing cards. Void held up three fingers, two, one. The both launched themselves at their targets. Void grabbed the Skull above's jacket and threw him at the one against the wall. He leapt down after the two as his friend jumped at his own enemies.

Danny landed on the table, splintering it with the rock weight. He grabbed one's shirt collar and threw him against the wall. He grabbed the second and carried the screaming man over to a window, his heavy-footed stomps shaking the room. The hero punched out the glass and sent the man flying.

Void fell down on top of the two, teasing them as he put on their teleportation cuffs.

They continued on, uninterrupted until they came to a large room filled with more chemical vats, only these weren't empty. The smell of the Superadyne was overpowering. Danny leaned over a vat with a vial, taking a sample for the researchers at DATA.

They heard loud laughter in the side room. They peeked around the corner and saw a Bone Daddy and his crew telling stories of recent hero blunders. "-and the little idiot tries to fight her off! She completely NAILS the punk." Void didn't listen to the rest, that was all he had to hear.

"I got the leader," said Void. Without waiting for a nod from his friend Void launched himself into the room. He tackled the Bone Daddy and sent the others falling back in surprise.

Danny came in after him, quickly grabbing the nearest Skull to use as a projectile against his rising comrades. The man protested then yelled as he was flung into three gang members, sending them to crash against the crates of weapons and drugs.

Void had the leader but one of the other Skulls pulled a knife and charged. Void grabbed his outstretched arm and fiercely punched the back of the man's head, sending him to the ground.

Two more attacked. Void nimbly dodged the shots fired and quickly grabbed the bat of the second. He sent shadow energy along the wooden weapon. The man's face went white as he felt his energy leave him. As he collapsed Danny jumped on top of the pistol wielder.

Void was about to call out to his friend when he was struck in the back. He turned to face the smirking Bone Daddy. Void quickly wiped that smile away with a fierce uppercut. He placed the handcuffs on the Skull and turned.

Another Skull was behind him, recognition creeping into his eyes. "Hey! You're that kid he was talkin' about! Hah, you dumbass don't you know how to pick fights?" Void stood stiff, his feet planted on the ground. The gangster pushed him over and into a pile of crates. "Oh so now you don't wanna fight anymore? Don't wanna play hero anymore now that you've gotten hurt?" The Death Head pulled him back to his feet and shoved him down again. "C'mon punk, aren't you even gonna take a swing at me?" The Skull punched Void in the face, blood flowing freely from his nose.

Void stood back up, his arms encasing themselves in shadows. The grinning gangster lost his smile as he saw the look in Void's eyes. Something told him he's crossed a line. He dropped his gun and raised his fists in the air, surrendering.

Void's eyes turned a deep red. He bent low and jumped at the man. He forced him to the ground, his knees holding down the gangster’s shoulders. His shadow-wrapped fist smashed with lightning fast speed. All the rage, the frustration, vented on the him. He smashed relentlessly, ignoring the man's cries for him to stop. Eyes wide, Danny quickly shed the rocks and pulled his friend off the screaming Skull.

Void turned to do the same to his interrupter until he saw who it was. The red disappeared and shock replaced it when he saw what was the gangsters face. He looked back between Danny and looked down at the gang member and saw the life leave his eyes. "I... I didn't... I mean..." He put his open, shadow-covered palm on his friend's face, momentarily blinding him as Void fled the building.

Danny's vision returned quickly and his friend was nowhere to be found. He didn't know what just happened, but he was worried that this was just the beginning.


Void walked alone down the street. It was dark out and he wasn't in the best part of town. He saw eyes peeking from windows in run-down houses and heard cries of panic that he couldn't trust himself to follow.

"What have I done?" he asked himself. The man may have been a villain but he didn't deserve to die, not like that.

"You came onto our turf that’s what."

Void looked up at a group of Outcasts. "Normally I'd have you guys in jail in an instant but right now it'd be best if I was left alone."

"Izzat so, kid? Your wearing a costume that means your spose to be a hero. You know what we do to heroes here? Or are you gonna tell us you thought it was Halloween."

"I don't need this." Void pushed past the group of thugs and walked on, until he got a lightning bolt in the back.

He fell to the ground and turned back to the laughing thugs. He rose to his feet and his hands encased themselves in shadow. Using the techniques his mom taught him, he felt his awareness grow.

"Looky here, now he wants to fight." The Shocker readied another blast but didn't even have time to blink before he found a fist in his face. The others pulled weapons of their own and were assaulted quickly.

Practically a blur, Void Brawler leapt from opponent to opponent, punching, smashing, kicking and draining them of their strength. The group fell to the ground, unable to fight back. Void felt the urge to kill but suppressed it in panic.

He turned to run but found a wall of more Outcasts blocking his way. He turned back and saw he was trapped.

"Listen... you guys attacked me first and..."

They all drew weapons, mostly guns.

"I don't want to fight. Seriously!" They took aim. Void felt his eyes grow red again. He pressed his palms to his face to attempt to fight it off.

"Hehe, little kiddy's scared now." Suddenly the street was chaos. Void Brawler launched into the air as Outcasts fired, bullets striking allies on the opposite side. Void zipped down, planting his feet on the shoulders of this group's leader and pummeling him viciously. He sprung off in a back flip and grabbed the head of another as he came down. He brought the face to his knee and felt the nose connect.

He rolled and knocked the legs out from under several others and quickly took them out with a fast punch. The men on the other said took aim again and fired. He dodged left and right; the bullets seemed to slow as they passed him. He ran forward but did so too soon. A bullet struck his shoulder and knocked him to the ground, the red of his eyes fading.

He felt the pain and watched Outcasts with bats and hammers draw close. He choked back the pain of the shot wound. They formed a circle around him and closed in. He managed to stand as they raised their weapons. Suddenly the anger returned and he gripped two men's skulls. He sucked out their life force and healed his wound; the two fell to the ground.

Seeing those two drop so suddenly the others turned back. "We... err we don't want any trouble."

A smile spread across Void's face, but not one they wished to see.

In fact, it was the last thing they would see.


He heard the sounds of Longbow Chasers behind him. He kept running in panic. They found the bodies of the Outcasts last week. The memory of what he had done haunted him, the fact that he did not have control over himself even more.

A Longbow agent dropped down in front of him with an outstretched hand. "Come with me so we can sort this all out kid."

"Back away!" yelled Void Brawler, his fists becoming lost in shadow. "GET AWAY NOW!!!" he yelled.

"Listen kid. I don't want to have to detain a child but I will."

He felt the change inside him. In a panic he knocked the officer out and flew into the shadows. He created a pocket of deep darkness that he could hide in. Longbow ran past and shouted orders to spread out and find Void.

"What's happening? What's wrong with me?"

****

Danica sat by the phone in Brawler's room at the 'Kicker's base. It rang and she leapt to it. "H-hello?"

"We um... we sort of found your son, except we don't have him."

"Where?" she asked.

"He was sighted by one of our Officers just outside of Paragon City. Then he... well knocked her out."

"I- send me the coordinates where you found him!"

The fax machine spat out a series of numbers. Danica hung up the phone then used her communicator to send the numbers to Burning, who was searching the city.

She should have included the fight in the message. She would have, but she couldn't. It was impossible; no way he would do that. Could he?

She cleared her head of such thoughts and ran to join her husband to find their son.


Void Brawler laid there in the darkness he had created. His own protective shield against the people who were looking for him, people he didn't want to hurt.

Or did he? "No!" he told himself.

"I heard something this way!" yelled another Longbow member. Oh no, he thought. I said that out loud. Void turned and ran, ran right into their waiting hands. "Let go of me!" he yelled. He flipped over one's arm and placed a solid punch to the side of his head. The second attempted to grab him but Void flipped over his shoulders to strike at the man's back.

He ran but as he did so he heard one of the officer's say, "That kid's insane!"

"Insane?" he said. Then memories came back to him. The break-in, the clown, the way her mind touched his when she attacked him, then the darkness. "Is... is that why I'm like this?"

Of course not 'zilly boy. "WHERE ARE YOU?!" Void yelled, panic welling up within him.

"Matt? Matt is that you?!" Burning Brawler dropped down beside him. "What are you doing out here? Why are there Longbow everywhere? You didn't have anything to do with that Outcast fight did you?"

Void watched as his father's face slowly seemed to change and his vision tainted to a bloody red. "No..."

"Thank, God. There's nothing we could have done to sto-OOF!"

Void planted a solid punch and leapt back from his father. The red grew deeper and he struggled to fight it off. Burning stood back up looking at his son confused. "What is the matter with-" Burning had to move fast to grab Void's flailing fists.

"STOP THIS NOW!" he yelled, his confusion barely holding off his anger. Void did not. He planted a kick to his father's stomach and ran.

As he did Danica grabbed his wrist. "What's wrong with your eyes?" she said. She just barely dodged a punch. "Matt!" she yelled as he broke free of her grasp. She leapt at him but he was gone.

"Bonjour M'sieu Void Brawler," said a very familiar face.

"It is you!" he yelled and prepared himself to fight.

"'Zilly boy, we are on a rooftop! Remember what 'appened in ze room? How do you think zat would work up here?"

Void's fist became visible again and he looked over the edge at his parent's who were making their way to him.

"Get away from me!" he yelled and was about to leap over the edge.

"You will not come with moi? Fine! Zen I will 'ave to force you." She touched a finger to Void's forehead and he instantly fell asleep. She caught him as he almost fell over the edge.

She watched Danica and Burning Brawler rise over the rooftop and stayed just long enough to see their faces before disappearing with their son.
"Time to wake up."

"M-mom?"

"No 'zilly boy!"

Void Brawler snapped awake and leapt to his feet. He raised his fists and snapped out. Harlequin raised her arm and suddenly he couldn't move his own. She flicked her finger and he smacked himself in the face. She did it a few more times before another villain walked down the stairs and yelled, "Stop! This isn't how we treat our... 'guests'." Elitist watched Harley walk back towards her room, disappointed that her fun had been interrupted so soon.

"You've been asleep for three days. I was almost worried she had put you in a coma."

"What do you want?" Void Brawler tried to sound brave but... well Elitist was so much bigger than he was, and he didn't doubt that he was stronger.

"I want you to listen to your new teacher. Your mother did a decent job with evasion and martial arts and your fathers... temporary gifts, but there is more for you to learn."

"And that's where I come in, kid," said Smashing Pumpkin, coming around from behind the corner.

"Actually I had Harlequin 'acquire' a tutor."

"What? Who could teach that brat how to use that red eyed crazy better than me?"

"We're not looking for destructive power Pumpkin."

"He's looking for finesse." Ruby Blade appeared behind Smashing and almost made him jump in surprise.

"No... no way. This kid could do some real damage to Longbow. There is no way you can let this guy just ruin that!"

"That's not rage, Smashing. That is just a sadistic nature finally emerging."

"Pft. Whatever, you wanna ruin this kid's potential? Go right ahead." Smashing went down a hallway and slammed the door, splintering it.

"Do I get a say in this?" Void felt his courage rise now.

"No," the two said in unison.

And there went the courage.

"Well... what if I don't let you teach me! You can't force me to do anything!" Void thought in his head how much better this would sound if his voice wasn't quivering, and he was sure it squeaked at least once.

"We told you. You have no choice."

"Then-then-then you'll have to-to-to kill me! ..."

"Ruby, would you please?"

The villain walked up to Void and drew his sword.

Void gulped. He raised his arms and readied himself. He pushed all thoughts of fear out of his mind like his mom taught him. He- he felt Ruby dig a finger into his shoulder, then he felt himself fall asleep.


Void Brawler jumped to his feet... or tried to. He looked at his unmoving arms and legs to see he was strapped to a table. He looked around at the lab. Parts, tools, and robots in tubes all lined the walls.

"I still say I don't like you examening him in my lab. If your plain fails and he should escape-"

"He will not escape Tyrant. And my plan will not fail. Nictus! Now that he is awake I would like you to test him."

Nictus Brawler walked over to Void who struggled vainly at the metallic bars.

"No use. I use those to hold down malfunctioning robots, there is no possible way for you to break free," said Tyrant.

Nictus Brawler walked over to Void and placed a hand on his forehead. A purple and black energy surged up and down his arm and Void cried out in pain.

"Yes," said Nictus.

"Yes?" said Tyrant. "What does 'Yes' mean? I demand to know what is going on!"

"A simple test proved positive. And it explains much," said Elitist.

"If you won't tell me what you mean I will have my creations remove you."

"We have what we came for now, human. That is not necessary."

Elitist unlatched the restraints and led Void Brawler to the room's exit.

They walked down the hallways and the fear in Void's eyes grew as he passed the rooms of glaring villains.

They came to a gray room filled with target dummies and weapons. "This is where you will learn how to master your power," said Elitist.

"I-I think I've got a good handle on it, thanks."

Elitist chuckled as he grabbed the boy's collar and threw him into the room. He slammed the door and locked it tight.

Void picked himself up off the ground and looked for an exit. There was a door at the end. He eagerly ran to it but was quickly stopped by a sudden blow to the back of his head. Ruby Blade drew his sword and slashed quickly.

Void rolled back, then forward and leapt into a double-fisted punch. Ruby brought the flat of his blade down to deflect the blow, then used the pummel to hit the boy's skull.

Void shook his aching head and threw rapid punches, but every last one was blocked.

Ruby kicked the hero to the floor and placed the tip of his blade on the boy's throat. He pressed softly, just enough to draw a little blood. Void's eyes began to change again. He grabbed the sword between open palms and threw Ruby off of him.

The punches came quicker now, and the villain's eyes were wide with surprise. When a few blows got through and he began to bleed Blade raised a hand and suddenly Void didn't feel like fighting anymore.

"And this is what Elitist was looking for?" asked Ruby.

"Yes," said Nictus, descending from the ceiling. Elitist re-entered the room.

"The child has inherited Nicti qualities," he told Elitist.

"Good. Unlock them."


"C'mon, sis. I'm not letting you go through that portal!"

The girl hurriedly punched in the last few numbers. She turned back in surprise as the man landed behind her. She jumped over the console and rushed to the roaring ball of energy.

"You're coming with me!" The man ran and grabbed her arm as the girl reached for the portal. He began to pull her away and she yelled in frustration. That yell became a word of power that sent a powerful gust to knock the man flying.

She jumped into the ball of light and disappeared in a blink. The man cursed as his wrist beeped. He rolled up a sleeve to see the video communicator, his leader's face in the screen.

"Did you capture her?"

"No, sir. She's been training since last time."

The other man bared his teeth and snarled in rage, then the screen turned to static, most likely because he had ripped the monitor off in his anger.

This was the dream that ran through Void Brawler's mind, until he awoke, once again, strapped to a table.

Nictus Brawler stood over him and placed a cool hand on his forehead. Suddenly that cold turned to a searing heat as he felt his mind slowly twist. Rushing images of wars against darker beings and creatures of light flashed through his mind, the dream he witnessed slowly blurring into these visions.

An intense pain began to overwhelm the boy as he slowly fell into darkness.


Burning Brawler received a call on his communicator. "Ok she's in. Here are her coordinates. You sure you won't need back-up?"

"No thanks, Hyp."

Burning Brawler flew off from the Siren's Call gate and found what he was looking for. Arachnos and Longbow agents were in a heated battle. Something wasn't right though... The Longbow were also fighting themselves!

Then he saw the cause. A woman in black and white with bright pink hair was giggling at the chaos she was creating. Brawler focused his power into a beam of fire that shocked the villain. She looked up in surprise as a second assault came. She sent waves of pain through the hero's mind and teleported to safety.

"Hey! Hey you!" cried another hero. He sped towards Brawler, anger on his face. "She was MINE! I saw her first."

As Brawler's head cleared he turned to the hero. "Who are you?"

"Z1-1. Why did you-"

"No time to explain. Come with me."

Brawler flew into the air following the tracker, Z right behind him. He found her giggling on a ledge at the encounter. Brawler attempted to surprise her but was unable to concentrate. She giggled and said, "Careful. It iz a long drop."

"Where's Void?!"

"Ahh M'sieu Brawler. I... do not 'ave your zon." Brawler's hands lit in anger. "But I do know who does."

"Tell me!"

She cackled and teleported. Brawler began to follow but she faded into the distance. "NO!"

Z1 came bounding onto the rooftop. "There she is! Follow me!"

As Z slid down the building to speed away on the ground, Brawler followed. They turned quickly as she zipped from place to place, obviously toying with them.

She finally stopped on another ledge and watched them catch up to her. "Your little one is zafe... for ze moment anyway."

"Tell me where he is NOW!"

"And if I say no?"

"Then I'll let Z help me take you out."

"Did I miss something?" asked Z.

Harlequin laughed insanely as Brawler attacked. Z quickly followed his fires with fierce slashes of his own. Harlequin stumbled backwards. "Where... is... he?!"

She chuckled and disappeared.

"No!" Where..., he thought to himself. Poor poor little 'ero... Wherever could I be?

You know what happened to this place. I could do the same thing..., he 'said.'

He landed on a crane and scanned the ground. "Careful, zat is a long drop," said the villain behind him. She laughed again as Brawler turned. He tried to freeze her in place but she had disappeared.

OOOoooo 'zis is awfully high up. He looked around but could not see her. Fantastic view 'zo. Don't you zink? He turned to see her on a building ledge.

He flew fast and hard, leaving Z behind. Harlequin lost sight of him as he flew up against the building. He rose at lightning speeds with both arms stretched forward.

Harlequin peeked over the edge and gasped in surpise as she was lifted off the roof. She came back down on the ground with Burning Brawler standing over her. She mentally lifted him off the ground and tossed him over the edge.

Brawler quickly flew back to the villain who was already celebrating. She pouted as he flew and interrupted her. She tried to control his mind but every attempt was blotted out by the rage.

She yelled in surprise as flaming blasts assaulted her. She ducked behind a statue but it was quickly melted by another blast. The hero pinned her to the ground, his teeth gritted in anger. "Where?"

"Why at 'ze base of course!"

"WHERE IS YOUR BASE NOW?!"

Brawler saw something reflected in her eyes. A falling hero, sword raised. "STOP!"

Too late. Z had hit Harlequin and she was already fading to the hospital.

"You IDIOT!"

"What? I thought that was what we were trying to do!"

Brawler froze the other man in place before leaving Call.



A girl ran down crowded streets. It was all so... wonderful here. Things were bright and living, not the dead streets she had known.

She turned and saw gang members threatening an older woman in the park. She had never seen these men before. She began to help the woman when a larger hero knocked them flat. He waved at her before bounding off into the distance. Everything really was different.

She looked at the things everyone was wearing and noticed that no one thought her look odd. Her torn, black and red jumpsuit seemed to fit in here. She saw several heroes fly overhead and realized she was actually better dressed than most at the moment.

She saw a cylinder of light ahead of her and eagerly rushed forward. She keyed in the familiar code and instantly materialized in a small base.

A boy walked by with an armful of snacks. "V-Velocity?" she said.

He dropped them in surprise and ran at super speeds yelling "WE'RE BEING RAIDED!!!"

Pstorm waved her hands in protest and tried to explain but was pinned down before she even had a chance to explain. A girl in armor asked her, "Why are you here? How come you're able to get in?"

Another boy said, "She might be a villain. Should we ask for some he-"

"Nah we got this," said Kid Velocity. "So why are you here?"

"I'm-I'm Burning Brawler's daughter."


"Void Brawler, can you hear me?" His dream began to blur and turn from the inquisitive faces of his Kids teammates to that of the Masters of Mayhem.

"Y-yes."

"Do you feel any different?"

"Not really."

"Who is your leader?"

"Elitist."

The villain leader smiled as he pulled the boy to his feet. "And why are you here?"

"To be trained to further your plans, sir."

"Good. Ruby! Take him back to the training room."

Ruby Blade gripped Void Brawler's shoulder and led him out of the room. "What exactly did you have Nictus do to him to make such a complete change?" asked Blightlord. "Obviously something you couldn't have ordered the clown to do."

"I've just had him unlock the inherent evil of the Nictus. The power was already there, but his upbringing kept his nature buried by the heroes' 'morals'."

"What about all the Nicti that turn good?" asked Pumpkin.

"This will not happen. I have erased all their damage," said Nictus.

"What about ze red eyes?" asked Harlequin.

"Should no longer happen," answered Nictus.

"That was some rage. Not this controlled junk stealthy types do. Still say you're gonna ruin him," said Pumpkin.

Inside the training room, Ruby Blade was shifting dummies and wooden poles. "To truly unlock your potential, you must learn to hide yourself from all who would see it."

"This makes no sense."

Ruby Blade slowly disappeared before Void's eyes. "Does it? Now concentrate! Feel yourself fade away. Let that darkness you use to fight become your shielding from the vision of your foes."

Void concentrated. He felt a tingling in his limbs and through his chest. He was sure he had done it.

Until a sword pommel hit his head. "No! You aren't doing it correctly! Only your arms disappeared. It's a disadvantage to your enemy but he will still see you coming. Try it again."

Void began to feel the tingling and he let the feeling become more intense. The sensation ran up and down his spine as he let himself fall into a darkness deeper than he had ever known before.

"There... that is what you needed to do. Now to learn to surprise your foes. Take them out quickly and effectively."


"I really didn't wanna have to do this. We can't go to them every time we have a problem," said Velocity.

"Yeah but this is serious whether she's lying or not," said Hyper-Girl.

Stevie Power and Hyper-Girl led the girl by the shoulders to the base teleporters.

Velocity punched in the code for the 'Kickers base and the four each stepped inside.

They reappeared in the 'Kickers base, jealously looking at its much larger size. They led her to the Control Room where Hyper-Man busily typed on a computer.

"Hyper-Man we have a-"

"Not right now, KV. I'm really busy here."

"We have a girl here who says she's Burning's daughter."

Hyper-Man turned to the girl in the red and black uniform. Hyper never took his eyes from her face as he pressed a button on his wrist.

An automatic door on the side of the room opened and Burning Brawler stepped through. "You call, Hyp?"

"This girl here says she's your daughter."

Brawler looked in surprise from Hyper-Man to the girl.

"That-that's impossible."

"It isn't," said the girl. "I'm... not exactly from here."

"Then where are you from?" asked Burning.

"The future."


Two villains walked side by side down the hallway of the Masters of Mayhem base. "He's learned everything I can teach him but he is resisting his assignment, Elitist. I believe we'll need to encourage him with something... dramatic."

"What do you have in mind, Blade?"

"We cause some minor chaos in an office building, fill it with Nemesis and Malta operatives maybe, then his father attempts to clean everything up and we destroy the complex and blame it on Nemesis. I'll take the body to Void Brawler. That should break him quite well. We push the attack back a few days and then send him on his mission."

"Interesting... yes that should work well. Take Pumpkin with you to help start the fight."

***

"I'm sorry. We shouldn't have taken her here. I'll escort her to the hospital," said Velocity.

"No! I'm not crazy! I can prove it!"

"How?" said Hyper.

"In-in the future... well... all of you are... dead... and the Masters of Mayhem are in charge."

"That would explain the uniform but we're still not buying this," said Hyper.

At that moment Danica walked into the room carrying a tray of many different odd combinations of foods. "Mom?" said the girl.

Danica looked at her curiously. "Excuse me?"

"Danica what is all that?" said Burning looking at the food.

"Pickles, chips, some chocolate chip cookies, a piece of pizza... why is everyone looking at me strange?"

"Um, lets say we believe you... what’s your name?" said Hyper-Man.

"Rachel."

"Right. Ok let's say we believe you, Rachel. When were you born?"

"November 6th, this year. I was trying to come before all the trouble started."

Some of the heroes in the room did the math in their head then looked back at Danica who was starting to piece the conversation together. She looked at the tray and back at the others with wide eyes. "No... no I couldn't be!"

"I'll run a blood test on you Rachel and it seems a pregnancy test on Danica but... if the Masters did rule how would you get here?"

"Well it's not like I don't have any powers of my own." She reached in her pocket and pulled out an I.D. card with the alias Pstorm.

"Pstorm?" asked Hyper-Girl as Johnny Velocity walked in the room. "Why the p?"

Pstorm shut her eyes tightly and suddenly Johnny began acting like a chimp. He started curiously knocking on Hyper's visor and was climbing the computer console when he finally snapped out of it.

"Ummm... how did I get up here? And... can someone please get me down?!"

The room laughed until Brawler had a beep on his wrist. The fuzzy image of a man said, "There is a fight in an office building outside Steel Canyon. I need you to go calm things down."

Pstorm's eyes widened. "No wait! That's a trap! That... that's how you died..."

"I... well I can't let the fight continue, it could spill into the streets."

"It's an old abandoned building... give me your cape."

Confused, Brawler handed it to Pstorm. The girl immediately began tearing it to shreds. "What are you doing?!"

"Now take this, leave them in the building, and let it implode. They'll get what they want and you can still help fight them."

The room was silent for a moment. Brawler left the room, ruined cape in hand. "We... we'd better get started on those tests," said Hyper-Man.

Rachel and Danica, who still didn't put the tray down, followed him into the lab.

"I missed a lot didn't I?" Johnny said in confusion.

Velocity just nodded, still thinking about what had just happened.


Burning Brawler entered the medical building in the 'Kickers base. "So?"

"Both tests are positive."

Brawler's eyes lit up. "So you're-"

Danica nodded happily, happier than he had seen her in a while. "That's great! But... you know you can't do hero work for a while right?"

"Don't worry, I can live without it for a few months."

"What I mean is... you can't come with me to find Void now."

Danica's head dropped a bit. Burning walked over to her and laid his hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry, the rest of us can find him. And I'm sure Rachel will know something about where they're keeping him."

Pstorm shook her head. "Technically I'm not even born yet. I just know what you know, that he's with the Masters, and right now he's probably being shown the cape."

***

Ruby Blade triumphantly clutched the shredded cloth in his hands. If this doesn't break him, he thought, nothing will.

He entered a key code and the automatic doors opened. "Void Brawler? Are you-"

Ruby leapt to the side, dodging the quick strike. "You learned well. Will you leave for your mission?"

"I don't know why but... I can't. It's like something is holding me back."

"That would have been this," said Ruby as he threw the tattered cape at Void's feet.

"Your mother and father are gone. This was all we could find of either of them."

"H-how?" said Void, his eyes wide and his hands trembling as he lifted the cape from the ground.

"Betrayal by their own teammates, their friends. Those fools thought your parents were responsible for your... changes, and they destroyed them fearing they would turn on them as well soon enough."

"N-no... No! I'll kill them! I'll kill them all!" Void tore at what was left of the cape and let the tears flow freely.

Ruby Blade couldn't help but crack a smile as he turned and left the room.


"Agh." Burning Brawler gripped his head.

"Something wrong?" asked Danica.

"I just got this... sudden pain."

"You to?"

"You mean you felt it?"

"This must have something to do with Void," said Hyper-Man. "I'll start organizing a search. I'll call in a few favors; maybe we'll be able to get the location of their base. But before I go..." Hyper man flicked up the panel on his wrist and whispered something to the communicator.

After a few seconds Kid Velocity walked into the room. "You sure?"

Hyper nodded.

"Okay." Velocity turned to Pstorm and said, "We want you to join the 'Kickers Kids."

"R-really? Yeah! Yeah of course I will!" she said. They did believe her! They trusted her too! Things were better than she thought they'd be.

"Congratulations. I've got some work to do if we're gonna find him."

"I'll head to my room and see if I can't maybe scry the location."

"I'll go back to the base and tell the others about your joining. Why don't you come with me so you can learn how to access the teleporters inside."

The two left the room, leaving Danica.

She sat with her head in her hands, the joy of learning about the baby being replaced with the full realization that she really couldn't do anything to help find Void. She couldn't even help get him back or else risk hurting the baby.

She got up off the chair and decided she could at least watch.


"Are you prepared?" asked Ruby Blade.

"Yes, sir."

"Do you know what you are to do?" questioned Elitist.

"Of course."

"Do you know how to use what I gave you?" inquired Blightlord.

"Very well."

"He's ready."

Elitist held Void Brawler's shoulder firmly as they walked to the base teleporter. "Should you lose in this test, do not expect any help from us."

Void nodded as he faded away.

Ruby Blade walked down the hallway, satisfied with the job he had done. He knew he couldn't take all the credit but he had taught the boy the essential skills well.

A flash went across his vision as an arm blocked his way.

"That would have been my job. Why would they break you out when they had others who weren't so incompetent as to be thrown in jail."

"You know as well as I do, Knave, that I was betrayed," said Ruby Blade, trying to keep his anger checked. He put a hand to the hilt of his blade just in case.

"A truly clever villain wouldn't fall into a trap. You're not slipping are you?"

Knave of Spades stepped in front of Ruby. Ruby stepped backwards as he drew his sword. He leveled it at his chest, eyeing the energy-wrapped hands.

"You seem to be more careless than I, openly challenging me."

"Who said it was a challenge? Maybe I asked a question."

Knave struck at Blade's midsection and was deflected. Ruby began to back into the larger training room, the other villain closely following.

"Then let's talk."

Ruby feinted striking high then swung his blade low. This fight could not result in a death. The victor would become the ultimate loser in the end. Knave didn't fall for the trick and blocked the strike to his knees. He sidestepped to strike at Ruby's chest who was forced to drop and roll.

He tried to rise but Knave was too close. He swung his legs around, knocking the other villain's out from under him. As Ruby spun to his feet, Knave got down in a crouch, holding an arm defensively over his head.

Ruby circled the other villain, waiting for the attack. Knave feinted then somersaulted back into a fighting stance. The two leapt at each other fiercely. Low, high, low, they fought furiously, beginning to sweat from the effort.

Ruby came across hard and was deflected, the force starting to turn him. He followed through with the movement and back-slashed at the other villain. Knave ducked quickly and rose again with a fierce strike.

Turning back to Knave, he didn't have time to block the attack. Knave's fists hit him full force and sent him to the ground. "Give up?" asked Knave.

Ruby smirked as he rose to his feet. "Not yet."

They both leapt apart and circled each other, warily watching for an attack. Ruby spun and swung in an arc, forcing Knave to kneel and block the strike by holding his arms over his head, his armor stopping the blow.

Ruby began to push down and was surprised at Knave's firm resistance. He was even more surprised as Knave pushed him off and he began stumbling backwards. Knave swung as hard and fast as he could and Ruby's blade flew across the room.

Ruby stood calmly as Knave crouched for a potentially finishing blow. "They should have picked me to teach him. You obviously wouldn't last in a one on one fight without your tricks."

Ruby's fists blurred as he punched hard and fast. Knave was caught off-guard and didn't have time to stop the blows.

The other villain began to feel sick under the assault and when it was finished he didn't see Ruby running to the side for his blade.

The red stone of the ruby blade flashed, its blood red color undiminished from years of fighting. Their eyes narrowed and they charged. Ruby held his blade low and Knave brought his fists high. They were about to clash when suddenly their limbs stopped responding.

"I will not tolerate this!" yelled Elitist, Harlequin right beside him. "If we are to survive there can be no more infighting! If there is a problem between you then come to me! Do not fight each other. Save your strength for the real enemy, and the task at hand."

"Void Brawler should be returning in the next hour. We should be waiting to see if he passed the test."


"Guys, I'd like you to meet our newest member," said Kid Velocity, as he led Pstorm inside.

"That's great!" said Hyper-Girl. "But you can't walk around in those clothes; you look like a villain! Come on!"

Hyper grabbed the other girl's arm before she could respond and was off to Icon.

As soon as they left an alarm sounded. "Intruder guys! Get ready for anything!"

Stevie Power rushed over to warn the others but fell to the ground, then mediporting away.

"What on-" Grey started to say. He turned in time to see a shadow flit into the back of the room.

"Is that..."

"Lock down the base," said KV. "I'll call Pstorm and Hyper-Girl back."

Void Brawler ran down the hall. He had to get to the room before the others knew what he was doing.

There was his target: the database. According to Techno Tyrant the 'Kicker's files were all on a shared drive and the information may help him get revenge for what happened to his parents.

He pulled out a spider-like device from his back pocket. He placed it behind the machine and watched it begin copying the information to transmit to the Masters. He pulled out Blightlord's potion next, and threw it on the ground.

Its corrosive properties should dissolve some of the Control Room's computer systems. He turned in time to see Koffee Kid run in. "I thought I smelt co- VOID!"

He ran up to greet him. "You're back! Where have you been? Everyone's been saying... these... odd... stories. Something wrong?"

Void winced a little as he knocked Kid to the floor and ripped off a piece of his costume. He was starting to not like this mission. These guys were once his friends. And they weren't the murderers.

Void shoved the thought from his mind. To pass the test he had to send one more hero to the hospital.

At that moment Hyper-Girl and Pstorm re-entered the base. "V, what happened?" asked HG.

"The base is being attacked. We need to find who they are."

"You mean you need to find him," said Pstorm.

"What?"

"Oh no. This is how it all started!" Pstorm pressed her hands to her temples and concentrated. She found the brain-wave pattern she was looking for and headed to the Control Room. She saw a shimmer of light and blew heavy winds at it. She heard an "Oof," as the intruder, her brother, collided with the wall and fell to the ground.

He looked up in anger at this new member. They replaced him already! He stared at her bright pink and light blue armor. He rose shakily to his feet.

He snapped a quick punch. Pstorm's head snapped to the side. She returned the blow in the form of a psionic burst. Void clawed at the side of his head in pain.

Suddenly the room grew very cold. Pstorm was making it snow inside.
"Don't!" cried Void. "If the potion freezes-" suddenly there was an explosion in the control room, and all of the lights went out. Void groaned.

He quickly struck at the new girl and snapped off a piece of her swept shoulder pads before she faded. With a nod he ran back to the base teleporters in case the mixture had spread.

He reappeared inside the Masters of Mayhem, shaking and his lips starting to turn blue.

Techno Tyrant ran into the room. "What happened? I was receiving the data then nothing!"

"Blightlord's potion... froze..."

"That rotting-"

"Enough!" said Elitist. "Did you at least accomplish your other objective?"

Void Brawler nodded and handed Elitist the three costume pieces. He examined the pink shoulder pad point. "Who is this from?"

"Some new girl."

"Interesting. You did manage to get the data receiver in place and sent two of your former comrades to the hospital and the new member... welcome."

"I passed?"

"Barely. I won't tolerate failure again. Now go."


Five bowls of water were placed in the shape of a pentagram, mystic lines and ancient runes connecting them. Burning Brawler sat in its center, legs crossed and eyes shut, the candlelight casting an eerie glow.

Danica watched from the back of the room, not daring to make a sound. Suddenly, Brawler's hand twitched and she thought he might be returning. She glanced into one of the scrying bowls and saw Void and Pstorm, then an explosion.

Hyper-Man came in and said, "The Kids are being attacked!" He looked into the bowls and saw Void leaving the base. Suddenly the water turned a murky black and Burning was flung across the room. He grunted as he hit the wall and fell to the floor.

Danica ran to him and turned him on his back. "He's unconscious," she said. She picked him up and set him on his bed as Hyper-Man watched the face of a smirking Blightlord appear.

"The scrying didn't work and Shard is working to clear our systems from viruses after I attempted to hack the Masters computers. I'm working with my contacts to gather information. So far nothing has turned up but I'm positive they'll find something."

Danica didn't take her eyes from Burning's face as she nodded. She didn't want Hyper to see the water filling her eyes. "I-I know everyone is doing the best they can," she said. "And I should be to."

Danica ran out of the room.


"Void Brawler!" shouted Elitist. Seconds later the boy came running into the room. "Is it time?" he asked.

"I want to test your loyalty to me further."

"But you said I pa-"

"I said, 'Do not fail me again'!"

Void Brawler's head hung low. Revenge would have to wait it seemed. "What do you want me to do?"

"Mole was doing his usual work in Bloody Bay when an upstart hero defeated him. We sent the hero a message that Mole wanted a rematch at the barge, right outside the hero base. Instead we are sending you. This will also prove your assassination skills.

Void Brawler nodded and left the room. One last job before he could take his revenge.

He used the base teleporter to enter Cap Au Diable and flew to the waiting helicopter. Without a word to the pilot he entered.

The downside to a fight at the barge was that, while the hero could easily escape to the safety of polices drones and hundreds of Longbow, the villains were forced to flee through dangerous forests should they face trouble. Still it was the official spot for the duel ring where heroes and villains fought 'fair' duels that were always interrupted at one point or another by the same-

His line of though broke as the copter landed at the base.

He hopped out, the wind from the rotors blowing his hair back. Immediately he towards the barge.

As he saw the hero base he quickly disappeared into shadow, dark energies concealing him from sight. As he landed his jaw dropped.

There was Danny Stones checking his watch and muttering, "Where is he?" as he searched the sky for Da Mole.

Void Brawler couldn't believe he was asked to do this! He was his best friend! He silently cursed and Elitist and punched the container.

Danny turned. "Who's there?" Void's eyes widened and he hid behind the box.

Danny walked towards where the sound had come from. No, no, no! thought Void.

As he let the shadows re-conceal him he heard the sound of rock shifting, his friend preparing for a fight. His wrist vibrated from the communicator and he put it to his ear. "Accomplish this, and we will avenge your parents."

Elitist ended the communication and Void swore that once he got his revenge, he would leave these sadistic monsters forever.

In his angry thoughts he didn't feel the shadows leave him. "Void?" asked Danny.

"Where have you been? I haven't seen you in a month! The news said you were leaving the city or something," The rocks crumbled away.

Void said softly, "I'm sorry."

"Huh? Oh no problem, just was curious where you were. Whatever happened with that bu-"

Suddenly Danny forgot what he was saying, in fact, he forgot he was talking to Void. He remembered when two dark fists hit him in the stomach.

He kneeled on the ground, gasping for air. "Wh-what the hell? What was that for!"

Void hit him with an uppercut that sent him into the air and onto his back.

Danny got up and rocks formed around him. "I dunno what's gotten into you, but you need to stop before I have to beat it out."

Void leapt forward and tried to topple his former friend, but could only plant himself on Danny's shoulders. He began to pummel the rock face and his knuckles bled.

Danny grabbed Void's collar and flung him into the building behind them. Void hit it hard and landed on the floor, seemingly unconscious.

Danny shed the stone and walked to him. He turned him over to see Void's face.

Suddenly the villain’s eyes snapped open and he delivered a quick punch to Danny's face. He held his bleeding nose as he stumbled backwards.

Void began to yell a warning and grabbed Danny's jacket. His friend tripped over the edge and his head smashed against the edge of the barge; he fell into the water. The pink ripples made Void cry out in alarm. He dropped Danny's jacket and dove in to save the sinking hero.

With all the speed he could he kicked towards the falling Danny, following the light trail of blood. He grabbed his arms and pulled him up to the surface, gasping for air.

Void climbed onto the barge and pulled Danny up with him. He looked at the back of the hero's head; it was bleeding badly.

"C'mon... c'mon wake up... wake up!" Danny faded away, the hospital system returning him to the base. Void sat down with his head in his hands, hoping they'd be able to help his friend in time. His wrist buzzed and he looked at it in disgust as Elitist's voice came over the speaker.

"Impressive," he said. "Faking unconsciousness to catch your enemy off guard? Ruby Blade taught you well. You didn't have to kill the hero, however. But that did earn you extra points to balance out your attempts to save the fool. Hero morals are what make them weak, hesitant. You should have learned that lesson today. Had he listened to the rumors and attacked you while you weren't paying attention he may have lived."

The communication ended. He's not dead, Void told himself. He can't be.


Danica spun as she kicked hard and fast. The Arachnos agent flew and slammed against a wall. She ran up to him and lifted him by his neck. "Are you going to tell me now?"

"Ungh... Never! Whatever you do to me wouldn't be half as bad as what the Arbiters will do."

Danica began to set him gently down.

Then she slammed his against the wall.

"Where is their base? You're a Huntsman, I know you have access to those files!"

He spat in her face.

"Bad move," she said. She gripped his shoulders and flung him across the room. He crashed into the pipes and burst them, they began leaking liquids.

"This stuff is flammable isn't it?" she said. She reached behind her, pretending to grab something.

"You wouldn't."

"Did you hear what I asked you? 'Where is the Masters of Mayhem's base! I want my son back!' I'm desperate right now and there is a much better chance I could come out of this alive than you will. Especially since you're soaked in the stuff."

She pretended to draw out the 'thing' behind her back.

"No, no! Wait! Ok... I'll give you the coordinates."

***

Void Brawler sat with his head in his hands, worry and guilt filling his every thought.

His mind kept screaming 'murderer' at him again and again and again.

Elitist walked into the room. "It's time."


"If we destroy them here today then nothing will stop us from our ultimate plans. I know some of you are in this simply for revenge," Elitist looked at Void, "and do not care about the Masters coming supremacy, but you will still be rewarded for your aid."

Elitist stepped down from the platform and proceeded to the base teleporters.

"There's a problem," said Techno Tyrant.

"Yes?"

"I 'accidentally' accessed some Arachnos files and it seems the boy's mother attacked one of their bases. What are we going to do when he finds out we tricked him? He knows too much about our base now for us to let him go."

"Trust me when I say this is not an issue."

***

In a hospital in Peregrine Island a boy was hooked up to machinery that was closely monitoring his health.

A nurse walked in with the doctor who was telling her the young hero's current situation. "He suffered serious head wounds. He shouldn't be out for at least another week and not doing hero work for a few months. I need you to get some prescriptions for head ache-"

The boy's eyes snapped open. He looked at the two adults conversing in the corner and saw the wires pumping fluids into his arm. He saw his costume in the corner on a chair.

"-and he'll be alright doctor?"

"He should as long as-"

They heard the sound of breaking glass.

The doctor sighed. "Doesn't do something like that. Quick, call security and get the police on the phone. He needs to be brought back here immediately.

***

Hyper-Man called the 'Kickers to the control room.

"Listen everyone; Danica did some work and found The Masters of Mayhem's current base coordinates. I've already got the teleporter set to take us th-"

An alarm blared.

"Everyone, get into defensive positions! Move!"


The 'Kickers moved to their locations ready to defend the base and send the attackers back to their base.

As the Masters of Mayhem attacked Pstorm ran to the back of the base, meditating in the silence the arcane workroom provided.

Elitist led the charge into the base. He ordered the Masters to split in three directions to find and destroy the heroes.

As Burning Brawler stood by the arcane teleporters he watched Danica tense. "You should get out of here."

"I'm not leaving until we get Matt back."

Burning watched as Harlequin ran towards them. She stopped when she saw the heroes guarding her target. Danica rushed forward and leapt into the air as Burning threw fire blasts behind her.

Harlequin jumped to the side to avoid the attack, but Danica clipped her shoulder and sent her spinning into the wall. As the first blasts of fire missed Burning ran in to get closer.

The villain gripped his mind and sent waves of agony through him. Danica punched furiously and caught the Harley's jaw. She grabbed the heroine's head and sent painful waves of psionic energy through her.

Johnny sped through the hallway by the bedrooms, waiting for an attack. He saw a shimmer and waited for a second. When Knave struck Johnny was ready. He stepped over and stabbed with his claws but only hit the floor. As he tried to pull them loose Knave struck again.

GeoWatt and Smashing Pumpkin were running through the base towards the control room. Suddenly bursts of energy sent them on their backs. Violet Tigress and Java Juggernaut became visible and quickly hammered the two.

Geo rose first and shrugged off the force of the blasts, Smashing right behind him. Violet reacted quickly and covered Pumpkin in a radiation. He clutched his chest and charged forward. Geo fell behind as he became infected as well.

Smashing punched hard but became sluggish from Vi's attack. Java smashed his fist into the fiery villain's face and sent him staggering backward into Geo. Seeing they would not be able to win like this the two quickly took a detour until the radiation wore off.

Jack Power gripped Elitist's arm as it swung down. The hero landed a solid punch to the villain leader's stomach. Elitist grunted as he broke free of Jack's grip. He turned and grabbed a nearby desk and threw it into the hero.

Jack caught it but did not see the villain's next strike. The hero went flying into the wall while Elitist ran in for another attack.

Hyper-Man watched Blightlord's undead charge him. As the Lich stopped to fire a blast of dark energy Hyper launched his own attack. As dark tentacles gripped him the Lich flew backwards into the stumbling zombies.

The Grave Knights closed in, swords drawn, and pulled back to swing. The hero punched with an energetic fist that sent one flying as the second cut across. He was about to send it with the other when sprays suddenly covered him. He felt limbs weaken and he became sluggish in his movements. Blightlord waited for the hero to spot him before walking forward.

He walked forward and looked into the hero's visor, making sure that there was no mistake who was attacking him.

Suddenly the villain was in the air, Chris Lancelot having landed a solid uppercut. Blightlord fell on the ground and ordered his minions to attack.

Techno Tyrant and Super Shard fought quickly. The robotic master sent in his smaller robots first to take the heavier blows before he sent in the others. As Shard sent the last drone flying the Assault Bot fired. He tried to dodge but was hit with a strong blast. Clutching his chest, he fired icy bolts that froze gears and messed with the thing's targeting computer.

Ruby Blade and Nictus Brawler stealthed through the base, bringing Void Brawler with them, who was eager to take revenge.

They entered the arcane workroom and saw the girl on the table who seemed as if she was sleeping as she sat there. Ruby Blade drew his sword and closed in. Void followed him and readied to pay the girl back who had almost beaten him.

Suddenly the heroine's eyes snapped open and winds surged through the room. Nictus covered his eyes as dust and dirt were flying through the air. Ruby grabbed a smoke bomb and threw it at Pstorm.

She coughed and for a second the winds died down. The villains took the chance to attack her and moved fast. Ruby leapt onto the table and swung at her midsection as Void waited until he was out of sight.

As Nictus became a squid-like monster as Pstorm recovered. She quickly confused him to think she was Ruby. He began to blast at his comrade he swore as he dodged. "Get out of here, Void!" If Void Brawler didn't take care of the energy room the villain's victory would come less easily.

As Void ran down the hallway Harlequin did not notice Burning had stopped shaking in pain. He sent attacked with a searing blaze that seriously hurt the villain from so close. She cried out and released Danica who wasted no time spinning into a kick.

Harlequin smiled as the medi-porter took her to safety.

Smashing and Geo were moving quickly down the hallway with Violet and Java close behind. Java fell as Phantom struck. The hero Phantom saw this and commanded his Phantasm to take down the enemy, Obsidian firing arrows close behind. Violet turned to help Java but he had already ported.

Burning and Danica tried to stop the two but did not succeed, instead the turned to help the others. Violet turned and helped take down the one who had hurt Java. Under the five heroes' assault he fell quickly.

Violet ran past Burning and Danica as Arrow and Phantom ran the other way. She made to the end of the hall when she leapt back in surprise. Void Brawler ran down the hallway and stopped when he saw his parents.

Knave and Johnny fought close together, claws and hands swinging and slashing in a blur of movement. As Knave swung down Johnny cut under. Both of their blows connected and each collapsed onto the floor, medi-porters taking them away.

As Hyper-Man's limbs began to respond normally again he turned to where Chris was fending off undead. Hyper turned to help when two fists came down on his back. Blightlord stood over him as the hero fell to the ground. The villain pointed his arm at the hero and readied a deadly toxin.

Chris grabbed one zombie and used it as a bat to beat down the others. The Lich blasted him and the shadows made it difficult to see. A Grave Knight swung low as Chris stumbled backwards. He tripped and crushed the Lich while knocking both Knights off their feet.


He rose quickly and struck hard at Blightlord, knocking him off Hyper-Man and forcing him to medi-port.

Techno Tyrant watched as Super Shard collapsed and smirked at how well built his creations seemed to be. As Editor came walking by, correcting papers he had found in one of the bedrooms Tyrant followed him.

Nictus snapped out of the confusion and blasted at Pstorm. She jumped behind the platform and mentally blasted the approaching Ruby. She filled the room with cold air that slowed Nictus.

She sent wave after wave of psionic blasts at Ruby and he was eventually forced to medi-port, the agony in his head too much to bear.

The heroine turned to Nictus who had reverted to human form and was running for the energy room. Pstorm headed for the control room, knowing she had people that needed to be stopped.

Hyper-Man and Chris ran to a terminal and activated the base defenses, power boosts temporarily being given to the 'Kickers in the base.

Jack laughed as he got to his feet. "You're in trouble now."

"Any second now your control and energy systems will be offline. You should learn to appreciate your last minutes."

With that Elitist ran to make sure the rest of the attack plan was working. He found Void Brawler staring at his parents and cursed, fearing he may be too late. He was pleased to see he was not.

"Matt! It's us! Please don't do this, everything's been cleared up with Longbow."

"Don't listen to them," said Elitist. "That isn't your parents, it's an illusion!" Elitist pointed at the watching Violet.

Void turned and screamed in rage. Ignoring his parents' cries for him to stop, he ran at a surprised Violet who didn't have time to stop the blows. Shadowy energy seemed to cover her the boy moved so fast. As Violet was medi-ported away Elitist charged in behind Burning and Danica.

He grabbed Danica and threw her into the teleporter, she instantly disappeared and the arcane device exploded. Burning blasted at Elitist and threw chilling blasts. The villain grabbed Burning's arms and held them high.

"Interesting you saw our trap for what it was. It doesn't matter. I have something better now. Void! Strike down this illusion so it will no longer haunt you. Use the skills you were taught."

"No!" Burning struggled but the villain's grip was too strong. Void nodded and faded from vision.

Pstorm found the scene and cried out. As she saw Void rear back to strike she sent a mental bolt of energy that sent Void to the floor. Elitist swung Burning into a wall and moved to deal with this new threat.

Pstorm hammered him with psionic blows and made him stagger. He grabbed a piece of the broken teleporter and hurled it at her. She dodged and sent a blast of wind that knocked Elitist off his feet.

Void Brawler rose to strike the tormenting 'image.' Suddenly a strong hand smashed into him.

Danny stood over him, bandages covering his head and face. "You're alive!" shouted Void.

"No thanks to you," said the hero. He lifted Void to his feet and knocked him down again.

"I didn't mean for you to fall! I didn't want to fight you!"

"Sure," said the hero as grabbed Void's collar and swung him into the air. Void didn't fight back as he tried to convince his friend. When Void landed Pstorm became aware of what was happening. She gripped Elitist's mind and began to control him. He growled as his hand was forced to his medi-porter, sending him away.

Hurriedly Pstorm gripped her brother's head and stretched her open palm at Danny. She relayed all of the events that had happened, starting with Harlequin's raid on the base.

Void fell back and medi-ported, no strength left in him after the mind tap.

Burning rose slowly and saw the two. "Where's Matt?!"

They looked at him. He sighed sorrowfully. "There are two villains heading for the control room, we have to hurry!" said Pstorm.

They followed her.

Chris, Hyper, Jack, Arrow and Phantom ran together to find Tyrant and Editor in the computer room. "And now our base coordinates are erased from their hard drive." Tyrant turned to see the heroes. With a snarl he sent his remaining three bots to attack as Editor dropped the papers and charged.

Hyper blasted a Protector apart as Arrow and the Phantasm took down another. The Assault Bot swung its arm and Chris caught it quickly. He turned and swung around, smashing it into the ground.

As Editor charged Jack grappled his hands. The struggled until Arrow and Hyper each aimed at him. Letting go the villain looked at the two. With a sigh he pressed an emergency escape. When the heroes turned around Tyrant was already gone.

Hyper bent down to the papers. "Oh no! This was my welcoming speech to the new 'Kickers! Look at this he took out whole pages!" Jack laughed at this. Hyper stood up and read some of it. "Hey, some of these changes aren't bad."

Burning, Pstorm, and Danny saw Pumpkin and GeoWatt as they walked into the control room. The heroes ran in, Danny slamming a fist into Pumpkin as Pstorm and Brawler blasted Geo. Smashing turned and saw the bandages on Danny's head. "Grrr.... I can't hit a kid like that. Geo! Switch?"

Geo laughed and grabbed the young hero. Smashing turned and swung his arms fast at Burning. He tried to dodge but was hit by most of the attacks. Pstorm turned to Geo and grabbed his mind.

The villain dropped Stones and clutched his aching head. Pstorm sent wave after wave of psionic pulses, battering the villain into submission. As he faded to the hospital she turned to Danny. "You should get back to the hospital."

He nodded and turned to go. The heroine looked back at where Burning was desperately trying to get shots in between Smashing's assault. Pstorm created intense winds around her and sent the villain flying into a group of canisters. He looked down at the flammable sign on them and looked as Burning lit a hand.

"Don't gotta tell me twice." With that he left.

***

Hyper stood in front of the 'Kickers and gave a speech on the events. Everyone had returned from the hospital, or the Shadow Shard in Danica's case, and listened as he spoke. "Void may seem to be lost to us, but we know he still can be shown he was lied to. If today feels like a defeat, even though we sent the Masters of Mayhem back to their hole. I also want to thank Pstorm. Without her help our defensive systems would have come offline and we might not have won."

He turned to the heroine. "Thank you." She smiled under her helmet.

The 'Kickers had averted a fatal disaster. They had lost someone to villainous tricks and it hurt some members deeply, but they were still growing more.

The End


TO
NEMESIS:
VENGEANCE 3: FLAME WAR >



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