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ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE
Sara Shaughnessy looked out over the immaculate
cityscape that was Founder’s Falls, taking in the beckoning
nighttime scene. She sighed lightly; most nights she would
be out prowling the rooftops as Solanum, but not tonight. Tonight
she had plans of her own, and fighting crime was not it.
She looked over her shoulder at Edward, her fiance
and fellow hero. He was busy setting the table for two others who
should be here momentarily. Grateful that she had a man who could
actually cook, Sara was free to do other things, like worry about the
Things with The Nameless were now in disarray;
Nightbringer was missing, Blue Dragon was back from the dead, Prismatic
had merged with the cosmos, and now, most strangely, Vision asked
everyone to move out. It was this last development that concerned
Sara the most.
Prior to the Gamester event, the supergroup all
lived together somewhat happily under one roof. However, after
the problem with the timelines had been fixed, Vision started receiving
calls to meet with the Freedom Phalanx down at City Hall. His
visits became more and more frequent, up until the time he made his
“We can use this house for official Nameless business, but only I can live here,” he stated.
Somewhat hurt and stunned by this turn of events,
the rest of The Nameless moved out. Sara still had her apartment
in Founder’s Falls and Edward moved in with her. Evan,
Sara’s brother, moved in with Carlito and BlueDragon in some
townhouse in Skyway City. Psirene also moved to Founder’s
Falls, letting Flora move in with her and her daughter. JD and
Xandria found a nice house in a nice part of Steel Canyon and moved
there. They would still meet at Kirk’s house, but in their
minds, they all felt betrayed, especially when he would have Longbow
agents sitting in on their meetings.
The last meeting they had been to, Beguiler refused
to say anything; he crossed his arms and glared at Kirk,
psychically broadcasting his displeasure with the younger hero.
Psirene, Beguiler’s twin, now noticeably pregnant, also kept
silent. Anything they might have said was done telepathically,
which led to great awkward gaps in the spoken conversation. The
Longbow agent quietly took notes of the whole meeting, as well as of
the strained relations between the group’s members.
Sara worried about the future of the group. On
the surface, the solution seemed obvious; cut Kirk from the
roster. But, Kirk had been one of them from the beginning.
Letting him go did not feel right.
Sensing her emotional disturbance, Edward stuck his
head out on the patio. “Dinner is about ready. What
time did they say they would be here?”
Sara took a brief look at her watch.
“Any minute.” As if on cue, her door intercom
chimed. “Or perhaps now.”
Buzzing her guests into the building, she decided to
put thoughts of her group’s future on hold. Things always
had a way of sorting themselves out. She had no reason to doubt
that this situation wouldn’t follow suit.
In another part of Founder’s Falls, Bianca
watched Flora with concerned eyes. The green heroine had not been
herself ever since her husband had been abducted by Nocturne. The
Nameless had tried to invade the necromancer’s base to take him
back, but all they found were bare, cold cavern walls. To make
matters worse, Nocturne had pulled Tristan out of the Sussex Academy to
insure he could not be contacted by the heroes, much less his
father. Bianca sighed sadly, and became aware of the baby’s
Taking her thoughts off of Flora for a moment, she
thought of the time when she was pregnant with Delilah. The
daughter of Statesman had been a fighter, even in the womb. Now
this child, whom she knew was a boy, seemed completely different in
spirit. Aside from her own psychic gifts, Bianca could tell this
child was reaching out to her mentally, as if trying to console
her. She refocused on Flora; thinking about the baby would only
bring her mind back to him.
Getting up off the couch, Bianca joined her friend outside.
“I can’t imagine Jon willingly going
with her, Bianca.” Flora started with a mournful
“No, I suppose not. He loved, loves,
you,” the blonde quickly corrected herself. She quickly
fixed a stray lock of hair that the wind blew into her face.
“You have to believe that some part of him is not under
Nocturne’s control and trying to find his way back to you.”
“Do you believe the same thing about your
baby’s father?” Flora asked, her red eyes turning
deep crimson with sorrow.
Psirene looked out at the night, taking a deep
breath of the late spring air. Her jaw clenched with
resolve. She put a hand on her belly, and could again feel her
son reaching out physically and psychically.
“I have to believe that, Flora.”
Lou and Eddie had driven for Allied Armored Car long
enough to not be amazed by all the extraordinary sights they
encountered on their routes. As those who attempted to rob the
vehicles increased in power, so did the measures taken to insure safety
of driver and cargo. Tonight was looking no different.
Eddie effortlessly turned the large vehicle down
Rabinowitz Drive, one of the main streets in Steel Canyon. He
flipped a switch on the dashboard, which activated a low-power
electrical field around the car. Any would-be thieves would get a
wicked shock just from coming into contact with the car.
The Outcasts on the corner must have sensed the
electrical field, because once Eddie hit the switch, the gangers’
interest seemed to fade. The former police officer gave a slight
chuckle. This night was definitely going to be a quiet one…
A sudden BANG! Jolted them out their seats.
Something had landed on the roof of the car, and was causing the field
to go off. Lou turned the dial onto maximum voltage; the
increased power would have caused whatever had landed on them to jump
off almost immediately from the pain.
The expected result, however, did not happen.
Instead, the putrid stench of decay coupled with burning hair entered
into the armored car’s cabin. But the men dare not open a
window and risk a violent attack by their assailant.
Eddie slammed on the brakes, hoping to make whatever
was on their roof fly off. To their horror, a mere semblance of a
man slid down to the front windshield. The two guards, accustomed
to all manner of sights this city held, both yelled in horror.
The zombie’s gaze shifted from one man to
another, tendons and muscles could be seen in the slightest motions due
to decayed or burnt flesh that incompletely covered his underlying
tissues. The creature’s eyes, however, looked bright and
alert, like the eyes of a living man, making him seem that much more
The ghoul screamed in response to the men’s
terror, revealing rotted teeth and tongue. The nightmarish sound
could be heard through the ultradense glass, as could the scraping
noise of the undead’s nails.
“It’s the Vazhilok!” screamed Lou. “Run over it!”
Instead of following Lou’s suggested course of
action, Eddie backed the vehicle up quickly, making the tires smoke and
squeal. Their undead assailant slid off the front end of the car
onto the ground, but jumped to its feet and began running towards the
vehicle. Eddie wanted to turn around, but suddenly slammed
on his brakes again.
More zombies were waiting behind them.
Lou frantically tried to increase the voltage of the field while Eddie sent out an immediate distress call.
“This is Car Number 3871, we have a code
three! Repeat, this is Car Number 3871, we have a code
three! We need immediate assistance,” he spoke into
the radio calmly.
“Car 3871, we have your location, and someone
is en route,” came the reply. Eddie did not recognize the
voice from the dispatch office, but at least he knew his message got
Eddie, used to crisis situations, activated the
armored car’s other defense mechanism. Plates slid out in
front of the windows, sealing it up from outside attack.
The defenses proved to be no obstacle for the small
band of undead swarming it. Immune to fear and pain, they kept
tearing at the vehicle, rocking it back and forth until they managed to
tear a door open.
Now vulnerable, the guards panicked as the undead
took them from the cabin. Fighting with all the strength their
adrenaline-fueled limbs could muster, it was no use against those who
did not die. The guards were screaming as the zombies pulled at them;
their chill touch hurt, and they felt themselves being drained away
with each touch of their pallid flesh.
Overseeing the theft of the armored car’s
contents were a slightly built woman with skin the color of a nighttime
sky and a tall, well built blonde man with strange tattoos running the
length of his muscled arms. The blue woman clipped a small device
onto her belt. She looked up at her companion and smiled.
“Magnificent little toy, Deathbringer.
You’ll have to see if you can get more from your former
teammate,” she purred. “Clever little signal
The pair were focussing on the robbery; the guards
were no longer moving, having been subdued by Nocturne’s
zombies. Any other gangs who might have attempted to interfere
stayed hidden, lest the undead be ordered to attack them as well.
With access to the vehicle’s cargo, the
zombies quickly raided it and brought them to their dark
mistress. She smiled in delight; three cases of diamonds.
She mentally instructed the zombies to take their loot back to their
new base, when someone landed in the midst of them and wordlessly
attacked, sending several of the zombies flying through the air from
the force of the punches.
The pair of villains looked at the would-be intruder; a tall African
American woman with blonde hair stood and stared defiantly at
Deathbringer. He sneered at the woman in powder blue tights
covered by a red halter top and miniskirt. The look was completed
with red boots and tiny red cape.
“Who are you supposed to be, Captain Planet?” he snarled.
She snorted. “I’m Auntie Maim, and
you two are under arrest!” she declared in a voice too deep
to be female.
Nocturne merely looked at the hero, shrugged at her
consort, and resumed her control over her minions. The zombies
quickly gathered the scattered diamonds and all took off running in
numerous directions. She gathered the shadows around herself and
“Are we?” Deathbringer hissed, his
eyes suddenly becoming dark hollows in his skull. Dark veins
could be seen crawling along his skin as he called upon ancient and
evil powers to his bidding. “It will take more than one
such as you to make me tremble!”
Dark mist began to swirl around him as the darkness
came to his bidding. Shadowy tendrils emerged from every dark
corner and shadow, snaking their way toward the hero. Unaware of
their proximity, Auntie Maim prepared to leap into the air and tackle
the villain, until he felt something wrap around his legs. Very
quickly, the cross-dressing hero realized he was in over his head.
Deep, evil laughter came from Deathbringer as he
slowly walked towards Auntie Maim, who struggled against the
otherworldly tentacles. The skin around his hand deepened
in color as drew upon an even darker power for what he was about to do.
Now face to face with the hero, Deathbringer stared
at his face with soulless black eyes. He held up his hand; it was
now completely black. Auntie Maim struggled lightly, even though
he knew it was pointless.
“Rest assured, Auntie Maim,” he
hissed. “This will hurt.” He reached
forward with his hand to grab the hero’s throat. As he
always did with his victims, he looked intently into Auntie
Maim’s eyes, wanting to savor every moment of his death.
But as he did so, he paused. Deathbringer suddenly found himself
overwhelmed by a memory.
Jon and Thomas
laughed at the four capes the two of them had subdued. Of course,
it was quite likely the would-be heroes were fairly new, but that
didn’t matter. Word of how they had defeated four supers in
combat would spread throughout the Skull organization, and the two
would undoubtedly get some reward over the other Gravediggers.
As Jon reached out
with his shadow-wrapped hand, he grabbed the throat of the first hero,
a gun toting man with red goggles and tan military-styled
clothes. The dark powers he had recently received began to leech
the life out of the hero, who was powerless to resist.
The pair of Skulls
neither saw nor heard the faint sound of footsteps behind them.
They had no idea anyone at all was behind them until they heard an
accented, woman’s voice.
“Unhand them,” came the command.
Jon and Thomas
turned around. Facing them was a green skinned woman whose dark
green hair was fashioned into dreadlocks. Her red eyes were
glowing balefully at the pair.
sneered. “Or what?” he challenged. He
began to pull the shadows around himself to attack this newcomer.
woman’s face changed dramatically; her dreadlocks seemed to come
to life, blowing away from her face, writhing around like a mass of
serpents. Her red eyes glowed with even greater intensity, and
suddenly Thomas stopped moving, his skin taking on the appearance of
attention to Jon, the two combatants paused. For some reason, Jon
could not find it in himself to attack this girl, and neither could she
attack him. Caught in the temporary spell of instant and mutual
attraction, they stared at each other.
A noise from the
four heroes caught his attention. Knowing he could not
successfully fight against five heroes alone, Jon took off down the
alley and rounded the corner. Leaning against the wall, he sighed
“Wow!” he breathed, still caught in the moment of
having seen something beautiful, and finding that he wanted to see her
A blow to the back of the head brought him back to
the here and now. Facing his assailant, he recognized the red,
white and blue costume instantly.
“Yankee Pryde. How nice of you to join the party,” he hissed.
The blonde hero paused; the villain in front of him
seemed familiar, but he couldn’t be certain. He looked over
at Auntie Maim, who seemed to be trying to break free from
“You are under arrest, whoever you
are.” Yankee Pryde tried to sound commanding and
A smile crossed Deathbringer’s face, which
gave the hero the shivers. “How does one cage the
darkness? What bars can contain the shadow?” he asked
mockingly. “As for who I am,” he suddenly
vanished, only to reappear immediately behind the taller Yankee
Pryde. Leaning forward, he whispered into the hero’s ear,
“I am Death!”
The shadows seemed to spring to life, wrapping
around the pair like a cocoon. Before any of Deathbringer’s
magic could begin to work on Yankee Pryde, he grabbed Deathbringer and
threw the villain around himself. Deathbringer crashed into the
side of the toppled armored car and sat dazed for a second.
Quickly recovering, Deathbringer saw several other
heroes landing around Yankee Pryde and Auntie Maim. He gave them
a mocking smile.
“Seven against one? That’s not
very heroic, Yankee Pryde,” he took to the air, hovering out of
reach. He gave them an insincere salute. “Another
time, then?” he called out as he flew away, a dark comet in
the twilight sky.
Yankee Pryde watched him fly away, and quickly returned his attention to his teammate.
“Are you alright, Maim?”
The drag-queen-turned-superhero groaned. “Nothing a night at Pocket D won’t fix.”
Pryde smiled. “Great. Let’s
get this cleaned up, folks,” he ordered. He walked over to
the toppled armored vehicle. With a little effort, he righted it
and went to check on the driver.
“You guys ok?” he asked.
“We’re pretty damned lucky you guys
showed up. I thought we were gonna get turned inta zombies or
sumpthin’!” Lou breathed a sigh of relief.
“Well, you’re safe now. But I
think they got away with your cargo.” He paused and cleared
his throat. “Were you running the dash cam?”
“Yeah, we were. It’s regulations.”
“Good, I’ll need the recorded images. We’ll try and find out who attacked you.”
Eddie handed the patriotically dressed hero the
dvd. “I thought they were just the Vazhilok.”
Yankee Pryde arched an eyebrow. “No,
they weren’t. They were something much worse, I fear.”
Bluedragon sat at the bar of Pocket D, slowly
sipping his mojito. He had tried, rather unsuccessfully, to get
Stingray to come with him. However, the strobe lights in the club
had the tendency to overwhelm the nanites in Evan’s system, so he
stayed home, likely hanging with Carlito and playing the new PS4 they
had received as advance payment for helping the Sony corporation.
He was too focussed on his drink to notice the hero
next to him until the man bumped into him and almost made him spill his
drink. He growled at the man, who was too engrossed in his
conversation on his cell phone to really notice or care.
“I tell you, Mom, I kicked his butt! He
came on like he was some big tough guy, calling himself Deathbringer
and all that. Shoot! I pounded him into the dirt,
Hearing the gang name of The Nameless leader,
Bluedragon turned to face the man next to him. He quickly
grabbed the phone from the man, who yelped in protest.
“He’ll call you back, Mom,” he
said, then hung up. Handing the phone back to the hero, he looked
him over. “You ran into Deathbringer?”
“Yeah. So what if I did?” the man’s attitude was snobbish and condescending.
“Where? My team has been looking for him.”
The other hero had been scrutinizing Bluedragon with
an equally intense gaze. “Wait, you’re with The
Nameless, right?” he stifled a laugh.
Bluedragon went rigid. He had a great deal of
pride in his team, despite the somewhat checkered reputation they had
with Hero Corps. “Yes I am,” he said
proudly. Though shorter than the hero who was teasing him, Diego
still seemed taller than him by his bearing.
The blonde hero snickered. “You guys are a bunch of freaks!.
I don’t know who’s worse with you guys; the empath who gets
his kicks screwing with people’s heads or his skank-aholic sister
who’ll do any guy with a cape and a mask.”
Something inside the black-skinned hero
snapped. While his relationship with Beguiler was tentative at
best, he, like the other men on the team, had great respect for
Psirene. Without hesitation, he threw a wicked left hook at the
other hero. The look on his face as Bluedragon’s fist
connected with it was, to Bluedragon anyway, priceless.
Two bouncers grabbed the pair almost instantly.
“Both of you, outside. No fighting in
Pocket D. Those are the rules.” Said one
of the absolutely massive bouncers that held them in full
Bluedragon stopped struggling; he just wanted
information this hero had. As the two were escorted to the
door, a plan was forming in Diego’s mind.
Carefully, he pressed the emergency button on his
comm device. If this guy wasn’t going to talk to him,
surely one of the three psychics on the team could.
The shrill alarm made Sara about jump out of her
skin. Edward quickly excused himself from the table to answer the
He looked at the screen. The GPS feature
indicated Bluedragon was outside Pocket D. The empath scanned out
with his mind and contacted his sister.
What is it, Eddie?
Bluedragon has hit some sort of trouble. Unfortunately, Sara and
I cannot go and see what it is.
Silly man! Like we need to be there in body to find out what he needs!
Linking her mind with his, Psirene suddenly felt a third mind join the
weaving; to her surprise, and Edward’s as well, it was her unborn
Ye gods, Bianca. This one is powerful, commented Edward. He directed their combined consciousness toward Bluedragon’s location and saw what was going on.
So, Diego, what’s going on, came a voice inside his head. Recognizing it as Bianca’s, Bluedragon smiled to himself.
Can you poke around in this guy’s head? He just came back from a fight with Jon.
The psychic equivalent of laughter filled his head. Piece of cake, love.
Yankee Pryde suddenly went stiff as she went riffling through his mind for the information.
Got it, Bluedragon. Contact the others. We’ll meet at Allied Armored Car.
Flashing his trademark smile, Bluedragon took to the
air before Yankee Pryde could recover from Psirene’s attack.
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