Stories # - L | M - Z | Authors

Review this story


Chapter 4: Winter Lord

 

A voice.

Dorian listened carefully and heard the voice again.

So familiar.

He definitely knew the name, but couldn’t imagine why he would hear that name so close.

Kayain.

Kayain was the name of that boob of a vindicator. Dorian had on occasion faced Kayain, and defeated him.

But why would he be here? And where exactly was here?

Jenna my dear, he thought, I expect you heard that as well?

Indeed, thought Jenna, it sounded like the Vindicator’s daughter Cherry.

He thought, they are close my dear. Something must be happening.

She thought, I have heard many broadcasts, and I think something is coming our way. I hear talk of one named Arachnos. Perhaps he will find us in our stasis.

Both Dorian and Jenna’s bodies were put in a stasis-like sleep. Their bodies were augmented with nano-technology to give them unique abilities.

Agent Dorian Williams, former F.B.I. agent of the Terran Earth colony, long ago had been given a part human part cybernetic body. The nanites in his body specifically can alter his body patterns to be extremely resistant to all forms of damage. He can also use the nanites in his skin to bend light, rendering him invisible to the normal eye, and most sensors. Aerosol particles allow his clothing, and other objects he is in contact with to become invisible as well. His complete integration with the nanites allow him to dodge oncoming attacks with ease.

Agent Jenna Williams, also a former F.B.I. agent, was given a specially augmented body like Dorian. She was also gifted in Psionics, and her special augmentations increased her ability to use her powers.

Both of them were given a com-link in their heads. The com-link allows them to hear radio waves, see images in their mind’s eye, and recently Jenna adjusted their links to hear psionic messages.

He thought,  Arachnos. He sounds like one of those super-powered people like I’ve heard of around here.

Dorian and Jenna received many broadcasts scattered from Paragon City. From what they gathered, it sounded like they were on a world with many people with unique and super powered abilities.

She thought, Indeed. One such as him may be interested in us. I will try to reach him somehow.

He thought, Good. If this man should find us, he can awaken us from this stasis. And if the Vigilantes are here, then we must take advantage and make short work of them.

She thought, All in good time my love. For now it is a time of reflection. We must be prepared for the battle ahead.

---------------------------------------------

In all Paragon City, the Hellions are one of the biggest and most prosperous gangs. Their turf ranges from Atlas Park, Galaxy City and even Perez Park. Regardless, every one of them was still street walking scumbags. Although they suffered many casualties through the efforts of super powered heroes, they still go on strong with the aid of the power-boosting drug, superadyne.

Recently, they were about to encounter something a little out of their league. As a matter of fact, there were 3 Hellion members who were about to have the most unusual death that they’ve ever faced.

The three were in an alley plotting to mug an unsuspecting citizen of Galaxy City. One had a shotgun, one had a baseball bat, and another had his lucky knife.

“Alright,” said the one with a shotgun. “You see that broad over there on the payphone? I saw her at the bowling alley, and that broad is loaded. As soon as she comes this way, we nab her purse and get out ‘for the tights get here.”

“A’ight,” said the one with the knife. “Das coo man, da way you pick ya targets. Das smart, what dat is.”

“Yea man,” said the one with the bat. “You Da man, man!”

“Hey shut up already! You guys will ruin it!”

“Sorry ‘bout that man! But you know how I get all excited man-“

“Shhh! Shut up! She’s off the phone and she’s coming!”

“Hey, was’ dat noise?” said the knife guy.

“Prolly the tights just showing off, now SHUT UP!”

They waited and waited and saw no one coming down toward the alleyway.

“Where the hell is she?”

Suddenly, the woman and several other people came running past the alleyway.

“There! Go!”

The three leapt out at her as one yelled, “Gimme da cash you b-“

He wasn’t able to complete his sentence, because at that moment the three of them were immediately squished by a huge snowman that was rampaging through the streets.

The world around them froze in place. Everything went a shade of gray like in an old black and white film. Everything here seemed clearer than reality, and yet inconsistent at the same time. Time didn’t matter here because it simply didn’t exist. When some people had a near-death experience, they say there is a great white light. These guys suddenly understood that that just wasn’t what it was like to actually die. Somehow they knew it was in a way some kind of joke.

“Ah…” said the one with a knife. “Whoa, wha just happened?”

“I dunno man,” said the one with a bat. “Man, this place is kinda trippy man. Hey man, do ya know where we are man?”

“I uh…” said the one with a shotgun. “ Hey, it prolly has something to do with those damn tights!”

Actually,” said a voice from behind. “If you gentlemen will kindly take a look around you, you will notice a very large obstacle impeding your mortal coil.

The voice matched the man who was standing next to them. Cold, calculating, and hollow. The kind of voice that could cut glaciers in half. The man was tall, had well trimmed black hair, and a pale, sunken face. His eyes were haunting, they seemed so penetrating, as though he could see inside one’s very soul. He also wore a very expensive looking suit. It was navy blue, with a white shirt under and a matching tie. He also held a leather looking briefcase in his hands. If it weren’t for the fact that the three were so confused, they might have tried to take it. They had a deathly feeling though that doing so would not be a good idea.

“Yo man, hol’ up. Who da hell are you? An’ where da hell are we?”

Who am I? I have many names. But you can call me Death. And it’s my grim responsibility to usher you to your afterlife.

 They studied him for a moment, then burst out in laughter.

“Ah ha, ha, ha! Na man, really. Wha’s goin’ on here?”

A small smile grew on Death’s face. He knew this was a typical reaction. Especially when the death was so sudden.

I’m afraid it’s true.

“Man, get outta here! You ain’t Death man! We’re Hellions man, we have all kinna connections to da underworld yo! An I seen Death befo’, an you ain’t him.”

Death didn’t take any pleasure in having to reap souls. It was a job that needed to be done, and that was that. However when it came to Hellions, he did tend to crack a smile.

Hellions believe they had connections with the Devil, and the underworld. Death knows for a fact that this isn’t so. When it came to their rituals, they were about as good at summoning the spirits as a fraternity house wearing robes while playing Dungeons and Dragons. No one had any real connections to the Devil, or ghostly spirits. Every once and a great while, a lesser demon would talk to them, but Death knew it was only to tell them to go rob a bank or something to keep busy.

There was also many jokes about them in the underworld, and Death had chuckled at a few in the break rooms. But he never told them as such. They always found out in the end anyway.

Do you mean in your summer solstice party you had? Ah yes, I believe I remember that. I was there because someone had an overdose of Superadyne.

However I was an uninvited guest. I remember it quite clearly how you guys tried some kind of ‘spell’ to summon the grim reaper himself. And lo and behold someone turned up.

“Yea man! So I don’ know who you think you is, but you ain’t Death. You don’t even have the robes, or da bones, or even the… the… aaw, whazit… the… the long sharp thing-”

Scythe?

“Na, one of those sword things… iz’ on a long stick. Iz all curved like.”

Really. It’s called a Scythe.

“Whateva. You ain’t got any of those!”

Death smiled at them, the kind of smile that could freeze your heart, and kindly explained the situation,” “Gentlemen, I can assure you that I am Death. The person you saw at your little drug party was none other than your buddy Andy in a not so cleaver disguise.

“Wha? That isn’t true Andy said he was sick and couldn’t make it… he-“ A sudden realization came over him. At their party, him and many of the others became very hopped up on drugs, especially the hallucination drugs. And his friend Andy had suddenly and mysteriously become ill with something called Ebola. He guessed it was some kind of cold and it would go away after a while. “Oh. But you still can’t be Death. You ain’t got any of the stuff ah said!”

Incidentally, my good man, There are many Deaths in this universe. My district is the Matronian quadrant, which your planet happens to be a part of. And about my appearance… Well I prefer to take on a more- oh shall we say- modern look compared to the standard hood and bones. I find it’s a little less imposing, and a bit more comforting to my clients. I have a big job, and I’m trying to make your afterlife experience as comfortable as I can.

“Yea, man but…. How can we be dead man? We was jus’ in da alley man, and we jumped out to nab some cash man. We can’t jus’ DIE from jumpin’ out man.”

Turn around please.

They turned around and saw a giant snowman monster with some liquid stains all around the floor. Death snapped his fingers and the monster became clear like glass. Underneath they noticed the bloody remains of what looked like 3 bodies under the monster’s foot.

“Oh Ga-damn man! Dat’s us!”

“Sheeeet man! Dat’s freakin’ disgustin’.”

“Yea, what the hell is that?”

Death appeared suddenly between them, startling them and put his arms around 2 of them as he said,” Gentlemen, you were a victim of what I like to call S.D.S. It stands for Sudden Death Syndrome. It happens so suddenly and rapidly, you can’t begin to comprehend it till way after. There are several steps to recovery though. First is Confusion.”

One said,“Yo man! How the hell… What the hell is that thing?! “

Next is Denial.

Another said,“ This can’t be happenin’ man! We jus’ can’t be dead just like that!”

After that comes Fear.

The other said,” But guys, what if he’s right? Man oh man! I don’ wanna be dead man! I’m too young!”

Then comes Anger.

The first one said,” If it IS true, it’s all that monster’s fault! He set us up, the fugger! Yo guys if we iz dead, we need to get back at dat thing! I say we haunt the asshole!”

Then comes Bargaining.

The other said,” Hey man if we IZ dead, don’t we get a chance to play da Reaper or somthin like that?”

Then Acceptance.

The third said,” Na man, remember our Dark Lord’s promise about the afterlife? We served him well right? We should be good in our reign in hell!”

You’re all doing very well.

“Wha? Oh sorry Death, we weren’t listening. What did ya say?”

Nothing really, let’s get this show on the road now shall we?” Death brought his briefcase up and it floated in midair. He opened it and pulled out a laptop and put it on the floating briefcase. He tapped his finger on the laptop as he waited for it to load. “Sorry for the delay gents, this new Windows OS has been a pain. The computer locks up every once and a while, and I had to reformat it. And believe me, backing up the eternal information on all the souls in this galaxy takes a good amount of time.

They continued to stare because the only thing they ever learned about computers was how to steal them. He continued,” Ah here we are-“ Death studies their files for a moment. “Well, how ironic.

“Wha’s ironic?”

What I’m seeing here.

“Na man, I mean wha’s ironic mean?”

Death didn’t answer that question. Instead he smiled as he turned to him and said, “Neil Garrison, AKA, Bullet Tooth?

“Yea, das me.” Said Neil.

Let’s see,” he said as he began to type something out. “I have you down here. Been a Hellion for 5 years have you?

“Yea man.”

Oh, this is not good Mr. Garrison. Not good at all. Lies, theft, burglary, arson, and murder. Those I’m afraid are your good points.

“Yea man, I did it in the name of our satanic lord!”

Well, your ‘lord’ would like to have a word with you. For various reasons I’m sure.

“All right! I’m gonna meet my lord!”

I wouldn’t celebrate too early. I also have here you have a tattoo on your back with his name on it… however I’m showing that it’s misspelled. You have Satin, not Satan.

“Yo… uh… I thought it was the same.”

No, Satin is a type of fabric. Needless to say it’s embarrassing to you and him, and he’s not very happy.

“Uh oh.”

Moving on now,” he said as he clicked a small mouse attached to the laptop. “I have here Gaylord Querry, Aka, Maddog?

The other 2 burst out in laughter as poor Gaylord felt totally humiliated.

“AH HA! Your name is, HA HA, GAYLORD QUERRY? BA HA HA HA!” said Neil.

“SHUT THE FU-“

“GAYLORD QUERRY! BA HA HA HA HA!” said the other.

It came as a surprise to find out each other’s names. In the Hellion ranks, everyone got a new name, and no one used their real names.

Amusing I’m sure. But this is you, yes?

“Yes…” he said quietly.

Let’s see, I’ve got you down for… you’ve got the same charges as Mr. Garrison, and more. You’ve been a Hellion for 3 years? Thank you. Your sentence- I mean afterlife, is also a word from your ‘lord’. There’s also the issue of the false pentagram you scarred on yourself.

“What? False? I carved this pentagram on my hand until it permanently scarred! It was a symbol of my undying loyalty to my satanic lord!”

Let me see that… Humm I see. Interesting. Sir I’m afraid that is not a pentagram. That is the Star of David. A Jewish symbol.

“What?! Uh oh.”

Let’s continue shall we? Chuck Berry?” he said as he raised an eyebrow. “I happen to enjoy his music.

“Yea, das me. Yo man who else is named Chuck Berry?”

Someone from long ago. He played music I happen to like. Classic Rock to be more precise.

“Oh, classic like… you mean like Snoop dog, Cypress Hill, and stuff?”

Death looked a little confused.

No. I mean Classic Rock, in the good old days. Like Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and even the Beatles.

“Na man, never heard of dat. Most rock I ever heard is Lincoln Park.”

What? But Lincoln Park isn’t- Well never mind. Mr. Berry you have the same worksheet as these guys. And you’ve been a hellion for 7 years have you? Thank you. I believe your ‘lord’ wants to see all three of you. Mr. Berry he wants to see you for being not so, well we’ll call it pro-active.

“What do you mean?”

I have down that you robbed a candy store. You stole a few gummy bears. You mugged a 4 year old, and took his dollar bill. You lied about your age by 1 year on your DL. And apparently the only thing you’ve ever murdered is the English language. But more into your Hellion role, you fainted at the sight of blood during your sacrificial lamb ordeal.

“You sissy!”

“Shut up Gaylord!”

“BA HA HA HA, Gaylord!”

“No you shut up!”

“YOU SHUT UP!”

“NO YOU SHUT UP!”

Gentlemen, please. You have the rest of eternity to argue. I am on a tight schedule however. Thank you.

Death pulled out a pen from inside his coat. Three papers printed out from the back of his laptop. And he passed the pen to Neil.

I had the printer installed recently. Very convenient I might add. Everyone, sign on the dotted line, confirming that all information is correct.

As each one signed their papers, the paper rolled itself up and disappeared.

Thank you gentlemen,” Chuck handed the pen back. Death clicked his pen twice and it instantly grew into a Scythe. The Scythe glowed with a blue aura and made a whoosh sound with every move. It was as if the blade was cutting through the fabric of time itself.

Now if you would be so kind as to follow me.

“Yo Death! Fore we go to our afta-life an’ all, can you tell us what we gonna get in the end?”

Death considered this a moment. Death was not exactly sure what was on the other side. His job was to come in to the world, and usher to the front gates of Heaven or Hell. He never actually went inside to find out.

Everyone gets what they deserve.

“All right! So we’ll be one of Hell’s minions now! I know because we have served our lord loyally to the end!”

Oh, I’m sorry gentlemen. I heard from the receptionist that they weren’t taking any more applications in the Minions Department. Besides you don’t have the qualifications according to your lifetime resume. But there is many openings in our entry level ET department.” Seeing the confused looks on their faces he added, “ET stands for their Eternal Torment department. But... You boys might want to check with Human Resources though just to be sure..

“What?! Eternal torment? But we’ve been doin’ just like he wanted! That’s f-ed up man! How can we do all da things our lord said and get Eternal Torment after that?!”

Death had a hint of a smile on his face as he said,” You remember how I said it was ironic?

“Yea?”

Now you know the definition.

---------------------------------------------

Kayain slapped high fives to his friends and said,” Hey Kat, nice job on that spell eh? We really nailed him that time!”

“Yea that was my ultimate level 10 spell!”

“That’s awesome! Even Dan doesn’t like to do level 10 spells.”

“Oh that’s because it uses so much energy I won’t be able to cast any more spells for the rest of the day.”

“What…”

He had managed to levitate the remains of Lord Daniel’s truck, set it on fire, and hurl it at the beast. To say the word exploded would be an understatement. The whole city block was covered in snow, oil, and bits of tires.

They turned around and walked right into another Winter Lord beast. Kayain wondered how many there were, because he could have sworn he saw another down the street.

“Well ladies,” said Kayain. “Looks like we’re back to square one!”

“Yea,” said Kat. “And we’re totally out of Daniel’s car to throw. We might be in trouble.”

“That’s not the biggest problem on my mind at the moment!”

“Oh, right, the giant 20 foot monster.”

“Giant 20 foot monster? Hell no! I’m worried about a 4’11 monster named Cherry, who’s gonna kill us if we don’t bring back groceries!”

---------------------------------------------

Lord Daniel was pulling his brand new Mercedes out of the hotel’s parking lot, as he noticed panic in the streets. He took a look around and saw people running out of the streets in panic.

Uh oh, he thought. No time to suit up, looks like it’s just me and my- What the?

Lord Daniel looked up to see the rear end of what looked like a truck falling out of the sky toward him. He reached back and grabbed his sword and flung himself out of the vehicle before the end smashed into his car, destroying it.

That was close, he thought. What the devil could have caused this- Wait… that’s MY license plate!

---------------------------------------------

Cherry was cold, wet, and injured. During the fight, several heroes came and assisted her in the fight. Unfortunately she was unable to deflect an oncoming ice shard, and it impaled her thigh. But eventually they were able to drop the monster.

Breathing heavily, she said to a hero,” Thanks for your help.”

“No problem Ma’m. Say, that looks bad, you’ll need a healer.”

“Oh this?” she said looking at the hole. “I’ve had worse, believe me.”

Several squeamish heroes turned away as she quickly dislodged the melting ice shard without flinching.

“Oh, yuck… Didn’t that hurt?”

“No. Autohypnosis. Through the power of suggestion I can make myself numb when I need to.”

Cherry was very tough for her size. She had been burned, frozen, electrocuted, slashed, and squished for starters. These kinds of things are pretty common for the career path she’s in, and the reason she still looks the same is because Matronian medical technology is so advanced, as long as the patient doesn’t die before they get to the hospital, they are able to regenerate everything from vital organs, to epidermal tissue.

They had several regenerator machines, and the machines could revive someone perfectly to how they were before the injury.

Cherry was just glad for this. She might have been dead long ago without it.

“Well, I might try and look for a healer. But I need to meet up with my team, thanks.”

She waved the squeamish hero good bye and looked for her radio. When she couldn’t find it, she guessed that she must have lost it somewhere in the piles of snow.

Screw that, she thought. I’ll try this other radio they gave me at Freedom Corps. Now how does this work?

“WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?”

“I DON’T KNOW!!”

“FREEDOM CORPS IS CALLING THEM THE WINTER LORD.”

“I NEED A TEAM! ONE IS OVER HERE!”

“OVER WHERE?”

“THERE’S ANOTHER OVER HERE!”

“WHERE’S MY PANTS?”

“AND HERE TOO!”

“THEY’RE ALL OVER STEEL CANYON, BRICKSTOWN, FOUNDERS FALLS, AND TALOS ISLAND TOO!”

Cherry listened to the broadcasts with interest this time. The Winter Lords, they were called. And there was more of them all over the city.

These things were unbelievably large. She thought that such things simply should not be, and had no problem in making them cease to be. And as far as them being alive, she was sure that somewhere in the multiverse, the lawyers of biology were in some court case against the district attorney of physics. But the simple truth was, biology had found a loophole, and it was probably magic.

Another thing Cherry didn’t like was magical beasts. There was no reason for them to exist, and yet they went on existing like they owned the place. Their worst qualities were their people skills, which involved mostly skipping the greeting and helping themselves to a bite. In fact, she knew this quite well because she had been swallowed whole twice in her life. Once by a dragon, and another time by a giant carnivorous plant (and for some reason the plant could sing). Each time, the creature regretted it seriously.

But to be fair to the beasts, they were simple creatures that wanted nothing more out of life then peace. And by peace they mean the extermination of everything else that’s NOT them.

UMM… HI? I NEED A HEALER,” she said on the broadcast.

No one responded.

PLEASE? I’M HURT REALLY BAD HERE.”

Still no response.

“HEY! COME ON NOW! I’M BLEEDING ALL OVER THE PLACE!”

No one seemed to care. All people of Paragon City know when a healer is asked for; it’s only to team up. Healers don’t respond if they’re already on a team.

Cherry sighs and thinks out loud,” I need a doctor.”

“Someone call for a Doctor?!” said a voice from behind.

Cherry turned to the voices, and saw quite a scene. About 7 guys standing in the street behind her, all in full superhero costume. They all posed as a bright light shined behind them, making them look like a beacon of hope.

“Ok, cue the lights off,” said one.

“Squad! Sound off!”

Cherry raised an eyebrow at them.

“Dr. Honor!”

DR. PAIN!”

“Dr. Disaster!”

“Dr. Killem!”

“Dr. Scott!”

“Dr. Demented!”

“Dr. Fransisco-Manuel-Chico-Vito-Paco-Pedro-Juan-Jamie-Loupe-Alfredo Rodriguez!”

They all posed again, and Cherry blinked.

“What seems to be the problem Ma’m?” said Dr. Honor.

“Well I-“

“Lemme guess, you’re looking for a super group?” said Dr. Scott

“No no, she needs great mental help that only I can provide.” Said Dr. Demented.

“Ay me Amiga, I can protect joo from harm wit my passion!” said Dr. Fransisco-Manuel-Chico-Vito-Paco-Pedro-Juan-Jamie-Loupe-Alfredo Rodriguez.

SHE WANTS US TO BRING ON THE PAIN!” said Dr. Pain.

“Actually I-“

“Having pet problems?” said Dr. Disaster.

“Or maybe digestion problems?” said Dr. Killem.

“NO!” yelled Cherry. “I would appreciate medical assistance.”

They all stopped, and looked at each other. They all exchanged nervous glances.

“What is it? I don’t like the looks on your faces.”

“Well miss, you see,” began Dr. Honor. “I USED to be a doctor. But with my size change, I’m afraid my hands aren’t as precise as they used to be.”

“What?! But what about the rest of you?”

“I’m an Archeologist,” said Dr. Demented.

“I’m a Vetenarian,” said Dr. Disaster.

“I’m actually not a doctor, I wish I was. I’m really a male nurse in a small time doctor’s office,” said Dr. Scott.

“I’m a professor at a college. Not what you need,” said Dr. Disaster.

I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT DOCTORING! I JUST BRING ON THE PAIN LIKE DOCTORS DO! I HAVE GLUE IF YOU WANT!” Said Dr. Pain

“And I, Dr. Fransisco-Manuel-Chico-Vito-Paco-Pedro-Juan-Loupe-Eric-Alfredo Rodriguez, am a very, very sexy doctor of love!” he said as he for Cherry. “Beautiful women, such as jourself, ignite in me a burning passion, to comfort joo, in jour time of need!”

“I’m very sorry about that ma’m, but I can try what I can.” Said Dr. Honor.

“Yes, let’s see the problem.” Said Dr. Scott.

Cherry moved her hand aside and revealed the gaping hole in her leg. Several doctors screamed at the sight, and Dr. Demented fainted.

“OY! Mi Amour! Dat is heedious!” said Dr. Fransisco-Manuel-Chico-Vito-Paco-Pedro-Juan-Jamie-Loupe-Alfredo Rodriguez, as he was dry heaving.

“Call yourselves Doctors?!” said Cherry as she folded her arms indignantly.

“Here miss, let me see that,” said Dr. Honor, the only doctor who didn’t flinch at her leg. “I have some cloth here somewhere. Ah, here we are. I’ll make a gauze out of this. Usually I’d tell my patients to wait for an EMT, but you seem spirited enough, young lady, to find a healer.”

“All I really need is just to get in contact with my team. I lost my communicator somewhere in that snow. Thanks for the help though… And as far as the rest of your team-”

“I’m sorry ma’m. I just joined their super group today. I had no idea they weren’t real doctors.”

BUT I AM A REAL DOCTOR; OF PAIN!

“I tell you what ma’m, I will help you find your team. I’ll watch over you till then.”

Cherry smiled and said,” Sure thing daddy-o. Now according to the last transmission I received they’re staying at Deluxe Accommodations, in Steel Canyon-“

Cherry was interrupted by the sound of rumbling down an intersection. Several people were running towards them as another Winter Lord rounded the corner.

“Ma’m I think we’d better take care of this. Please don’t overexert yourself.”

“I’ll just wait here then.”

“Good idea.”

“Doctors! Let’s go!”

They let out a half-hearted warcry as they still were recovering from the sight of Cherry’s wound.

“Do not worry mi amour! I weel take care of dis heedious beast for joo!” said Dr. Fransisco-Manuel-Chico-Vito-Paco-Pedro-Juan-Jamie-Loupe-Alfredo Rodriguez. “Or my name isn’t Dr. Fransisco-Manuel-Chico-Vito-Paco-Pedro-Juan-Jamie-Loupe-Alfredo Rodriguez!”

“Great.”

Cherry hobbled over to a stoop nearby and sat down. She wondered what caused these odd creatures to suddenly appear around the city. She remembered hearing from Danyel’s long-winded explanations about magic once that sometimes in certain worlds there is a very strong amount of manna.

Mana, or the life force, is like tapping into your own inner power. Wizards, Sorceresses, Witches, Sorcerers, and other magic folk can easily tap into their own mana, creating Magic. Danyel said that when a wizard goes into training, he learns how to draw your power through a special kind of meditation. Kayain laughed at this point, and made vulgar comments about Danyel’s ‘meditation’ techniques, so instead of hearing a detailed description about wizard training, she got to hear other vulgar comments about Kayain’s sister.

Danyel was able to explain that like people, there is World Mana. The spirits of the world and all the lives on it create World Mana. World Mana is very unpredictable, and sometimes it increases one’s abilities while on the planet, and sometimes it decreases it. And sometimes, raw World Mana is very unstable, and can have odd side effects on people and things in the world when excess magic is casted. In this case it included giant 50 foot walking snowmen.

Cherry liked the idea of having magic to blame for some disaster like this. She wasn’t particularly fond of magic in general. The only wizards she tolerated were her crewmembers. She left Danyel in specific to take care of alchemy, because she trusted him not to obliterate a galaxy with 2 red colored liquids.

Maybe psionics could get rid of them, she thought. I don’t think more magic would help, because we might just create more monsters. No, what we need is something that ice would be weak against. And I don’t recon giant 50 foot fire monsters would do the trick either. Maybe if we equip more people with flamethrowers… No they’re probably pretty resistant to fire, unless it’s very hot… Wait! I think I know! It’s-

She was interrupted by a sudden tornado of snow that formed in the street next to her. The tornado formed into the shape of a Winter Lord, and it growled as it came to life.

She stared at it for a moment, and it stared back.

She sighed and said,” I need a drink.”

---------------------------------------------

 “Yo dawg, what happened?” said Killa.

“I dunno man, dat was krazy yo!” said Blade

Killa and Blade were two high-ranking Skulls members. They had both gained the rank of Bone Daddy in their group, and were currently on patrol of Perez Park.

Perez Park was the playground of the two major gangs; the Skulls and the Hellions. These two were pro’s when it came to taking down rookie heroes, and they loved their jobs. They had everything going well for them…

And out of nowhere some giant snow monster appeared and stepped on them.

“Hey dawg, it’s all hazy here. An ah know ah didn’t take any dyne.”

“Na man, I’m seein’ the same thing, yo. Usually when ah take dyne, ah sees some pink elephants.”

“Pink?”

“’s gotta be pink man. Ain’t no otha colors in elephants.”

Elephants, my good man, are a shade of grey.

“Yea, das what I thought. What he said.”

“Na, well das easy to say when everythin’ here is grey.”

True, but I can assure you that they are naturally grey.

“You sure?”

Very.

“Krazy man.”

Indeed.

A strange feeling of dread washed over the two Skulls members. A feeling you get like you’ve just gotten on a train to Hawaii.

“Yo… What’s goin’ on?”

Dear me, where are my manners? Gentlemen, I regret to inform you that you have just recently lost your mortal bodies.

“What?! No way!”

If you take a look over that way, you’ll find the evidence is overwhelming.

They looked over to see their bodies crushed under the foot of the giant snowman.

My, my, It’s been a very busy time, indeed,” more to himself then the two.

“Sheeet, man! Dat sucks!”

“Yea, dat’s not fair!”

Oh, but it is fair. Just because it was sudden, doesn’t mean someone can cheat their way out of it. And besides if you look at company policy, you’ll find that were an equal opportunity Corporation. Male or female, sudden or slow, everyone is taken just the same.

“Yea but…you can’t just… we can’t… It just ain’t right!”

I’m sorry you feel that way. Would you like a copy of our company policy?

“No! I don’t wanna be dead!”

It really can’t be helped.

“Hey yo,” said Killa. “I saw dis movie once where dey played da reaper inna game, and if they win they get to come back!”

“Yea?”

“Yea dawg, dey was playin like twista and sheet, an dey got to come back alive yo.”

“Ah, das koo dawg! Yo reaper man, we wanna play you inna game for our lives back!”

Death’s smiled a bit, and said,”Ah, the ever popular play-the-reaper clause. Well I can oblige you gentlemen in a metaphorical game of your choice for your lives.

“Yea so, you’d let us do dat dawg?”

Of course. I always enjoy a good game. You have to understand, doing the work I do is seriously dreadful. I usually take time out for a very good leisurely game or two. Of course I enjoy a wager, and for your lives definitely make things more interesting.

They didn’t like the smile on his face as he said ‘lives’.

“Yea. Right. So can we do dis now?”

Of course.”

“Koo man.”

Now which one of you will be playing?

“Prolly should be you Killa, I ain’t no good at games yo.”

“Yo, I hear dat, dawg,” he said as they did a kind of acknowledgement with their fists in a complicated series of movements.

Death pointed to the left and there was an open space with a table and 3 seats. The two Skulls sat next to each other and Death sat across from them. He waved his hand and suddenly a chessboard appeared in the center of the table.

“Whoa, das some pretty koo sheet man. But wha’s this game dawg?”

Pardon?

“The game dawg. Wha’s the game?”

Surely you’ve heard of Chess, no?

“Na man, we ain’t never heard of chess, dawg.”

Death waved his hands and the chess pieces turned to checkers.

How about a more simple game of Checkers?

“Na. Ain’t never played chess neither dawg.”

Ok… How about a card game?

“Na man, I ain’t no good at cards.”

Death raised an eyebrow at him.

So what, pray, ARE you good at.

“Well,” he said proudly. “You should see me at Russian Roulette! I’m the Perez Park champion!”

Russian…Roulette?

“Wha, you never heard of it?”

I have only heard reference to the name. I have never played it. How is it played?

“Well you gots to have a six shoota, six bullets, anna dice.”

Mmm humm…

“And den, you take turns an roll the dice, yo, an whateva numba shows up is how many bullets you put inna gun.”

Go on.

“Den, you put the bullets inna gun, and you spin da revolver, an lock it whereva. Den you put it to your brains, and pull da trigger. First one dat dies is the looser.”

Death cleared his throat and said,” Let me get this straight… you want me to roll this dice. Then you want me to load a revolver with a number of bullets matching the number on the dice. Then I spin the revolver, load it, and put it to my head and shoot. Then if I die I loose?

“Yea dawg, that’s how you play!”

This, my good man, is going to be a VERY long game.

---------------------------------------------

There was a terrible scream that came from the bathroom. Danyel leapt up from his chair and ran towards the bathroom. He was met outside the bathroom by Diana covering herself in a towel and shivering.

“What happened?”

“It’s… It’s…”

“Yes?”

“COLD! There’s no hot water at all! It’s like all the hot water disappeared!”

“Oh I see. That’s not good now is it? Why don’t you go get dressed, and I’ll talk to the manager about this.”

“PLEASE! I mean how am I supposed to get clean after I’m all sweaty from exercising?”

“Well actually, I kinda like when you’re all-“

There was a rumble, and a noise from outside like bricks falling from a high place. Danyel walked over to the window and looked outside. He sighed and shook his head.

“Well dear, I think I found the problem. There appears to be a giant walking snowman ravaging the city. Looks like he made a pit stop here to tear some pipes out and freeze the water. That certainly explains things.”

“Oh, good. I’d hate to think it was a plumbing problem in a nice place like this. I mean after all it’s costing us a lot to stay here… Well not really, but I’m sure it cost Lord Daniel a pretty penny anyway.”

“Indeed. Well love, I believe we ought to do something.”

“Danyel! You’re awfully fresh today aren’t you?” she said as she dropped her towel.

“I meant about the monster.”

“Oh, uh… so did I. Yea, I agree. We can’t just have this sort of nonsense. Tearing up the city… I won’t stand for it!”

“Yes, but you can’t just run out there like that!”

“Why not? I can look after myself. I’ve faced worse than a snowman!”

“You can’t go out without some clothes. You’ll catch your death of cold!”

Diana sighed.

“You were just waiting to say that weren’t you? Cause you know I always say stuff like that to you.”

Diana was indeed a very motherly woman. She was a typical fussy mother when they had children. She always insisted on him, and the children wearing a big heavy coat on a winter planet, even if he knew an elemental protection spell. Danyel knew she meant well. Like how a Tsunami means well as it just comes by to say hello.

She was the kind of mother who went to PTA meetings and would embarrass you at school by delivering a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the middle of class with a not so macho lunchbox, while calling you snookems, or cuddly-wuddly.

The kind of mother who picks you up after school, and gets your attention in a shower cap, with green stuff on her face, and in an embarrassing car.

The kind of mother who would embarrass you on a first date with funny baby pictures, bad habits, and embarrassing personal problems.

But most of all, the kind of mother one’s friends say,’ Dude, is that your mom?’ while you say,’ Yes,’ and they say,’ Dude, your mom is freaking hot.’

Danyel smiled and said,” Not really. Well ok, yea I was. But still please put on something before you go out there and majik it.”

Diana always called her unique abilities Majik Spelling it cooler made her feel cooler.

“I will. Aren’t you coming?”

“Yea, in a bit. I’m gonna make a magical solution here. Hopefully it will be enough to defeat the beast.”

“Oh. Well. Please hurry then. I’ll be down there fighting the thing.”

“Sure thing honey.”

Diana put on her uniform and ran to the elevators, while Danyel strolled quietly to the alcohol. He scavenged several bags and pulled out what he knew was Lu Bu’s.

Liver-b-Gone, he thought. Sounds just about Lu Bu caliber. I’ll need this… oh and this, and all this…

He looked around the kitchen area and found a large container. Then he opened the tops to the bottles and cans. He waved his arms around and liquid magically floated out of a few containers and gathered in the large containers. As he did this, some liquid floated into the container, and some stayed in the bottles.

Once the bottles were all drained of what they could, Danyel concentrated on another spell. The liquid in the container sloshed around as he moved his hands. Then suddenly it compressed itself into a drop. The drop was as consistent as jell-o, so Danyel picked it up and experimentally squished it a bit in his fingers.

Once he was satisfied, he walked back over to the window and teleported himself down to the bottom. Diana came running out behind him.

“HEY! Not fair!” she said.

“Yea I know. I’m so great, aren’t I?” he said as he smiled at her.

“You cheated… And what’s that you’re holding?”

“This, dear, is compressed alcohol. The spell is delicate, and it could explode if it’s mishandled.”

“Oh… Can I see it?”

“Humm? Oh sure,” he says as he carelessly tosses it to her. “Just be careful.”

“Ooh! It’s so squishy!” she says as she squishes it in her palms. “Oh and I can make fart noises with it in my hands.”

“That’s nice dear. Oh, here it comes!”

They both turn and see the Winter Lord shambling towards them.

“That’s odd. This one doesn’t look like the one we saw out the window.”

“Maybe there’s more than one?”

“Could be. There’s plenty of raw, untamed Mana in this world. Not to mention access Mana… and now that I think of it-“

“Umm, dear? We can talk Magic later, here it comes.”

“Right! Well when you think you can, throw it at the beast there.”

When the beast was close enough, Diana threw the gummy ball as hard as she could at it. It made a little splotch noise as it hit.

“Ok… now what?”

“And now, we duck.”

Danyel snapped his finger and magically ignited the ball.

---------------------------------------------

Somewhere down the block, a poor innocent lady was surrounded by 3 hellion gangsters, each sneering and laughing at her.

“You don’t want to mess with me,” she said, trying to sound convincing. “I, uh, have super powers! And if you don’t go away now you will all pay!”

They continued to laugh at her, and pulled out their weapons, when suddenly there was a rumble from somewhere. They cautiously drew back for a moment, and realized it wasn’t her. They continued to advance on her, when suddenly a giant snowman head fell and crushed one of the Hellions, while a very large carrot impaled another one.

She stared at her hands in amazement, while the third gangster stared in horror. She pulled herself together and said to him,” Yea! I told you so! Go now Villain, before I do some more damage!”

The terrified gangster took one last look at her, and took off. Hardly believing what she was seeing, she sat on a bench next to a man in a nice suit.

“I can’t believe that just happened!” she said to no one in particular.

Well believe it. Belief is a strong thing.” Said no one in particular.

“I mean, wow! That just came out of nowhere. I bet those tights had something to do with it,” she said to someone who wasn’t there.

Quite possibly.” said someone who wasn’t there.

“You know, I’m feeling very lucky today. Maybe I’ll get that promotion today too,” she said to herself.

Lady Luck is a fickle mistress. I wouldn’t count on her all the time,” said someone who was quite possibly herself.

“You’re probably right, I shouldn’t press my luck. But on the bright side, at least I’m alive,” she said dismissively.

That’s the spirit. Heh heh, I’m sorry, I don’t get to use that line much to people alive. Oh, and here come the two deceased now. Please excuse me madam,” said dismissively.

“Ok, see ya…” she said to nobody. She suddenly realized something was very wrong about the conversation she just had.

In fact, the details of the stranger were all a blur now. She couldn’t remember if any conversation existed at all.

---------------------------------------------

Tylar, Regina, and Ami were transported to an area nearby north of Steel Canyon called Boomtown. They were able to maneuver around the area and avoid confrontation with the natives there. They approached the gates and saw the guards block their path to Steel Canyon.

“Guards,” said Tylar. “I’ll handle this one ladies.”

“You sure? You’re not exactly Mr. Diplomatic,” asked Regina.

“Of course I am! I negotiated that deal on Demetias VIII, didn’t I?”

“They chased us out of the city with torches and pitchforks 10 minutes later.”

“You can’t blame me for things Kayain does.”

“Touché. But I’m still saying we should do things my way.”

“Nonsense. We’ll be fine. Trust me.”

“Sure, I’ll be over here if you need me.”

Tylar was the first to reach the guard.

“Halt! Who goes there!” Said the guard, and to the other guard he added,” I’ve always wanted to say that.”

“Ah, the local law enforcement. We need access to the area you call Steel Canyon if you please.”

“Uh hua, and you are?”

“Ah, of course, formalities. My name is Tylar Thomas, and this lovely lady is Ami Veal, and the other lady… oh, she’s gone. Well, that’s just like her to disappear when we need her.”

“I see. And what’s in those boxes?”

“Supplies, my good man. You see we’re fighting the Rikti, and we need supplies to do so.”

“What kind of supplies?”

“Well, some of my lab equipment, and a friend’s alchemy equipment. Although I strongly disapprove of it-“

“Oh, so you have narcotics and some tech stuff.”

“Yes! NO! I mean-“

“Oh ho! So who do you really work for Mr. Toe-Mahs?”

“Well no! You don’t understand I-“

“The Council? Sky Raiders? Malta?”

No no! I’m with-“

Suddenly there was a thunk noise like a log hitting a stone, and the guard dropped down unconscious. Regina suddenly became visible behind him, and the other guard quickly drew his baton and swung at her. She easily stepped to the side, and kneed him in the stomach and threw him to the floor. She pulled a tazer off her belt and stunned him. She turned and grinned at Tylar.

“I think my way is easier.”

“Humph,” he said indignantly. “I could have handled it.”

“Sure.”

“Really, I could have!”

“Mmm mhm.”

“Stop mocking me! I could have.”

“Yes, because you’re such a smooth operator. I wonder though, if you are you should have had a girlfriend by now,” she said while looking over to Ami, making them both blush.

“I-“ he started as he raised a finger at her. “I… don’t know what you mean by that. Really I don’t. Don’t look at me like that! Let’s just… keep going.”

“If you say so.”

They continued along the way and met a couple more guards. Each one Regina knocked out while invisible.

Regina was the Vigilante’s top spy. She was also Cherry’s younger sister. She was by no means her ‘little’ sister though. She is 5’11, full figured, dark red hair, and tan skin like Cherry’s.

And like Cherry she was psionically gifted. But her power was not a mentalist like Cherry, but hers could alter energies around her. She can use the energy around her to bend light, making her invisible to people and sensors. She uses a combination of Martial arts and energy shields to deflect oncoming attacks with ease.

Her other energy powers include using the same energy she can create an instant psi-blade when the situation calls for it.

Coincidently she studied anatomy a lot with Ami, and knew exactly where to strike someone with a blade to for a quick and near painless death. She only needed a second or two to ready a place to land the blade, and that was it.

Personally, Regina tries not to fall into the assassin category unless they endanger her teammates or herself. She is very smooth, cool, and protective over people she cares about. Meaning most people ought to worry about what they say to the Vigilantes when they think she’s not there.

“I say, is it completely necessary to knock out each and every guard along the way.”

She considered this for a moment. And said simply said,” Yes.”

“Why?”

“They’re gonna stop and ask questions. Best if there are no questions asked. At least not until we reach where we need to be. Trust me, it’s their job to interfere and ask questions.”

Tylar stared at her a moment.

“What? You like my face? You think I’m pretty, don’t you? Kayain told me. When you and him were ‘rating’ how hot the ladies on the ship were, you gave me what was it… 9 out of 10? ”

Ami stopped and raised an eyebrow at Tylar.

“No I did not!”

“Oh so you think I’m not pretty?”

“No! I mean yes! I mean I didn’t- OH SHUT UP!”

“Poor Tylar, you’re so easy to fluster,” she said as she pinched his cheek. “That’s why I think you’re so cute.”

Ami frowned, and Regina looked smugly at her and said,” He was embarrassed to say you get a perfect 10, and instead gave you an 8.”

“An 8?”

Tylar, turning red again said,” Look, we need to get focused here. Can you just do me a favor and not knock out everyone who looks at us?”

“Sure thing boss. I’ll let you handle whatever comes our way shall I?”

---------------------------------------------

Cherry was under the foot of the winter lord, struggling to keep her Psi-barrier up. The barrier was the only thing preventing her from becoming a smear on the road at the moment, and the thing was relentless in trying to crush her. She struggled each time the creature pressed down harder, and she was loosing stamina very quickly. Soon she would be so exhausted she wouldn’t be able to hold it anymore.

She had always gotten herself into many situations like this one, and never considered that she would really die. She had thoughts about exactly how she’d die, and all of them were Kayain related. Yet here she was, under the foot of a monster, with no way of contacting her teammates, loosing blood and energy, and on top of all that, she had lost her ice cream. That really ticked her off.

She supposed it could be worse. Getting squished was pretty quick and easy. Probably excruciatingly painful for a short while, then it’s over.

Suddenly, the beast stopped, and picked her up inside her psi-barrier bubble. She caught her breath for a moment, and threw the finger at it. The beast growled at her and pulled his hand back to throw her, when suddenly a burst of energy came toward it and knocked her out of its hand. She landed on hard on her back, dazed for a moment. She sat up and saw a small group of heroes speeding towards her.

“Nice shot,” said one. “You kill the beast, I’ll save the damsel in distress.”

“Not a problem, come on boys!” said another to the group of heroes behind him.

A man jumped to her at a blinding speed, and landed perfectly next to her. He kneeled down to examine her, and Cherry took in his full appearance.

He was draped from head to toe in some strange dark armor. The armor wasn’t just black, it was dark. So dark it seemed to almost absorb the light from around it. It had veins like it once belonged to a living thing. Somehow it reminded her of something she’d seen once only in her worst of nightmares.

The man also had a hood covering his glowing blue eyes, and a black and dark blue cape that seemed almost clear like stained glass.

The man regarded her a moment, and smiled under his hood.

“Beautiful…” he said quietly.

“Eh? Hey mister, who do you think you are?!”

“Please excuse me, madam. My name is Talley. Are you alright?”

“Besides the gaping hole in my leg, exhaustion, and the cold, I’m just peachy!”

“Spunky…” he said again quietly.

“Look mister… Talley… All I need is a healer, or whatever kind of hero does that.”

“I’m sorry madam. There seems to be no healer nearby. I suggest though that- LOOK OUT!”

Talley pushes her out of the way of a stray ice javelin, and gets impaled in the side. Cherry gasps as he staggers a bit and pulls it out easily. The hole starts healing, and Cherry realizes he’s a regenerator like Kayain. Talley snarls at the Winter lord, and Cherry sees a pair of fangs in his teeth.

“Please get to safety madam.”

“The name’s Cherry. And I really can’t go anywhere until these guys get cleared out of my way, so I can get to Steel Canyon.”

“What’s in Steel Canyon?”

“My crew.”

“I see. Can you walk?”

“I don’t see why not.”

Cherry gets up and moves around.

“Would you like me to carry you to the train?”

“No offense, but there are a very select few who I let carry me. And well you’re a bit creepy to me.”

“Thank you. And I understand.”

Cherry goes to the heroes who are struggling with the beast. A huge tank of a man was under both of its fists and pushing it upwards as the beast tried to crush him. Tally ran over to assist the man, while Cherry focused her energy onto the beast’s mind.

It wasn’t a real mind she found out. It was a hive-mind. It collaborated with other snow monsters in a collective. Instead she focused on domination of something in specific. She focused and concentrated, and finally dominated it’s entire arm. The snow beast looked confused as its right arm pulled off it’s left arm, letting the tank man escape. The heroes continued their assault, as she made the beast start punching itself.

Cherry kept good control on the arm, and saved her energy to start dominating the other arm, when suddenly, an ice javelin tore through her chest. She was taken by surprise, and staggered a bit. She turned around and saw a Winter Lord in an alley, trying to squeeze though and throwing shards at heroes.

The javelin had quite possibly pierced her heart this time.

This time, she might not recover

This time, she might not get up.

This time, she may actually die.

---------------------------------------------

They say that Death is everywhere. Death himself knows this is not true, because 1) There is only one death per galaxy and 2) Time is a worldly thing. Time does not apply to Death, and this gives the impression that he is everywhere.

Death has inside his laptop everyone’s countdown timer till D-day. But sometimes, even Death makes mistakes with someone’s time. And sometimes, he visits certain people when they should have an appointment, but it gets changed by the powers that be.

In Cherry’s case Death had come out prepared and been disappointed several times. To her enemies it was irritating how hard it was to drop the little woman. But Death had taken a keen interest in her.

Even at birth, she was supposed to die. But her mother nursed her back to health. This wasn’t part of the plan at first. But Death did not to look at his e-mail (somehow someone had gotten his address and he was getting too much spam), and didn’t get the message. So he was stuck with a lifetimer that was expired with only 9 months on it.

The e-mail told him the child was being reconsidered, and to wait on a new lifetimer. He waited a long time for his lifetimer, and within the time span he was amazed at how many near death experiences she had. So many times she had escaped him, and it intrigued him how this girl went on without a lifetimer.

When he received the e-mail with the new lifetimer, he chose not to look at it. The girl had a remarkable ability to stay alive, and he wanted her death to be a surprise, even to him.

So he packed his laptop, and set off to go meet her again. What he’d really like to shake her hand in person.

When he arrived at the scene, he saw her breathing slowly with a hole in her chest.

Kayain… please… help…

He heard her call out psionically. Death wondered if he’d be disappointed again. Best not to get his hopes up he thought. So instead he sat on a bus stop seat, and waited to see if Kayain showed up and saved the day.

And besides, he had infinite patience, and all the time he could eat.

---------------------------------------------

Kayain and the rest of the team were merrily chipping away at the ferocious Winter Lord. At the same time, Kayain engaged them all in an ol’ timey Matronian miner song. It went somewhere along the lines of:

Oh ah wish ah was in Wertonland,

Land of Balga-do (Balga-do, a Matronian word for some kind of animal who’s meat is used in fine cuisine),

If you want some alcohol, you’ll get it inna can,

Slick Jimmy’s is the best,

And if you’ve got one, get it rubbed

Cause ‘Sally’s’ beasts the rest!

HEY!

OOOOOOHHH!!!

AHHHH, Wish Ah was in Wertonland

To make a real quick buck,

You go into the Loveless room,

And have yourself a f-

“Hey! I’m back!” Said Kat.

“Oh dude, you missed out,” Said Kayain. “We must have killed like 10 of them while you went to get yourself a bathroom break.

“I don’t think it was 10… I mean I can still count how many we killed on my fingers,” said Lu Bu.

“Well whatever. The point is, we killed a lot-“

“This is Tylar, someone copy, over,” said Tylar from their communicator.

“This is Tylar, someone copy, over,” said Kayain they other guys laughed.

“Oh ha ha, very funny. If Cherry can hear you, you’ll be in serious trouble.”

“Funny you should mention her. I haven’t heard a thing from her in a long while. Don’t know where she went.”

“In any case, we’re already here and we’ll be heading to that apartment you are staying at. If you could meet up with us, that would be very helpful seeing as to how we don’t know our way around the city.”

“Well we’re still learning too… and hey, haven’t you met up with those snowmen?”

“Snowmen? What snowmen? I don’t see what you’re- Oh dear God… THOSE snowmen! Oh no! It sees me. I’ll get back to you…”

“Tylar, you listen to me! If you don’t kill that thing, you will shame our family!”

“What kind of advice is that?!”

“Not advice, just stating a fact.”

“ARSEHOLE!”

“Heh, heh. I love it when he says that,” said Kayain away from his communicator. “Yea so we’d better find him on our locator-“

Kayain stopped and frowned. Lu Bu didn’t like when he frowned like that, because he knew something was seriously wrong. And if Kayain was serious, it was Serious with a capital S.

“What is it Kayain?”

“It’s… I think…” he said as he was concentrating on something. His eyes went wide as he said,” Oh NO! Cherry’s in trouble! You guys! Try and keep up!”

Kayain took off as fast as he could in his Jump suit. The others tried as hard as they could, but Kayain shot off much faster than any of them could. Soon enough, he disappeared around a corner, and they couldn’t find him anymore.

“Ah! We lost em,” said Biggs. “An we don’ have a map of this place… AH HELL! It’s Kayain we’re talkin’ about! He can take care of it, right lads?”

They all nodded and mumbled their agreement.

“So… what do we do now?” asked Lu Bu.

“Best to stay outta trouble, I say. Come on lads, let’s go get some beer!”

---------------------------------------------

Being a normal person in a city full of super powered people can sometimes be frustrating. You’ve got super villain jerks who want to blow up the world and rule the remains. And you’ve got some who just want everyone to suffer, for reasons of their own. And then you have heroes…

Wilbur worked at the Paragon City tram station. Sometimes he would get to pilot the Yellow Line, sometimes the Green line. Here, he’s seen Paragon’s finest, and the regular street walking scumbags.

For Wilbur, heroes could be just as bad as villains. Sometimes he’d see some mobster looking people along the docks just chatting away, when suddenly some hero would come in and blow them away in 1 blast. It was a bit scary to him how one person could have that kind of power. He also saw a hero rescuing a cat from a tree for an old lady. The hero tore the tree out and shook the cat. Unfortunately for the cat, the hero had super strength and launched it into orbit. And sometimes the aftermath of hero fights leave buildings looking like a tornado has come through (which in some hero’s cases is pretty literal about the tornado).

But there was one thing heroes almost never messed with, and that was the trams. That was why he liked his job. The only hero contact he ever had was telling them to quiet down in the back of the train. And the only powers he had to deal with was some high pitched winy blaster who missed his stop.

Life was good for Mr. Smiley. That is, until he looked further down the tunnel towards Steel Canyon and saw a man bounding around the tracks.

Wilbur honked the train horn, and the man kept leaping towards him. He flashed his lights, and the man continued towards him…

Wilbur didn’t know what to do. This man seemed extremely determined. He could slam on the emergency brake, but he doubted it would stop in time. He had no choice though. He reached for the brake and pulled the lever as hard as he could. But the man kept coming just as fast.

The man slammed as hard as he could into the windshield, and tore inside the train and knocked him over. The man rolled and came over to the man and said,” Are you ok?”

“Yea,” he said as he checked himself. “I’m fine ya bastard! What the hell are you doing?!”

“Your trains only go one way. I need to get there fast.”

“What? Where?”

“Galaxy City.”

“Galaxy City?! What’s so important that you had to go and-“

“Look, I need to get there. Right now. How do I get there?”

The man looked wild. His hair was long, blonde and spikey. His hair and his outfit were full of spikes. This was definitely not a man he’d want to meet in a dark corner.

“All right, all right, it’s your funeral if you keep hitting trains on the way. Follow the tracks and-“

“Yo! What’s going on here?!” said a hero who came in from the back.

“Nothing, nothing. This guy here ran into the train. He seems to be alright though.”

“Whoa! Really? No kidding? You ran at the train and flew into it?”

“Yea, but I’m in a hurry-“

“Dude! That’s hardcore!”

Kayain smiled a bit and said,” Yea it was, but I’ll brag about it later. I’ve got to get to Galaxy city as quick as I can!”

“Galaxy city! Hey I was just over there. I can show you how to get there… on one condition though…”

“What?”

“We go along the tracks, and you plow through the train again!”

“Done. Let’s go!”

“Sweet!”

“Hey! You guys can’t just- Oh damn they are…” said Wilbur

The two of them exited the train by the broken windshield, and continued along the tracks.

“Proto-Man’s the name pal, what’s yours?” he said as they both were speeding along the tracks.

“Kayain… Sorry for the rude intro but someone I care about is in serious trouble now.”

“’S Cool… I understand how that goes.”

---------------------------------------------

The ice javelin melted away quickly as she had fallen over. Her breathing was shallow and rapid as she tried to stabilize herself.

No healers, no team, no nothing, She thought. It’s just incredibly vexing to know I’ve been defeated by a giant snowman. Well they say death is everywhere, and he comes when you least expect it.

That’s not true. Not according to my daily planner at least

You be quiet, I’m in a monologue.

Sorry.

And it looks like there are a few people concerned… what are they saying?

“Oh my God, is she dead?”

“No, doesn’t look like it. She’s breathing.”

“OY! Mi Amore! NOOO! Dis ees all my fault!”

“That looks awful… How is that woman still alive?”

“I don’t know... it should have gone through her heart!”

These guys… They all see me breathing. I’m alive damnit! Why don’t you fools do something? At least cover the wound, I’m loosing a lot of blood!

They really think you’re dieing, or already dead. And, I might add, by all rights you should have been dead a long time ago.

I thought I told you to be quiet.

Sorry.

Death was very patient about these things. Unlike some other deaths, he didn’t mind when people eluded him. Everyone meets him in the end anyway. He can be avoided from time to time, but no one can deny him… ever.

Cherry watched as the heroes continued to stare at her. Eventually there would be some kind of action. She believed it would probably be a body bag, since these heroes were about as good at first aid as an elephant was good at limbo.

Suddenly they all looked up and she heard them say there was another Winter Lord, and took off towards it. Cherry looked around and saw in the corner of her eye, the same Winter Lord in the alley finally squeeze its way out, and shambled towards her.

When it was directly over her, it roared at her, and began to lift its leg to squish her.

Well, she thought. This is it... No energy, Lost too much blood, and not even a last ice cream… At least it’ll be quick. Nothing to add mister strange voice?

I’m watching… something.

Death, genuinely interested, was not watching Cherry, but was watching the speeding figure coming at her. He slowed down time to get a better look at Kayain rushing down the street.

Kayain, filled with desperation, zoomed across the air with ease, landed, and jumped again a couple feet off from Cherry and the entire scene.

Time itself seemed to slow as Kayain leapt straight at Cherry. The foot of the beast, descending on her, as Kayain flew in slow motion.

Closer the foot came Cherry closed her eyes.

There was a rush of wind, and a feeling like she’d been lifted off the ground. She opened her eyes, and saw the big, muscular chest of Kayain. He held her as tight as he could when they were flying through the air. She smiled to herself and would have sighed a sigh of relief if she could muster the energy to.

Kayain landed hard on his shoulder, and cradled Cherry as he tumbled. He rolled over and flipped up with her still cradled tightly. He immediately jumped across window stills until he reached a rooftop.

Here, he laid her gently on her back and examined her.

“Dear God… this looks awful. Oh no, no, no… Cherry please don’t die… I can’t- No, I won’t let you go! I’ve got to have something…”

Kayain searched his mini packs on his utility belt. He pulled out some spare Kayain tee shirts, and used them as a kind of gauze.

“Oh shit! It got you in the heart! Ga-damnit all!”

Kayain continued his search, and emptied his pockets and packs until he found what he was looking for.

“Ah ha! A stimpack… You’ll be ok now… Please be ok… I don’t know what I’d do if you-“

After he injected the serum he held her closely and waited.

Eventually the stimpack started working, and Cherry went completely numb. She looked around a bit and said,” Kayain?”

“Cherry? Oh thank God you’re still alive… I was so worried.”

“Kayain?” she repeated.

“Oh… hua?”

“Can you move my head from near your armpit… you’re pretty smelly.”

“Oh! Right.”

“Kayain…” she said with an impish smile.

“Yea?”

“Thanks for the save, but you didn’t have to get all worked up there.”

“Hua? Well you just… scared me, that’s all.”

“Kayain you know it would have taken me a good couple of hours to die.”

“But you were hit in the heart! I-“ he began, but then remembered something.

Matronians, even half Matronians, have a different anatomy than most Humans and Q’Hagians in the fact that Matronians have 2 hearts. Unlike most species, their hearts actually do regenerate after about 3 years. Many of their kind become universal Heart donors to the other humanoid races in the known galaxy. Cherry had a heart on the left and right side, meaning it would take 2 shots to the heart to do her in.

“I forgot. It’s been a while since, well you know… You’ve been hit in the heart.”

“Well I don’t mind you being protective and all. To be honest it’s cute when you get all worked up over little ol’ me.”

Kayain feeling a bit embarrassed now scratches his head and says,” Ah-ha… Well, you may think that, but I wasn’t really worried… I mean I knew it all along.”

“Sure Kayain.”

“Really. I mean it. I wasn’t worried.”

“That’s right Kayain. You were just pretending to be on the brink of tears.”

“Yea… And I wasn’t going to cry, that’s for sure!”

“If you say so.”

“Damn right I do! As a matter of fact, I was actually testing you! I was, um, seeing how you’d react. Cause I was one hundred percent sure you would be ok. And, um, I was testing to see if you could, um, remain… calm! Yea, remain calm in a crisis situation.”

Cherry smiled and said,” Really? Gosh, that was a good test. You almost had me convinced.”

“Yer Ga-damn right about that! But seriously, I never panic. I’m as smooth as your cute little behind.”

She chuckled a bit and said,” So?”

“So…What?”

“So, did I pass the test?”

“Oh yea baby, you know it. And just for the record, we’ll keep this between us… don’t want to embarrass you or anything…”

“Oh yes, most defiantly don’t want to embarrass me. Oh and Kayain?”

“Yea?”

“You can put me down now.”

“But, you look all cute curled up, like a cute little puppy.”

“Kayain. Down. NOW!”

“Anything you say babe.”

He put her down gently on the roof and grinned a half embarrassed, half satisfied grin. She looked at him and returned the smile.

Ever since they were little, Kayain has always been protective of Cherry. It was the part of Kayain she liked the most. While on the outside he seems like a pervert, obnoxious, arrogant, dummy; inside, Cherry knew he was really a big softie. Back in elementary, Cherry was still very little for her age, and there was a mean group of 4th grade boys who would torment her and other little children. Kayain was in 2nd grade at the time with her, and tried to stand up for her one day, and received a beating for it. After that day, he knew what he had to do. He went to Cherry’s father for martial arts training the next day. To Rolando’s surprise, Kayain was the best student he’d ever had.

Kayain trained and exercised relentlessly for weeks during their Christi-Amna (the equivalent of Christmas in Matronian religion) vacation. And when school was back in session, he had found the boys again during recess. He waited and watched them as they tried to pick on a little boy named Aramos Dunkin, a big time pointdexter who has a very wealthy father. Kayain called them out and told them to leave the boy alone. They turned to him now to give him a beating. Kayain in turn had brought his mother’s chili powder and gave them a face full of spice.

Kayain was sent to the principal’s office after that. He had not only blinded them, but proceeded to beat the tar out of all 4 of them. But he knew it was worth it, and didn’t care about them reprimanding him. Aramos was so grateful that he promised to buy him lunch sometime. Kayain befriended Aramos after that, and many other people like him. He had gained a reputation that day, and realized this worked to his advantage. Instead of picking on someone to get what he wanted, he could have everything he wanted by making lots of friends.

. Later after school, he, Cherry, and Danyel walked home since they lived close by each other. The 4 boys caught up with them on their bicycles, and took off after them.

Danyel was a year older, and in the 3rd grade at the time. But he had also studied Martial Arts. He was not as good as Kayain, but he knew a thing or two at the time.

Kayain told Cherry he’d protect her, and she needed to get away. Cherry ran to a nearby doorstep and watched the whole scene.

The boys were speeding downhill towards the two of them. Kayain whispered something to Danyel and they both removed their backpacks. They waited until 2 of them were close enough, sidestepped, and hit them clean off their bikes. The other 2 went past, stopped, and went after them on foot. Kayain was definitely ready for this, so he and Danyel did some basic takedowns to the boys, and once again, they received another thrashing.

As the days went by Kayain always picked a fight with anyone who would bully the geeks. He made many friends since then, and never paid for lunch again since there were so many volunteers. He also never did his homework, because he had all the hook-ups for the nerds. He could arrange things from dates with cheerleaders, to special prices on computer parts from other nerds he knew. There was no middle ground with Kayain. You either love him or hate him.

His closest friends were always Danyel and Cherry. He always protected them like family, especially Cherry. Most people would get frustrated at Kayain after a while. But Cherry knew the real Kayain, and to her, he was always a hero.

“So darlin’ think you’ll make it to the train in one piece?”

“I think I can manage it. I don’t know what they put in these stim-packs, but they could keep a decapitated man alive for a good 2 hours…”

No one knew for sure if this was true. No decapitated man could ever say how long they lived as a disembodied head. But should dead men ever tell tales, they’d say,’ That chemical is some strong stuff! I mean it was all in my brain keeping me alive for near an hour and a half! I was getting bored just sitting there waiting for the damn stuff to wear off!’

“Oh yea! Kayain, I think I know how we can take these things out pretty fast.”

“What… Have Tylar give them a lecture about quantum physics?”

“No, that would be my next choice though. No I mean since they are made of ice, we should use salt.”

“Salt? You think that would work?”

“There’s nothing special about these things. I mean they can melt like ice normally does. Sure, giant walking ice blocks don’t make any sense at all, but hey, something has to make sense at some point.”

“Yea, I think you’re right. Hey, the train is over there, I’ll take you there.”

“Alright… What? Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Can I carry you again? I really want to get into this super hero role.”

Cherry sighed and gave in. She knew he really did want to get into this superhero role.

“Yes Kayain, you can carry me.”

“Friggin sweet! Ahem… Madam! You must be more careful next time! I don’t want to have to give you a super spanking when we get home!”

“That doesn’t sound very hero-like to me.”

---------------------------------------------

 “Bloody hell! There’s another!” said Tyler as he rode his little hover moped.

Tylar can compact anything into a small cube. He had even stored his Marley Devinson bike in there.

Marley Devinson is a famous physicist from the Jestinian Empire. It was his pimp-mobile, and the three of them could fit just fine. But for reputation’s sake Regina stayed invisible.

“Turn here! We can loose it over there!” said Ami.

They rounded a corner only to see two more down the road.

“Oh DAMN! Where the hell are these things coming from?!”

Tylar turned into an alleyway to hide for a moment. He went on his communicator and said,” Guys! What the hell is going on here?”

“I dun know lad,” said Biggs. “But- oh hol’ on a sec… Aye! The Bud’s mine! Righ’ here! Anyway, these ruddy things came outta nowhere, an started attackin’ the city. It’s horrible- What?! Course’ I’m old enough to be in here!- An we’re doin all we can fer the city.”

Tylar was a bit skeptical about that.

“Where are you?”

“Ah… you see, we are… oh look another one! Gotta go beat em up!”

There was a moment of silence and he said,” Heh, sucker. Now gimme another beer!”

“Biggs… you’re still transmitting.”

“Am I? Oh well, when I say beer, I men’ tha’… You’re going ter hell son,” and he cut his transmission.

“Arg… Cherry are you there?”

“She’s with me,” said Kayain. “She got messed up in a fight with those things. I saved her! And now she’s forcing me to carry her cause you know how hopeless she is without me.”

“Kayain, give me that!” said Cherry next to him. “Tylar? You’re finally here?”

“Yes, and I say, we’re in quite a predicament. We have them on all sides, and they’re crawling about the entire city!”

“Tylar, have you tried salt?”

“Salt? What would salt do- Oh! Yes, of course! I believe I have a thawing agent in my holding cube here! I could rig it up with my weapon and deal some damage!”

“Cherry?” said Regina.

“Yea Gina?”

“You got hurt?”

“Yea… did you bring the regenerator?”

“Sure. What happened?”

“An ice javelin impaled me in the heart.”

“Oh… And I thought it was something serious.”

“Kayain did. He was in tears-“

“NO I WASN’T! You said you wouldn’t-“

“Kayain in tears?” They heard Danyel say. “That’s not unusual. Diana told me he cried when Bambi’s mom died.”

“NO! I was not crying! I was… weeping! Yea! There’s a HUGE difference!”

“Bambi?” Said Cherry. “Say, didn’t we see that recently on a Terran Disney network?”

“Yea!” said Danyel as they heard Diana laughing in the background.

“Ok, ok, enough making fun of Kayain for crying-“

“WEEPING!”

“About Bambi. Seriously, use the defroster, and tell me how it works. Danyel, where are you?”

“By the hotel. Me and Di have been cleaning out the monsters in the area.”

“I need everyone to regroup by the hotel. We need to hurry and get these monsters off the streets. Does everyone hear that? That means you too Biggs. Get yer ass outta that bar and get back to the hotel!”

“Aye Cap’n!”

“And Tylar, just find your way somehow. I’m not familiar with the city, so I can’t help you with directions. I’m sure you’ll find a hero somewhere who will help you.”

“I’ll keep an eye out for one- Oh! Here comes another! Tylar out!”

Tylar looked out the alleyway and saw a Winter Lord with a hero in its hands.

“Tylar! We have to save him!” said Ami.

“I’m on it,” he said as he revved up his nerd mobile.

The hero was slammed down on the ground and pounded by it’s huge fist. The man lay in the crater, bleeding slightly and looking very hurt. The Winter Lord blew into it’s hands and formed an ice block. It continued until the ice block was wider than itself. The hero opened his eyes to see the monster raising the gigantic block above it’s head, ready to smash him.

The hero looked momentarily stunned and unable to move. Tylar ran as fast as he could with the defroster in loaded in his weapon.

But right before the stone came down, one of the large arms was cut completely off, making the block fall on it’s own head, crushing it. The monster wobbled back and forward, and then came forward about to crush the hero in the crater.

While he was scrambling to get to his feet, someone or something lifted him up, and jumped out of the crater just in time. He turned around to see his rescuer appear, and to find his hand clinging on her breast.

“Oh! I’m- uh heh… sorry. Thank you for saving me.”

“You, sir, shouldn’t be picking fights with those things by yourself.”

“Yes I know but I-“ The hero finally looked at her face to face.

Something about Regina’s exotic look could definitely turn on a man’s libido. For this bruised up hero, it went into overdrive.

“I… I… I’m Daniel… I mean… My name it’s… Ah… LORDDANIEL!”

Regina smiled. It always amused her how some guys can be so shy. She thought it was cute, especially when they stutter.

“Well you’re very welcome LORDDANIEL! Are you the same LORDDANIEL we heard about on our transmission?”

“Yes’m. I hope so,” he said.

“Good, then it looks like we’ll be working together. Come on, we need to regroup back at the hotel.”

As Regina walked back to Tylar, Lord Daniel clasped his hands together and said,” THANK YOU GOD!” as loud as he could in his mind.

“Nice save!” said Tylar. “I say, who is that man?”

“This,” she said as she motioned to Lord Daniel. “Is our Landlord, so to speak. He is Lord Daniel, the mighty.”

“Well actually I’m not called the mighty,” he said as he looked at her smiling face again. “But… You can call me what you like!”

“Oh, good, we have someone who can guide us. Well climb aboard you guys,” he said as he pressed a button, making a side bucket pop out. “You two can fit here in the bucket seats.

“Do we have to sit in that?” said Regina.

“Why? Nothing’s wrong with it!”

“It’s not… well, you know… It’s embarrassing!”

“I can understand you not wanting to sit so close to a stranger, but come now Regina, be sensible!”

“No it’s not that. I don’t mind being next to a handsome young stranger-,” Lord Daniel nearly creamed his pants. “But it’s just, you have bad taste in style!”

“How so?”

“Could we loose the Beaker and Atom decals?”

“What?! Those are stylish in the science community!”

“And how about the ‘I heartshape physics’ helmets?”

“Safety first!”

“Ok… how about we loose those two bumper stickers? The “Born to Write Equations” one, and the “Heck’s Astrologists” one.”

“Of course not! It’s got a certain… Attitude. Which is what the science community needs! Besides, if people saw my decals and didn’t see anything else they’d think I was some sort of dweeb or something!”

“Yea, that would be a tragedy.”

“That it would be,” he said, missing the sarcasm.

Regina sighed and reluctantly got in the side bucket. She turned invisible just in case they got into a wreck and died. They wouldn’t want to associate her dead body with the thing.

Lord Daniel sat awkwardly close to her, and it was more awkward now that he couldn’t see her. It felt like when he was crammed in the tram before. Whenever he would bump knees or elbows, he would retract as fast as he could, feeling embarrassed. To break the awkwardness he tried miserably at conversation.

“So…” he said.

“So?” she said.

“So… how long have you been invisible?”

Doh, he thought. That was smooth.

To his surprise she smiled instead.

“About 2 minutes I’d say. And how long have you lived here in this monster ridden town?”

“Oh about 12 years… But the monsters came outta nowhere! We can’t explain it.”

“I see. Are things always this interesting here?”

“For the most part yes. Super powered humans and offworlders alike. You have some who fight crime and some who make it.”

“Sounds like a busy day job. You get paid for this?”

“No, I’m afraid not. My personal money comes from business. I do real estate, banking, and jewelry work.”

“That kind of work sounds dull compared to this.”

Daniel, managed to smile at her and say,” Oh those are hobbies that got me wealthy, this is my real passion. Saving the city day by day, yup that’s what I’m all about!”

He could tell even with her being invisible that she was looking at him. He looked forward again.

“Sounds a little like how we do things,” she said. “The Vigilante way…”

“The Vigilante way?”

“Humm?”

“You said The Vigilante way, and cut yourself off.”

“Oh I was just thinking about old times… My parents used to carry the Vigilante title. They did it just to sabotage the galaxy’s biggest tyrant, Rydan Rivek. Instead they accomplished so much against him and saving the universe from a disaster Rydan was about to create. In the end they were the ones who defeated him. They figured they didn’t need the group anymore, so they stopped to raise us. Now, we carry the title, and we run things differently. But the Vigilante way has always stayed the same.”

“Oh.”

“Excuse me you two, but here is where I need your navigation skills Lord Daniel,” said Tylar.

“Of course,” said Lord Daniel.

Regina sighed again and started peeling off a sticker.

---------------------------------------------

When Kayain had arrived with Cherry, Danyel had teleported them both into the hotel room. They laid her down on a bed as Kayain dressed her wounds. Danyel looked to Kayain and asked,” Why didn’t you take her to a hospital?”

“Oh geeze man! Are you crazy? We want her to live don’t we?”

“Good point. Let’s see what we can do.”

“Please hurry, the stim-pack may be wearing off any minute now,” said Cherry.

Danyel thought for a moment. He was in so many wizarding classes that he never had time to learn the proper healing magic.

“Humm… now you know I’m not good at the healing spells. I do know healing potions. Unfortunately we’re gonna have to wait for Tylar on that.”

“What can you do for me right now?”

Danyel thought again, and then had an idea.

“Oh I remember now! There was a spell in the Book of Storms, chapter 11 paragraph vii section 3.40-“

“Get on with it!”

“Right. Anyway it’s called Oxygen boost. It manipulates pure oxygen to have a healing property and revitalizes you at the same time. Quite useful. Then again, the Book of Storms was written back in the days of-“

“DANYEL!”

“Sorry! I remember how to do it, but I’m not sure I’d be good at it.”

“Have you done it before?”

“Well… not really.”

“Then how do you know it works?”

“I don’t! I’m just suggesting it because it’s all I know!”

“Are there any side effects?”

“Oh I don’t know… maybe a few.”

“I won’t suddenly burst into flames, explode, or get maimed in any way will I?”

“Heavens no! The worst that would happen would be a week of insomnia, or light headedness for a while. Although I hear that if it’s not done properly it will just combine with the nitrogen in the air. But hey, we breathe in nitrogen all the time anyway, shouldn’t do any harm.”

“I hope so…”

“Anyway lemme give it a try.”

Kayain, rare as it may seem, had a thought.

“Hey Dan… Doesn’t Ami use pure Oxygen and Nitrogen for something?”

“How should I know? I have potions to keep me healthy… Not that I don’t like the woman, but all her knives and needles scare me.”

“It’s just… I know I did see some kind of canister she used on Tylar when she was fixing his teeth because I accidentally cracked them with some gadget he told me not to play with… Heh, that was so funny.”

“Well I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know why people use pure oxygen. Besides, it can’t be bad if Ami uses it now can it?”

“I guess not… She called the gas Nitris… Nitris… ah, I forget. But he was acting kind of funny-“

“Here we go!”

---------------------------------------------

 “Oh! They’re all over that building!” said Ami

“Yes, but they’ll be no match for this!” said Tylar as he held his de-thawing gun.

“Go give it a shot Tylar. We need to see if it works,” said Regina.

Tylar pulled up close to one, and took aim and fired the gun. The agent came out as a thick greenish fog, and covered the beast. The beast roared and clawed at the air as it started crumbling apart like stale bread. Soon it faded into a pool of water with two coals and a carrot in the middle.

“By Jove, it works magnificently! Cherry! Come in!”

No answer.

“Cherry? Come in!”

Still no answer.

“Kayain? Danyel? Diana? ANYONE?”

“Righ’ Behind ya!” said Biggs.

“Oh! You startled me… Where have you been?”

“Oh, you know… here an there…”

“Well listen to me you little troublemaker! You go spread the word that Salt works in destroying the beasts easily.”

“Salt? Really? Wow, ah didn’ know it would be tha’ easy.”

“Well it does, and that pile of water you’re standing in is the result of mixed salt.”

“Tha’s neat. Ya got any more of them thawing cartages fer me gun?”

“Yes, I have a few… Here, take two and be off. I need to figure out why Cherry’s not responding.”

“Ah thanks much lad! May yer time in hell be spent in purgatory.”

It was as close of a thanks as you’d get with Biggs.

---------------------------------------------

 “AH HA HA HA! Laughing gas! Ah ha! I can’t- ah ha- believe I just now- HA HA HA HA HA- remembered that!” said Kayain.

“HA HA HA HA HA! DANYEL YOU IDIOT! HA HA HA! You turned this- ha ha ha- whole – HA HA- place into a room full of –ha ha ha- Laughing gas!”

“HA HA! I know! It’s-HA HA- really funny when you think about-HA HA- it!

“IT IS NOT FUNNY! HA HA HA! And yes!  I –HA HA- realize the irony!”

“Kayain, go- HA HA- go open a window. HA HA HA!”

Kayain who was on all fours laughing, mustered up the strength to get up, hop over Danyel who was rolling on the floor.

He managed to slow down his laughing to giggles now, and pulled up the shades. Right outside the window was the face of a Winter Lord staring right back at Kayain. Kayain stared for a moment, pointed at it and laughed hysterically.

“BAAAAHA HA HA HA HA! Oh boy we’re in for it now! HA HA HA!”

“Yea, we’re doomed! HE HE HE,” said Diana.

“Hey, hey guys! Watch this -HA HA,” said Kayain as he opened the window and plucked the nose off the thing. “Boo howdy! He’s really angry now! HA HA HA HA!”

The beast’s expression changed from anger to surprise suddenly. The beast began to shatter like glass and melt away. Kayain looked from out the window to the carrot in his hand.

“Whoa! HA HA, look what I did!”

Now that the window was open Danyel managed a wind spell that cycled the air from inside to outside. It took a bit, but they managed to calm down. Which was about when Tylar came into the suite.

“Cherry?” He asked. “Are you- Oh my, that’s a lot of alcohol, that must been Kayain. - Are you here?”

“Over here!” said Cherry.

Tylar came into the room and regarded everyone on the floor, and Cherry on the bed.

“Something I missed?”

“You could say that.”

Danyel came up to her and said,” Eh, sorry sis. Magic’s kind of like that. Sometimes you get results you aren’t exactly expecting and- OW! Ok, I deserved that. But with the complicated webs of mana involved in even the simplest of spells– OW! Ok I’ll shut up now.”

“Cherry, your idea worked perfectly. They melted away almost instantly in my defroster,” said Tylar

“Wow, that’s cool dude,” said Kayain. “Because I found out another thing… if you pull of their nose they melt!”

“Err, actually that was me. I saw it climbing to building.”

“Grr! Why do you always have to crush my dreams?”

“Because you’re a buffoon.”

“Well you’re a-“

“Kayain,” said Cherry.

“Sorry babe.”

“So it works?”

“Oh yes. Very well. I’m glad you thought of it.”

“In any case, you guys need to go out there and solve this problem. Tylar, you and Ami get that regenerator online before the stim-pack wears off and I bleed out.”

“Alright. Then one of you take my weapon and go spray those brutes. Kayain? You want this?”

“Na, I don’t like your guns. That one has that ugly logo on it… It says,’ Mathlete’s of Death.’ Not really my style.”

Diana raised her hand.

“Danyel?”

“No way. You have your gizmos, I have my Magic.”

Diana raised both her hands.

“Regina?”

“Haven’t you put me through enough with your hovercycle?”

Diana jumped up and down saying,” Me! Me!”

“Lord Danyel?”

“I would, but I’m feeling the same about your car.”

Diana waved her hands frantically saying,” ME! ME! PICK ME!”

Tylar cringed at the thought of Diana handling one of his inventions. Very reluctantly he said,” Dian-”

“YES! I’ll do it!”

“Fine… But let me instruct you on it. See this? That’s the trigger. Just pull it… You see the gage here? Stay with me now… The gage here means how much ammo you have left… When it goes BEEP, that means you’re running low on ammo… when it goes PING, you are out.”

Diana, trying hard to focus now was nodding absentmindedly. She said,” Ok… BEEP low, PING no… I think I gotcha.”

“To reload the thing, you insert- Kayain what’s so funny about the word insert? Honestly, I don’t get you sometimes. You insert this long shaft into the back hole- Ok what was funny this time Kayain?”

“Gotcha! And don’t worry, I’ll have it back to you in one piece!”

With great difficulty he handed the weapon over to her.

“Please! PLEASE! Be careful with it! It has sentimental value.”

“You can count on me little bro!”

They all rushed back out the door.

Cherry looked at Tylar who still looked worried.

“What? You told her enough so she won’t blow the thing apart. Seemed pretty simple to me. And you personally made it idiot proof.”

“That’s just the thing though… She’s proven me wrong before.”

---------------------------------------------

 “Where are we heading to?” said Diana.

“Some place called Perez Park,” said Kayain.

“What’s over there?” said Danyel.

“They were nearly overrun when I passed by them, we’ll need to help clear that area out.”

“Oh, that’s a good idea. I get to blast away with this baby!” said Diana. “I didn’t know why Tylar didn’t want me to have it.”

“Maybe because everything he’s given you before has exploded. Sometimes it explodes after you give it back.”

“That was only, what, 24 times? But who’s counting?”

“Here it is guys, Perez Park entrance. What’s with the guards?”

“Oh don’t worry about them,” said Regina. “I’ll handle it.”

---------------------------------------------

 “Look I didn’t ask you to follow me,” said Super Heroine Ms. World. “And yes I know all about you, you perv. So you got yourself into this mess!”

Ms. World, and several heroes had become trapped in Perez Park due to the heavy Winter Lord activity. Currently her ire was focused not on the Winter Lords, but on the one and only Proto-Man, who had followed her like a stray dog.

“Yea, but maybe if you’d have let me navigate, you wouldn’t be in this mess!”

“Listen you little creep! I’m am THIS close to tossing you right into that mess of snowmen over there!”

“Ah… does this mean there’s no chance I get your phone number?”

“What I think this means pal,” said a hero named VeRt MaN. “ Is that there may not be a chance for anything unless we don’t get it together right now!”

“Yea. Right. Sure… Say how about after we beat these things, you and I-“

“NO!”

“Clueless,” said VeRt.

“We’re going to have to fight them sooner or later,” said Talley.

“Yes, but we’re still going to need more help,” said another hero named Mystic Wizard.

“Look!” said Proto-Man. “Up in the sky! It’s a bird!”

“So?”

“I’m just sayin’…”

“That’s dumb, besides it’s a plane.”

“No wait over there! It’s… It’s…”

“It looks like, well who is that?”

“She’s HOT!”

They looked over to see Diana posing dramatically on the Perez Park wall with Kayain and Danyel posing next to her. Lord Danyel comes over the wall next to Kayain, and tries to strike a pose..

“Oh man! That chic is soooo hot,” says Proto-Man.

“Hey! You were going crazy about me a minute ago and now you’re all nuts about her?” says Ms. World.

“Eh? Who are you again? Have we met?”

“WHAT?! WHY YOU-“

“Never fear my fellow heroes! I have the solution to all the Winter Lord problems right here!” says Diana. “Now let’s see here…”

Diana inspects the weapon to see if she can make it spray in a wider arc. She sees knobs and buttons, all tempting to press, but the thing that catches her eye is the power knob. There were 3 settings, Stun, Kill, and Annihilate. She notices the switch is on stun only. She figures it would be better to blow the things to kingdom come. She happily turns the dial to Annihilate, and takes aim.

“Prepare yourselves! For I will bring swift death to all Winter Lords!”

She laughs as she pulls the trigger.

The vapor comes out so hard, it stays in place as Diana goes shooting off in the opposite direction like a rocket, leaving a trail of defroster behind. Still she hasn’t let go of the trigger as she flies off as crazy as a balloon letting out air.

Kayain, looking embarrassed that he is related to her calls out to the heroes,” Hey Proto! Over here!”

“Kayain! Hey! Could use a hand over here!”

“Yea, no prob, come on guys!”

“I hope she’ll be ok.” Said Danyel as he rubbed his temple.

“Say, who was that hottie?” said Proto-Man.

“My sister-“

“My wife-“

“Oh…” said Proto-Man looking a little disappointed because all he heard was ‘Wife’. “Lucky man you are.”

“Say, didn’t I see you guys earlier in Galaxy?” said Kayain.

“Yes. We were on patrol, trying to take down as many of these things as possible… And that guy just showed up and kind of integrated with us,” she said as she gestured to Proto-Man.

“Hey! You’re kind of cute, what was your name again?” said Proto-Man to Ms. World.

“YOU-“

“Ok, ok,” said Danyel. “We’re all just going to have to get along for the time being until Diana flies back to us.”

“Why, what does she have?” said Mystic Wizard.

“It’s a defrosting agent made by her brother. He’s some kind of Genie-ass, so you can trust him. It uses salt, and that melts these guys faster than using fire.”

“Salt? That really works against these guys?” said Talley.

“Oh yes, Indeed!” says Kayain.

“Makes sense,” said Ms. World. “I mean giant walking snowmen don’t make sense, but something has to right?”

Suddenly someone rushed up to them at a blinding speed. The man was clad in a blue body suit with a patterned red colored center, and a blue visor over his eyes.

“Looks like you could use a hand,” he said.

“Synapse!” said Ms. World. “Does that mean the rest of the Freedom Phalanx is here?”

“Yeah they’re here with me. I was scouting when I found you guys over here. The situation is very bad here in Perez. We’ve got teams at the entry points trying to fend them off from getting any further inside.”

Kayain nudges Lord Danyel and asks,” Who’s ol’ spandex boy here?”

“Synapse is his name. He’s part of the Freedom Phalanx, a premier super group here in Paragon City. These guys are pretty well known around here.”

“Oh, so they’re a Souper group?”

“Yes.”

“Does their soup taste good?”

“Wha-“

Regina punches Kayain in the arm and says,” Boo!

“Hey that was kind of funny,” says Synapse.

“See? The man has a sense of humor, unlike you squares I hang out with,” says Kayain.

“Heh. What’s your name pal?”

“Kayain,” he says as he spits in his hand and extends it for him. “Damn pleased to meet ya.”

Synapse does the same and shakes his hand,” Nice to meet you as well. Hey I’m sure a guy like yourself wouldn’t mind if we came and helped your group out.”

“Hey I’m cool with that, it’s just I might embarrass you guys by taking down more than the entire group combined.”

“Ha-ha! Is he always like this?”

“Yup,” said Danyel.

“Oh here come the others now!”

Statesman, Positron, Bastion, and Sister Psyche, all the premier members of the Freedom Phalanx, approach the heroes and their comrade.

“Synapse! What were you able to find out?” said Statesman.

“Well most of the other areas are being handled by the younger heroes, but this place is the worst. We’ve got teams of heroes guarding the entrances so they won’t spill over to other zones.”

“Good, and what about these heroes here?”

“Mr. Statesman,” said Ms. World. “There’s winter lords blocking most of the exit points, and they’re scattered inside the forest area. We were going to clear a path to the exit point and regroup with the heroes there.”

“I see. Do you require assistance Ma’m?”

“We could use all the help we could get, thank you.”

“Hey pal! I know how we can beat these things easily!” said Kayain.

“And you are?”

“Kayain’s the name, and I’ve got the cure to what ails you!”

“So what do you know Mr. Kayain?”

“Have you tried a breath mint?”

“Why would a breath mint work on a winter lord?”

“Not them, for you!”

“What-“

“Hey! I’m just joking man! You don’t gotta get all serious! What I meant to say was Salt works on these guys.”

“Salt… I had heard rumor about that. Is this true?”

“Oh, yes, indeed! I’ve seen it, we had a defroster spray, and it crumbles those mofos like it’s acid!”

“Interesting… That’s very helpful sir, thank you.”

“Yea, that was all my idea too, cause I’m a freaking genius-“

Kayain looked over suddenly to see Proto-Man smiling and walking over to Sister Psyche. She looked very angry with him.

“Heyyy Sister! How’s it-“

“Ahem! Restraining order, remember?” she said.

“Oh… that. Well I’m sure it expired already.”

“Not until the next 10 years!”

“Hard to get eh? I can wait.”

“HA!” said Kayain. “You got to admit, they guy’s got determination.”

“The man’s a disgrace,” said Statesman. “ You would not believe the things he has done to try and get into the Freedom Phalanx-“

“Like I said, determination. He- PROTO! Look out!”

An ice javelin came flying at him from behind, and he had no time to react. Regina’s lightning fast reflexes allowed her to dash over to him and push him out of the way just in time.

The javelin was easily deflected by Regina’s energy shield. She became visible and loomed over him.

“Are you alright?”

“Ah… Ah,” he said with a grin. “I uh, thank, uh, pretty lady…”

“You can thank me by never hitting on me. Ever.”

“Ah… d’oh kay.”

“They’re coming!” said Mystic Wizard.

“We can take em,” said VeRt MaN. “ If anyone gets hurt, I will heal you. If I can remember how…”

VeRt MaN was a very gifted hero. He was born with gifts that never seemed to unlock at puberty like most super powered heroes did. He had tried many medicines to make them work, but they never did. One day, while working out in his favorite gym, he was struck by a bolt of lightning.

If you must know, it was a sheer stroke of luck he was hit by a lightning bolt inside a gym. In fact, what he doesn’t know was it was a very bad shot by a weather manipulator right outside the facility.

And the lightning bolt, combined with the weight’s metal, some protean bars he ate, and his mom’s freshly baked apple pie, at the right angle, caused that one in a million chance to unlock his hidden potential. Besides, most people know that one in a million chances always work out the way they’re supposed to be.

The only problem was, over time he mutated more and more powers. Half the time, he couldn’t remember how to use specific powers, and stuck with 2 at a time.

“Phalanx! Go!” said Statesman to the Phalanx.

“Assholes! Go!” said Kayain to everyone else.

---------------------------------------------

Cherry was resting inside a small vat filled with a chemical to aid healing. She relaxed and let the machines do the work on her leg and chest. She decided to meditate and perhaps let herself go to the astral plane.

Every muscle in her body relaxed as she fell into a deep trance. She opened her eyes and found herself on the hazy world of beyond.

Here, people would fly, teleport, or run very fast if you had enough power to. There were also doorways, which led to different areas of thought. From those doors she could listen in to nearly anything she pleased. She listened to a conversation between a mother and a boy who had put gum in his sister’s hair. She then listened to the thoughts of someone who was planning to ask a lady to marry him.

She listened for what seemed like hours, until she heard someone call her.

“Who’s there?” she said as she looked around.

“Are you the one named Cherry, daughter of the Vindicator?”

“Yes… I don’t know who you are though. Show yourself before I start firing at you.”

“My apologies,” said the voice as a woman appeared.

She was about average height, wore a black outfit and had striped green and black hair. Cherry, remembering she wasn’t wearing anything while in the regenerator, made a robe appear on her.

“My name is War Witch. I live in this realm now, ever since I lost my mortal body. And you’re Cherry aren’t you?”

“Yes, but how did you know that?”

“While traveling I hear many things. Someone heard you call out to someone named, Kayain?”

“That’s right. I was hurt pretty bad.”

“I see. Well I don’t know who these individuals are, but they seem to know you. I sensed evil in their hearts, and I tried to overhear what they were planning. I managed to hear them talk about escaping from somewhere and trying to kill you and your team.”

Cherry smiled and said,” HA! It’s about time too! I was wondering when this would happen.”

“I umm… don’t know if you heard me right, I just said someone was plotting to escape and kill you and your team.”

In Cherry’s experience, everywhere the Vigilante’s went there were threats, attempts at their lives, and plotting against them. These were very simple, black and white details. Very straightforward, and were the kind of things that really made work go easier for her.

“Yes I know, thanks for telling me. Usually it takes like 5 minutes when my team and I land somewhere to gain a mortal enemy. I was just getting worried that we lasted a whole day without getting someone with a burning desire to kill us all. Turns out we had one all along. This definitely is a perk.”

War Witch looked at her like she had said she invented breathing.

“Well… not the response I was hoping for. As long as you know this. Someone out to kill you…”

“Oh yea, thanks for letting me know. I can sleep easier now,” she said very seriously.

“You’re sure about this? Someone out to kill you and you can sleep well at night?”

“Yes, why?”

“You… You’re weird.”

Cherry sat in a metaphorical chair and made a table appear in front of her. She then made a fancy looking pitcher with tea in it appear on it with 2 cups.

“Care to join me? I’ll be sipping tea now.”

---------------------------------------------

Kayain and Proto-Man were segregated in the middle of fighting several Winter Lords off. It didn’t bother Kayain because he was keeping count of how many he could finish.

Kayain lunged forward at the oncoming ice block. He was able to kick and break it down the middle, saving him from the huge block.

“Thanks pal!” said Proto as he continued his assault on the beast.

Proto used energy blasts on the beast while Kayain kept it busy trying to flatten him. He suddenly had an idea that was a bit risky, but by the look of it Kayain would do crazy things anyway.

“Kayain! Gimme a boost!”

“What?!”

“I’m coming!”

Proto ran towards Kayain, gathering as much energy as possible in his hands. Kayain saw him coming and put his hands down. Proto-Man aimed as he jumped slightly onto his hands. Kayain threw him up as hard as he could.

Proto-Man flew just above the things head, and brought down his fists on top of its head, releasing a focused amount of energy. The front of the beast’s face collapsed completely, as Proto-Man fell down, still cutting into it. He landed and shook the ground as energy split the beast’s foot.

It wobbled and fell forward. Kayain slapped a high five to Proto as it melted away.

“Totally badass dude,” said Kayain. “Let’s try that from now on ok?”

“Yea, that was cool. Man, you gotta show me that Karate shit dude! That was cool how you broke the ice, and you kept hitting those things and cracking them…”

“The style is called Manas dul Argo. Matronian for ‘Hands that break steel.” It takes a long time to learn.”

“Still, it would be cool to add those badass ninja sweet moves with my energy attacks ya know?”

“Yea that would be… but I don’t think you’re disciplined enough.”

“What? I can do it.”

“Trust me man, you stick to your thing, I’ll do mine.”

“Oh all right… hey you wanna get a beer after this?”

“Hell yea!”

“Alright, let’s do this,” said Proto as they punched knuckles together.

“There’s 3 over there, and 2 behind us… What’s the score?”

“Combined, me and you have like 22. Freedom Phalanx has 18, and the others… I wasn’t keeping count.”

“All right, we’re ahead, and we’ll keep it that way, let’s get-“

Suddenly, Diana fell out of the sky on top of him. She was a little dizzy, and wobbled a bit as she got up. Kayain, now pissed off, gets up from that bone crunching landing and sees his poor sister looking like she’s been stuck in a wind tunnel for days.

“Di? What the hell happened?”

“Wha- Oh, I’m dizzy… I think I ran outta…cheese…doggie…”

“Heeeellloooo,” says Proto-Man. “Say are you happy with your marriage? No problems? Open minded about three somes?”

“I… cat… frog… What?”

“Ok, maybe I’ll ask you later.”

“Di! Give me that gun!”

Kayain takes the gun, and the extra ammo she was carrying. He turns it back to normal, and loads it. He doesn’t usually use guns, but he does know how to use one very well.

“Di?”

“Moo?”

“Just wait here.”

“Moo.”

“Atta girl.”

“Uhh… is she going to be ok?” asked Proto

“Yea she’ll be fine. She has trouble being coherent during serious trauma. Probably a concussion. Diana, how many fingers am I holding up?”

“Eleventeen.”

“See? She’s fine.”

“Well, just in case I’d better give her this,” said Proto as he put his hospital recaller on her breast, and she was instantly teleported to the hospital.

“What was that?”

“Emergency medical recall. Nifty device.”

“Where’d it send her?”

“Steel Canyon hospital.”

“Yuck, I hate hospitals. Their jell-o sucks.”

---------------------------------------------

It took till the next morning for Cherry to make a full recovery. She got out of the tank and stretched a bit. Regrowing tissue always left a funny feeling when you use it again. It was the same kind of feeling you get when you cut off circulation too long.

There was a polite knock on the door, and Tylar said,” Cherry? Are you decent?”

“Just a minute,” she said as she put on a robe Ami had left her.

She opened the door and saw him frown.

“What is it… you always have that face when there’s something going on.”

“I think you should see this.”

He took Cherry over to the television, and changed the channel to the news.

“We now take you live to Karen South, with the story. Karen?”

“Yes Bob, I am here with local hero Doctor Kayain Thomas-“

“Doctor Kayain?” said Cherry.

“Pronounced Toe-Mahs”

“Yes, thank you, Kayain Toe-Mahs, and his sidekick, Professor Biggs,”

“Aye!”

“Professor Biggs… now that’s just stupid.”

 “Doctor Kayain and his sidekick Professor Biggs has devised a special defrosting agent that instantly destroys the giant snowmen monsters the public has dubbed, The Winter Lord. Kayain and his sidekick took this special formula of his to a local D.A.T.A. lab, where it is being reproduced and distributed among heroes to stop this Winter Lord threat. Doctor Kayain has also created-“

“With my bare hands!”

“-His own personal multi-use weapon that sprays the defroster like a fog. Kayain, how did you think of such a thing?”

“What?! That was your invention Tylar!”

“Yes I know, but he’s just gotta be himself when he’s somewhere new.”

“Well you know, being a super genius like me, these kinna things come naturally. I was out there and I sayz to myself,’ Kayain, you’re the most strongest, handsomest, and smartest guy around, surely you can think of something to defeat these foes.’ And that’s when I thought of how salt melts ice cause of some weird scientific… thing. And I made this stuff.”

“Fascinating… how does that weapon of yours work?”

“Yes, Kayain. The world wants to know how my weapon works,” said Tylar icily.

“Oh… uhh… well, you see… It’s like a normal weapon, only I uh… confrabilated the distornator, in the sightonon.”

“Fascinating!”

“Oh come on!”

“Yea well, all in a day’s work and whatnot! Oh Yes, Indeed, I am a freaking genius-“

“And me too ya bastard!”

“And my sidekick- who saved the city. Thank you, thank you everyone!”

“So… let me get this straight. Kayain took your formula to some facility, had it copied for everyone to save the city with, failed to mention that it was my idea in the first place, and at the same time took credit for everything else?”

“Err, yes. I just thought you should know.”

Cherry rubbed her temple as she sighed. There was always a rivalry between them two. It started with Cherry’s mother and Kayain’s dad. Those two were always in competition, or one upism. Like genetics, Kayain and Cherry also became extremely competitive, and always trying to outdo each other. Cherry always thought that made their overall relation better. So bets and wagers like the one they had currently were not uncommon between them.

Now, all she wanted to do was get him back for it.

“Oh, by the way, Danyel came by and gave me this.”

“What is it?”

“Just the hotel info, and room info.”

Cherry scanned through the info and grinned.

“Kayain said he wanted a small and secluded room all to himself to win this wager.”

“Mmm mhm?”

“Now it looks like we’re sharing this small and intimate room.”

Tylar, like the rest of the family, was not very good at innuendo.

“Ooooh…. So?”

“You know what I could do to him now?”

“Beat him at video games?”

She sighed and almost felt sorry for him. This was another reason he never had a girlfriend.

“Poor sweet innocent, virgin, Tylar… Yes, that’s exactly it. I will beat him at video games.”

TO CHAPTER 5 >






Review this story