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Power Given: Chapter Fourteen

Without Belief

By Myths n’ Wraiths

Edited by Vindea

 

            “Shits about to kick off,” Anarchy muttered past a lit cigarette and a twisted smirk. They could all feel the pressure mounting in the air, stifling and oppressive to some, liberating to others.

            “What’s the plan again?” Octive questioned with more excitement in his voice than nervousness for a change. “Do we have one?”

            “We always have a plan,” Haven countered with a sharp elbow to the young mans ribs.

            “I’ve shown Lusion who needs to be taken down. He calls the targets,” Myth said in a low voice that betrayed the predator that dwelt beneath the surface. “When you knock them down, you knock them down so hard they would rather pull their own teeth than stand up again. These people only fight because they believe in the powers they have been given. Take that belief away. Once we have the civilians on the run we focus on the leader.”

            Myth’s darker sibling stepped up next to him. Wraith’s black eyes were turned up at the unearthly cloud of shadows that hovered over the cavern. His muscles tensed then relaxed sporadically, sweat poured down his bare arms and face and nether energy seethed from his skin. Bare fists clenched until his knuckles turned bone pale.

            “He’s all yours,” Myth conceded with no remorse, then turned to face his team. “You hold nothing back,” He spoke loud and with resolve.

            “They sure wont,” Vindea countered with a shrug of her sleek shoulders. Restraint on the battlefield was not something they trained for and fighting how you trained to fight is what keeps you alive.

            “On a day like today death might be a small improvement,” Anarchy retorted dismissively and tossed his cigarette to the ground.

            “The Onami have started,” Desimus spoke, pointing toward the caverns entrance where bolts of energy had begun to lance out into the air. The entire team felt the pressure in the room break into a flood of adrenaline. The welcomed release of the raging storm had come just as it did after every calm.

            Myth took his eyes away from the entrance and met Desimus’ unshakable gaze.

            “When peace costs war,” The Empath recited the phrase that had always led them to battle.

            “Fear not the fight,” Desimus replied and took a long deep breath. His massive chest rose and settled like that of a waking beast. He nodded to his leader and then, with a sudden burst of speed beyond what his massive size would suggest, the African mutant charged the unaware crowd.

            The Dogs of War rushed from the shadows in the wake of Desimus’ inhuman size. Their powers suddenly filled the area around them, bulldozing the unsuspecting civilians out of their way as they cut a ruthless path to the mound of debris where Reyeto had been preaching.

            The dark skinned mountain of a man swung his arms on wide arcs, practically swimming through his enemy’s ranks. With each sweep of his immense limbs, people by the dozens were cast out of his way with enough force to land them half way across the cavern. It took only seconds for him to carve a path to the their target area and stake his claim by driving his unbreakable fists into the ground so hard it caused everyone standing on the mound to stumble to their knees around him. In the time it took to blink, the Dogs of War had formed up around their point man.

Using their powers to drive the weaker of their opponents quickly from the mound. Haven projected a wide bubble of quickly expanding force around her teammates, driving back all but the most powerful of Reyeto’s men and women. Those who were left standing did not stand long after Vindea turned her attention and power on them. The ones who were daring enough to stand back up and try to charge up the mound had their knees kicked out by Anarchy before they took their second step. Everyone who had a second thought about joining the fight after hearing the screams of pain that Anarchy’s touch caused quickly changed their minds when Octive turned those screams into a noise so painful their ears bled and their minds forced them to flee.

            With a feral cry Wraith leapt into the air and ripped the wielder of nether energy from his self-encompassing cloud and drug him to the ground. Bloodied and bare fists pummeled the gaunt man with wild abandon even as he tried desperately to crawl away. The man’s jaw snapped audibly and teeth flew from his broken lips but still Wraith did not stop. His eye was practically crushed and blood poured from a bent and broken nose but the fists continued to fall like hammers. His skull cracked and his very life hung by a thread of consciousness but still Wraith’s fist cocked back to strike.

            “Enough!” Myth shouted at his twin, snatching his bloody wrist and holding his fist back from its final blow. “I won’t cover up anymore blood you spill, I swear it.”

            Wraith did not even bother to look up at his brother. His coal black eyes bore into those of his victim as he leaned in close so his words would not be lost in the din of battle.

“That was for the woman,” he growled. The words were spoken just before the pale man’s blackened eyes slipped closed. Wraith stood up over his unconscious victim and met his brother’s withering gaze with one of unshakable determination.

“Reyeto has joined the fight,” Myth said simply to his brother. The ultimatum was laid out to Wraith, and after taking one last look down at the recipient of so much of his rage, the darkly garbed mutant accepted it. Flexing his stout legs beneath his loose jeans, Wraith hurled himself toward the next fight.

Leaning down over the barely recognizable form of the battered man, Myth touched his bloody face. The Empath focused his considerable power solely on the faint life at his fingertips for the briefest of moments, willing the broken body onto the path of recovery before turning his own attention to his true purpose.

“This ends now!” Reyeto’s voice boomed with righteous of rage. The old man hovered ominously over the crest of the debris mound with outstretched arms and eyes wide with indignation. His long robes rippled around him in the wake of the radiant crimson energy that flowed from his body.

Desimus was already in motion to contest the old man’s claim. His massive hands were clasped high over his shaven head, ready to fall on the leader of their enemies and end the conflict as quickly as it had become. A sudden flash of crimson energy that passed between Reyeto and Desimus changed all of that however. The large dark mutant’s hands fell against Reyeto’s head and the gut-wrenching sound of bones cracking was heard over the din of battle, but it wasn’t Reyeto’s bones that had snapped. Desimus fell to the ground his face contorted in pain and cradling a set of bleeding and broken hands.

“What have you done?” Haven screamed and cast a containing field around the robed old figure. The shimmering green force field flickered then compressed, squeezing Reyeto inside.

The field lasted for only a moment before another flash passed between Reyeto and his new assailant. In an instant the roles were reversed. Haven gasped when she was suddenly squeezed inside an unbreakable force field.

“Scream for me Haven,” Octive shouted to his contained companion. Haven was already shouting at the top of her lungs at being trapped with her own powers so the young master of sound had only to tap into the constant and terrible noise and use it to his own purpose. That was Octive’s intent until his own eardrums suddenly burst from a sound so intense it caused him to fall to the ground writhing in pain.

“Is this what the city has come to. Those who are sworn to protect the innocent are now the assailants. So be it. You will fall like the rest of the villains of this land,” Reyeto’s words doomed Anarchy and Lusion who both lost their powers as quickly and painfully as their other teammates.

Just as the darkly robed man disposed of the Dogs of War’s lead mentalist, Wraith struck at him from behind. The stout young fighter drove his fist brutally into the back of Reyeto’s neck, knocking the man to his knees. A knee to the kidney followed by fist to the face kept Reyeto on the defensive but not for long.

A force field suddenly formed around Wraith’s head and lifted him off the ground. Reyeto’s own cries of anger resonated through the mutant’s body with deadly and debilitating effect. Rising to his feet and wiping a trail of blood from his lips Reyeto curled a skeletal hand into a fist. His gray eyes settled menacingly onto Wraith’s struggling form and his newly acquired mental abilities hacked into the vulnerable mind.

“You…” Reyeto almost whispered and paused. His face turned from anger to sudden astonishment. “You would dare to try to stop me. Your hands are stained with more blood than every man and woman in this room, yet you would challenge me for wanting to cleanse the city. Hypocrite!” He claimed drawing his fist back to strike.

“No!” Vindea shouted, throwing herself between Reyeto and her companion. The woman’s lips were curled into and angry grimace and her arms were held out, guarding Wraith’s still suspended body. “You will not touch him.”

“This man’s mind is no different then the people you hunt every day. The filth that harms the innocent, that steals virtue from our lives.” Reyeto countered, the rage and indignation building in his voice. Rising with each word.

“You love this? You love this man?” He condemned her with a wave of his hand. “Why? What value is his life?”

“What value is yours if you will do the same thing you condemn him for doing, Visiting out your own justice!” Vindea countered

 “Cleansing and killing is entirely different. I’ll not be placed in the same league as this,” Reyeto was shouting now as he waved a finger at Wraith who was pounding on the force field that held him by the neck.

“And what gives you the right to decide?”

“I claimed it!” Reyeto screamed, his rage taking hold of his reason.

“I paid my price already. My family, my friends are all gone for no reason; for nothing. I’ll have it no more. I will not sit idly by when I have the means to stop it. I will take the power from those who were too inept or too afraid to use it properly and I will rid this city of its disease. If it means I have to bleed every one of these who are willing, I will save this land,” The old mans face flushed bright red while the words spilt out. His hands flew wildly and his eyes stormed with rage.

“Have you heard enough?” Myth’s calm voice spoke out purposefully, hushing the ruckus of the battle earily.

Reyeto spun and turned the young mutant, the anger of his soul boiling out through his eyes. His hand rose to snatch the power from yet another of his assailants when suddenly a blinding flash of light struck against the side of his head, sending the old man sprawling across the debris.

“Yes,” PhoenixHawk replied, the spent energy fading from his hands.

Myth nodded slowly then turned his dark eyes up to the cloud of nether energy that still hung over their heads. Reaching one arm up, palm open and finger extended, Myth called on the mass of anti-life. He grasped hold of the large cloud with his mind and drew it from the air. Long tendrils of darkness fell from the cloud, snaked down Myth’s arm and soaked into his body until the entire mass of darkness was gone. Momentarily shocked by the raw power, the young mutant stumbled to the ground when the last of the nether energy had been claimed. It took him a brief second to recover and come to his feet, but when he did Myth was not the same man. His skin was ghostly pale and his eyes were coal black. His flesh was lean, almost transparent, and looked stretched across a bony frame.

A literal shadow of the man he had been only seconds ago, Myth stalked slowly up to the still dazed Reyeto. He leaned in close to the man so his gaunt lips were only inches away from the his ears. PhoenixHawk and Vindea both listened intently when Myth whispered to his rival, but neither could here those last words. The look that Reyeto gave Myth when he finished speaking was unmistakable though. Sorrow replaced the rage in the old mans eyes. Sadness so deep so true that they could almost forget the rage that had threatened the entire city only moments earlier.

Myth, obviously, did not forget. He drew back his skeletal hand high over his head and his body began to tremble with both anticipation and desperate restraint. Suddenly the hand fell like a hammer, striking Reyeto squarely in the chest and in a split second hurled every iota of nether energy that Myth had conjured into the old mans body. The transfer was swift and violent, casting the two men away from each other like twigs in a storm.

The tide broke in that single moment. That one explosive burst of power silenced every mouth and stilled every hand.For in that second, brilliant crimsons clouds climbed out of every one of Reyeto’s followers and faded into the dark damp air of the cavern. The transfer took less than an instant, but when it was done they all stood powerless, mere humans; scared humans; tired humans. No longer innocent.

 

*          *          *

 

“Sir, would you like a containment report?” A young woman dressed in the red and white colors of Longbow asked PhoenixHawk crisply.

The Hero shook his head tiredly. They call carting off old men and women a containment mission, he thought to himself in frustration.

“No, I am sure that everything is being handled,” PhoenixHawk replied dismissively, his eyes catching sight of Captain Horble. The stocky Longbow agent took a moment to look up from the dozen reports that were pressing in on him to shoot PhoenixHawk a contemptuous glare.

“Very good sir,” The agent replied then turned to leave.

Before she took the first step however, a slight gasp escaped her. Hearing it PhoenixHawk turned to see a tall, strongly built man garbed in red and white entering the tunnel. All round him Longbow agents saluted in respect, and an attractive red haired woman followed closely in his wake. The figure of respect made his way quickly through the bustling crowd of Heroes, Longbow and restrained civilians, directly toward PhoenixHawk.

“Statesman,” Aaron said turning to face the to tall stout man.

“PhoenixHawk I presume,” The widely proclaimed icon of Paragon city extended a broad hand to the fatigued Hero, who accepted it calmly.

“You have done this city a great service young man!” Statesman said plainly but with conviction and shaking PhoenixHawk’s hand vigorously. “But there is one last task I have for you and your task force.”

Aaron assembled his team at Statesman’s request, and followed him through the tunnels to the mound where the Dogs of War had been lingering since the fight. The band of battered mutants sat casually on perches of cement boulders and rocky debris, watching the comings and goings of the longbow as they detained the now powerless civilians and escorted them out of the tunnels. Myth, who was sitting back to back with his brother, Wraith, looked up at the symbolic Hero of the city with a degree of disinterest. His eyes were still a dim gray and his skin had not regained its former dark olive tone, but considering the short time that had passed since he had possessed the dark cloud of nether energy, Myth had recovered remarkably.

“Myth,” Statesman said in a resounding but emotionless tone. “It’s been a long time.”

“Yet I get the feeling that it hasn’t been long enough,” Myth replied, his tone as equally unrevealing as Statesman’s.

“You and your team have truly outdone yourselves today, Myth, but I’m going to need you to come with me to Longbow HQ so we can clear up a few things,” The red and blue clad Hero said, suppressing his frustration with the young mutants disrespectful demeanor with only marginal success.

“Why am I thinking this won’t be a friendly conversation?” Myth muttered and cocked an eyebrow curiously.

“Because we have evidence linking your team to the assault on two of this cities most renowned Heroes and the kidnapping of a federal prisoner,” Statesman voice was ice when he spoke, and a distasteful grimace crossed his hard lips.

“I seriously doubt that,” Myth shot back without so much as a blink of an eye.

Sister Psyche stood next to her leader and long time friend, her hands wresting on her slender hips and her captivating eyes focusing intently on the white haired Empath. Her face was grim with concentration, which slowly grew to frustration as the conversation progressed. The red haired Heroine was clearly trying to read the leader of the Dogs of War but was having no luck. Finally her eyes left Myth to scan his companions. Her thoughts and attention passed quickly over his brother, the two women and one of the biggest men she had ever seen in her life before settling suddenly on a middle aged man with a clean shaven head whose eyes were half closed. Sister Psyche focused intensely on the enigmatic figure, settling her intense psychic powers upon him, but to her surprise could sense nothing.

Statesman cast his companion a side ways glance, and seeing the frustration on her normally calm face, seemed to grow more agitated.

“Myth, you are coming with me. It is not up for debate,” He said clenching his fists and stepping up to the still sitting mutant so his broad form towered over the young man.

“I wouldn’t bet your nickel plated grill on that if I were you,” Myth’s voice turned suddenly aggressive and he stood quickly to meet the coming challenge.

“You don’t have a choice, son. Do you really think that you can get through me, this task force,” Statesman said waving to the Onami. “And an entire company of Longbow?”

Myth cocked his head and set his jaw. His eyes were a blaze of focus and resolve. All traces of weariness and injury from the recent battle were suddenly absent from his body and demeanor. His voice was disturbingly calm when he said, “Yes.”

“Ain’t no need for the Dogs of War to go anywhere,” Wraith’s gravelly voice cut through the tension in the air and drew Statesman’s gaze from his brother.

“And why is that?” The leader of the Freedom Phalanx shot through clenched teeth.

“Because they didn’t take that prisoner from that truck. I did,” Wraith replied pointedly.

“Wha’,” Vindea gasped in shock and dismay.

Myth closed his eyes slowly and took a step back from Statesman before turning to face his brother. The two locked eyes for a brief second, then Myth nodded solemnly.

“You attacked the prison convoy.” Statesman both demanded and stated.

“Call it what you want,” Wraith retorted, glaring at his condemner.

Vindea lunged at Wraith, grasping his shirt and pulling herself in close to him.

“Why,” She demanded, tears suddenly running down her dirt smudged face.        

“You said it yourself. No one else could; no one else would,” He whispered to her, his dark eyes penetrating hers and baring himself for a brief instant.

“What did you do?” she screamed, the tears began to pour from her eyes and she pounded on his chest with her balled up fist.

Haven rushed quickly in to grab Vindea. She wrapped her arms around the distraught young woman and gently pulled her away from Wraith. Fighting her own misgivings, Haven leaned her head in close to Vindea and spoke softly into her ear, trying to calm and comfort her. Her words had little impact however, and it was all Haven could do to keep Vindea from lunging back toward Wraith.

“PhoenixHawk,” Statesman demanded. “Take this man into custody.”

“No,” Vindea screamed and broke loose from Haven.

The Dogs of War came suddenly to their feet. Each one instantly fell into place, ready to claim their own, each one except Myth. Their leader walked calmly up to Vindea and placed a firm hand on her shoulder. The woman fell suddenly quiet at his touch, though the tears continued to stream from her eyes. With her, the rest of the team fell quiet, and slowly eased their stance.

PhoenixHawk, momentarily put on guard by the Dogs of War’s reaction, eased his own demeanor, his radiant green eyes dimming to a more human state. He strode purposefully up to Wraith and rested a gloved hand on the young man’s broad shoulder.

“Wraith, you are under arrest for crimes against the good order and well being of this city,” Statesman declared, his righteous voice resounding through the tunnel.

Turning his head slightly to cast an amused glance at Statesman, Wraith let out a slight chuckle and said, “If you only knew.”







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