Of Pain and Hate
Best Served Cold
what makes you weak,” Evisceral Shadow snarled.
gathered near the Rogue Island Protector moved back from the pair. Tension had been growing between them,
threatening to explode at any moment.
weakness to maintain even the slightest shred of humanity?” the Protector asked. His helmet and visor kept his face hidden,
but the curt tone of his voice betrayed the annoyance he felt. He had agreed to work with the small
assassin, thinking she would be a useful tool, if she could be controlled. “Even I would not attack a funeral.”
be gathered together there like they have not in years.”
Strike Force has slipped,” the Protector agreed. “Since PhoenixHawk died they are no longer functioning optimally. If you maintain patience they will fall
apart on their own. Then, as you wish,
Paragon will be rid of them.”
Shadow almost shook with rage. The
small woman’s muscles clenched and flexed beneath her pale skin, the scars from
the self-inflicted cuts crisscrossing her arms and legs. Her black hair cut in a mid-length Mohawk
lay to one side. “I will not wait for
them to simply disband! They took my
life, and I will have theirs!”
must be impatient, then at least be intelligent about it. Even if they do not move throughout Paragon
as a unit, their members are still powerful.
Grouped together it would take a larger number than we have to defeat
tirades grow tiresome,” the Protector said.
“I will not sacrifice those who follow me for your cause. We have worked together in the past, but
your lack of control threatens my organization. It is time for you and yours to leave.”
beneath black makeup stared at the black and red clad Rogue Island Protector,
hate and anger seething. Evisceral
Shadow’s right fist clenched, the three blades housed in her gloves along her
forearm snapped out.
blossomed around the Rogue Island Protector, flames engulfing his hands.
not a fight you will win,” he said.
in the air crackled for a century in the moment that past between the two
villains before the blades snapped back into their retracted sheath and
Evisceral Shadow whipped around and stormed from the base. Ten men dressed in black with chains crossed
at their chest followed their leader out.
sun was beginning to set. Night was her
ally, but her augmented ability to remain unseen let her move untouched through
Paragon’s streets at any time. Anger
filled her mind, red clouds in her vision.
She wanted to scream, to lash out at something, kill anything.
loudly through her nose, the blades snapped out again from her right hand. Drawing the blades up the outside of her leg
from just above her boot to the bottom of her shorts, pain burned as the blood
flowed out. She focused on that pain,
sank into it, using it to keep the demons inside.
healing ability closed the wounds within seconds, leaving yet another trio of
breathing had returned to almost normal, one of her lieutenants spoke up.
them we do not number enough to strike.”
Evisceral Shadow spat, looking at the door they had vacated. “We could have taken them all at once. Years I’ve waited for an opening like this,
worked to try to create it. Now it’s
fallen into my lap and it’s going to slip by.”
A string of curses poured from her lips.
cannot take them all, we can take some of them,” another of her followers
woman considered the idea. The Onami
base had been closed a couple of years ago, the group giving it up to lack of
use. An office had been set up in Atlas
Park by the Hero Corp for the Group, on the ground floor of a high-rise office
building, much like the one Ron, her husband, had died in front of.
Ron threatened to bring the visions flooding back to her, but she forced them
down. The damned heroes should have
contained the Hellions with ease, should have protected the civilians forced to
the streets, but they hadn’t. The
Hellions had attacked the people in the street to distract the heroes. Someone, one of the Hellions or a Hero, had
thrown a fireball that had washed over the civilians, killing Ron in front of
her eyes. The Cresting Wave, worn by the
heroes she would come to find was the symbol of the Onami Strike Force, had
burned itself into her mind just as deeply as Ron’s death scream.
“Fine. They will break up after the funeral, as
they always do. They cannot stomach one
another’s presence any more than I can .
Undoubtedly some will return to their office. We will strike them there.”
patrolled the streets of Steel Canyon.
The red, white, and blue clad hero bore the Cresting Wave on his chest,
having left the gathering of Onami members.
They refused to call it a funeral.
Many of the Onami assumed News Flash to be dead, but Remedy Hart, a blue
skinned woman who was an incredibly strong telepath and empath that almost
never spoke aloud, instead favoring mental communication, said she felt as
though he were still alive.
at the gathering had been palatable, even more than usual. Stateside felt some of it, but wondered at
how long it could last. He had not been
as close to PhoenixHawk as had many of the others, but considered his former
leader a friend as well. The group
simply did not mesh as well without him as it had before his death. Thauma Guard, PhoenixHawk’s lover had taken
leadership for a time, but the pressure and constant reminder of her loss drove
her from the position.
Pain, whom everyone called PhoenixHawk’s sister stepped up to the
position. She admitted to all that she
was not well suited to lead, and handled as much of the task as she was suited
to, but left the majority of the members to remain in contact and seek out
taken some time away from the group to help another member, Ginger Blaze, a red
haired fire controller who had joined the Onami shortly after formation,
prepare for her child’s birth. The baby
had come just a few months ago, a beautiful baby girl who bore her mother’s
flame red hair.
Thauma refused to come back to the
group, only taking occasional missions.
There seemed little hope of the group rallying around her anytime soon
now. She had mentored News Flash years
ago, and now his disappearance added to the weight of PhoenixHawk’s death.
Several of the Onami had gone back
to the Group’s office but Stateside had refused, wishing to bury himself in his
work. During the day he worked for the
Department of Homeland Security, at night as a member of the Onami. With no family to which to return home, his
greatest pleasure came from his service to his country and city.
Vapor lamps began to flicker to
life as the night descended. The
fighter moved throughout Steel Canyon keeping his eye out for signs of
trouble. Occasionally Dr. Vazhilok’s
minions would crawl from the sewers in this part of the city, seeking new
bodies to dissect and experiment upon.
The members of the street gang The Outcasts, to which outlaw mutants
seemed to flock, claimed most of Steel Canyon as their territory. The neo-nazi Council could be found here
recruiting as well. It wouldn’t be hard
for Stateside to seek out problem spots associated with any of the criminals in
The funeral had broken up, the
members moving off in different directions in small groups. Evisceral Shadow watched from her cloak of
darkness, measuring each group’s potential.
When a red, white, and blue clad member moved off on his own, she
followed close behind. Her minions fell
into the shadows, staying far enough back to remain undetected.
The small woman knew every member
of the Onami Strike Force on sight.
This would be Stateside, a fighter of nominal ability. He had not been a part of the group the day
they had let Ron die. No matter. He would be a perfect target.
Shadow moved past the hero, close enough for him to feel. He still could not see her, but stopped his
patrol, looking around, knowing something was near. The close proximity was a risk, but at night she knew he would
never see her until she struck.
Cresting Wave upon his chest from this close up brought forth waves of
rage. Her vision went red as adrenaline
flooded her system. She focused that
rage and power, feeling the tension build like bowstring pulled taught. The hero was looking around cautiously, his
hands flexing for a fight.
augmented strength and hardened muscles peaked she struck. Her blades coming out with a snap as her
hand whipped forward faster than a cobra strike, a punch that impacted the soft
flesh of the heroes throat.
eyes grew wide as his body tensed, three titanium blades driven all the way
through his neck. A gout of blood
flowed from his mouth and neck, and for just an instant, Evisceral Shadow knew
he had looked into the face of his killer.
her hand back as fast as it had struck, a spray of blood covering her
face. The hero was dead before his body
hit the ground.
out of that,” Evisceral Shadow said.
heroes blood from her lips, she ordered her minions to gather the body and
bring it with them. They had a black
van hidden in an alley nearby. After
wrapping the hero’s body in plastic they climbed into the back of the van.
Atlas Park,” Evisceral Shadow told the driver.
“We have a package to deliver.”
Guard sat at the conference table leaning back in one of the swivel
chairs. Her ebony skin was covered by a
black two piece suit, her orange hair neatly done for the memorial. She fought back the tears that threatened to
come again. Brian Sutter had come to
her as a fledgling magic user. She had
helped him become News Flash. He had
blamed himself for Aaron, PhoenixHawk’s death.
It hadn’t been his fault, but he refused to hear it, feeling as though
he only pretended to be a hero, but was in fact too scared to act.
sighed. So much loss, when would it
end? She knew they fought their
constant battles, risking their lives every time. Heroes perished in Paragon City, it was an unfortunate risk of
the job, but the Onami was a tightly bound unit. Aaron had formed the group based upon his beliefs in honor and
family, making sure that every member shared those beliefs. It was a strength the group lived by, but
was also an Achilles heel, she now realized.
The loss of a family member was always devastating, and the Onami was a
family. Now they had suffered another
loss. She was unsure if she could
continue with this life.
brother Rosh, known as the NyteHawk, sat across the table from his sister. He crossed his muscular arms across his
chest, his veins glowing with the blue energy that he wielded. Kwang Ghe, the scientifically augmented
martial artist sat two chairs down.
Shadow Pain sat across from the other fighter, her three eyes gazing at
member of the group seemed lost in their own thoughts. Finally Rosh broke the silence.
drank himself to death.”
hurting,” Thauma said.
were,” Shadow Pain said. “Are. I don’t know. He took too much blame for Aaron’s death, but in the end he did
what he had to. That’s what we have to
remember about him.”
Kwang Ghe said.
in which they sat was a simple square, set with the bare minimum the group
could need. The conference table sat in
the far corner from the door. The
opposite corner held a computer, desk, couch and television.
sat in silence that was shattered by the front door exploding in as a body flew
through it. The Onami members were on
their feet instantly, Shadow Pain’s katana in her hand.
lay crumpled in the middle of the floor where he had landed, covered in
blood. His throat was almost torn out,
his eyes stared sightlessly ahead.
God!” Thauma exclaimed, rushing to the fallen hero’s side. She was cut off as ten black clad men rushed
into the base. Thauma’s third eye
opened, drawing deeply upon the power of an ethereal plane that it looked
into. She cast her arms forward,
snaring three of the invaders in howling vaporous tentacles that reached
through the floor.
rushed into the trapped villains, his feet and hands flashing out with
lightning speed. Shadow Pain charged
the others, but had to divert her course as the NyteHawk threw and explosive
blast of cerulean energy into them, knocking several in different directions.
suddenly veered from her course, instinctively dodging the swipe of blades as a
small woman covered in black materialized out of nowhere, six steel blades
protruding from her hands. The blades
rang out against her katana as the two combatants clashed.
gathered a ball of green energy she normally used to shield her teammates and
flung it at the clawed woman, sending her reeling. Shadow Pain would have followed but four of the other invaders
fell upon her.
bitch!” Thauma yelled, rushing the smaller woman.
Shadow faded but could still be seen as she flashed past Thauma, her blades
leaving three deep cuts through the Onami member’s suit, droplets of blood
NyteHawk was lashing out at the mass of invaders as Shadow Pain and
fought to suppress them. The Onami members had their hands full, sheer
numbers adding to the weight of the invaders. These were no ordinary
street thugs like the Skulls or even Tsoo, each of these was trained
and deadly. One of the men spread his arms, four shades appeared
surrounding him, shadow ninjas that fell upon the Onami members with
blows as real as if they had come from a living person. Another of the
invaders blasted Shadow Pain with a stream of green radiant energy,
slowing the small woman slightly, her lightning fast reflexes barely
keeping her from being subdued.
Shadow Pain, and the NyteHawk tied up the black clad men, leaving
Thauma to deal with the woman.
destroyed my life!” Evisceral Shadow snarled back at Thauma Guard. She rushed in, her blades flashing out in
lightning quick swipes. Thauma had
surrounded herself in a glowing green shield that slowed the blades, making
them easier to dodge, but hand-to-hand combat was not her specialty. She was left with a multitude of cuts.
hell are you talking about?” Thauma snarled in return.
woman lashed back with her blades. “Six
years ago, when the Hellions burned Steel Canyon. You killed my husband!”
dodged and threw a blast of dark energy at the smaller woman. “I don’t know what you’re talking
about. We didn’t kill anyone that day.”
supposed to protect us!” the smaller woman seemed to be growing more
enraged. Thauma felt if she could dodge
long enough the others would get to her, and this psycho woman would become so
angry she’d make a mistake.
Hellions attacked the crowds. We
stopped them a soon as we could.”
enough!” The smaller woman rushed
Thauma Guard, blades flashing out yet again.
Thauma dodged and spun around her, trying to catch her in the tentacles
she’d called upon earlier. Evisceral
Shadow dodged the howling horrors easily and moved in on Thauma Guard, swiping
within arms reach.
no idea what it’s like to lose everything!” she snarled.
Guard was rocked by those words and shot forward faster than anyone had ever
seen her move before. She caught the
smaller woman with both hands around her throat, lifting her from the floor and
slamming her into the wall behind her.
Almost out of control she slammed the woman into the wall again and
again until a searing white pain exploded in her abdomen. Another blaze of white hot agony shot from
her other side, below her ribs the six steel blades buried themselves completely
with agony and rage, Thauma refused to let go.
Staring into Evisceral Shadow’s dark eyes she coughed a spray of blood.
Thauma snarled. The pain in her belly
blinded her in a searing white blaze as the blades were pulled up through her
insides, mangling her.
she was dying, barely able to see through the blazing white agony that consumed
her. A last thought ran through her
mind: if I’m going to go, I’m taking you
with me, bitch!
Blood poured from her savage wounds, flowing
into a growing pool at her feet. The
world spun, a haze of pain and fury. Darkness closed in around her, the world faded to black.
Thauma Guard was gone.
TO PART 3 >