The wall opened up, sliding forwards on a smooth mechanism, making barely any noise at all. Somehow, the sewer water sped past the opening, without flowing into it. As the figure stepped into the opening, a blue light flooded the chamber, revealing his true appearance as he was scanned by the Champions' security. His hood was black and attached to a yellow cape, which extended down to the floor. Beneath the hood, his young face was revealed, obscured only by a green mask, covering his eyes. He wore a red tunic with a yellow and black symbol, a stylized H, his hands were covered by spiked green gloves and his leggings were black. "Identity confirmed: Damian Rayne; Codename: Hesperus; Membership: Young Champions." Charging up electrical energy in his fists, Damian spread his arms out wide, unleashing an electromagnetic pulse, shutting down the security system and erasing any evidence of his presence in this particular Champions safehouse. As the system was destroyed, the waters began to flood into the entrance, but Hesperus walked on, undeterred, until he arrived at the main hall.
It was a fairly high-tech safehouse, while the walls were made of brick the floor was a gleaming metal, dirtied only by the membrane of water covering the surface. There were many beds stacked in the corner of the room and three large computers on the walls. Hesperus hefted his ten-year-old frame into one of the chairs at the computer opposite the entrance, his legs dangling above the flooded ground as he awaited the arrival of his guests. Deciding that this would be an unwelcome hall to greet them in, Damian activated his power over gravity, causing the water on the floor to fall up, onto the ceiling, trickling up the walls in the entrance and leaving a dry path to walk on. The first guest to arrive was the most familiar and the one who made this all possible.
"Son." Surreal SaDiablo smiled, with genuine affection on her face as she strode through the entrance, ignoring the gravity-defying waterfall. Damian gave an awkward attempt at a smile in reply, sliding out of his chair to greet his mother. He bowed, bending down on one knee, as he seized Surreal's hand and kissed it curtly. His mother chuckled slightly, lifting Damian back onto his feet as she kissed his forehead. They walked back to the chairs opposite the entrance, Surreal resting her hand against the back of her son's head."You weren't clear in your messages how successful your mission was. I trust it went well?"
"Perfectly." The young killer grinned, with a look of glee in his eyes. "I was presented with an excellent opportunity to gain their trust and I delivered my performance flawlessly. A Skrull commander landed an escape pod a short distance from the Tower. I was already there and saw it coming, as it shifted to take the form of your brother. It bumped into me along the way and, guessing at its intentions from the gun on his hip, I cut off his fingers. It was too occupied to notice. When it arrived at the Tower, it put a gun to my cousin's head. Your brother and his wife arrived at that moment, but with no fingers the Skrull could not finish the deed. So I attacked from behind and finished him. Now I have been accepted into the team with open arms, all sins forgiven. Even Eclipse, the Morning Star, seems to trust me. I hear he has ironically declared that he will take full responsibility for any wrong-doing on my part." Hesperus laughed, a short, harsh bark of high-pitched laughter. "If only he knew my true intentions. You have contacted those I requested?"
"Surely you don't doubt me, son. Yes, I have found the three you asked for, they will be here shortly." Now Surreal's face was full of concern, as she put emphasis on her next statement. "But beware the forces you meddle with, Damian. These men are not to be crossed and it will be difficult to strike a bargain of any sort with them."
"My bargain is simple enough and will engage their full attention. I am certain of that, Mother." Hesperus replied, not making eye contact. He felt like he was being patronised, when he was in fact more cunning and intelligent than most people twice his age. His mother dealt with men like this on a regular basis, yet she doubted his ability to do the same? Of course, Damian knew why. She had been forced to keep the secret of his birth to herself for all of his life, as he lived with his father and his wife, the woman claiming to be his mother. Now that the secret was revealed and Surreal was free to be the mother she had longed to be for so long, she was of course very eager to ensure her time with her son was not cut short.
A moment of silence passed between the two, interrupted only once three figures stepped into the safehouse. First was the King of Kings himself, the Living Legend, Jean Luc LeBeau. Gambler. Once regarded as one of the most dangerous villains on the planet, Gambler had recently abandoned the label of 'evil' and now walked the line of neutrality, as a member of the Super-Human Containment Association. But Gambler was still deadly, and still had enemies that needed to be dealt with. Following Jean Luc was the Child of Darkness, Gen Esis. Darkchild had returned from the grave recently, more powerful and evil than ever. While Darkchild did not have the thirst for vengeance that Gambler possessed, Hesperus knew that the monster would enjoy the sickening opportunities their alliance would open up. Particularly when you consider that, through Hesperus, Darkchild had the means to lure his favourite toy into a trap. His great power would be needed for Damian's plot to succeed. Bringing up the rear, with a look of wonder and joy on his face, contrasing the stony, business-like expressions worn by his companions, was DaggerKlutz. Relatively new the world of villainy, Patrick Back led a huge team of supervillains in the Vine Syndicate. Among his criminal deeds were briefly taking controlling the planet in Aroma-geddon and stealing the entire stock of a well-known chain of candy stores, the greatest example of 'taking candy from a baby' in human history. Hesperus had little respect for the man... But he would make a fine distraction.
"Gentlemen." Damian gestured, telekinetically tearing huge chunks from the wall of the base and crushing them together, before flattening the sheet of metal and rubble out, forming a round table, which he placed in the centre of the room. With another gesture, the young villain caused the chairs around the room to take formation around the table. He waited for the others to take their seats, but while DaggerKlutz removed a pillow from within his jacket, placed it on the chair and sat down, the other two villains remained standing, watching Hesperus cautiously. He proceeded anyway, laying his elbows on the table and crossing his fingers together. "I brought you here to make a... Business proposition... "Once again, Mr. Back looked quite intrigued by this, while the other two were still cautious. "I understand that the three of you have a particular interest in some specific members of the Champions of Peace. An organization that I..." He withdrew the symbol he had used to access the safehouse. "... Have now infiltrated. I saved the child of Sovereign Son and Mistress Redhead. They owe me a debt of gratitude and trust me absolutely. So now, I intend to exploit this trust." Now Gambler and Darkchild looked interested. "Gambler. You seek vengeance against War Killer, who tore an apprentice from your clutches and brainwashed her into becoming a hero. I can offer you that vengeance. Darkchild. You have a... Special relationship with Talon, but with her new place on a team of heroes you are unable to play with her. I can give you that. DaggerKlutz. You are the arch-nemesis of Eclipse, you seek to humiliate and embarrass him. I can offer you the opportunity to do so. My resources are yours, gentlemen. As a Champion of Peace I can lure each hero into the trap of your choosing and you may do as you will. All I ask in return is that you remember the opportunity I have given you and, in return, grant me a small favour." He stared at Gambler and Darkchild for a moment. Surreal had told them of his ultimate goal of killing Eclipse, but not DaggerKlutz. The Klutz did not desire the death of his foe and telling Patrick of his plans would only cause him to abandon the union of villains altogether.
"I cannot converse with you in person from now on, but you will all be able to communicate your plans to me through my mother." Damian stood up, as those who had actually sat down followed suit. "I look forward to working with you." He grinned, as each of the three villains made their exit. Surreal bent down until she was level with the eyes of her son.
"I love you, my son. But please, be careful. This is a dangerous plot, if you are to be discovered... The Lockharts may not even hesitate to kill you."
"Not that they could." Damian grinned in reply. Surreal smiled, stroking his cheek and kissing his forehead before making her own departure. Once all the villains had left, Hesperus began to tear down the safehouse, erasing all evidence he had ever been there. He tore huge chunks in the wall and pulled in water from the pipes outside, until the entire base was full with a raging whirlpool of dirty water, while Damian stood in the centre, untouched. As the water raged, he charged up his power, before simultaneously unleashing a blast of gravitational and electrical energy, and teleporting to safety in a flash of green light. The safehouse crumbled, the roof came tumbling down and all technology was rendered useless. But Hesperus had completed the first stage in his plan.
The game was afoot.
“Miss Laura” her eyes darted behind her to see the female nurse, Mrs Jane standing a few feet away. Her long blond locks of hair shimmered in the last light of day as a warm smile wrapped around her lips. Talon looked slightly surprised as she wiped her eyes a moment. Previously the young assassin was on the outskirts of the COP base lost in her own mind. She seldom spend time in doors. And since this base was located on a island she really had no where better to go when she wanted to be alone. “I am sorry, I saw you on the roof top and saw you jump so I-“ But Laura cut her off swiftly raising her hands in reassurance. But then realized that her voice was gone. A sting to her throat pierced her as she opened her mouth but no words left. She had forgotten, the full moon was gone and with it her voice.Instead she broke a warm smile patting the nurse on the shoulder in an attempt to assure everything was alright.
“I just wasn’t sure yah know” Jane started as she looked away a moment “I mean since I found you like…well” she paused to look cautiously back at Laura to see if she was triggering anything negative but the expression on the girls face remained naturally cold and careless. The thing was three days ago she had found Laura’s body fully burned and laying on the shore of the Champions of Peace base. Obviously she got the girl medical attention but her healing factor had done most of the work. But ever since then she had noticed something had changed, not to mention that hideous scar on her back. Jane cringed to recall it. It was like a self inflicted burn upon the young girls flipside that curled over her right shoulder, which obviously explained why the young Champions member kept her back and shoulders always covered after that event.
Talon couldn't say anything she wished she could but she knew it was a futile effort. So that she walked right pass the nurse leaving her no option for a reply. A light breeze blew against her hair as she made way toward the Champions main base. Right now she wanted to be alone. As much as she was grateful for the nurse for caring so much right now Laura didn’t want to speak to anybody. Jane stood there watching helpless as she saw the girl go around a corner and disappear. She knew it was not her place to question what had happened but she could not help making her own personal assumption. Either way she worried for her.
Laura as she made the turn around the corner let out a deep sigh. A weight like no other hung on her shoulders as if suddenly the whole world had been placed in her care. Being a hero was hard enough, being part of the secretive group Shadow Squad made things harder and now with her own personal conflicts since her experience in the King of the Vine tournament had caused more responsibility fall upon her. Her feet then came to a halt as she looked up to a window several stories up. Checking to ensure no one was near she unleashed all six of her claws as she began to scale the wall up to her room. She knew its exact location along with the fact it reeked of her scent. Slowly she managed to pry open her window and slide in cautiously before shutting it tight and drawing the curtains.
With that her body collapsed on her made bed before she shut her eyes. She wanted to sleep if only her mind would allow it. It was not that she didn’t need it, she hadn’t gotten much sleep since the questioning but her mind was too terrified that if she drifted off into slumber that she would be overwhelmed with nightmares that would not allow her to wake up. Instead she laid flat on her bed her hands sliding across the covers as she thought back to her painful escape from the Child of darkness.
After her battle with Portrait.
The icy sting from the water resonated through her skin even now. She had been laying here for what felt like minuets but truly it was hours. She knew this because she had counted the seconds over and over in her head. Her body was stiff as if she had been frozen solid and was now slowly being thawed out. As her body remained motionless she started to feel a sense of heat running through her veins as that must have been her heart rate speeding up. The ground was hard and rough like that of a unevenly graveled road. Her eyes slowly opened as darkness filled them, but not just any darkness a living darkness. One that she could feel breathing heavily upon her skin, that she could feel slithering between her fingers.
Endless silence engulfed the area as she finally mustered the strength to turn her body over to its side. As her finger tips slid against the moist ground she instantly fell on her face. Gritting her teeth in anguish she couldn’t come to understand why that blunder had occurred. But all of a sudden the cold icy sting of her battle with Portrait surfaced in her mind as the whole battle replayed itself before her eyes. The cold realization that her arm had remained in that watery gave hit her like a ton of bricks. Sliding her hand in a position she propped up her body and finally was able to sit up. Her hair slummed over her shoulders and in front of her faces she flickered her eyes but no light shimmered from anywhere.
Her right hand slowly slid across the ground as finally it managed to hit what felt like the wall. Using this present knowledge she pulled herself up. Staggering to her feet she clutched the wound of her shoulder as blood gushed out of it. Instantly her head felt dizzy as for a moment she thought she would end up back on the floor. Using the wall as her guide she slid her fingers across it, it served as the only thing to keep her from collapsing due to lack of strength. Continuing down what appeared to be a tunnel a dim green light began to shimmer before her. It’s rays causing the whole area to form a eerie dim glow around it. As she turned around a corner her eyes wavered violently as she took in the pure bright light, everything for a moment was hazy. While her vision cleared she saw what appeared to be a large archaic computer screen. The only thing on the screen was the white and black static that shifted each second causing disorientation to take its toll, forcing the silver eyed girl to look away.
“Hello Dear” a cold voice echoed off the monolithic walls that stretched around the cave like room. Her head turned as she tried to find the individual that caused the noise but deep in her soul she knew who it was. His voice like that of a snake but a seducer mixed into one. It aroused and scared her at the same time, and it awoken something within her. An instant pain reeked through her head as she fell to her feet digging her nails into the harsh rocky terrain. Letting out gasps of air her midnight hair stuck to her face as the moist atmosphere began sinking in. Her eyes slowly lifting from the ground when she noticed that the screen was now showing some sort of battle taking place in what appeared to be an air craft hanger.
At first she didn’t find it of any significance to her but as whatever camera was recording zoomed in she realized the individual in the heat of a battle. A gasp shattered the silence as she staggered toward the screen placing her hand flat on it when she whispered “Charles…” his red white a blue uniform was unmissable and his opponent, Laura knew also: Light. She had never faced him but she had several encounters in her past concerning this individual. Slowly her hand formed a fist as she beat against the screen. What was going on? Where was she!? And how the hell did she get here?! But as these questions ran over and over in the back of her mind another voice was awakened. “Hello Laura” once again the earth quaking agony fell over the young girl as her nails screeched down the screen, while the pain was bringing her to her knees.
Her head bend down, she placed her hand over it in attempt to block out the pain the voices but nothing stopped it. “Sweet little Laura, I’ve missed you.” His voice a bitter sweet mix of sugar and vinegar while her head slowly turned. And what her eyes laid upon caused the hairs on her skin to stand up. Slowly she got to her feet once more, to anchor herself she unleashed her claws digging them into the ground. “You…” she whispered her voice raspy and her throat dry. All she could see was the silhouette of the hulking body, that contained a male gender. But as the individual took a step forward into the eerie green light his features became obvious. Tall, handsome everything she remembered him to be. If not for the fact he was evil incarnate she might have been slightly attracted to him.
“Come back to play?” A low growl resonated from the back of her throat as her claws unleashed, the dim hazy light shimmering off then when she pointed her right hand claws directly at him. “Quiet!” she shouted as she didn’t want to engage in banter-she knew where that would lead. “What have you done with the hero War Killer?” her tone was serious and feral, she was like a wolf ready to strike at any moment. Darkchild chuckled deeply and as he did the whole room shook. Despite the quaking the young assassins stance remained stern. Slowly the lord of darkness took a few steps toward her but stopped as she shouted out “Don’t take a step closer!” A devious smile wrapped around his lips as he did take that final step, and with that step was in hands reach of Laura’s only remaining arm.
“Come now my child, must we be so formal?” a deceitful snicker slipped through his pail lips as he glided his hands across Laura’s arm. She wanted to pull back, to slice off each of his fingers but something with in her couldn’t allow it. Instead she was immobilized by his touch her eyes helplessly grazing up at the towering being. His right hand slid up her shoulder as he took another step closer, and while he did her hand came flat against this chest. Her silver eyes stared at him, like the eyes of a hypnotized deer staring into the oncoming head lights of a car, unable to escape instant danger even on sight.
His hands curled around her shoulders and her arm slid up against him. They were now heart beats away as she suddenly snapped out of her de ja vu phase. Her claws in her right hand shot up only to be caught by his strong grip as he forced her arm to retreat its attack. Moving his left hand he slid it up to her hair, curling it between his fingers as a dazed smile was on his lips. “It’s been an eternity.” Knowing that any retaliation would be a fail, Laura instead engaged in banter. “Release the hero!” she said through clenched teeth as parts of her hair fell over her forehead. All he did was smile, lowering himself so that they were now staring eye to eye. “Now why would I do that.” He whispered his hand gliding up and down her check. At the same time she felt both disgust and desire. She didn’t understand what was happening! He had ruined her life she had to fight back!
“Stop fighting Laura.” X-23’s voice pierced the young helpless girls consciousness as the ultimate truth resounded. X-23, on teleportation had merged herself back with Talon it was so obvious! Why couldn’t she had realized it! Her silver eyes, they didn’t just happen they were proof that the hidden demon had once again lodged herself by choice in the young girls soul. And that by logical cause would explain her hesitancy to fighting back. X-23 her counterpart was deeply in love with Darkchild, she realized it on that night on Ninjeta when they shared that passion kiss, a Kiss that even now Laura found herself yearning for once again. This wasn’t good, two powerful forces one controlling Laura from the inside and the other seducing her on the outside; and doing a good job stood in her way from saving the only person she KNEW she loved and the only person she desired!
Yet….she desired Darkchild more. Her arms relaxed as for a few seconds her mind cleared, their faces grew close but just like clockwork Laura’s head snapped back as she broke his hold. Her body swayed backward until her back rammed up against the wall. Shaking her head she allowed her strands of moist hair to batter her face in a way to try and regain some common sense! “Release War Killer!” she cried out her eyes focused on the ground, she couldn’t look at him out of fear that she will fall into the same trance once more. Yet the lord was persistent as he approached the frighten girl once more his hand pressed against the wall to lean in closer. “And why would I do that?” he asked again as he whispered into her hear “What shall I receive in return?”
Goose bumps littered Lauras body as her hair stood on end in fear. She knew what he was eluding too and she couldn’t accept! She knew once she was in bondage to this man there would be no way out. She would lose everything she had tried so hard to gain, Her team, her friends being a hero…Charles, and there would be no return. “NO!” she said shaking her head but he swiftly grasped her chin yet remained gentle in the act. Slowly moving her face he forced her to look upon him once more. As she stared into his eyes, the feeling of lust grew stronger. “Stop fighting” she heard X-23 once again litter those words in her mind but she would not obey! “Then he shall remain trapped until he starves or simply gets devoured." She could hear X-23 whisper in the back of her mind.
Her eyes rolled back into their sockets as the scene changed and a dark background was no once again filling her mind. The black haired creature; X-23 stood in the midst of shadows her silver eyes glowing brightly like twin moons. Her hands were outstretched as if welcoming Laura to a warm sisterly embrace. But Talon knew that embrace only held death. “Stop fighting and let us become one.” She said subtly as she extended her hand outward to where Laura was standing. Eternity laid in the balance as the deep blue haired mercenary took a step forward. She wanted to stop fighting, this internal conflict of herself and X-23 had torn the very soul of Laura and exhausted her mentally. She wanted this inner war to end and live a life of freedom and pure choice.
But the scene faded and she returned to discover her lips inches away from Darkchilds. Her eyes grew wide in shock as she slid down her back scraping against the wall causing blood to stain it. She cringed in pain but it didn’t matter, the lord of darkness reached down and grasped her wrist pulling her up almost exactly after. Her eyes were shut as she whimpered slightly. Tears built in her eyes as she finally said “Please….whatever you want please let the hero go.” Her voice was filled with pain as she knew what she was doing. Yet the harsh grip on her right hand faded as she could feel him slowly relinquish his hand from her wrist. “As you wish.” Was the only word she heard for when she opened her eyes Darkchild was gone, and the only proof of him every being here was the heat resonating off her shoulders.
Her body remained still a moment as she turned her face back to the screen, she watched the young hero stumble around like a lost child. A weak smile curled across her lips as she held back the tears before outstretching her hand flat on the screen and closed her eyes. In a world like this where nothing was impossible she knew for a fact that she needed to act now. As the palm of her hand was focused on the computer screen the world around her faded as when she opened her eyes she found herself instantly standing before War Killer. Her silver toned eyes gazed out at him a moment as a warm smile was around her lips. To her shock she realized that her arm had somehow reappeared and was once again reattached to her.
“Charlie.” She whispered a moment as she held out her hand toward him as it started to glow a dim blue. His shocked emerald eyes gazed at her with confusion. She knew he must have had questions but what was done was done and she really didn’t have time to explain. Walking toward him she placed the palm of her hand on his cheek as she kissed him on the nose and whispered in his ear “You won’t remember any of this.”….
At COP Base
Her eyes shot back open, she jolted from her bed. Sweat dripped from her face as her hands dug into her covers. Taking in one coarse breath after another she began to calm herself down. The pain from the memories leached off the very essence of her being. Even though she had dozed off she felt even more tired than before now. Running her hands through her hair she got to her feet. Though she staggered slightly she refused to lay on that bed again, she refused to enter into another tormenting nightmare. Removing her shirt to reveal nothing but a simple black bra, she walked in front of her mirror and stared at herself. Pivoting herself she was able to catch a glimpse of the scar that screeched down her back. Ever since the infirmary staff of the COP found her washed upon the shore she had this scar of her back. It curled from her back up to her right hand shoulder. Moving her right hand she touched before cringing in pain. It had now taken on a black colour like it was poisoning her from the inside out. Too many unanswered questions there were too many.
From what she knew War Killer recalled everything of the KOV, except how he got to earth and that was fine. She didn't need him involved in this. Throwing on a black shirt she shook off the grim feeling and left her eerie dorm to enter into the hall way. As usual it was empty, she did chose the most isolated room in the whole base. Anyway she doubted any of the members would have wanted to be housed next to her, they’d probably go to sleep in fear she’d kill them in the midst of the night. Laura exhausted and tired thought the best thing she should do was go somewhere and enjoy herself. Ever since she had lost her voice once more, her contact with War Killer had grown to a instant halt. As much as she desired his company she could not bring herself to put him through that. She knew he was regretful, blaming himself for her muteness and no matter what she tried he probably would never get over that until the appropriate time and she could do nothing to speed it up.
Not wanting to put the hero through any more pain she had sworn herself off from him. Not officially for he knew not what was running through her mind. She just went the extra mile to stay away from him, it was the best thing she could do right now. And as her life was going it was the safest thing for him to be away from her. So silently Laura wandered down the corridor, physically exhausted and mentally tormented. And as much as she wanted to push all that had happened aside, she knew that this wasn’t the end…it couldn’t be.
DaggerKlutz looked at the sewage filled path with a disgusted look on his face. The invitation for the humiliation of Eclipse told him precise directions but there was no mention of hideously filthy sewage. At first, DaggerKlutz refused to go any farther, even when the other villains continued on without him. After all, while he was rich there was no need to dirty up a good business suit. So DaggerKlutz decided that he would find another way to get through and into the 'secret bunker of evil planning of Eclipse's defeat'. DaggerKlutz chuckled at his brilliantly nickname for the destination as he checked his personal to see if he had anything of use. Luckily, the evil genius found an inflatable rubber boat in his pants pocket. It took a few minutes to inflate it but when he was sailing down the sewage stream he caught up with the other villains.
When they reached a doorway with broken electronic security systems the sewage water under them began to unnaturally lift from the ground. DaggerKlutz wasn't sure what was causing it but he was satisfied that he wouldn't need to sail through those dirty waters anymore. DaggerKlutz got out of his rubber and followed the two other villains in. A young boy wearing a brightly colored costume greeted them and offered them a seat by impressively creating a table set out of rubble. DaggerKlutz felt a surge of confidence from seeing this kid's powers. Something told his that this was going to be an evil plan that would be marveled for years.
DaggerKlutz pulled out a small pillow and set it down on his chair since he didn't want to just sit on uncomfortable concrete. Then the boy spoke, "I brought you here to make a... Business proposition... " DaggerKlutz leaned forward. He liked the sound of 'business proposition'. It hinted at two things he was talented at; making money and being evil. "I understand that the three of you have a particular interest in some specific members of the Champions of Peace. An organization that I have now infiltrated. I saved the child of Sovereign Son and Mistress Redhead. They owe me a debt of gratitude and trust me absolutely. So now, I intend to exploit this trust. Gambler. You seek vengeance against War Killer, who tore an apprentice from your clutches and brainwashed her into becoming a hero. I can offer you that vengeance. Darkchild. You have a... Special relationship with Talon, but with her new place on a team of heroes you are unable to play with her. I can give you that." At this point DaggerKlutz was getting bored. There was no mention of any plan and there were not any bowl of candy available. This meeting was beginning to suck. First there was that sewage stream and now the hospitality seemed lacking. Whoever this boy was, he made a terrible host.
"DaggerKlutz." The mysterious boy said. Now the Bald Baddie was sitting up straight. Finally, they had gotten to the best part. Him. "You are the arch-nemesis of Eclipse, you seek to humiliate and embarrass him. I can offer you the opportunity to do so. My resources are yours, gentlemen. As a Champion of Peace I can lure each hero into the trap of your choosing and you may do as you will. All I ask in return is that you remember the opportunity I have given you and, in return, grant me a small favor. I cannot converse with you in person from now on, but you will all be able to communicate your plans to me through my mother." Then the boy stood up. DaggerKlutz looked at everyone else and stood up as well. "I look forward to working with you."
Darkchild and Gambler began to head towards the exit. DaggerKlutz wanted to ask a few questions, learn a bit about the other villains he was working with, and maybe tell a few stories about sinister things they have done but if he stayed then he would be out of the loop and he couldn't be out of the loop when it came to evil. So he left along with the others.
DaggerKlutz got back in his rubber boat and began to row back. After a while of rowing he began to hear something collapsing. DaggerKlutz looked back but at the secret bunker of evil planning of Eclipse's defeat but it was no longer in sight. DaggerKlutz just shrugged his shoulders and began to laugh. Eclipse's defeat was afoot.
"I am fully confident in my son's ability to mastermind such a delicate undertaking, Jean. He's quite gifted." the unmistakable harmony of a mother's protective tone resonating in the voice of the deadly assassin, Surreal Diablo. The cold mountain top breeze blowing her midnight colored hair across her face, obstructing it from view giving her a heightened sense of mystery. "And with your newly abandoned Shadowland members waging war on your former country, you will find your commitment well rewarded when the day comes." she paused, letting the gravity of her words weigh on the thoughts of the self-proclaimed King of Kings. "You know what dee endgame of all dis will be no? Going after dhem in dis fashion, it'll help serve as a rallying cry for all dee heroes. It'll be, war." responded the ever vigilant Cajun. "Perhaps, but have faith. Hesperus is wise beyond his years, his tactical know how is as calculating and precise as any top level strategist. I promise you will be covered on the back end. Every possible action and reaction has been thoroughly dissected in order to form a perfectly structured plan of attack. It'll be the COP's darkest hour."
Gambler nonchalantly leaned against on of the structures concrete support beams as the young prince of crime laid out his detailed plan of revenge. A quick glance around the room revealed a virtual "who's who" of the criminal underworld. But the Cajun's focus remained steady, as with each passing moment he was surprisingly becoming more and more impressed with the methodical acumen of the young assassin."Gambler. You seek vengeance against War Killer, who tore an apprentice from your clutches and brainwashed her into becoming a hero. I can offer you that vengeance." the confident mastermind boldly stated. Receiving a slight nod of approval from the Aristocratic Assassin before continuing his well prepared speech. However Gambler had drifted off, remembering back to that faithful duel beneath the foundation of OsC where the combined forces of Eclipse and War Killer helped free the tortured soul of Talon X-23. A prodigy with unlimited potential. Her only flaw, a loving heart that had found refuge in the arms of the hero War Killer.
But now Gambler was being given an opportunity to rectify that flaw. Not only that, but Hesperus had created a multilayer-ed plan of revenge that would leave the heroes decimated. The Mad Titan, Darkchild, became visibly animated as he flashed a confidently smug grin upon hearing that he would finally have the chance to confront X-23. Seemingly unimpressed, the leader of the largest criminal organization and Hairy Back Corporation tycoon, DaggerKlutz, drew out a small pillow from his coat in order to fully enjoy his seating experience. The Bald Baddie was to be served Ecplise. Brash young leader of the Champions of Peace. Having no idea that the viper like assassin Hesperus was plotting his demise from within. Three of the iconic COP's members had now been targeted by carefully selected killers from their pasts.
As the meeting concluded Gambler simply turned and exited the safehouse. Immediately ducking into the vibrating chassis of a Black Hawk helicopter as it began to take off, accelerating up into the air with Living Legend's entourage of well armed bodyguards. "WE'LL KEEP IN COMMUNICATION WIT DIS!" shouted the accent rich Cajun, trying to talk over the continuous roaring of the twin massive blades overhead. He held out a state of the art holographic touch PDA. "AS SOON AS WAR KILLER SURFACES ON DEE GRID, HOPEFULLY WE'LL KNOW WHEN AND WHERE.!" he continued.
Location: Champions Tower, War Killer’s Quarters
The sounds of terrified moans of agony and pain filled the room of the young Champion know as War Killer, his body twisting and turning under the sheets of his head as the nightmare that his mind was now lost too began to take its toll on the sleeping hero.
Lost within his mind, he found himself wondering endlessly through the aircraft hangar in which he had be brought to in order to fight the one known as Light as a form of entertainment for their captor, to whom this day Charles had no idea was. He wondered the hanger, like a lost puppy searching for its owner, but only to become even more lost and confused. “Son.” A deep voice sounded suddenly from behind the wondering hero, a voice that he thought he would never hear again. His head quickly jerked back to see from whom the voice was coming from, his surroundings, the hanger itself, randomly gone and replaced by utter darkness and black, but this fact didn’t even registered to the boy, no, all that matter to him was the two figures standing in front of him. “M…mom? Dad?” His voiced crackled slightly as he spoke, his eyes filling with tears as step by step he made his way towards them as he could only wonder if his mind was playing tricks on him. But it was not, it was his mother and father, the two heroes of his world known as Captain America and Black Widow, the greatest heroes he had ever known.
“It’s us son.” His father said to him, his voice, as if it echoed through the darkness. Charles couldn’t believe it, just a few feet away from him, were his parents, his father in red, white, and blue uniform that almost matched the young heroes whom he had designed his after, stood up straight and strong like he always did; his shield on his left arm. His mother stood beside his father, her arms wrapped around his neck as she wore her black leather uniform, her emerald eyes glowing brightly in the darkness, a trait Charles had gotten from her. “It’s okay, honey. We’re here.” His mother’s voice was sweet and gentle, instantly calming Charles, whom was at the brink of breaking down in tears, down. “Mom….dad….I’ve….I’ve missed you so much, I..I--” Chares voice crackled under the emotional force of both sadness and joy that he was trying so hard to keep under control.
“Son…” his father said once more, causing Charles to wipe away the tears from his eyes as he stood the best he could at attention to his father, “…I need you to listen very closely, Charles.” His eyes met his fathers, who voice had captured absolutely all of the young patriot’s attention. “You can’t save everyone.” Charles instantly fell to his hands and knees upon hearing those words, as a sharp pain, as if he had just been hit by a raging bull, struck every part of his body. Those were the words Charles never wanted to hear, not from anyone, from his teammates, his friends, Eclipse or Talon, not from anyone….especially his father. “Y-yes…Yes I can!” Charles shouted as tears began to roll down his face. “Sweetheart…” His mother’s soft voice called out to the emotionally distraught hero, causing him to look up at his mother once more. Her emerald eyes looking right into his own, as she gave him a smile that would only remind him of every moment he had spent with her, every moment he now long to live again. “…You can’t.” Her warm smile remained, but her words were cold. And as she spoke, both she and Charles’ father’s bodies began to fade away, moving further and further backwards, back into the darkness.
“N-no--!” His voice let out a slight cry as he saw them slowly fading back. Quickly jumping to his feet, he jolted into the darkness after them. “No! Don’t go! Come back!” His feet moving as fast as he could, moving faster and faster as he cashed after them, as they faded deeper and deeper away from, farther into the darkness known as the Void. “Please! Come Back!” His voice begged them as he cried out, their bodies slowly fading into the darkness. “Come Back! Come--” But without warning, the ground below him was now gone. Looking forward, he got one last glance of his parents, both of them smiling at him, a smile that he could never forget, a smile that was now gone, gone as the young Champions body began to descend, deeper into the darkness below, “--Baaaaaaaaahhh!!!”
“Ugh!” He let out a sharp yelp of pain as his body slammed into the dark floor below. Slowly picking himself up, he found himself surrounded in darkness, lost in the void of nothingness. “Charlie…” A soft voice echoed through the darkness once more, but this time belonging to the one girl Charles had always dreamed of seeing. “Laura?” His voice was gargled as the pain of the fall still remained. Slowly leaning up off his back which he was laying on, he looked up at her as she leaned down next to him, as with her sweet smile, her green eyes linked with his own. His body froze as he was now lost within the green ocean of her soul, their heads moving closer towards one another as both of their eyes slowly closed as they came closer. Her cheek slowly grazing his own as her lips moved closer towards his ear; and with a soft voice, as her warm breath slowly rushed over his ear, she slowly began to whisper, “…you won’t remember any of this.” Quickly his eyes opened, only to find himself blinded as a bright blue light engulfed his body, Talon was gone, and now….so was he.
“Uuh--!” He let out with a deep gasp, his eyes shooting open, as he awoke. Slowly leaning his body up forwards, he let out a few more gasps of air as sweat dripped from his face. His eyes wide open, his heart pounding hard as he continued to feel short of breath. Quickly pulling the bed sheets off of him, he got out of bed, looking out his window, seeing as the sun was just beginning to rise so the morning could start. Looking over at the clock on his lamp table next to his bed, he could see it was now 6:07am. Sitting down at the edge of the bed, he ran his hands through his sweat soaked blondish brown hair, gripping clomps of it as if he wanted to just pull them right out of his head in frustration, “Yes….” he whispered as he fell backwards onto the mattress, remembering what his parents had told him, “yes….I can.”
Location: Training/Practice Gym, Champions Tower.
Making his way from the gym’s locker room, Charles made his way into the room. Now wearing a sleeveless blue t-shirt that had a white star on the front, along with pair of gray sweatpants, he walked past your normal work-out equipment like a treadmill and weights, along with other equipment you’d see in a gym. Looking around, he didn’t see anyone else, but he wouldn’t have expected anyone else to be in the gym this early in the morning anyways, which was just what he wanted, one where peaceful and quite.
Making his way into the corner of the gym, he found his feet moving across a steel like surface that covered a semi-large circle arena that was in one of the corner of the rooms, the arena was used for practice fighting and other physical training, a place to let loss and work on a person’s fighting skills…and also a place to work out your frustrations of the day. “Computer: Activate training scenario 2213.” He ordered as he threw his gym bag to the side of the arena. Looking forwards, the center of the arena slowly opened as a humanoid-like robot arose from it; it was a training robot that was used for practice fighting and defensive demonstration, the gym had a good number of them that could be used to train someone in how to defeat an opponent even when if he or she were outnumbered, they were also self-repairing and were able to become the deadliest of fighters depending on what training scenario they were programmed to.
The robot stood a few feet away from Charles, its soulless metallic body standing up firm as a powerless paperweight. Popping his knuckles, his eyes focused on the machine before then closing shut, his mind focusing as he tried to clear his thoughts, to get out of his mind for at least a little while and get some training in….but it was useless, his mind couldn’t get over the fact that his parents were right. Charles let out a deep sigh, “Activate.” And with that one command, the robot sprung to life, its eyes lighting up blue as it formed a fighting stance, then without a second’s hesitation, the machine charged forward. Maybe his day was right, he knew it was a dream, but still….maybe they were-- “You can’t save everyone.” Charles eyes quickly shot open once more as he heard those words echo throughout his mind.
Charging full speed, the robot threw its metal fist forward towards the young hero. Reacting swiftly, Charles’ hand move forward grabbing the robot’s arm, while placing the other on the bots chest and using its own weight and speed against itself, Charles flipped the robot into the air, sending it crashing to the ground on its back. But as it slammed against the metal floor, the machine swept its metal leg across, knocking the boy of his feet and backwards towards the ground. Catching himself quickly, Charles used the fall to his advantage, leaning back fair enough, he threw his hands back, catching his own weight and then pushing hard against the ground, send his body backwards into the air, performing a back flip.
“I can save everyone.” His mind began to wonder he landed on his feet. The robot charged towards him once more, throwing another jab at him. “I have to…” holding up his right arm, the arm he would normally be holding his shield on, he blocked the punch by allowing to slid across his arm, leading it away from his face or chest and instead causing the robot’s attack to pass right by him. “…I don’t have a choice in the matter; I don’t think I can take anymore of this…” Throwing its body back around, the robot slung its leg back towards him. Thinking quick, Charles blocked the kick by throwing up both of his arms, letting them take the impact, but thanks to the force of the blow, a high pitch squeak sounded as Charles’ bare feet slid across the cold metal arena. “…my parents, my family, my friends. Everyone…” Now taking the offensive, Charles threw his arms down as he charged towards the robot, getting up and close the machine, delivering a quick blow to where it’s ribs would be, then sending a fast kick to its side, “…I lost them all once…” but to his surprise, the robot managed to grasp a hold of his leg, and with a quick spin, it was able to send Charles rolling across the ground. “…all of them, gone. But somehow, someway, I’ve manage to find that all again, to find a new world…a new home, new friends, a new family, Eclipse, Cell….Laura….” his body turning on its back, causing him to slide across the floor as he used his hands to slow the speed of his slide, and kicking his feet to the side, causing his body to flip over onto his knees as he still slid backwards, before coming to a complete stop, “….I won’t lose that all again…” Jumping to his feet, he ran towards the robot once more, his face now filled with a slightness of rage as his frustration grew, “…I won’t lose the people I care about…” sending a hard jab towards the machine, only to its hand fly up, catching Charles’ fist as it was only inches away from the machine’s head, “…I can’t lose them, not again. I don’t care what anyone says, I don’t care what my parents tell me…” His eyes now filled with anger, his only free hand now clutching together into another fist, his knuckles popping, “…I CAN SAVE EVERYONE…” and in a furious fit of rage, Charles threw his fist flying forward towards the robot’s head once more, “…‘You can’t’…” his mother’s voice sent a feeling of hopelessness and fear down the young patriot’s body, his mind not even registering that the robot had just grabbed his other fist, and was throwing him through the air. Charles eyes grew wider as he felt the pain of his body being slammed into the ground, enough pain to snap his mind back into reality, right in time to find his body pinned to the ground, and to find the training robot over him, its fist raised and ready to land the final blow to his skull. “Deactivate.” But with the quick command, the robot froze, its yellow glowing eyes going black as with one word, it shutdown.
“Well that was pretty sad.” A voice said out to Charles as he got up off the ground. Looking up he found himself staring at a young girl, who appeared to be about twelve, maybe thirteen. She was wearing a blue hooding with torn jeans, her eyes were green and her hair was a brownish red. “It got a lucky shot.” Charles sad in reply, still a bit confused as to why a little girl was now mocking his skills. “Noooo…you were too busy in ‘my head land’ and weren’t paying attention. Which is sad, because you should always been paying attention.” The young girl said with a smart-aleck tone in her voice as she smiled at him. Walking over to his gym bag, he gave the girl a glare of annoyance as he pulled out a towel, which with he wiped the sweat from his face with. “Am I really being lectured on how to fight by a nine year old?” The girl crossed her arms as she then him the same look. “Yes….because you need it. And I’m twelve by the way, hmph.” She said as she stuck her head up to the side, all stubbornly. “Don’t you have something better to do than annoy me? And why are you even in here, are you one of those new recruits for the Young Champions that Blair always forgets to warn me about?” Charles said as he leaned up against the wall, his towel now around his neck as he pulled out a bottle of Dr. Pepper from his bag. “Nooo…” she said as she began to climb up on and play on one of the balance beams, “…I’m here to warn you about the future, duh.” He quickly looked over at her as she began to walk and balance on the beam, acting as if what she had said was nothing at all. “Wait….what?” Charles said as he wiped the soda from his mouth, now confused at what the girl was saying. “Something bad is about to happen, Charlie ol’boy, something really, really bad.” She said as she continued to walk across the beam, her arms stretched out to both her sides as she used them to balance with. Charles gave her a look of both confusion and curiosity, he was confused by what she was saying, but for some reason, he couldn’t help but feel as if….he knew her somehow, “Wait…who are you anyways?” He asked with full curiousness. “My names, Abigail….” Charles then heard as his communicator began to go off in his gym bag, “…but my friends call me Abby. And I’m here to tell you something important.” Charles now distracted by the message he had just received, hearing every other word she said, “Uh-huh…and what’s that?” The young girl then looked at him with full seriousness as he was half distracted, “You can’t save everyone.” Charles’ mind took a second to register what she had said as he continued to fiddle with his communicator, “Yeah…wait, how did you know my….” But just like that, Charles’ head jerked up at the girl as his mind finally heard what she had just said, “What did you just--?!” But to his shock, the girl was gone, as if…she wasn’t even there to begin with.
Location: Chicago, Illinois.
Following the message he had gotten, Charles found himself in U.S. Army helicopter, being transported to some type of facility in the city of Chicago. “Alright boys, here’s what’s up…” General Manson said as he stood from his seat walk in between Charles, who was now in his War Killer uniform, and a few other soldiers who were onboard with him, “…we just got a report that one of our medical faculties here has been attacked. We have reports that everyone made it out safely, with the exception of four who have now, as fair as we know, been taking hostage.” Charles’ mask was pulled down, allowing his blondish brown hair to be seen as he leaned his head up against the metal hull of the copter, listening carefully to the general’s rundown of the situation at hand.
“What kind of facility is this again?” One of the soldiers asked. General Manson looked over at the boy as his hand held onto one of the metal bars that was hanging down from ceiling off the copter, “It’s a government research and development facility for medical purposes, where we create new medicines and vaccines for the public…and more importantly, for soldiers who have been wounded or injured in combat. So you can see why this is a big deal.” Answered the general. Manson had always came off cocky to Charles, he knew his trust in supers was crappy, and the only fact that he had Charles around was because he wasn’t counted as “super” in Manson’s opinion…just another good soldier who just so happens to wear a flashy costume.
“Do we have any information of the attackers?” Charles blurted out, hoping to get some actual useful information. General Manson quickly looked over at Charles, “Reports say that four men walked into the building and opened fire. Everyone managed to get okay, except for four who were on the upper floors. Three men armed, and reports say that the last one was wearing some type of battle armor.” He answered the young soldier. “Great…. armored super-villains.” Charles rolled his eyes at the thought, it never changes, some random villain attacks a government building, takes hostages, and tries to steal some short of new experiment to sell on the black market or make new dirty-bomb, same old, same old.
Hovering over the drop zone, the back of the helicopter lower lowered as Charles made his way to the edge, his hands hanging on to the sides of the copter, as he prepared to jump. “GIVE ME THE MOST RECENT UPDATE!” Charles shouted as sound of the copter’s blades made it hard to speak clearly. “BOYS ON THE GROUND SAY THAT THREE OF THE HOSTAGES ARE ON THE TOP FLOOR STILL, COVERED BY TWO OF THE ATTACKERS. THEY SAY THEY THINK THE LAST HOSTAGE IS IN THE BASEMENT OF THE BUILDING, ALONG WITH LAST TWO ATTACKERS!” One of the soldiers shouted as he answered back. “I’LL TAKE CARE OF THE ONES IN THE BASEMENT, THE REST OF YOU TAKE CARE OF THE ONES ON THE TOP FLOORS.” He ordered as he pulled his mask over his face, his eyes now glaring over at the building below. “BOOYAH!” And with that shout and a slight smirk on his face, he leaped from the copter, sending him flying through the air, down towards the building below.
Skydiving down towards the building below, the wind spinning all around his body he spun through the air. Being as it was winter, the air was freezing, and the snow on the ground could be seen covering everything in sight as he came closer to the roof of the building. His eyes focusing on the roof, there was a section of it that was all glass, and since Charles didn’t bring a parachute…which he honestly swears he didn’t forget BEFORE jumping from the helicopter, he meant to do that, kinda…that section of the roof was exactly what he was aiming for. Just a few feet away from the glass, the wind ripping across him, with a quick jerk forward, the young hero slung his feet forward as he crashed through the glass sun roof, his arms cover his face and protecting his eyes.
Outstretching his hands, he clasped onto one of the support beams of the infrastructure that were in the ceiling, as broken glass fell around him. As he was literally “hangin’”, he scouted around until he found a small support beam. Swinging his legs back and forth until he got enough momentum, he let go of his grip of the beam he was holding onto, flinging his body over towards the beam. His hand grasping around it, he spun around the beam, using it as a quick way, like a fire pole, to reach the floor below. His feet landing safely on the ground, he made his way to the nearest elevator, not wanting to waste time, he pulled his shield around of his back, using it to pry open the elevator door. “Wow…thaaaat’s a long way down.” Charles said with a bit of surprise in his voice as he took a look down the elevators shaft. He was on the first floor of the building, and there had to be at least ten more floors below him from what he could tell, maybe more! Pulling out a small grappling hook from his belt, he fired it up at the elevator which was just one story up, then leaping down below, as the grappling hook descended him down to the lower levels of the building.
As he descended lower and lower down the elevator shaft, he immediately stopped as he found one of the lower floor’s elevator door ripped open. “Huh…this must be my floor.” He said as he swung forward into the doorway, landing on the ground, before quickly getting to his feet. The floor he was on now was much different than the ones up top, this floor was total sci-fi’ish as the floors and wall were all white and all of the doors had small windows on them, and the whole floor was freezing cold. “Well…the general did say this was a government facility, shouldn’t be surprised they have ‘secret floors’.” He said as he shrugged the surprise off, and continued to make his way down the hallway.
“Ya hear me--!” A voice shouted out angrily. Inside one of the high security areas on that floor, three figures stood next to a large metal vault door, one of the men was your average thug for hire, black ops type outfit, machine gun, and few little toys strapped to his legs and arms, nothing big, the second guy was the armored villain Charles had been warned about, the man was well-built, his suit covered his whole body, except for his head, it was gray and well built, but lacking any serious weapons, ‘cept for the two large, randomly placed chainsaws which he wore on both arms. “--I said get this door open, NOW!” The armored thug demanded as he threw the forth hostage at the controls to the vault. “I already told you! I don’t have the pass code! I’ve never even been ON this floor before!” The hostage shouted as he argued with the villain. The villain’s face quickly filled with rage once more as he heard the man’s insolence, “Listen here ya punk! The stuff in that vault is going to make me a rich man, ya hear me?! Now either you get it open right now or I’m going to--!” But his villainous temper tantrum was quickly cut off as Charles shield suddenly flew between the two of them, causing the villain to jerk backwards, and avoiding being hit. “What the--?” The villain shouted as he followed the patriotic shield as he flew back into the hands of the Star-Spangled. “Sorry, gentlemen. But Christmas is coming late this year.” Charles said as he quickly charged towards the unarmored thug first, and swiftly slamming his shield into the thugs face, taking out the pawns first, then the big gun. “No way! How did ya find us so fast?!” The villain shouted in astonishment as he activated his chainsaws, slashing out at Charles. Leaping upwards, Charles performed a front flip over the villain, avoiding his attack completely, “What, seriously? Dude, they can hear you in freakin’ England, you’re so loud!” Charles said with a smirk as he landed behind the armored man, only to duck as the villain swung his arm backwards, causing Charles to jump back to avoid being cut in two. “Shut up! No one makes fun of Captain Chainsaw! Ya hear me?! No one!!!” Captain Chainsaw shouted in frustration. “Are you kidding me? ‘Captain Chainsaw’? That’s the BEST you could come up with?!” Charles said with a slight chuckle, scary enough, Eclipse’s habit of battering with his villains was starting to rub off on him.
“I SAID; SHUT--” Capt. Chainsaw quickly shouted as he slammed his chainsaw down up Charles, who quickly held up his shield, letting it take the impact, “--UP!!!” The madman suddenly activated his saw, causing it to cut across the young hero’s shield, sending sparks in every direction. Gritting his teeth, Charles had to think fast or he was going to cut into pieces, sending his foot forward, he kicked Captain Chainsaw into the chest as Charles then, with all his strength pushed the lunatic off him, knocking him back a few feet. “ARRRGH!” Chainsaw let out a loud roar as again charged towards War Killer, throwing his left chainsaw forward towards the hero. But using his shield which was on his right arm, he manage to knock away the villain’s saw, as Charles then slung his fist at the man’s unprotected skull, landing a quick left jab to Chainsaw’s jaw. Then, as Chainsaw slug his right saw at Charles, the young Champion blocked the attack with his shield, before landing a sharp kick to the villain’s side with his right foot. Before then leaping over and behind the big guy, kicking him in the back was he was distorted, sending him wobbling into the metal door of the vault, “War Killer: One. Captain Dorksaw: Zero.” Charles said with a grin on his face.
“RRRAAAGH!” Chainsaw let out another shout of rage as he turned quickly around, getting ready to charge one more, “That is it, ya hear me?!” But before he could make a move, “Yeah…” War Killer sent his shield flying through the air, “…I hear ya.” His shield slicing across Chainsaw’s right arm, completely detaching the saw from his arm, causing it to simply fall to the ground, much to the villain’s shock. “THAT. IS. IT!!!” Now fully enraged, Chainsaw quickly held up his other saw as his back leaned up against the metal vault, the blade suddenly popping and spinning, breaking into multiple pieces, before then firing off into small, metal throwing stars, sending the flying right at Charles. “Oh crap.” The boy said as he held his shield, the “pinging” sound of a few of the blades could be heard as the bounced off the indestructible shield, only to feel the sharp stinging pain as the remaining blades sliced across his unprotected legs, “Ah!” He let out a slight scream as he fell to one knee. “Heh…hehe…” Captain Chainsaw let out a low chuckled as his back slid against the vault door, sliding to the ground. Looking up at the man, still feeling the pain in his legs, Charles was beginning to worry at what the madman was laughing about, “W-what so funny?” Charles questioned Chainsaw. But as he did, Charles’s body was filled with utter fear and terror as Chainsaw quickly pulled off the front metal piece of his armor, revealing what looked like none other than a small bomb. Charles’ eyes widened as his quickly darted over at the hostage who was cowering in the corner with fear, “No…” Charles whispered as Chainsaw quickly lifted his right arm, then looking back at Charles one last time with a sick grin on his face, “Boom.” And as he said this, he quickly pushed the button on his wrist. “N--!” But before Charles could even get one word out, Captain Chainsaw’s armor ignited, protected only buy his shield, Charles was violently sent flying backwards by the force of the blast.
“So…what happened next?”
Location: Medical Bay, Champions Tower
Sitting on one of the medical beds, Charles was being tended to by Nurse Jane, pushing her blond hair out of her face as she wrapped bandages around the beat up hero’s ribs. “After that, I found myself under a pile of rubble; I was the only one who had survived…thanks to my shield. Chainsaw’s bomb destroyed the whole room, and ironically, opened the vault he was so desperate to get into in the first place…the moron…” He said with anger in his tone. “Hey, look at the bright side…” said the nurse, “…things could have been a lot worse.” Charles glared at her as he heard her, “Yeah….how?” She stopped bandaging him up as she crossed her arms, giving him a slight smile, “Well first off, you could be dead, so that’s a plus if you ask me.” Charles looked away, not even willing to reply back to her, knowing that she wouldn’t understand. Looking at him for a moment, as he looked out the window, she could help but wonder what was going on in the mind of the teenage hero. “Have you seen her today?” He asked randomly, but Jane knew, she had dealt with the two of them before, but still she wanted to hear him say it. “Her, who?” She asked in return. “Talon…Laura. Have you seen her?” He replied back as he continued to gaze out the window, at the ocean few from the tower. “I saw her not to long ago as a matter fact. I was surprised she wasn’t with you to be honest, I didn’t think anything could keep YOU two apart.” She said with a slight grin on her face, even if she hadn’t said it, she liked them both. “Yeah, you’d think….I don’t know, she…it feels like she’s been avoiding me or something…I just…” He let out a deep sigh as he grabbed put his shirt back on, now that he was all bandaged up. “Just what?” Jane asked him. Looking down at the ground, she could see the look of concern on his face, “…I don’t know. But hey…” Jane put her smiled at him slightly, “Yes?” Charles slowly slid off the bed, getting up to his feet as his eyes fell upon the blond headed nurse, “If you see her again…could you tell her I was looking for her?”
She smiled at him again, placing her hand on his shoulder, “I will.” Charles gave her a slight smile, as he was grateful that she was so kind enough to hear him out, “Thanks.” He replied as he walked towards the door. “…hey, Ms. Jane. Can I ask you a question?” He called back to her, stopping right at the door, his body turned halfway towards her. “Sure.” She said calmly. “Why couldn’t I save him?” The nurse looked him with a bit to confusion, for this time she actually didn’t know who he was talking about, “Who?” She asked back. “The man, in the explosion….why couldn’t I save him?” Charles repeated his question. Nurse Jane gave him a slight smile as she sat against the hospital bed, her hands in her white nurse uniform’s pockets, “I think that’s the one thing you heroes never really seem to grasp, the one fact that you all try to push to the back of your mind, the one thing you never seem to fully accept, no matter how true it may be.” Charles looked at her with a look of seriousness, he knew what she was going to say, he could hear the words before she even said them, “And what’s that?” He simply asked. Jane looked at him with an honest smile on her face, “You can’t save everyone, Mr. Barnes….no matter how hard you try.” Turning his head away, his eyes falling to the floor, as he opened the door to exit, “I was afraid you’d say that…” And with that, he made was way down the hallway, not looking back, “…but, I know you’re wrong.”
DaggerKlutz was in his office hatching a sinister plan. Sure the mysterious boy was going to be a huge help but DaggerKlutz planned to go above and beyond with this. After all, if he wanted to be the best arch-nemesis ever then he would need to humiliate Eclipse beyond anything he had ever experienced before. Nothing was too good for an arch-nemesis like Eclipse.
A sudden knock came from the door. Then DaggerKlutz's secretary came in with a small white box in one hand and a stack of papers in the other. With an uncaring tone she said, "Here you go Mr. Back. Here's the custom-made suit you requested-" She laid down the white box on his desk. Then she handed out the thick stack of papers for DaggerKlutz to take. "-and here are those sheets about the members of the Champions of Peace." DaggerKlutz gleefully shuffled through all the papers until he found one with a picture of the mysterious boy who promised the complete defeat of Eclipse. His secretary asked, "Anything else, sir?" DaggerKlutz smiled and gave her the paper with the mysterious boy's, whose code name was Hesperus, picture. "Please find me any information about this guy. I want to know everything about him. Oh, and tell Surreal SaDiablo that I would like to engage Eclipse at that auditorium I rented out this weekend." The secretary rolled her eye and sighed before saying, "Yes, Mr. Back." With that, she left to do her assigned orders.
DaggerKlutz anxiously opened the lid of the white box to see the outfit his specially ordered. He nodded with satisfaction and placed the lid back on. Not only was he preparing to be his evilest but he would also be dressing up as his evilest. To make this succeed a lot of preparation would need to take place. And DaggerKlutz loved to prepare for the downfall of his enemies. It was almost as good as the moment when the opponent realize that they stood no chance against the Bald Baddie. Now he was one giant step closer to the defeat of Eclipse. And if he played his cards right, he would make an impact so large on Eclipse and Hesperus that they would consider him the greatest bald villain ever.
Soon loud laughs filled the room as DaggerKlutz played out his play repeatedly in his mind. There was no way he could fail. Not with the help of Hesperus. Eclipse wouldn't know what hit him.
Days before Meeting With Hesperus
The days of complete solitude within his own world were gone now; the recent days were filled with utter chaos of the mind. His team’s first mission a success for the most part he should feel that everything was falling into place but what he wanted was something else just couldn’t put a finger on it. There had been a lingering feeling since his return that he had misses something or forgotten something. It ate away at his mind day and night every single moment something just gnawed at his mind, bludgeoning it into his skull that there was something important missing.
His creation walked up to him her eyes scanning him she was confused, normally whenever she walked into the room he filled her head with thoughts of the most vile disgusting things. Things that would excite her then they would go to his room, but today all he was…was empty. She walked up to him stroking his jaw line with her nails then following his chin down to his chest with her hands. A playful gleam in her eyes but he stood their staring out the window leaning into it. His breath fogging the window, she was irritated now he was ignoring her. She slammed a fist into the window shattering it instantly “Don’t ignore me!!” she screamed. His brow rising slightly, he looked to her as she raised her hand to him once again. He grabbed her hand squeezing slightly “What do you want Justice? I’m thinking, I seem to be lost without this something that escapes me.” Child of Darkness scoffs mumbling under her breath “Bet it’s that little whore you’ve forgotten thank god. Don’t need the competition.” Darkchild reacted without thinking grabbing her by the neck and lifting slamming her into the wall. “What was that my dear child?” He said his finger nails dulling instantly, and then rubbing against her skin. Her own darkness powers lashing out to the dull pain he was inflicting, her powers of the shadows were nothing to his. He brushed them away, her attacks soon faded as she conceded to him sighing deep before she spoke.
“Your little pet before…you’ve forgotten about her. Something I’ve loved by every minute.” She grins but only for few brief moments before he digs his dull nails into her skin. They scrap rather than tear her skin, something she dislikes she kicks him for brief moment before she tells him the rest “Her name is Talon, you and her were…lovers of war at one point in your past. But now she lies with a hero in his bed every single night.” The last part brought a wide smile to her face; he tosses her to the ground going back to the window. He then turns towards her “How did you know this when I couldn’t remember these details?” Justice smiled “Your friends and enemies are quite chatty after sex hehehehe” she says before porting out before he could react. He knew she lied; she only bedded him and only him. She read the information inside the computers within the French Capital when they were there. She defiantly was his in blood, something he should have done whilst there.
Few hours later
A phone within his new home rings something he hadn’t expected since he hadn’t set up any phone lines. His darklings located the ringing bringing Darkchild to it, he studied it closely before picking it up “Either you are one very smart and talented man or you have the wrong number.” Hesperus chortled slightly “I am a man of many things Gen Esis. I have a slight proposition for you my friend…” DC cuts him off “I do not know who you are so you simply can’t go around throwing the F word around.” Hesperus laughed once again before giving DC the information on where to meet and who he would be meeting with.
Few Days Later
Darkchild went alone to the location given by Hesperus; he did not go unprepared though. Bringing an army of Darklings within the shadows he cast numbering in the thousands. He sat at a table soon more and more men arrived, he knew each some of them slightly intimately. Gambler was the one he knew the most, having spent times with and opposing him for many years he was surprised to see him come to something like this. Suddenly the boy spoke, telling everyone their hearts desires then coming to Darkchild he spoke” Darkchild. You have a... Special relationship with Talon, but with her new place on a team of heroes you are unable to play with her. I can give you that.” A wide grin came to Darkchilds face as the memories flooded his mind. It wasn’t her name that brought them it was why he wanted her, now he knew it he loved the thoughts that filled his head. The meeting soon ended, and shortly the others had left leaving Hesperus alone. Darkchild standing in the shadows made himself known coming up behind the boy genius he leaned in whispering something to him. Then he turned to leave for good, but before he left he stopped not turning to Hesperus he spoke “The Sick Tree, that is where I want her. Everything else is for you and me to know. You tell her that and everything will fall into place understand?” With that he left in a cloud of nothingness.
Champions Medical Bay, Days ago...
"I've seen quite enough of you around here, Mr. Dodd..." Nurse Jane sighed as she readjusted Jason's pillow.
"Nice to see you too, Nurse." Eclipse replied, trying to crack a smile, but giving up on the effort almost immediately, as it was too painful.
"I'm serious!" Ms. Jane replied shrilly, moving to the end of the bed as she pressed down gently against various spots on the young hero's legs. "First you get yourself blasted off the top of the Tower after the Skrull thing, damaging your spine to the point where you needed crutches for a week, and now this!"
"Hey, it was the King of the Vine tournament! And I was abducted this time, it wasn't like I had a choice." Jason grumbled. "And you don't need to worry about my legs, they're fine. I can't feel a thing."
"Not a thing?" Nurse Jane raised her eyebrows, pulling out a small hammer from her chest pocket and tapping it against her patient's legs.
"Nope! I can't feel anything below my..." Eclipse stopped mid-sentence, eyes wide open and mouth agape. Then, his head plummeted back into his pillow as he groaned, rubbing his eyes with his palms. "Frick. How bad is it?"
"I'll need to have an X-Ray to be sure. Last time it wasn't anything major, so your body pretty much took care of it. But if you've broken your spine completely... Even the technology we have here can't help you." Jane had lost the strict tone to her voice and was trying to speak sympathetically. "Until I know just how bad it is... You'll have to get used to these again." The Nurse reached over to a nearby cupboard and withdrew a pair of crutches. "Good thing you can fly, right?"
"Yeah..." Jason nodded, staring blankly at the pictures on his bedside. The first was him, with his Mom and Uncle. He was up in the air, with one foot on each of their shoulders, arms spread wide with a look of pure glee on his face. The second was another group shot, as Eclipse stood in the foreground, surrounded by the original five Vine Titans. Third was a candid picture of himself and War Killer, something Blair had taken recently when the three of them went out to fight crime, the only activity Jason ever enjoyed. The two heroes were enjoying two cans of Dr. Pepper as they sat on a fallen giant robot. Eclipse recalled how they had defeated the robot... He had eventually kicked it's head off. Finally, the most dramatic picture was of Eclipse and Nighthunter, a shot where Jason was delivering a powerful kick to Jake's chest. This was the first time Eclipse had ever successfully landed an attack on his mentor during sparring. Jake decided to have the moment framed. Then, Jason's eyes passed over an intricate golden watch... "Good thing." He shook his head, casting aside his thoughts as a smirk passed over his face. "So, how are our young lovebirds?"
"Chaura and Larlie?" Nurse Jane chuckled, sitting on the edge of Jason's bed. "As adorable as ever. Shame, stupid hippocratic oath stops me from gossiping about it..."
"You work in a place filled with superheroes. I can always find a telepath... Come on, spill the news!"
A Few Hours later...
"See, this is the downside to wearing a nano-suit all the time." War Killer scolded Eclipse, lying flat and taking a deep breath as he prepared to lift the dumb-bells directly above him. "You've got no protection in that thing. No armor, nothing. Plus..." He swiftly grabbed the weights and pushed upward, panting as he said: "It's kinda creepy to think you're naked under that."
"I wear underpants, you know." Eclipse grinned as he leaned against the wall. Today he was wearing actual civilian clothes, rather than his nano-tech suit, which assumed whichever appear he wanted.
"Too much... Information." Charles grunted as he lowered the weights, indicating for Jason to change them. "Any idea how long you'll be rocking the crutches this time?"
"Could be permanent." Eclipse replied, trying not to think too much about it as he telekinetically removed the current set of weights and replaced them with a new set. "Jane's taking a look at my X-ray but... I don't really want to know. Not yet."
"How come?" Charlie asked, taking a break from lifting the weights as he directed his gaze at his old Titan team-mate.
"Because I don't know if I'd be able to cope with the fact that I could never walk again." Eclipse replied simply, tapping his crutches against the floor in agitation. "Yeah, I can fly, but that takes energy. I wouldn't be able to fly everywhere, I can't sustain it for that long. And my fighting strategy, as I'm sure you've noticed, relies mostly on kicks. I can't punch for crap, but I can kick a guy through a wall."
"Oh no you don't, Jason." War Killer sat up, frowning at Eclipse. "This is about more than just messing up your combat tactics. Out with it."
The Teen Wonder sighed, and stared down at his unmoving feet. "I'm not human, but I was raised as one. I rejected the Fundamentalists the moment I met them, so the way I see it, I'm as good as human. But every so often, something happens that reminds me just how different I am... How I'm not human, how I'm not even close to human. Why do you think I avoided using my powers so much when I was a kid? When we first met, as far as you knew I was just a kid who knew how to fight. I avoided using them because I didn't want to be a Fundamentalist. I wanted to be human. Just an ordinary human, with no ultimate destiny or godly powers. I've only really let my powers loose since we joined the Champions, because now I'm surrounded by so many super-powered people, I can unleash my full potential and still fit in. But still... I like to walk. It makes me feel... Normal." Finally Eclipse looked up, his eyes welling up slightly as they met War Killer's. "You don't know how lucky you are, Charles. You're actually lucky to have no powers at all. Lucky to be human."
"I don't know about that." War Killer smiled kindly, resting a reassuring hand on Eclipse's shoulder. "But you know what happens to humans a lot? They get injured. Sometimes they get crippled. So really, this whole paraplegic thing, if that's what this turns out to be... It shouldn't make you feel different, it should make you feel human."
London, England, the Next Day...
At the end of the Skrull invasion, after Eclipse had been taken out by the mothership's cannon, the time traveling immortal Constantine, member of the Champions of Peace, gave up his life to finish off the alien threat. Before he died, he paid a visit to Eclipse room, where he left a golden watch, and a note: " To Jason, keep it safe until I get back, good luck, from Constantine ."
Knowing Constantine, Jason knew there had to be a reason he was given this watch. After all he and Constantine, while they had known each other ever since Wallace had started funding the Vine Titans, hadn't exactly been the closest of friends. Such a possession would have made more sense if given to someone that Scott truly knew well and cared for. But Constantine had already lived through this era, as Prime Minister of England, Sir Scott Wallace. Maybe he remembered something about Jason from his time as a 'normal' human. Maybe this watch was supposed to help the young hero, somehow... To find out, Eclipse decided to travel to Con's hometown of London, to see if he could find anything.
Teleporting straight to London from his bedroom that evening, Eclipse immediately teleported back, shivering. It was snowing over there, apparently. And a nano-suit wasn't exactly thick or warm. From what he had heard, snow was supposed to be quite rare in Britain, even during Winter. Mentally commanding his nano-suit to hide itself away, Jason covered himself in layers of clothes. Finally wrapping a scarf around his neck, pulling on a pair of boots and shoving his fingers into gloves, Eclipse teleported again.
He reappeared beneath outside a large, snow covered warehouse, which bore the emblem of the Wallace Corporation. Through research, Eclipse had decided this was the best place to start. Pushing back the sleeve of his coat, Eclipse squinted through the wind to look at the golden watch. For a moment, nothing happened. Then, suddenly, the golden casing began to glow brighter. As this happened, the hands on the clocks started to spin around, faster and faster, until eventually they slowed down. The hour hand came to a stop pointing directly at Eclipse. As Jason moved from side to side, the hand followed. The second hand continued to spin, though slowly. And the minute hand pointed straight ahead, at the doors of the warehouse.
Taking the rather unsubtle hint, Eclipse stepped forward, pushing the large doors open. As he stepped forward, the glowing of the watch got even brighter and the second hand spun faster, creating a whirring sound. By following the signals of the watch, Eclipse wandered about the huge, open space until he found a totally random spot which caused the glow of the watch to flicker on and off and the whirring of the second hand to become like the deafening roar of a jet engine. Crouching down to the ground instinctively, the young hero pressed the face of the watch against the floor. From that spot, golden lines arced outwards, criss-crossing all over the surface of the floor, all glowing with the same light as the watch. Then, with a mechanical sound of grinding gears, the patch of ground separated from the rest, lowering the Teen Wonder deep underground...
"Wow." Eclipse gasped, as he finally reached the bottom. He lurched forwards on his crutches, taking in his surroundings. It was a cave, not unlike the Crater, a cave used by his superhero grandfather, but a lot more impressive. There were gadgets, costumes, memorabilia, vehicles and... A waterfall? Like a kid in a candy-store, Jason eagerly hobbled onwards to examine everything in detail.
5 Years Ago...
"You are too slow." Surreal snapped at her student, whipping her head back to dodge the blow from his tiny legs.
"I'm moving as fast as I can!" The young Damian pleaded in reply. For a five year old, the child was particularly eloquent, and his body was toned to perfection. His face was far too mature for his years, his limbs seemed stretched out and his eyes told a chilling tale.
"She is right, son." Thomas Rayne nodded, watching from the sidelines. However, he appeared to be paying more attention to the movements and form of Surreal SaDiablo, rather then the Rayne heir. "Power is more than just strength, it is its combination with speed. You must strike like a cobra. Fast, deadly, and out of the way before your opponent even knows what has happened."
"Why do I even have to learn this nonsense, father?" Hesperus cried out in frustration, as his teacher slapped him upside the head with the flat of her foot. "I am not some human dog, I am a Fundamentalist! With a mere thought I could hurl this entire planet into the Sun! I could--OOF!" Damian was interrupted as Surreal plunged her hand into the gap under his ribs.
"Yes, Damian, you are able to eliminate any human threat that faces you. You even stand a chance against most of our people, with your advanced powers." Thomas fingered his beard as he watched his child attempt a counter-attack. "But what happens when you face your other? The second child of destiny, of which the prophecy spoke? Your powers will be equal, the field will be level, it is that way with all of our kind. You will never be able to defeat him through your powers, you must learn to kill with your own two hands. Otherwise..." Thomas shook his head, standing up to leave as Surreal pinned Damian to the floor by his throat. "You won't stand a chance." The elder Rayne walked to the doorway, where he stood and frowned at his junior. "Do you want to die, Damian?"
"No, father!" Damian roared in response, telekinetically tearing his teacher's hand away as he directed his rage at Thomas. "I am trying my best, and yet you never recognise that! I have done all that you have asked of me, taken every step to ensure my survival and the survival of our family name! What more do you want, father?! Are you not proud of me?!"
"I will not be proud, Damian, until this ridiculous 'destiny' of yours is buried, and this other child who seeks the end of things is stopped." Thomas replied coldly, reflecting Damian's anger right back at him with his own calm manner. "And you will watch your tone around your father, child."
"She's proud of me!" The young assassin-in-training exploded, pointing wildly at Surreal SaDiablo, who stood silent as a statue. "She says I'm one of the best, most committed students she's ever seen! That within a year I could be one of the most skilled fighters on the planet! How odd it is, father, that my teacher is a better parent to me than my own mother! She cares for ME, Thomas! She cares about more than just the family name!"
"Hold your tongue!" Thomas barked, electricity sparking from his eyes as he finally lost his cool demeanour. "Go. Wait for me outside. NOW!" The old man bellowed, as Damian turned his back, leaving through the door on the opposite side of the dojo. On the way, he paused, an inch away from his teacher. Leaning towards her, Damian hugged the leg of Surreal and then left. As soon as the door was closed, Thomas ran across the hall, shoving his face right next to SaDiablo's, with a rage greater than even his son's clear on his face. "Do you not recall the terms of our... Arrangement?" Thomas growled, keeping his voice low so Hesperus would not hear. "You are his teacher, Surreal. Regardless of who gave birth to him, he is our property now. I have allowed you to teach him, to see him every day, and this is how you repay me? By taking my son away from me? Martha is his mother now. You had better get accoustumed to that, if you ever wish to see Damian again."
Surreal stared back into the hellish eyes of eyes of the raging man before her and tilted her head to the side slightly. "I look into those soul-less eyes of yours, Thomas, and I wonder... Whatever happened to the man I loved? The father of our child? Why would such a strong, loving man allow a woman to steal his soul, as Martha has sucked yours from you?"
Thomas' mouth opened, ready to bellow a reply, but no words came. Shutting his mouth firmly as a smile crossed Surreal's face, Rayne pushed past his former lover to follow his son, grumbling as he left. "You walk a fine line, SaDiablo. Be careful you do not fall."
Champions Tower, Now...
What Hesperus was attempting to do was no mean feat. Despite earning the trust of the Champions, he was still under almost constant surveillance. His meeting with the villains was only possible because it was night time, and he had hacked into the camera monitoring his room to play the same footage as the previous night. Eclipse was watching him almost around the clock and, if the hero wasn't, his robot lackey was. ARCTIC, an android imbued with the life force of the Ice Dragon, was initially created by Nighthunter and Eclipse, before being blessed by the spirit of Iceingdeath. While the robot wasn't an active member of the team, he acted as Jason's informant and tactician. He was also a vital component of Damian's plan.
Since his meeting, Hesperus had received two messages from his mother, Surreal SaDiablo. Darkchild's trap was decided upon at the end of the meeting itself, as the Lord of Darkness had decreed that Talon should meet him at the Sick Tree. Apparently, the girl would understand this cryptic message. The second and third messages were relayed directly to the Champions of Peace by an anonymous informant. The first message read: "DaggerKlutz at the Washington Auditorium, I need )your help!". Of course, DaggerKlutz was not, in fact, at any of the auditoriums in Washington, this was simply the way in which Surreal had chosen to send messages to Damian. Any private messages would be intercepted and suspicious, but this message was broadcast to the entire team. They received dozens of anonymous tips each day, so it was nothing out of the ordinary. The faked typo, the random bracket in the message, as a code, an allusion to the crescent markings Hesperus bore. This particular message indicated two things. Firstly, DaggerKlutz intended for his trap to be at a Washington auditorium. Secondly, he would require Hesperus' assistance during the trap.
The second message, a few hours later, said: "Gambler) at the moment of betrayal", another message from Surreal. Damian deduced from his knowledge of Gambler and War Killer's relationship that this referred to the sewer system beneath the former headquarters of the Order de Santa Camisia. This was the place where Talon, Gambler's former student, had chosen to betray her master to save her beloved War Killer. In Hesperus' opinion, with his knowledge of Gambler, that was perhaps the stupidest mistake the girl had ever made. Her sacrifice of her relationship with Le Beau was entirely unnecessary, as it was obvious that, sooner or later, the debt would be settled and War Killer would be dead.
So, the traps were decided upon. Talon would be lured to the Sick Tree, to meet with Darkchild. War Killer would be lead to the sewers of betrayal, to face Gambler. And Eclipse would be sent to an auditorium in Washington, to spring the trap of DaggerKlutz, with Hesperus' assistance. All that remained was for Damian to lure each of the heroes to their traps. He couldn't use the same method more than once, to avoid arousing suspicion, but thankfully he had a variety of Champions' equipment at his disposal. Holographic technology, telepathic transmitters, fake messages and even good old fashioned teleportation. Soon, the traps would be sprung, and Hesperus would have taken one more step on the path to freedom.
"Let the games begin."
"I should wear a cape more often. It make me feel eviler." DaggerKlutz commented to himself as he grabbed onto the yellow cape and pulled it in front of himself. His custom-ordered suit fit perfectly and now he looked prepared for his encounter with Eclipse. Now he was wearing an identical costume of Hesperus except instead of an H logo on the chest there was a DK logo. Plus, there was a stylish utility belt that could hold so many gadgets but DaggerKlutz only came with one. He was confident that his plan would work perfectly with just one device and, in a way, it was one of his most powerful devices.
The loud sounds of someone with heels walking on a stage echoed across the auditorium. DaggerKlutz turned to see his trusted secretary who looked unenthusiastic as ever. She glanced over at the clipboard in her hand and blandly said, "Mr. Back, it seems like everything is set up. Your message was successfully delivered, the auditorium we're in now should have no unexpected visitors, and it seems like your suit fits." DaggerKlutz grinned as he posed to show just how well the suit fit. His secretary sighed and continued, "If you are correct then Eclipse should enter through the front doors while Hesperus hides inside the prop that looks like you." She pointed her pen at what appeared to be a large prop of DaggerKlutz's smiling head. It looked pretty realistic and DaggerKlutz had designed it so the eyes were one way windows and the prop opened from the mouth.
DaggerKlutz gleefully patted his secretary on the shoulder. "Good, with all this preparation, there should be no way that I can fail. Eclipse will never suspect anything that happens here." DaggerKlutz put his hands on his hips and entered a dramatic pose. After a while he looked back at his secretary and said, "Okay, Eclipse should show up in about a half hour so you can have the rest of the day off. Have a good day." His secretary rolled her eyes and said, "You too, sir." Then she calmly walked off the stage and went out the front doors. DaggerKlutz grinned and began to laugh. Soon he will unleash a whole new kind of evil.
The voluptuously nude international supermodel huffed while seductively shifting her legs slowly amongst the lavishly expensive silk sheets desperately trying to capture the Cajun's attention as he remained seated across the room, right leg folded over the top of the left, giving his elbow a stationary place of rest as he thumbed through the literary masterpiece of secretive history belonging to the single most illusive, decadent, and powerful vampire clan in existence, The Circle of Eclipse. The books architect was a mystery, but its authenticity could not be questioned. Bound in a wooden folder covered with leather and ornate metal, the manuscript contained 490 leaves of parchment dating back to the early 100's and the unprecedented reign of Augustus.
For over a year the Living Legend had studied the book, researching its unbelievable tale to the point of obsession. Seeking out an ecliptic group of characters from around the globe in hopes of furthering his understanding of the illustrious clan, uncovering its endless Secret War as they relentlessly searched the World over for their wayward daughter, Talon. And although he had reluctantly aligned himself with the young assassin Hesperus in his Machiavellian scale scheme of revenge, the Cajun's true motivation and ultimate goal far superseded settling the score with valiant hero War Killer. As he continued to thumb through the pages, he was briefly interrupted by the sudden vibration of his blackberry as an incoming message displayed over the touch screen.
Glancing over the hand held device the self proclaimed King of Kings smirked before carefully closing the book and heading towards the wall sized mirror on the opposite side of the room. Shocked, the model pulled the covers up over her chest as she lashed out, "Where the hell are you going!?!?" But her question went unanswered as the Cajun pressed on the glass causing the entire section to rotate over, revealing a long descending staircase into the darkness. Reaching their conclusion the stairs opened up into a well lit room giving off a certain ambiance of down home hospitality. The television displaying the cult like favorite, Dora The Explorer, as a small child no older then two lay captivated by the animation. "Dhere she is" smiled Gambler as he knelt down. His voice causing the child to spring to live before running into his arms. "You bring me present?" she asked. Her speech broken yet still understandable. Pulling out a small crimson colored vile the master of manipulation shook his head yes before presenting the little girl with the container. "Careful chere, dont drink to much all at once" he warned as a small trickle of the rose colored substance raced down the childs face.
"How would you like to meet one of mommy's......friends lil one?" the ever calculating villain asked with his trademark Cheshire Cat grin. Without giving the child any warning or chance to understand what was happening, Gambler removed one of his katana's before stepping behind the girl, placing the blade's edge along her neck, and snapping a quick picture. Completely unaware of what had just happened, Alexandria Brook Elysian, kidnapped daughter of Talon, went back to watching t.v. The Cajun on the other hand forwarded the picture to Hesperus with the following message."Make sure my prey receives dis picture. Make sure he knows full well who dee child in dee photo is. Lead him to believe you backtracked the source and pinpointed the pictures origin to dee OsC foundation. I'll be expecting his arrival" - Jean Luc "Gambler"
Hours Later:Beneath the catacombs of the Sancta Camisia the Aristocratic Assassin and his valued pawn piece awaited the arrival of War Killer. "Dis is where we settle old scores chere. Do not be afraid. If you are meant to live, you will. Destiny has already written our story" he arrogantly whispered.
Champions Tower, that night….
Storm clouds swiftly rolled over Champions Island, blocking the Moon’s bright light and casting a shadow over the city of heroes. Rain quickly came with, flooding the tower in water, rain seeping down the glass side windows of the tower. High on top of the tower, a dark figure stood as lightning flashed behind, the short cloaked figure stood for just a moment as his body was drenched with the heavy rain, just before take a small leap off the top of the building, quickly descending down the side of the tower. Slowly his body came to a stop, literally hovering by himself, he floated just outside one of the windows, his hood and cape flowing towards the ground as his body continued to float in place, glaring inside the rain covered window, the young patriot known as War Killer could be seen moving about within his room, the boy at that moment out of uniform, petting his pet dragon, Larry, as he jumped into bed, turning off his lamp as he softly fell into a deep sleep.
Lightning flashed brightly, casting the shadow of the small figure with in the young g hero’s room. Another flash, only this time revealing the face of the hooded stranger, revealing the figure to be none other than Hesperus, who’s only carried a look of seriousness as his rain drenched hood hung over his dry head. For some time now, the young deceiver had been monitoring the Star-Spangled Hero from afar, taking note of his every action, his every move, making mental notes of everything he was and everything he did, for unknown the hero himself, darker forces had been conspiring against him and those closest to him. Just shortly before hand, Hesperus had received the encrypted message he had been waiting for and now the time to set things in motion was at hand, for tonight, he was to deliver young War Killer into the hands of one of the most powerful and most dangerous men on earth, the Living Legend himself, Gambler. Now knowing the location for where the young hero was to meet his untimely demise, all that was left was getting the boy there.
Having monitored the boy, Hesperus had taken notice of the hero’s nightly cures of nightmares, believing this as the perfect way to manipulate him; Hesperus had devised the perfect way to do so. Thunder roared over the tower as flashes of lightning strikes light up the dark filled sky over the tower, causing bright flashed of light to enter into the room once more. His eyes glaring over at the trash can, his eyes fell upon a pile of Dr. Pepper cans that laid waste within the can. Knowing the hero would never suspect it, Hesperus had slipped a small dosage of techno nanites into his soda which would slowly make their way through the hero’s system and enter into his brain. Violent wind gusts rushed around the tower, spinning from the ground upwards and around young Hesperus, but the boy was unmoved, his body staying exactly in place thanks to his power over gravity, all except for his cape which blew with the violent winds.
As War Killer fell deeper and deeper into his slumber, Hesperus knew the time was now, slowly reaching to his belt, he pulled out small devices of unknown origin. Activating the device, a short antenna appeared, for this devices was linked to the nanites which now flooded the hero’s brain, and now gave the silent manipulator unlimited access to the young patriot’s brain waves. This very well, if Hesperus wanted, could allow him total control over the young hero, but tonight the boy had another plan in mind. With a click of a button, the nanites had been activated, and now War Killer every thought were Hesperus’ to control, every thought, every memory, every dream….which was exactly what he wanted. Charles’ body now twisting and turning, the young hero’s hands clenching his bed sheets as sweat began to run down his face, for now, War Killer wasn’t in his own personal nightmare, no, now he was in Hesperus own concocted nightmare….
“Charles…” a soft voice sounded within the darkness as War Killer’s eyes darted back in forth as he searched through the endless blackness. “Charles…” the soft voice sounded again, only this time it was closer, as if it was right…Charles quickly turned around, finding Talon standing face to face with him now, her eyes blood shot as if she had been crying for hours. “Oh Charles, h-he….he has her!” She shouted with fear in her voice as her clung to Charles. Wrapping his arms around her, trying to comfort her; he spoke softly back to her, as his voice was now filled with confusion, “Who? What are you talking about, Laura?” Lifting her tear filled face from his chest up, her emerald eyes now meeting his own, “My daughter! He has her….h-he…he has her!” She shouted once more, pain filling her voice even more as she continued to cry. Slowly stepping back from him, her hair locks seeping over her tear stained cheeks, she didn’t look at him, only towards the floor as she began to whisper softly, “Y-you…you have to save her, Charles. Please, you h-have to save her!” Slowly her body began flow backwards into the darkness, Charles’ eyes widened as he saw this, his hand reaching out for her, only to have his eyes directed towards his feet as he was now immobilized where he was, unable to move, only to watch as Talon slowly faded into the darkness of nothingness. “You….have….to….save….her….!” Charles hand reached out for hers as she reached out for his, his voice crying out to her as she slowly faded more and more, “But where is she?! I don’t know where she is?! Who is this he?! Laura, wait….” And as the words left his lips, she was gone, lost with in the darkness, “NO! LUA--”
“--RA!!!” His voice shouted within the room as his body jerked up in a fury of fear and terror. Sweat running down his face, his eyes quickly darted to the window as lightning flashed through it once more, only to find rain beating against it as the wind continued to blow violently into the night. Just above the window, Hesperus hovered, still upside down; he placed the device back into his belt as a devious grin formed across his cheeks, for now everything was going exactly as planned. And silently as he came, the hooded figured disappeared with into the stormy night, leaving no trace of his presence there, knowing full well that the nanites would shut down within a few days, he took his leave, knowing that he had one more step that needed to be complete.
Now fully suited up in his red, white, and blue uniform, War Killer made his way quickly down the hallways of Champions Tower, his masked pulled down, revealing his blondish brown hair, his eyes filled with pure seriousness as he entered into one of the towers main monitoring centers. His eyes searched the room, only to be surprised to find literally no one present, which was odd since there should always be someone monitoring the globe, keeping the team up to date on everything happening in the world. Making his way further with in the room, he only found one person, the young boy known as Hesperus whom was sitting at one of the monitoring stations, his short legs propped up as he sit back relaxed as if he had been there for hours. “Where is everyone?” Charles questioned the boy, for her was suspicions of his actions, for Eclipse had warned him about Hesperus personally after he joined the team when he saved MR and Sovereign Son’s daughter during the Skrull attack, which only made Charles more questionable of the boy.
“Coffee break, what’s it to you?” The boy said with a smuck tone. Charles glared at the disrespectful boy, but did his best to ignore his comments as he had more pressing issues at hand, “I need to know where Talon is, I can’t seem to get in contact with her.” Hesperus lowered his feet as he spun his chair around, making so he was now facing Charles, “Lost your little pet already?” Charles’ eyes filled with anger as his clenched his fingers together, forming to fists as he then swiftly jerk the sick little boy from his char, Charles’ hands around the boy’s shirt as he them slammed him into the computer screen, “Listen here you little punk. I’ve got better things to deal with that your annoying attitude, now tell me if any suspicious messages have come in before I but your head through a wall!” Charles’ eyes glared at the smuckish little boy’s, his grip of the Hesperus’ shirt getting tighter as his breath became heaver.
Hesperus began to snicker as he simply hung there unafraid of the hero’s threats, he was just glad he could still leave a good first impression on people. “Heh….I did find an encrypted message a few hours ago, but I thought it meant nothing.” Charles slowly relinquished his grip of the boy, lowering him to the ground as he took a step back, regaining his cool. “Let me see the message.” Charles demanded as he crossed his arms, trying to hold back the urge to smack the kid across the room. Hesperus got comfortable to in his chair once more, returning to the computer he was working on when Charles arrive, he pulled up the message, which within continued a single photo of a little girl with a dagger to her neck and…Dora the Explorer in the background?
“Do you know who she is?” Hesperus began to question Charles as he continued to look at the photo of the girl. “Her….daughter.” Charles whispered softly as he stared at the picture. “Can you track to where the message originated?” He quickly asked Hesperus, knowing that time was now of the essence. His figures moving swift on the computer, Hesperus was surprisingly good with computers, somehow being able to pin point the exact location of where the message came from in seconds, complete astonishing Charles, and making him wonder if maybe the brat wasn’t all-together useless. “…Sancta Camisia.” Charles mind instantly froze as he heard the location, for it was a location he hadn’t heard it what felt like forever, for it was where he had came face to face with the legend himself, “Gambler.” Charles muttered as his mind flashed back to his first in counter with the so called Living Legend within the sewers underneath the OSC’s headquarters.
Without thinking another thought, Charles made his way towards the door, “I don’t care how you do it, but I need to find Talon right now! And contact Eclipse and alert him of the situation.” Hesperus spun back around in his chair, turning back towards Charles as he stood in the door way, “Should I assemble the rest of the Champions.” His eyes filled with both anger and seriousness, the young patriot simply shock his head, “No, this doesn’t concern them. No, this….” Charles then made his way through the door way, and started making his way down the hallway as he quickly pulled his mask over his head since eyes pointed straight ahead as he knew exactly what this meant., “…this is personal.”
Sancta Camisia, hours later….
“I never thought I’d be here again…” Charles thought to himself as his jet descended slowly within the trees of the forest, not too far from the entrance to the sewer system that lead right under the Sancta Camisia. Not too long ago, Charles had been a part of a small strike to team break into this place to rescue the bodies of Sha and Sovereign Son, but Charles had gone for his own reasons, to find Talon, for after their encounter in Vine City, Charles figured she had returned to the man she was loyal to at the time, Gambler. So in a hope to find her, he went along with the team, using the same sewer systems to gain access to the base, but the team was ambushed by a legion of Gambler’s minions, skilled and highly trained ninja’s. During the attack, Charles was successful in finding Talon, but this was also the first and only time he came face to face with the legend himself, Gambler. Which during this encounter, to save Charles’ life, Talon betrayed Gambler and was swiftly banished, ever since Gambler has held a grudge against the young patriot, planning his revenge on the hero for taking what was once his. And now, it seems he may finally get his chance.
Finding the entrance into the sewer, he quickly dropped down into the mucky waters below, not wasting time; he began to make his way down the darkly lit tunnels that would go on for miles if one was to get lost. Ignoring the smell, his feet slushed through the waters of the sewer, making his way deeper and deeper into the darkness, his mind going back to him and Eclipse fending off the ninja’s that had flooded the sewers that day, which only brought a smile to the young hero’s face since Jason had yet to let Charles forget about how he had a hard time only taking down two ninja’s. Taking a swift turn down the tunnels, he stopped in his tracks as his eyes fell upon the man himself, “Gambler.” He said as he stared across at Gambler who was holding none other than Talon’s daughter in his arms.
His hand tightly grasped the straps of his shield, his eyes glaring down the tunnel at the man with hatred, knowing full well that this day was going to come sooner or later, he just couldn’t believe that even after all this time, he was still using Talon as a means for his own selfish purposes. Holding his shield up, he pointed it at Gambler, ready to do whatever it took to get that girl away from this madman and back in the arm of her mother, “I’m only going to say this once, Gambler: Let the girl go…Now.”
Night had long dawned upon the silent Champions base. It was an off day, aka no villain threatening to take over the World, so not much was going around. Most of the people were either out having fun or sleeping in their dorms, and at this hour of night that latter was more probable. The insomniac, known as Talon on the other hand simply drifted down the hall ways, the tips of her fingers sliding against the white painted walls and doors she passed by. Her emerald eyes were cast down upon the ground as she continued lightly sniffing the air. Making a corner turn she came to a dead end, presented in the form of a large window overlooking the moonlit sea side. Placing her hand lightly upon the glass she stared outward for a moment enrapturing the moment of peace and serenity before her attempt in locating the hero.
“So you just going to keep staring?” A young cocky voice caught her ear as she turned to see a young boy no older than possibly 10 standing behind her. His hands were in his back pocket as his slightly messy locks of hair strung over his forehead slightly. Her brow raised in curiosity as she knew who the individual was. It was Hesperus, the little boy that managed to weasel his way into this team because of his good deeds toward Mistress Redhead and Sovereign Sons daughter. If it was in her power she would have spat this little boy out the moment he entered in but those in power were determined to think he’d change, she didn’t believe of word of that bull. Taking in a deep breath she fully turned to face the youth her arms folded upon her chest as she tapping her foot.
“What?” he said with a devilish smile “Cat got your tongue?” he snickered before dramatically gasping as he finished “Oh that’s right, you can’t talk can you?” He said folding his arms as well. Glaring at him impatiently she shook her head and walked past him flicking her hair over the back of her shoulder. She had no time to play little games with a kindergartener she had to find- “War Killer? Right?” Instantly stopping Laura turned to realize the little pest speak once more. Now having her undivided attention she was forced to stand and listen. “You’re looking for your little token aren’t you?” She glanced at him placing her hand on her hip with an inquisitive look on her face, attempting to figure out what he meant. ”Yah know your entertainment? The little boy scout you use when ever your board, don’t tell me you lost him?” He said bravely with another annoying smirk on his face followed with underneath chuckle.
With lightening precision and speed her claws unleashed from her right knuckles attempting to come inches away from his face yet only to collide with metal blade that shattered the silence. The sound of these two ‘comrades’ in arms echoed down the hollow halls. Laura’s eyes stared slightly astonished yet she attempted to retain her composure. Obviously the young boy in some manor or form predicted her action and unleashed in blade in sync with her own, causing the two to be in a stand still. Both staring each other down a flash of lighting cause the lights to blow out at that moment. Laura’s bright yellow eyes reflected the ferocity that built up in her heart as a low growl could be heard.
The young boy stared her down his piercing eyes strongly glaring at her with that same devilish smirk creeping up his check as he held is blade at bay with her own claws. Breathing heavily she slowly slid her claws against his blade until she managed to reach the hilt and pull away viciously. Her hands at her sides claws in both unleashed she stood at ease a moment taking in a deep breath. “He was looking for you.” The beady eyed little boy said sliding his sword back in its sheath. Another flash of lighting caused their shadows to dance as a strong wind could be seen through the window pillaging the trees and tossing aside branches.
Her ferocity lowered as her hands did to her side and concerned look now had over taken her face. Yet her emerald eyes dropped to the floor. She knew he had been looking for her it was obvious she was avoiding him, and she had a good reason too. But why in the world would War Killer be fraternizing with this little rat long enough to give him this message? Was the young hero really that desperate in searching for her or was there something more urgent going on thank she knew. “He wanted to tell you this personally but he was in a rush.” Laura knew that this little weasel did this on purpose. Forcing her to hang off his very lips out of suspense. The lights flickered only to once more have the passage ways of the Champions base overcome by darkness. “Something about...your daughter.” Hesperus said in a nonchalant tone as he turned to walk away.
Her eyes flashed wide as her right hand dashed for his shoulder wrapping her fingers around it, only to have him glance those devious eyes back at her with a smile. “Please, your claws won’t help you get what you want this time” he said before shrugging her hand off as he continued walking. Laura stood there in silence, her daughter? How did her- but suddenly images flashed of that moment that she basically divulged every memory of her past into the young heroes mind. Either way what did War Killer have to do with her daughter? Her jade eyes darted back up down the hall which moments before Hesperus had walked, she could see nothing but darkness, not even a vague figure in the cloud covered moon light.
Never would she understand that little pest, but as much as she wanted to brush this off her shoulder and mark it as one of this little boy’s tricks she knew she couldn’t. For two reasons, War Killer was involved yes, and the fact her daughter was too. It had been over two years since that painful give away and young Laura still recalled every moment of it. Another strike of lighting and bashing of thunder cause the teenage assassin to snap back into reality as she made a quick turn on her heel but just as she was about to dash off the young boys voice once again rung in her ear. “Take the east bound air ways at central sky line, then follow the singes to sick tree and your play boy.” Swiftly Talon spun around only too see no singe of the little brat anywhere the only proof he was there was his devilish voice bouncing off the walls of the darkened base.
Like clockwork the lights buzzed on flickering before their full glow cause Laura’s eyes to shutter. Taking in a deep breath she tried to shake off the eerie feeling of this being a trap, Laura couldn’t risk the lives of both War Killer and her daughter. Whatever was going on there had to be SOME truth to Hesperus’ story, because the facts laid before her: War Killer had been looking for her and now he was gone that was all she needed to know to worry. Not caring what she was wearing Laura dashed down the hall toward the back exit of the base. As she flung the two double doors aside she found herself hammered down with barrels of rain falling from above. Not caring about the weather’s harsh conditions she ran around the back meeting two large metal doors that were bulked shut. Feeling along the wall she located a key pad and entered in a few digits, and as she did the two doors parted to reveal the hanger bay.
With a smile of confidence on her face she quickly procured herself a small two person jet and buckled herself up. These’ were probably the worst conditions for flying but she’d been in more hopeless situations. Drenched with her clothes and hair sticking to her like glue to her body she force started the engine overriding the Champions of Peace’s locks upon the fighter jet. Right now she didn’t have the time to go through the monarchy and it wasn’t like she was a leader of a Squad. She was just random neutral member who was probably going to get a grilling when she returned. The words that Hesperus said rung over and over in the back of her mind like a broken record. What did they mean?
“I can’t believe you forgot.” Laura’s hands froze on the steering mechanism of the jet as fear stilled in her eyes. Her breathing grew shallow as her emerald orbs shut a moment while her whole body felt as if it had just been shocked by a lightning bolt. Inhaling a deep breath her eyes slowly opened to reveal a piercing silver color. A devilish smirk slid up Laura’s crimson colored lips as her eyes diverted slowly to the controls as she began piloting the vassal. “Sorry Laura, but sometime you just need a little push.” X-23 thought taking in a sigh as she had full control over the young girls. Setting in the coordinates she placed the jet on auto pilot leaning back in her chair as she brushed aside her black hair. It had been ages since she was able to see through this young girls eyes, and thank’s to that little sparring session with Hesperus the young girl did exactly what the boy wanted her to do.
A wide smile grew upon X-23’s lips as she thought over it. Lacing his own shoulders with nanites was ingenious, and knowing Talon if provoked the young girl could get pretty physical. Though it was risky that little devil managed to play his cards perfectly predicting even the slightest gestures, and knowing just the right words to say to provoke the precise action. He did well, honestly she was astonished at his knowledge of the girl, at best Talon was unpredictable but the young lad managed to harness that unpredictability into a weapon to use against the poor girl any time he wished. Obviously the nanites were a large part of the plan, there was a chance that little Laura wouldn’t be able to put the puzzle pieces together in time and if so X-23 would “temporarily” take command. If Laura had the ability to speak X-23 would have sinisterly chuckled, for when the girl woke up she’d have no clue any of this happened…
A large thud caused the emerald eyed assassin to jolt to her feet sadly as she did her head rammed into the clear roof hatch of the jet. Letting out a silent groan she slowly slid herself back into her seat while rubbing the back of her head. Moon light filled her eyes as they flickered trying to bring the dizzy world back into focus. As her eyes zoomed in she realized she wasn’t flying anymore, the thud was caused by the jet landing, but she never recalled putting it into- her eyes narrowed onto something in front of her. Placing her one hand on the glass she leaned forward as she attempted to see something. Frustrated she opened the hatch and climbed out of the jet to have her feet rooted firmly upon….dead grass? Laura stood a moment in silence, this all seemed to familiar to her for words. She had been here, she knew this place.
“What can I say….I hardly knew you. But what I did know of you I loved. Your dark smile, your hideously scary chuckle….there was nothing about you I’d change. I have one regret...that I could never tell you the truth.” Those icey words cut through her heart like a blade as the young girl fell to her knees clutching the soil with her hands. A dark funeral seen flashed before her eyes as she cringed not out of physical pain but the emotional torment these memories…these words cast upon her. “I only have two things I must say to you…two simple things…one I wished I had said a long time ago.” “NO!!!” Those words she mouthed over and over beating the ground with her bare fist. X-23 was doing this, she knew it!
Causing her to relive the past, a past that was not suppose to be relived, a memory that was never suppose to be heard from again and words…words that should never have been uttered. Taking in a deep breath Talon got to her feet staggering slightly but inch by inch regaining her balance. Before her was a wilted willow tree its branches like grasping hands, but in truth it was not the three that caught her attention, it was the grave behind it. Like a piece of metal being pulled by a magnet her fate was sealed to that grave, each step toward it she could feel her heart rate quicken. Finally she stood parallel with the tree her hand grazing against it now overlooking the grave that once held Darkchild, at least the Darkchild she use to know.“With everything considered…I must say…I think I loved you…even for those moments…I think I did.” Another cold strike of pain ran through her head as she forced herself to gain balance from the sick withered tree. Taking in breath after breath she wished these memories would stop, she wanted them so dearly to stop! But finally something else caught her eye as she noticed to her horror the grave, it had been cracked straight through the middle all the way down, showing something that caused Laura’s heart to stop, caused the blood in her veins to freeze and her face to blush bright red: The grave, it was empty
"Good lord... Where did you find this?" Mistress Redhead gasped as Eclipse telekinetically dumped a heap of armor and strange technology onto the floor in front of her.
"England." Jason replied with a grin, clamping a crutch under his shoulder and using his now free hand to remove his scarf and gloves as he brushed snow from his hair. He paused for a moment, flashing the golden watch on his wrist. "I followed this to one of his Con Caves. I knew there had to be a reason he'd give it to me, of all people."
"Okay, so... What do you want me to do with it all?" Sarah raised her eyebrows, kissing Chevie on the forehead and sending her away, then leaning against the wall with her arms crossed.
"Well..." Eclipse grinned, his eyes drifting towards the remains of the warsuit Redhead had designed for Crazy Eights, the one he trashed when fighting the Skrulls. "I just need a little... Insurance."
"Insurance?" Sarah smirked, bending down on her knees to examine one of the glowing metal plates. "Jason... You're one of the most powerful people on this team. What do you need a battlesuit for?"
"... Hesperus." Eclipse replied cautiously. "Our powers are the same, we can cancel each other out and he's a better fighter. I know, he's turning over a new leaf. But I can almost guarantee that he's going to try and kill me at some point. So it's either kick him out and throw away his chance at redemption, or..." He smiled, nudging the pile of metal with his foot. "Insurance."
"I can... I can do this..." Eclipse muttered under his breath, hovering above the landscape of Vine City as he kept an eye out for crime. He'd been at it all night and after an eventful day with the Champions, too. He was exhausted and he'd been levitating all day. He was finding it hard to focus and his vision was blurring. He soared through the air, trying his best to squint through the rain and find any problems which needed his attention. But he couldn't see anything, everything was turning black... Everything was turning darker, until...
Jason shot up, throwing the covers aside as he suddenly regained consciousness. He panicked and tried to leap out of bed, but his legs wouldn't respond. "Move! Move, darn you!" He screamed at his useless limbs and started beating at the mattress with his fists. He tried to kick out in frustration but, again, nothing happened. It was incredibly frustrating, something not helped by a sudden rush of blood to the young hero's head, causing him to feel disorientated again.
"I would not recommend that, sir." A mechanical voice spoke compassionately, as Eclipse looked up to see ARCTIC watching over him. He had clearly been taken to his bedroom after fainting and deposited in his barely-used bed. "You should conserve your strength."
"What I need to do, Mark, is get the heck out of here and get back to doing my job." Jason replied gruffly, attempting to use his powers to levitate out of bed, as he summoned his nano-suit to form his costume again. As soon as Eclipse was hovering an inch above the bed, ARCTIC sprung into action and leapt to his master's side, pushing down and pinning Jason against the mattress. "What are you doing?!" Eclipse roared, preparing to blast his robotic companion away with a gravitational pulse.
"I told you, sir, you must conserve your strength." Mark replied simply, his metal face unmoved. "You cannot sustain continued use of your powers for a long period of time without suffering severe mental stress, I have--" Jason flailed slightly against the android, but ARCTIC stayed strong and continued. "I have been assigned by Mrs. Lockhart to ensure you do not spend a dangerous amount of time in costume. For your own safety, sir."
The Teen Wonder sighed, leaning back into his pillow as ARCTIC retreated and picked up the pair of crutches in the corner of the room. "Being a hero is all I know... What else am I supposed to do?"
"Perhaps you could read a book, sir?"
Eclipse was still adjusting to life in crutches. It had been nearly a week and he still hadn't the courage to talk to Nurse Jane and find out the results of his X-ray. He could be crippled for life, he could be healing well, he had no idea. But nowadays, Jason Dodd was becoming a significant part of Eclipse's life. He was spending time out of the costume, something he hadn't done much since putting it on for the first time. He had started reading a book, at ARCTIC's request, and had opted for Dracula by Bram Stoker. It was the second fictional book he had ever read. So far, he was quite enjoying the experience of immersing himself in his readings, cutting himself off from the world and totally throwing himself into the reality of those who occupied the pages. It was certainly better than sitting around doing nothing, and was a great distraction from not being able to feel anything below his waist.
He'd been outside in his civilian identity a couple of times. His first outing was forced upon him, as Blair was taking time off at the same time Jason was having his mandatory down-time. CellPhoneGirl got bored of watching her old Titan comrade reading an old book, so decided that the two of them would take Zachary and go shopping. Jason hadn't ever been shopping and, after the trip with Blair... He was in no rush to ever go shopping again. His only comfort was the fact that he was crippled, and so Blair had to carry her own huge bags of clothes and couldn't force them on him. His second outing was more enjoyable, as War Killer and Talon decided to take him out for a tour of Vine City, a place he had protected for so long, but never bothered to really see... Talon still couldn't speak, but she was more helpful to Jason's predicament than she knew, as both of the Champions had one thing in common: a disability. It was encouraging to see her so happy with Charles, despite the fact that she couldn't tell him how much he meant to her.
Meanwhile, Charles Barnes talked enough to accomodate for his silent girlfriend and socially awkward best friend. He pointed out all the strange and wonderful things about the city and, when the time came to get something to eat, made sure that they were able to get some Pizza Hut takeaway for Mr. Dodd before heading to Papa Johns. They took their pizza to the old, disused Titans tower, which they sat opposite and ate their meal. Talon listened intently, smiling as Eclipse and War Killer recalled their time together as Vine Titans. It was doubly interesting as they were both members at different times and didn't spend a great deal of time as team-mates, so each of the two heroes had their own tales to tell each other. It was the best day Jason had ever spent outside of his costume. A day spent with friends...
Now, it was late at night and Eclipse had just returned to Champions Tower after going on patrol for a while. He had used up all of his allocated hero-time today and would risk the wrath of Mistress Redhead if he didn't come home and get some rest. For the first few days of the regime ARCTIC had been forced to drag his master back to base kicking and screaming, but Eclipse had gotten past that stage now. He was even starting to enjoy the time he spent outside of the yellow, black and blues. He decided to see if War Killer or Talon were still awake and didn't feel like using the communicator. His nanosuit melted away, revealing a short-sleeved light blue shirt and a pair of dark jeans, as he summoned his crutches and began to hobble through the hallways, searching for his friends.
"They're not here, Lucifer." A cold, high voice pierced the darkness of the corridor, causing Eclipse to start as if he had just been woken up from a deep sleep. He turned around with a sour look on his face to see Damian Rayne, the boy who called himself Hesperus... The boy who wanted Eclipse dead. "Very important missions. They're dedicated, don't you think?" Damian smiled, his sly, cunning-little-demon-smirk that Jason knew all too well. He knew what was coming, Hesperus was going to try and get under his skin. "A whole day of getting out there, saving the world and then now, when they should be sleeping, instead they're out saving the world all over again." Hesperus raised an eyebrow, his entire body giving off a cocky attitude. "Speaking of which. Isn't it past your bed-time?"
"I could ask you the same question." Eclipse growled in reply, shuffling round in his crutches to face the little brat. "You know, I should really tell your mother... Oh wait, that's right. You turned your back on her when you joined this team. Didn't you?" Jason left his rhetorical question hang in the air for a while, staring down the unblinking Damian. "I'm on to you, Rayne. I've had my eye on you ever since you came here and, I've been willing to give you a second chance. But it's obvious you haven't changed one bit."
"What makes you so sure, Dodd?" Hesperus scowled, his hands resting against his belt. "I've done what was asked of me, allowed your little robot pet to watch my every move. I only leave this tower when accompanied by the other Young Champions, never on my own. I am forbidden to engage any reported threat alone, only to pass the message along to someone else. I do not have a private computer system and I cannot access mine or anyone else's e-mail accounts."
"Because you make it so obvious." Jason replied sharply, moving closer to the young fundamentalist. "For a while you had resigned yourself to the boredom of being trapped here, but now... You've got your old arrogance back. I'm watching you, Damian, and something has changed. Something that has made you much happier than you've ever been here."
"Maybe I'm just getting used to this lifestyle." Hesperus shrugged his shoulders, not breaking eye contact. "Maybe I've finally abandoned my old way of life and I've embraced the path of a hero? But I haven't seen my mother since I walked out on her and her associates. You question my arrogance, but you forget than I am ten years old. This is the only way for someone like me to get any respect around here. I may not be making any friends, but I have no need for those. I just want to do my job." The last part of Damian's statement made Eclipse pause for thought. It was something he wasn't used to hearing from the little snake's mouth... The truth. It sounded genuine. "Speaking of my job..." Hesperus continued. "Your arch-nemesis, DaggerKlutz, has been spotted in Washington. I just got a report in and there's no-one available to follow up on it."
"No." Eclipse shook his head. Convincing or not, he was not about to let Hesperus go out on his own and meet up with his mother again. It could be that he arranged this 'appearance' by DaggerKlutz so he would have an excuse for leaving. "No, I'll handle it."
"Oh, come off it, Dodd. You're in no shape to take on a threat like that." Damian sneered, crossing his arms over his chest. "You need your rest. Let me handle it."
Eclipse glared at Hesperus in reply, before repeating: "I said, I'll handle it. Show me exactly where he is."
Within five minutes, Damian had triangulated the exact location of Patrick Back, public leader of Back Multinational Corporation and secret leader of the Vine Syndicate. He was in an auditorium in Washington. Hesperus had said that, according to their intel, DaggerKlutz had just been in a meeting with some 'scary looking dudes' and was plotting some 'major stuff'. He also apparently had papers on his person from this meeting. The papers could serve as evidence to put Back behind bars... That is, of course, if the meeting wasn't a lie invented by Hesperus to ensure that Eclipse had no idea why DaggerKlutz was truly waiting at an auditorium for no apparent reason.
"Oh. That's perfect." Hesperus groaned as he teleported into the auditorium in a flash of bright green light to see DaggerKlutz wearing an imitation of his own costume. "I hope you have a good lie prepared for Eclipse as to why, exactly, you're wearing my costume. You remember that my involvement in this plot is secret, yes?" Damian shook his head and made his way to the copy of Patrick's head, hiding himself inside the large dome. "Whatever. The hero will be here any second, try not to incriminate me further, Patrick."
Right on cue, a few seconds after Hesperus was successfully hidden away, Eclipse appeared on the scene in a flash of red light. He was in his usual yellow, black and blue costume, using his powers to levitate a couple of centimetres above the ground. Immediately Jason put a hand to his head and rubbed his temple, sharply intaking breath. He had been using his powers all day and levitating was strenuous enough without throwing teleportation into the mix. "Long time, no see, Klutz." Eclipse shook off the feeling of exhaustion and stared at his enemy. "Come on then, let's hear your speech before we get this over with."
DaggerKlutz's laughter ended when a bright green light filled the room. As if he appeared out of thin air, Hesperus stood there with an annoyed look on his face. "Oh. That's perfect. I hope you have a good lie prepared for Eclipse as to why, exactly, you're wearing my costume. You remember that my involvement in this plot is secret, yes?" Hesperus complained when he noticed DaggerKlutz was wearing a nearly identical costume to his own. DaggerKlutz just grinned. He was about to explain that it symbolized their teamwork and he planned to explain to Eclipse that he was in this costume to mock him about the knowledge he had gained about the hero's destiny but Hesperus interrupted him. "Whatever. The hero will be here any second, try not to incriminate me further, Patrick." DaggerKlutz's smile grew as he helped open the prop so Hesperus could hide in it. Just after DaggerKlutz closed the prop disguised as his head, Eclipse appeared in a bright red light. He was floating just a few inches off the ground as he said, "Long time, no see, Klutz. Come on then, let's hear your speech before we get this over with."
With a confident strut, DaggerKlutz began to pace in front of Eclipse. The bald baddie did not talk his eyes off Eclipse. "Why Eclipse, I'm joyed to see that even with everything going on, you still have time to see me. But I'm upset to see that you haven't complimented by suit, I spent a lot of good money for this." DaggerKlutz brushed his hand against the DK logo on his chest. "I've done some heavy researching on you, Eclipse. It seems that you are in a tough fate. And Hesperus too." As DaggerKlutz let his words hang in the air, he walked over to the prop holding Hesperus and leaned against it. "It is such a shame to hear that you could die like that. Or will the young Hesperus be the one to receive the short end of this prophecy?"
"Honestly, I don't believe this prophecy will happen. But, to be on the safe side, I've formulated an evil plan to help avoid it." DaggerKlutz calmly reached for his utility belt and pulled out a purple pen. "This is the first step of my plan." DaggerKlutz tapped the pen against the prop a few times before saying, "On an off-not, Eclipse, you look a little tired with all that floating. Why don't you take a break from all that annoying levitating and enjoy the sound of my voice?" If Hesperus was listening then he would know that this is his cue to negate Eclipse's powers. But even if Hesperus didn't negate Eclipse's powers now, DaggerKlutz would still attack. With a twist of the upper half of the pen, DaggerKlutz activated it with a soft click. The bald baddie brought the blunt end of the pen near his mouth and quietly said the word, "evil', into it. From the other end of the pen, a loud burst of sonic wave jetted out towards Eclipse. Being hit by this sonic blast would make Eclipse lose his balance and literally take his breath away.
He waited to hear from the pompous little brat known as Hesperus, he wondered if he would actually do such a vile thing to Talon as to lead her into a confrontation with himself. Watching his little children wander through the halls of the French Capital chasing little darkness creations he had just created. The children were growing bored waiting for something to happen. As were most of his team, but he needed to finish this now or it would nag at him for all eternity. This certain question continued to nag him “Why is she so special?” he remembers her but not the emotions he felt for her. They were lost when he returned to his true self. This epitome of evil, he had shut it out of his mind it felt like. As if his body didn’t want to have anything to do with Talon. His own body working against him for one simple reason, it wants to continue this true unloving nature.
Suddenly the room went cold as his creation walked in, Justice strolled in her hips swaying from side to side “You finish your little trip down memory lane?” He looked to her sighing “Let me have some peace woman, once this endeavor is over you will be mine and mine alone. But this is nagging me my sweet wicked Vixen. Why is such a woman able to turn my body against me?” Justice leaned on his shoulder looking up at him “Why can’t you simply ignore her my lover, she is nothing compared to me.” He wanted to tell her he wanted to, but he honestly didn’t. He wants to know why Talon’s able to control him this much emotionally. Suddenly the phone rings, he pushes Justice to the side as he races to the phone. She stomps her foot trying to get his attention, not getting it she flips him off stating “Your such a ass!” Darkchild picks the phone up. The boy genius chortles then speaks “She’s been given the location. Telling her was so very entertaining, what does this sick tree mean? What is it?” Darkchild smiled loving the fact that this little boy has such control over things like this he tells him the truth “It was my grave. Now I thank you for doing this, your prize will come soon.” Hanging up he looks out the window once again it had begun to rain, thinking back he remembered “It was raining then too wasn’t it. The day they put me into the ground.” With that he snapped his fingers opening a portal into the shadows, stepping through he was gone.
Miles away he reappeared immediately he saw her, she didn’t want to believe he was back. She wanted to believe the creature that Goki had brought back was simply dead and forgotten. She was thinking many things as she stood at the Sick Tree looking into the empty grave. His casket gone nothing remained, the area around where he would have laid for eternity was withered and dead. He felt her thoughts, there was something else there in the back of her mind….it took few moments of prying from this distance but he found it. It was….love, how….why…he couldn’t comprehend it nor could he remember why she would have love for him. So he did the best thing possible…he asked. In an instant he was behind her “Hello Talon.” She turned immediately recognizing his voice, she plunged her claws into his chest both sets. She tried to break free but he held her, fusing his skin around her claws he reached out grabbing her face pulling it close to his “Why? Why cant I remember you? What have you done to me, what did you do that made my body work to forget you?” His fingers put pressure against the side of her head then he entered her mind.
Suddenly he was overwhelmed with emotions and images of her past, he sifted through them trying to find ones with him. Finding their first encounter he realized what it was that she did, it wasn’t just she who loved it was him. He loved her, that part of him never died. He remembers in his final moments his thoughts were many but one thing was there. HER among all his former lovers she stood amongst those closest to his heart, then the other memories filled his mind. She was showing him everything, not only memories but her feelings for him. Behind the love she has for War Killer, there is the love she shares for him. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing, his body tried to forget her because it knew it couldn’t have her or anything to do with her. This is why it created the barrier, why he had almost forgotten her. One simple thing
Anger filled his mind as he stopped the mind link, tossing her against the Sick Tree he pinned her “NO! I will not. I know now why I cant remember you, its because I cant. I cant have you, this is what tears me up inside this petty weakness. Gah!” She fights back or tries to clawing his body even more with her lethal weapons. Then he stopped trying to punish her and himself, his body took control and he kisses her. Passionate their lips connect, he puts his hand on her face as he kisses her. She goes lips against his lips, he mind filling with worry but also happiness. Soon the kiss turns into something entirely, something Darkchild hasn’t performed since Walkingstone, it turned into a moment of pure love. He knew the outcome of this act would have consequences but he didn’t care, he has for this brief moment what he has wanted for a long time. If it was any other woman he would have raped her without a second thought, but she was someone with a connection to his past and his past selves. Her and people like her have always been his downfall, but he didn’t care for this moment he would be happy. He simply enjoyed it until she regained her senses.
Eclipse rolled his eyes as DaggerKlutz began to pace back and forth in front of him, staring at his foe with a particularly evil grin as he did so. He crossed his arms, waiting for the speech to end, frowning as he noticed the uncanny similarity of Patrick's costume and Damian's usualy attire. "Why Eclipse, I'm joyed to see that even with everything going on, you still have time to see me. But I'm upset to see that you haven't complimented by suit, I spent a lot of good money for this." Eclipse hadn't noticed it at first, but he was now incredibly suspicious. Was Hesperus working with his arch-nemesis? Why? That wouldn't make any sense, Jason knew that DaggerKlutz would never kill him... "I've done some heavy researching on you, Eclipse. It seems that you are in a tough fate. And Hesperus too." DaggerKlutz paused, leaning against a sculpture of his own head. "It is such a shame to hear that you could die like that. Or will the young Hesperus be the one to receive the short end of this prophecy?"
Eclipse's eyes narrowed. The fact that he was destined to die saving the world was public knowledge at this point, but most people didn't know the full extent of the prophecy. And Hesperus' existence was pretty much a secret. So, what was with this costume? Was it supposed to be some sort of symbolic gesture on Back's part? One thing was for sure, he wasn't working with the little brat. There was no way Hesperus would allow the Klutz to wear a costume exactly like his own or reference him in his speech. "Honestly, I don't believe this prophecy will happen. But, to be on the safe side, I've formulated an evil plan to help avoid it." DaggerKlutz pulled out a purple pen from his utility belt. "This is the first step of my plan." DaggerKlutz tapped the pen against the giant prop of his head before continuing. "On an off-note, Eclipse, you look a little tired with all that floating. Why don't you take a break from all that annoying levitating and enjoy the sound of my voice?"
And, at that very moment, Eclipse's concentration was shattered, as he was brought crashing back to Earth. He landed awkwardly on his legs, it would have been painful if he could feel anything below the waist. Eclipse was more concerned with what just happened. Was he too tired, had his focus failed him after a busy day of superheroics? Or had DaggerKlutz found some sort of technology to block his powers over gravity? Either way, try as he might Jason couldn't get back into the air. With a little effort he also discovered that none of his other powers were working, either. "Frick." He muttered, propping himself up on his arms since he couldn't walk. Then, a sonic blast erupted from his opponent's pen, which exploded outwards and knocked Eclipse off his feet, up into the air as he landed with a thud on his back.
His nano-suit peeled back around his waist, revealing Jason's own utility belt. He always had it, in case of emergencies just like this one, but hadn't used most of his gadgets in a long time. Grabbing his old extensible, indestructible bo-staff, Eclipse heaved himself back to his feet and used the staff as a crutch, under his left armpit, in order to stand up straight. "I don't know what you've done to my powers..." Jason panted, his right hand reaching towards his belt as he grabbed a crescent-rang. "But I don't need them to take you down!" He tossed the projectile, exercising his accuracy with the devices for the first time in ages, aiming to slice the sonic-pen in half. Following up on this, he seized his grapple-gun, something he added to his arsenal long ago, in case he couldn't fly for whatever reason. Firing at the top of the auditorium, Eclipse swung through the air, attempting to soar past DaggerKlutz and strike the villain with his bo-staff before landing a few feet behind him.
"I'm only going to say this once, Gambler, let the girl go...Now!" The Young Patriot's voice saturated with determination as he pointed the symbolic shield of freedom towards the Aristocratic Assassin. Swiftly yet surprisingly gentle, Gambler brushed the young girl around to his back using his own body as a barrier between the hero and his intended objective. Maintaining a cautious visual on War Killer the Cajun briefly leaned in close to Alexandria before whispering something in her ear which instantly sent a look of reassurance sweeping across her little face. Confident of his charming almost fatherly influence over the child the King of Kings stepped forward, slowly closing the gap between the two would be combatants.
"I've studied your history young hero, I know you posses no superhuman abilities. Just as I'm sure you've researched me. Your tactical upbringing would have compelled you do to so. As such, we both know dhere is no way you could hope to face me in single combat.......and survive." sneered the arrogant assassin as he reached for the hilt of his sheathed blade as it rested in an unorthodox manner off the side of his hip. "Admittedly so, I find it both fascinating and extraordinary dat you, a masterfully trained Samurai, has abandon dee way of dee sword in exchange for such an eccentric weapon.Your versatility intrigues and saddens me. You would have made an invaluable assassin."
Suddenly and without warning Gambler swiftly removed his blade stylishly twirling it once in his hands reversing the point of the blade backwards running up the length of his arm. But unexpectedly he did not attack. Instead he took one step back into a kneeling position while simultaneously laying his blade on the ground before returning to his feet. "Tis true dat my vanity, my....pride, are two of my biggest weaknesses. However, even I am not dat egotistical dat dee loss of a potential apprentice would drive me to such lengths. No, on dee contrary hero.....I need your help." Undaunted by the master of manipulations speech War Killer simply tightened the grip on his shield as his resolve resonated thoroughly throughout his posture.
"You have no reason to trust me, but surely by now you realize dat if a confrontation was part of my agenda, it would have already begun long before we laid eyes on one another. Dee child, as you must be aware, if being hunted by Talon's family. Dee Circle of Eclipse. Trust me, if I could find her it was only a matter of time before dhey did. She is safer wit me dhen anyone else. Tis not dee child's safety you should be concerned wit. As we speak your beloved is walking into dee clutches of dee Mad Titan Darkchild....if she has not fallen victim to his sinister ways already." pausing, the LeBeau Legacy let his words sink in. Having returned to dee child, Gambler pulled her jacket tight as he buttoned the top closed. While remaining focused on the child, he once again addressed the battle ready War Killer. "Dhere are few things in dis World dat I cherish, dat I would die for. My country and dee power I hold over it is chief among dhem. And right now, Darkchild, a being I've always considered beneath me, has seen fit to try and usurp my reign. I am not fooled into believing I can take him down myself, which is why I've lured you here. Dee enemy of my enemy is my friend. Here, take dee girl as a token of my sincerity. Its your move hero, you hold all dee cards mon ami."
Just as DaggerKlutz expected, Eclipse fell awkwardly on the ground. It looked a little painful but it didn't stop DaggerKlutz from yelling a sonic blast at Eclipse with his pen. The superhero flew back several feet and landed on his back with a loud thud. DaggerKlutz frowned, this was almost becoming too easy now that Eclipse had no powers. If the defeat of Eclipse was optional in the plan then DaggerKlutz would gladly stop Hesperus from blocking Eclipse's powers but DaggerKlutz didn't want to take the risk. Eclipse had to be defeated for the plan to be achieved.
Slowly, Eclipse got back onto his feet with his old bo-staff under his arm. DaggerKlutz noticed that Eclipse was leaning pretty heavily on the staff. He just assumed that something was wrong with his legs, it would explain why Eclipse was hovering earlier. With a hint of exhaustion in his voice, Eclipse said, "I don't know what you've done to my powers..." Eclipse reached down towards his utility belt, which looked a lot like the utility belt DaggerKlutz was wearing, and pulled out a crescent shaped projectile. Eclipse finished his statement,"But I don't need them to take you down!" With a quick fling of his arm, Eclipse tossed his projectile towards DaggerKlutz.
Without a ping of fear, DaggerKlutz brought the pen back near his lip and whispered a single "Ha" into it. The sonic blast emitted from the pen was able to deflect the projectile away from DaggerKlutz and into the backstage curtain, where it disappeared with a series of bangs of metal. The noise of this distracted DaggerKlutz, when he looked back at Eclipse, he noticed that the hero was soaring above him with his bo-staff out. As DaggerKlutz turned, wondering how Eclipse was in the air, the bo-staff landed on his shoulder and pushed him to the ground. DaggerKlutz took note that the hit hurt but not too much, which meant that Eclipse was tiring.
Now Eclipse was a few feet in front of DaggerKlutz. He was still leaning on his staff but he looked ready to continue fighting. DaggerKlutz smirked as he slowly got up. While Eclipse was able to land a hit, DaggerKlutz knew that he still had the upper hand so he continued to monologue while walking around Eclipse in a circle. "Some part of me kind of wishes this prophecy was true. After all, it could prove just how much of a hero you are since every good hero needs a better villain. That's why I picked you as my arch-nemesis." DaggerKlutz was hoping that Hesperus was listening to the monologue as well. "Now please tell me, just between the two of us, who would you let perish at the hands of fate? Answer honestly because we're the arch-nemesis of each other and we shouldn't lie to each other." DaggerKlutz increased his glare at Eclipse. "Would you let Hesperus perish or will you commit a heroic sacrifice?"
“I have studied you, C.O.P.’s has a well updated files on most of the world’s top villains, but ever since I’ve met you I was digging up whatever I could you while I was still with the Titans.” Charles began to speak, not moving any closer, even though he could make a move, he had already calculated that his shield could reach Gambler and keep’s momentum up for a serious hit….but it was too risky, and he knew that Charles would never risk hurting the girl. “And I’m not here to fight you either....” He clutched his fists as he knew that wasn’t true, he wanted to take this man down, to put him away, but even though he had seemingly placed himself as the child’s shield, Gambler was more clever than that, even with the kid behind him, she was still being used as a shield.
Noticing his hand reaching for his blade, Charles slid his hand down his side, gripping the his gun put keeping it holster until he saw fit to use it, "Admittedly so, I find it both fascinating and extraordinary dat you, a masterfully trained Samurai, has abandon dee way of dee sword in exchange for such an eccentric weapon. Your versatility intrigues and saddens me. You would have made an invaluable assassin." Charles was impressed, and a bit spooked at how much his life from his own world had gotten out…he really needed to stop talking to government officials. Charles continued to glare across the tunnel, his eyes trying to keep focus on the child, trying to think of a way to get her out without putting her in harm’s way, but still seeing really no other option.
“I never abandoned the sword; my destiny was simply called unto another weapon…” He said, looking down at his father’s shield as the light glared off of it. “…and I’m pretty sure, like a worthy swordsmen yourself knows, when one picks up a sword, they can never truly ever give it up.” The young patriot then watched as Gambler revealed with blade, causing him to pulling his gun out, ready to take the clearest shot he could get, but he the last thing he saw coming was the so called Legends next move, "Tis true dat my vanity, my....pride, are two of my biggest weaknesses…” he said as he put down his blade as he got into a kneeling position, causing Charles’ brow to rise with curiosity as he was now unclear of the man’s motives.
“…However, even I am not dat egotistical dat dee loss of a potential apprentice would drive me to such lengths. No, on dee contrary hero.....I need your help." And with those words, the young hero loosened his gripping of his shield, for now he was truly at a loss to what Gambler’s true motives for all of this were now. “W…what do you mean? My help….Explain yourself.” Charles demanded as he now began to grip of the straps to his shield, he wasn’t going to play Gambler’s little mind games, all he wanted was the girl and that was it.
"You have no reason to trust me, but surely by now you realize dat if a confrontation was part of my agenda, it would have already begun long before we laid eyes on one another. Dee child, as you must be aware, if being hunted by Talon's family…” This was true, for Charles had seen this first hand not long ago, how could he forget? It was a moment he would never let himself forget, no matter how much he tried to hide the guilt.
Right after Gambler had banned Talon after betraying him for Charles, the two found themselves facing off against men who had used Talon’s daughter as a way to manipulate her into doing what they asked, the two escaped with the knowledge that Talon’s daughter was no with them anymore, that someone had gotten to her before they did, and more surprisingly, Charles had already pieced together that it was Gambler who must have done so. But the story doesn’t end there, for during this, Talon once again saved Charles, but at the cost of her own voice, and to this day that moment had haunted the young Champion.
Holding up his right hand, Charles glared down at it as he clenched his fingers together, remembering the scar he wears now that is a forever reminder of that unfaithful day. “…Dee Circle of Eclipse. Trust me, if I could find her it was only a matter of time before dhey did. She is safer wit me dhen anyone else. Tis not dee child's safety you should be concerned wit. As we speak your beloved is walking into dee clutches of dee Mad Titan Darkchild....if she has not fallen victim to his sinister ways already." Charles felt a cold chill run down his spine, as if literally his heart stop upon hearing what Gambler said, now realizing that was why he couldn’t get a hold of Laura before, but now he feared for her safety even more.
“Where is she? Where is he holding her, Gambler?!” Charles demanded of him once more as he sneered his voice, but his demands were not heard as the Assassin continued to go on, "Dhere are few things in dis World dat I cherish, dat I would die for. My country and dee power I hold over it is chief among dhem. And right now, Darkchild, a being I've always considered beneath me, has seen fit to try and usurp my reign. I am not fooled into believing I can take him down myself, which is why I've lured you here. Dee enemy of my enemy is my friend. Here, take dee girl as a token of my sincerity. It’s your move hero, you hold all dee cards mon ami."
For a moment, the young hero didn’t make a move, only taken abide by Gambler’s words. But slowly, step by step, he walked through the murky sewer water; closer to what he had came here for. Charles looked on as the Cajun button the little girl’s jacket up, freely offering her to the confused and suspicious hero. Kneeling down at the little girl, he gave her a slight smile, while also keeping Gambler in plain sight in case he tried anything funny. Slowly putting the girl in his arms, Charles’ mind was now on locating and getting to Talon right away, but as he started to make his way towards the exit, he turned and remained standing in front of Gambler, War Killer’s emerald eyes glaring into his, “I have a question…” the young patriot began to ask, “…before, when you banished Talon after she saved me (again), she had a piece of paper with her…” the seriousness could be seen filling in Charles’ eyes as he continued to glare at the master assassin, not taking his eyes off of the man at risk of being caught off guard, “…do you know what it came from and does it have anything to do with this ‘Circle of Eclipse’ by chance, would it?” those were the last words out of the hero’s mouth as he stood in front of him, his eyes looking into his own, wondering if he was to make the first move, or wondering if Gambler was waiting for the right moment to attack, he wasn’t sure, but all he could do now was wait for his answer….
The memories, the grave the sickening tree even the sky color was something out of a horror novel for the emerald eyed assassin. She was in denial, disbelief and every other form and ignoring the truth she could think of. Sweat now drenched her upper body as her midnight blue locks curled like vipers on her back. Panting heavily she dug her nails into the tree as her forehead scraped against the dead bark. Her eyes were tightly closed as she rubbed continually against the tree. “No no no.” she mouthed over and over as the images in her head flashed more violently. Everything was perfectly why now! Of all the people why him! But her nightmare came to a swift climax as she felt a gust of wind behind her and slowly she raised her head her eyes wide as she didn’t dare turn, she wouldn’t look, this wasn’t real.
“Hello Talon.” A surge of….desire coerced through her as she heard his voce caress her ears. Shutting her eyes she let out a silent cry as she spun on the ball of her foot unleashing her two twin Talons and jabbing them into her chest. With force she started hacking her eyes slightly closed, she refused to look upon him refused to admit this was happening. It was X-23, she was playing with the young girls mind like she always had, trying to push Talon into that deep dark hole of endless insanity well she wouldn’t buckle! She wouldn’t give in to her little mind games, he wasn’t real this wasn’t real none of this was, she wouldn’t allow it to be.
As she prepared to entice her claws once more to stab him she felt his fingers wrap around her wrist. He shook her slightly but only to get her to open her eyes. Though she was stubborn and didn’t dare look upon the best, she knew the penalty. The last time she looked at Darkchild the real Darkchild that day on Ninjeta she had lost it, and she refused to lose it again. Violently she pulled but he had merged his grip tightly upon her twin claws. Though just like always her breathing swallowed the fighting ceased for a only a moment as she slowly cautiously opened her eyes accepting that in truth was really happening.
“Why? Why can’t I remember you? What have you done to me, what did you do that made my body work to forget you?” Now she was staring at him, but not at the hideous monster that she once gaped at years past, she was staring at a man, a desperate man longing for answers similar like her. But fear still quickened through her like the blood in her veins. The droplets of sweat stained her brown as they fell upon the barren ground one by one. As their stares were locked he used his once hand and pressed it against her head. She wasn’t sure what he was up to what he wanted, before now she thought he would sinisterly take from her whatever he wanted but honestly he was much gentler than she thought. Not desiring to retaliate she stood there patiently thinking what she should do. Her powers were nothing compared to his and Gemini….she didn’t know where her faithful weapon was, for it was in truth the only thing that could have aided her now.
But then like a switch his face turned from wonder to hate as with his sheet strength he tossed her aside like a rag doll. “NO! I will not. I know now why I can’t remember you, it’s because I can’t. I can’t have you, this is what tears me up inside this petty weakness. Gah!” Her back crashed into the trunk of the three as spinsters dug into her back. She cringed slightly leaning forward as she began to feel faint. Pain now surged through her head as she placed both the palms of her hands on the dead soil. Breathing deeply her eyes for a moment was cast down at the floor. She wasn’t about to give up to simply give in! She had to fight, it didn’t matter what power he had it didn’t matter that with a single flick of the wrist he could so swiftly exterminate her. She would fight, fight to live, live so that one day she might be able to have a life, a life with him.
Staggering to her feet as her eyes flashed yellow she swiftly charged toward Darkchild pulling back her right hand its claws ready to take another strike at the devil. Compassion she wouldn’t show, it had been a long time since she had fought to kill but Darkchild for sure was a person she fought to kill even though she knew it not possible. Though as her hands would have instantly inserted them into his chest he grabbed it and once again like the first time he caught the young girl aback. Their lips touched and like before her body froze unable to react to his sudden uncalculated action. Looking back she probably would have said he raped her, but in truth it wasn’t so for she had her own lustful unbridled desires that had surfaced, ever since that night on Ninjeta she had and ever since then.
It happened so quickly her mind didn’t have time to calculate, that was it she wasn’t thinking. It was a moment she couldn’t recall not physically though the emotional pleasures that were met were several to this day she remembers each of them. Though all good things…or bad things had to come to an end, her eyes flashed jade as they shot open. As if resurfacing from water she gasped for air pushing his body off her. She rolled several feet away on the floor her elbows dirty with sweat and soil. Her hair strung over her face as she her vision started to stabilize. Taking in one deep breath after another she formulated her stance as she rooted her feet on the ground bent, and both her arms as well palms down, like a crouching tiger.
She stared daggers at Darkchild as her teeth grew to a point, she was angry. Not as much at him but at what she did with him. It was obvious she wanted control and it was obvious she wanted to slice his neck but she just remained like that, she was naked and it was very awkward situation but with him she didn’t care, he’d see her it wasn’t that much of an issue. With that she charged at him screaming out in anger slicing at his stomach then kicking him in the jaw, she knew it was pointless and she knew she wasn’t wounding him but she needed to feel as if she was. Finally she stopped as she just stood there in front of him her eyes staring at him a moment. Slowly she took several steps away from him her hair draping over her shoulders covering part of her exposed chest.
“I…can speak” she whispered moving the tips of her fingers to her lips. Now in a much more calmer state she stared at him her claws unleashed as she pointed them directly at him. She could talk the sound of her voice was something she almost didn’t recognize but it felt wonderful to actually speak and be heard. For a moment she forgot how angry she was but like an unstable flame she ignited once more. “What did you do!!!?” she snarled a low growl resonating from her throat. Her skin was bare and exposed being battered by the cold wind that blew from the ocean, the sky above was the same cloudy texture as before causing the whole area to look gray. The ground, as lifeless and barren and brown as before when she had first laid eyes on it…but the sound of her voice as she shouted that question echoed in the distance, and she couldn’t believe it, and honestly despite where it came from….it felt good.
Their bodies melded for those few brief moments, what elapsed into an hour of time felt like the fewest fleeting moments to Darkchild. The feel of her skin against his, the smell of her body an the feeling of her sweat against his. Their bodies intertwined for those few moments, an once he realized the time they would spend would not be long he did it. In everything in this world that takes life or takes what it wishes it can also give, Darkchild was a man known for taking everything from anyone an everyone. But he now remembered what fractured his tiny loves mind in such a way, the loss of her voice it drove her even more over the edge. As he felt her body pull away he in one instant changed her life forever, he pulled her close pressing his lips hard into hers. From within his body energy passed from his lips an into her body filling it in full. She would not feel it immediately or would she know its effects quickly, adrenaline would push its effects. The invisible energy filled her body, healing things long thought to be inoperable her vocal chords began to reattach themselves. She was beginning to heal at a cellular level, her body mending itself from the years of torture she put it through. His gift would not prolong her life as it did with Feral’s, this was a gift from his dark an blackened heart something to heal utterly.
This moment was short as she pushed him away, the reality of their actions finally weighing in on her she reacted with rage. Naked an utterly vulnerable emotionally she lashed out at him, he stood tall letting her vent her anger for what they had done. He could read her mind, she hadn’t known the reason she let it happen they had fulfilled both of their desires then. He thought for a moment if a child would be born of this day, an he hoped for it but suddenly he felt the twinge of pain as she sliced into his stomach an then following it with a swift kick to the jaw. As she was attacking him she let out a long an guttural scream, something she hadn’t noticed right away but as she tried to hurt him he smiled. Not his usual sadistic smile, it was something in the form of compassion she saw it then put two an two together once she heard her own voice. Darkchild watched as she placed everything together in her head, she once again had her voice back. She was happy, but soon happiness turned into rage as her talons grew longer an she growled at him. Asking what he had done it, even why he did it. This saddened Darkchild, she no longer felt the same way he did and in many ways neither did he. This was an act done out of primal animalistic needs coupled with remnants of a lost an former love. He let her vent her questions an when she had yelled herself into hoarseness he told her “Something deep within my soul, it needed to save you in some way.” He stepped closer to her, she took a step back “Part of me still feels for you Talon, even loves you in some way. So I did the most logical thing, I showed you what I could do for you. I healed you, your vocal chords are now fully healed along with anything in your body that needed mending.” He read her mind she was wondering what the catch was “No catch my love, simply a gift to you so that you might consider what I now offer.” He took out a amulet from his pocket then taking her hand, he placed it into her hand. “Become my queen, soon the world will know what I’m truly capable of. They will never rival me again, nor will they think of me a fool.” She took her hand from his grip clutching the amulet she barked at him in a tone that hurt him deep.
“You’re an evil despicable, and ugly man on the surface and deep down. I will be your nothing, tonight will be forgotten never to be repeated. I cannot believe that you made me do that.” Darkchild interrupted her “There was no coercion, that was true. I needed manipulate something that was there, you felt something then.” He got closer touching her cheek in a caring way “Yes….disgust, utter disgust.” Darkchild wanted to lash out in anger or at least part of him did. But he frowned to her lowering his head, then looking up he saw she still had his amulet in her hands. He took it from her an hung it around her neck, he lifted it up to her eye level “Inside this, is a direct location to my heart. Nothing that would hurt me if severed don’t go thinking you would have power over me. But you ever change your mind…” Darkchild looked to her mid-section he could see inside her, it had already begun. His body was his best weapon, an soon she would know what would become of this night. He smiled “You open the amulet, smash it I know you have the power. Once opened, it will allow you to follow it to me wherever I am.” He took his hand away from her new charm an kissed her cheek, walking away almost out of sight before he turned around. “Very soon you will be coming to be, I can see it. Because know this, tonight was now just to find out if my feelings were true. It was to continue my legacy, keep these words of tonight in your mind. Because I don’t need you entirely to continue my legacy.” With that Darkchild was gone, disappearing into the fog that now rolled over the grave that once held his remains. Soon Talon would know what his words meant, because on this day in a single moment. One moment of pure lust, sexual desires….one moment of love something was created.
Time seemed to have slowed as War Killer’s question lingered through the dark sewers beneath the catacombs of the Sancta Camisia. Standing silently, the young Star-Spangled Hero stood tall, as he awaited the answer from Gambler who stood before him. The two glared at one another as the silence grew within the darkness, both men making eye contact, as if they were both trying to figure out what the other was going to do next. All while holding tightly within his arms, Charles now held the young little girl, holding the daughter of none other than the girl he loved, Talon.
“Dhere is a time and place for all things…” the Cajun suddenly spoke, breaking the silence that had so peacefully made its way around them, “…but dis is not the time for dis of which you speak. Go boy, dee one you care deeply so needs you now.” Gambler continued as Charles stood there, neither breaking their eye contact as the young patriot stood there and listened. And he was right, today was not the day for those answers and the young hero knew that Gambler was speaking the truth, as much as he hated the so called Living Legend, he couldn’t deny that Gambler cared for Talon…at least in a sick, twisted, and controlling way.
He glared at the assassin, before slightly nodding his head as he then turned towards the way he had came. But only a few steps away, he quickly stopped as he felt the tugging on his uniform of Talon’s daughter as she clung to him in his arms. His eyes peered down upon her, in truth he knew nothing of the girl really, but even still he had come all this way to get her, coming face to face with Gambler himself. He did this not for himself, but for Laura, Gambler had already used her before, and Charles couldn’t let him use something else from her life against her.
The little girl’s eyes slowly looked up at him, her eyes looking back into his, causing the young hero to let off a slight smile, but this smile faded quickly as he realized that he what he had to do know. His arms tightening slightly around the young girl, he slowly turned back around, causing him to be facing the man he hated with a passion once more. He knew he had knew choice, he wasn’t sure what kind of trouble Talon was in, she could be fighting for her life, with Darkchild, he could never be sure. But he knew one thing; whatever mess she was in, the last thing he could do was bring her daughter into it, risking placing the little girl in Darkchild’s hands, that wasn’t something he could simply risk. And as he realized this, he quickly knew that what was about to do know was just as risky, but he knew he was running out of options.
Walking back in front of Gambler, the King of Kings looked upon the hero once again, most likely knowing what he was about to do, but remaining silent even so. Letting out a soft sigh, he glared down towards the murky sewer waters, only to lift his eyes up as they now looked upon the innocent little girl once more. “Let me make one thing clear…” Charles began, his voice carrying the anger he had formed for Gambler since they had first encountered one another in the same sewers before, “…I don’t trust you, but right now I have no choice.” Slowly he lifted he girl up, placing her in Gambler’s arms, “I don’t like it…in fact, I hate it, but right now this girl is safer with you then she is with me.” He continued, “This doesn’t change anything though, I will be back for her, and I will take you in for what you done…” His eyes glared at Gambler as he said these words, know that at any moment the assassin could strike and it would be over, “…or I will go down trying.” Gambler grinned slightly as he heard the young patriot’s words, not making it sure if he was impressed by the boy’s bravery or if he simply found him amusing, either way it did not matter at this point.
Slowly his body began to turn towards the way he had came once again, taking one last glance at the little girl, making a silent promise to her that he would be back and he would finish this once and for all. “Just know that this isn’t over, Gambler.” He spoke one last time as he began to take his leave. “On the contrary…” the Living Legend spoke softly as he watched the hero take his way, “...dis is only dee beginning.” His voice faded as these words echoed through the sewer tunnels. Taking one last glance as he reached the entrance he had use when he arrived, he looked back to where Gambler was standing just moments ago, but finding only darkness in his place, leaving nothing but a mere memory of himself at the girl, it was if they were never there to begin with. Not giving it another thought, he peered away as he made his way out of the sewers and back towards his jet, simply praying that he never has to return to those tunnels again.
Eclipse's answer did not come soon enough. DaggerKlutz knew that Eclipse would be a little conflicted with the answer but he didn't suspect that Eclipse would just stand there, speechless about weather or not he would sacrifice himself for Hesperus. So, while Eclipse was distracted, DaggerKlutz slyly moved the pen in hand towards his mouth. Then he let out another 'ahhhh' into the tip, sending one more loud sonic blast to hit Eclipse. It was enough to send Eclipse to the adjacent wall and knock him out, on the floor. DaggerKlutz grinned at Eclipse's unconscious body. This was his first combat victory over his arch-nemesis and it was everything he hoped it would be. But DaggerKlutz knew that his growing excitement wasn't just from the fact that he had beaten Eclipse, it was also from the fact that he would now start his plan to stop Eclipse's so-called 'destiny' from happening.
Without saying a word, DaggerKlutz confidently strolled over to the prop shaped as his head. He reached it and said, "Well Hesperus, Eclipse has been defeated. Everything is going to plan. My plan." DaggerKlutz quickly pressed a magenta colored button hidden behind the ear of the prop. A quick spraying noise came from the prop as the jaw opened to drop Hesperus out, who fell out with a limp body. "Sorry Hesperus." DaggerKlutz said without a tone of concern in his voice. But he didn't say it sarcastically either. He said it as more of a fact than anything else. "I had to trick you like this. But do not worry, the nerve gas will only last for an hour, which will give me enough time to carry out my plan."
Using his foot, DaggerKlutz rolled Hesperus over so the young Fundamentalist who be looking upwards to him. DaggerKlutz noticed that while most of Hesperus' body was limp, his eyes had an intense glare on them. The young kid had willpower. DaggerKlutz smiled and said, "You have the potential to become a formidable hero, one who could even have the privileged of facing me one day, but you waste all this potential trying to ruin Eclipse." He pointed over towards Eclipse's unconscious body and then pointed at Hesperus. "Now, both of you are in the Champions of Peace facing villains, who are not as evil as myself but still bad enough, almost every day. Now, why would someone who was in a prophecy that said they would perish continue to fight and risk their well being?" DaggerKlutz paused for a moment to let his words sink in. "If either of you really wanted to avoid this then why not just retire from fighting. You could live a completely normal life and never have to worry about a single prophecy. I know Eclipse won't, and I am glad because he is my arch nemesis, but you are free to do so. But you haven't."
DaggerKlutz crouched down so Hesperus would get a better look at him. "I do not believe in predestination. There is no scientific evidence stating that it exists. But you and Eclipse have faith in it so I must be willing to stop this prophecy, even though it is not real. But the point it, there are many ways to avoid it but you aren't looking for that. You are looking for closure on the subject. You are living under a fear that someone instilled in you years ago. Eclipse isn't your enemy in this. He is in the same position you are. Your biggest problem is yourself. Don't spend your whole life avoiding the end. Spend it doing your best in everything so you can have a fulfilling end. We consider those who have lived to be over one hundred people who lived the best, we consider those who live doing a hundred amazing things are those who live the greatest." DaggerKlutz stood up and began to walk off the stage. He went to the exit door and turned around before opening it. "Eclipse should wake up any moment now. To keep your secret safe, I would recommend claiming that you came as backup but I got you with a cloud of nerve gas. Then he can take you back to your headquarters and you can think over what I said." He turned around and dramatically opened the doors and left the two Fundamentalists alone.
"Ugh..." Eclipse groaned, rubbing his hand against his head. He tried to open his eyes, but the light stung them and he clamped them shut, head-butting his pillow. "I am sooo sick of getting knocked out." After the King of the Vine tournament, in which he fell unconscious after every Round, transported into the next arena against his will, Jason had been learning to hate the world of dreams. Normally he didn't sleep much at all, he was too busy... At least he used to be, before his injury. The young hero cast his mind back, trying to remember what had happened.
There was Hesperus, first. He told Jason about DaggerKlutz, about how he was in Washington. Eclipse made his way there, and found himself faced with his arch-nemesis, who seemed oddly confident. Then... "My powers." The teen wonder mumbled into his cushion. Patrick had somehow blocked his abilities, forcing the hero to fight as a cripple and rely on his gadgets. Obviously, it didn't end well... What was it Back had said? Something about the shared destiny of Hesperus and Eclipse. Asking questions, like would Jason give his life to save his younger counterpart. That particular question was easy, but the subject of the destiny itself wasn't so simple.
It could be that Eclipse would be faced with the choice of stopping Hesperus from destroying the world. Or it could happen the other way around. The only certainty was that both of them would die. Jason often wished that there might be another way, a way to avoid their fates, but Father Time had said it was not just a prophecy, but fact. He was a time traveler, he knew these things. Still, the hero often wished that it could be averted, so Damian could live.
'Wait.' Eclipse paused, thinking. 'My powers were negated... The only person who has ever done that with technology was Nighthunter. Patrick's smart, but he's not exactly Jake Hamilton. Did he have help building the tech? Or... Or were my powers cancelled out through other means?' He rolled onto his back again, opening his eyes to allow his vision to focus on the ceiling. 'Damian. He told me where to find DaggerKlutz. Was this all just a trap? A ploy, to kill me? And if it was... Why didn't it work?'
Sensing the presence of another in his hospital room, Jason glanced over the end of the bed, to see... Hesperus. Leaping out of his bed and levitating into the air, his nano-suit began to spread all over his body as he stared suspiciously at the young boy. Damian returned the glare for a few moments, before breaking eye contact and pretending to be distracted by his utility belt. "I figured you couldn't take on DaggerKlutz in your state." Hesperus began, checking the pouches on his belt. "So when you didn't come back after a few minutes, I decided to offer you some assistance. A good thing too, if I had showed up any later the fool probably would have dragged you through the streets, proclaiming his victory over the 'World's greatest hero'..." The last part was drenched with sarcasm, and Eclipse was still suspicious.
"I'm not the world's greatest hero." Jason retorted, still hovering. "And why didn't you kill me?" Silence. "I was unconscious. Completely helpless. You want me to die so you can live, don't try to deny that. You had the perfect opportunity to be rid of me, once and for all. Why didn't you? Why?!" Eclipse's voice was raised, angry. Damian looked surprised, as Jason realized how he must have sounded... Like he wanted to die. Which, in a way, he did. He wanted to die, so Hesperus could live... But he couldn't, not without knowing for sure which one of them would cause armageddon.
"When I first joined this team, I said from the beginning I was looking for a second chance..." Damian began, staring his 'brother' in the face bravely. "I said I wanted to turn over a new leaf, to start life anew... I was lying. I came here to kill you." He said bluntly. "But whether I came here looking for a second chance or not... I got it. I received the opportunity for a little perspective on my situation, to take a step back and re-evaluate my purpose in life. Against my will, I have turned over a new leaf. Your death is not my mission anymore..." Hesperus turned to leave, disappearing in a flash of green light. Eclipse grinned, floating back to ground as Damian's final words echoed through the room. "... But that doesn't mean I have to like you."