Her head slumped forwards, face purple, chin resting lifelessly upon her chest.
A pair of gloved fingers untangled themselves from her neck, clenching into fists. These meaty paws belonged to an immensely large man, enormous body wrapped firmly by a bright-scarlet suit, bow-tie immaculately displayed below his collar. His handsome face turned away from the murdered woman, his steel-rimmed shades glinting fancily in the dim light of the bedroom. His bronze skin wore a flashy, sadistic grin.
"Took care of the madam. Now, let's clear this joint out."
His ear-piece buzzed with the sound of a dozen men responding to his order, followed by the unmistakable sound of glass shattering and doors being ripped from their hinges. The scarlet-clad man stepped away from the seated corpse, brushing off his suit and making his way towards the massive wardrobe nestled in the corner of the room. He tore the doors off with his bare hands and began to pull clothes out of it, gathering them into a heap on the carpeted floor. Afterwards he lifted the pile of clothes and threw it up in the air, having the mass of material flutter in all directions, littering the room with dresses. With a final nod at the dead lady, he ripped the plasma-screen TV from the wall and tucked it under one arm, exiting the room with a cheery hummed tune.
The house was grasped firmly by a strange form of calm chaos, numerous suit-clad men milling about the place, tearing the old yet pristine manor to shreds. Furniture was destroyed and thrown around, pictures were torn off of walls, valuables were strewn about aimlessly, plumbing was eviscerated . . . There seemed to be no end to the incredulous spectacle. This was no robbery, as jewellery was dropped down the toilet and a large plasma-screen TV lay in two halves, sparks flying within the living room. The scarlet suited man sat in the dining room, sipping on a cup of tea, little finger raised daintily in the air. His shades sat still upon the bridge of his nose, masking his eyes from his inferiors, who were currently finishing off with the last of their tasks. One man entered the room, his Caucasian skin tainted with sweat, he seemed out of breath, tired, he was probably one of the newer recruits. He spoke with an uncertain voice, slightly exasperated,
"We're almost done. The other group have just cleaned out the Mayor's place, and they are en route to the Storage House."
The shaded man put his chipped cup down and got to his feet, smiling broadly at the man.
"Then let’s get moving, shall we."
The giant man's friendliness sent a shiver down the anxious lackey's spine, but he ignored it and nodded in agreement, pushing his finger to his ear-piece.
"The Big Man says it’s time we got going, everybody out."
There was no reply from the other men. Both men stood stock still for a moment, waiting to hear any confirmation to the order. There was nothing but a crackling static, indicating that something was jamming the frequency. The lackey gave Big Man a bewildered look, shrugging with anxious haste. Big Man’s ever-present smile slipped a little, a vein sprouting out across his creased forehead.
“There seems to be a problem. Shall we check it out?”
It wasn’t so much a question as it was a command. The lackey nodded dejectedly, fear slowly creeping into the corners of his being. Both criminals exited the room, making their way down the messed hallway to find an eerily silent atmosphere suddenly take the house captive. The suited man stopped in his tracks, his eyebrows arched in suspicion, smile obliterated. His subordinate walked on, obliviously terrified. Big Man was about to call him back when a shadow crossed over the man's figure and he disappeared with a girlish yelp. The scarlet-suited man’s body tensed, instantly alert. There was something else in here with him, and the blood that stained the door at the other end of the hallway proved it. How had he not noticed earlier? He berated himself for his carelessness, grabbing hold of his suit and ripping it apart with his gloved hands, baring his teeth at whatever lurked in the darkness.
"Come and get me, friend!"
He stood for a moment, his insanely bulbous muscles flaring everywhere across his body. He had once been a professional body builder, back before he had joined the criminal industry. His perfectly defined anatomy had earned him a high ranking within the law-breaking underworld and soon he was accepted into one of the most powerful criminal groups, eventually becoming a strongman, leader of one of his own little thieving groups. Of course, his cunning and uncanny intelligence had also aided in his endeavours. In fact, he had been a part of the making of the Plan, a massive wide-spread scheme that had been concocted many months ago, involving numerous cities and towns. Normally, his cheery, friendly vibe disturbed most of the men he worked with, but it was just another weapon in his array of psychological assets. But now, in the midst of this bewilderingly frightening situation, that upbeat personality had vanished to be replaced by a feral, slightly anxious nature. His sunglasses fell to the floor, revealing beady little eyes, strained by hundreds of little red veins. They widened in fury as he opened his mouth to roar once more at his unseen assailant.
Fingers struck the small of his back suddenly, sending jolts of pain through his body. He grimaced, fighting the urge to howl in affliction. He realized his body was frozen, paralysed. His muscles ached and it seemed his joints had locked down on him. He tried in vain to free his frame up, but it only caused more internal and external stress to his anatomy.
"Who are you working for?"
A cold, dispassionately gravelly voice whispered harshly into his ear, appearing from seemingly dead-silence. Dark tendrils of fear slowly prowled into the crevices of the Big Man’s iron-willed mind. He fought for breath, his body slowly shutting down on him. Who was this creature? A demon? A beast? Some sort of ninja? He grimaced in frustration as he struggled to reply.
“Suck . . . My ball-ls.”
His mortified body shook as supressed chuckles crawled their way from his throat. Veins riddled his body by now, his heart slowly, slowly, coming to a stop. A shadow flitted past his vision, the frightening voice hissing into his other ear now.
“Your body is in a state of paralysis. Your heart is going to come to an abrupt halt within the next two minutes, there is no time for you to try and be tough.”
Suddenly darkness flooded his line of sight, and he blinked rapidly to try and adjust. It took him a moment to realize that a figure was standing before him. A sturdy frame concealed almost entirely in shadows and night, with only a pair of white slits breaking through its uncanny appearance. The figure shifted, and what seemed like a bag of iron struck Big Man across his chin, tearing at his taut neck muscles. He whimpered in pain.
“Okayokay . . . I’ll talk!”
The white slits narrowed in expectation. Big Man struggled to get his body to respond to his mind’s orders, and his voice was a tangle of uneven volumes. He screwed his eyes shut and clenched his jaw, speaking as normally as he could manage.
“The Storage House. Go to the Storage House. . . Mazo- Mazomanie. Series of . . . Operations tonight. Big assembly. That’s all I can say.”
Crowman’s lips pulled apart in a scowl as he raised his arm to strike at the man’s sternum, instantaneously freeing up his whole body and jumpstarting his heart. He took a sudden, great gasp of air before collapsing to his knees and dropping to the floor, currents of blood leaking from his ears, nose, and mouth. His felled body shuddered with each laboured breath he took as his immune system got back to work. Crowman leaned in and whispered into his ear.
“Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?”
He vanished into the darkness, leaving the once scarlet-suited criminal crippled in an amassed house littered with a dozen dead bodies. The defeated thief was grateful for his injuries, there were no witnesses and so nobody would realize he had ratted on the operation. At least, he hoped nobody would realize. But he knew, deep down, that somehow . . . They always did.
“Well . . . It . . . was fun . . . While it lasted.”
He reached for his hand-gun, raising it to his face, smiling one last time before pulling the trigger.
The Storage House
"There seems to be about 50 or so of them. Most of them are armed, and in a state of high-alert. I still can't tap into their broadcasting frequency, and measuring by the amount of security and care taken with this operation, these guys aren't just average thieves looking for a quick buck. Something big is going on here."
Kyle Sinclair's young voice sounded through the Vice of Vengeance's com-link, clarifying and confirming his own hypothesis. This was far more than it seemed. The public had been assured by the Mayor and Police Force that this was just some gang that would soon be apprehended, a bunch of mugs running around breaking and entering. Far from the truth. Crowman had been looking into these cases for a while now, acquiring information from snitches and corrupt cops, hacking into databases, finding the same name in each piece of info he tracked down. Mazomanie. He wasn't sure what part the little suburban town played in the large-spread operation, but it was significant. Despite all of his efforts, he hadn't been able to glean much from all this. With a sigh of dejection, he replied coldly to his eye-in-the-sky.
"Keep at it."
Crowman's eyes narrowed in concentration. This was going to be tricky.
Felicia gave advice through the headset while Max not-so-subtly followed the semi-trailer truck moving through the streets. "Slow down a little. They could be looking out for you. Watch that Hummer on the left."
Noted, but it didn't seem to be a big concern for Max. "Hey, do you think they're running me in circles? I feel like they're running me in circles."
"I wouldn't be surprised, as you seem to know nothing about stealth. A thousand thoughts in a second, and not one of them was 'hey, I should avoid detection.'" Even through her scolding, there was a hint of amusement in her voice.
"Hey, uh, can I get a soundtrack or something? Going the Distance? The one by Cake, please. Besides, small town like Mazomanie, they had to know they'd find me. And it's not like I don't know where they're going." At that moment Max skidded to a halt and just stood, tapping his foot while pretending to think hard. "Duh!" Then he skidded to a halt, turned around and ran off in the opposite direction.
On the way, the criminals must've thought they lost him, as he met up with them again after a minute. Just as he was crossing an intersection a black Hummer H2 crashed into his side going at least 70 miles per hour and sending him over the roof of the vehicle. Max grabbed onto the bars on the top, clutching his right side. "Agh! Ow! Owowow! I know I've got armor, but that still hurts! A lot!" The Hummer came to an abrupt stop, launching Max forward, tumbling into the street and kept going until it was apparent that it wasn't going to stop. Up in a flash the speedster got out of the way just in time to avoid being kersmushed. "Hey! Watch it! I swear they'll let anybody have a license these days. Maybe they're from out-of-state."
"I hate to intrude on your musings on the downward spiral of American society, but let's not forget the objective here."
"Oh. Right. Thanks."
Max took a shortcut to the storage house and saw a large number of vehicles parked around the storage house. It was quiet and mostly devoid of people, and the semi-trailer truck and Hummer both hadn't arrived. "Woah. Looks like a full house. Hope I didn't miss the opening act." Security seemed unusually lax for secret conspiracy tastes. Hastily and quietly, Quickster immediately went to work removing the batteries out of each of the cars so even if they knew he was there, they couldn't split. Just as he touched the last car he heard a loud screeching sound, like an alarm. "AAAHHH!!!" Yelling at the top of his lungs, he dove and covered his head. Nothing happened. No explosion, not even a slew of thugs rushing to attack him. Then he realized the sound was coming from the other side of the storage building, so he stopped screaming.
"Heh. Would you look at that?" Not wasting another moment he rushed onto the scene. "Hey kids! Noise complaints, cut do—WOAH!" He'd intended to stop at the corner and make his quip as usual, but he skidded a little too far out into the fray, accidentally tripping up some thug and was cut cut off halfway. Quickster got up first and brought a strong right fist down on his face. The fiasco had drawn the attention of the others and rapid gunfire opened up on the hero, who dodged nonchalantly, laughing. He ran in a zig zag pattern, disarming and disorienting men, before disabling completely. Then he noticed one he must not have hit hard enough, because he was getting up. Maybe one of those super dude mercenaries who're always running around. Dodging through bullet fire, he jumped up and with his powerful legs, shot a dropkick at the funny-dressed man. "HEADS UP!"
The thug's cigarette smoke wafted into the night sky, his footsteps echoing dully around the small alleyway sandwiched between one side of the warehouse and the run down apartment building beside it. The man's heartbeat was slow and steady, his breathing calm. He let out a yawn, fingering the trigger of his AK-47 subconsciously. He dropped the cigarette held in his right hand to the floor, stamping the embers out with the heel of his leather shoes. He stopped suddenly, staring at the sky. He couldn't help but feel a shiver crawl up his spine, for some unknown reason. It was a chilly night, but along with the layers of kevlar he was clothed in, he wore gloves and a beanie, and his cargo pants kept his legs warm. He felt almost... Frightened. It was unusual, as he had a lethal weapon in his hands that he had been using since his days in the military, and five other guys in the alleyway behind him. He shook his head, dispelling the thoughts. He resumed his patrol, the thudding of his footsteps the only sign of his position in the pitch black night.
Something fell on the ground before him, making him jump a little. He leaned over carefully, inspecting it.
"Just a dumb rock-"
Something tightened around his neck, then it tugged at him, hard. He felt his feet lift up off the floor, and before he knew what had happened, he was being raised into the air, the chord strung around his throat constricting his breathing and his speech. He could only make grunts of pain and occasional squeals, eventually panicking and dropping his weapon, which went clattering across the gravelly floor. The sound didn't carry far but one or two of the other thugs turned their heads towards it, calling out for their ally to report as to what it had been. They didn't receive any reply and their suspicion grew, leading them towards the end of the alley. One of them knelt down, identifying the weapon. The other stood stock-still, staring in confusion at some object hovering above them. He was about to say something when an ear-splitting screech was emitted from it, sounding much like a siren, amplified tenfold. Both men leaped back, aiming their own weapons at the sky.
Each one of the 50 men had a sort of bracelet around their wrists that monitored their pulse accordingly, an alarm sounding out should their heart stop beating. This would alert everybody to a threat and send them running in. Even now, as the two other guards came sprinting down along the alleyway, the entire warehouse was set on higher alert, safety's being switched off and guns readied.
"Switch to night-vis-"
One of the two men standing beneath the lifeless thug tried to shout out an order to the rest of his partners but was cut-off halfway as a large figure dropped from the sky, slamming him into the ground. The man's head lolled back, his neck broken, blood spilling from the edges of his mouth.
"Damn it, what the fck?!"
The remaining thug activated his electronic ear-plugs hastily as the second dead criminal's bracelet was triggered, screaming in unison with that of the hanging man above him. Pointing his weapon at the shadowy figure slowly rising from his fallen ally, the thug started to back away slowly. It seemed to have a pair of horns on it's head, and as it rose, it seemed to quiver, unearthly groans escaping it's throat. The thug was unsure as to whether he should fire or not, due to the fear gripping his frame. The creature seemed to be of Hellish origin, and the way that the darkness seemed to flow from it did nothing to lessen his terror.
Gunshots rang out like a bell, whizzing past the demonic figure. The thug was awoken from his frozen state, bullets barely managing to miss his own self.
"Stop, I'm right here! You're going to kill me idiots!"
They were unable to hear his shouts of distress due to the screeching from the twin alarms and their own gunfire. The continued to let loose at the horned-creature, who had by now began to stagger around in circles, the bullets seeming to pass through him. The lone criminal was about to try and find cover from his unknowing allies when he felt a burst of pain through his face and found himself rolling across the alley floor. He blinked, trying to retain his consciousness. He failed.
Crowman staggered backwards groggily, hands planted over his ears. He grit his teeth together, trying to block out the sonic emissions from the bracelets, which were cutting through his head like razor-sharp knives. When he had hung the first thug, he hadn't expected anything like this to happen. He had been unaware of the alarm, and had been hit by the siren like a brick wall. His balance had crumbled away and he'd dropped from his perch, falling and breaking the second criminal's neck. And now here he was, disorientated and racked in affliction, torrents of gunfire filling the air around him, just barely missing his figure, the bullets inching closer with each shot. It was his cape; it had been designed to confuse his enemies as to where his body was, as it blended in with the shadows and made him seem like a walking patch of mottled darkness. It was the only thing keeping him alive right now. Then suddenly the gunfire ceased and the thug's were thrown across the alleyway by a sudden rush of wind and millions of lightning fast vibrations that Crowman's agonized body was unable to identify.
He flew through the air, crashing into a heap of trash at the side of the alley, his sudden momentum carrying him along into a roll that sent him into the wall. He lay there for a moment, utterly bewildered by whatever had struck him, and grateful that the sonic emissions had ceased. Now only an irritating ringing disturbed his thoughts, and slowly his balance and calm returned, giving him a chance to dig into his utility belt and attach his electronic ear plugs to his cowl, preparing him for any oncoming alarms.
Now what the hell hit me?
He could feel a faint throbbing in his sternum and recalled a burst of air directly behind him, moments before he had been forced through the air.
Wait. Who moves that fast?
He arose from the pile of rubbish, all of his senses back at their peak, his thoughts in order and his body primed. There was an enormous amount of activity taking place within the warehouse; as the screams of bullets signified. Shouts and orders were thrown around in between the torrents, every single heartbeat pounding, footsteps and grunts, all audible for the hyper-hearing Crowman. He collected an array of crowarang's from one of his pouches and walked into the dark structure, bullets piercing the air around him. It was unlike him to just march into an altercation without taking a stealthy route, but he had already located each of the men's positions and was confident that he could take them on directly. Already half of them had been knocked out by this strange force, and although there were still many of them, their fear would handicap their ability to fight him. Be it with bullets or be it with their fists.
"What's that?! It's got an accomplice! TAKE 'EM DOWN!"
He rolled through a barrage of gunfire, sliding across the floor and coming up in the centre of the room, both arms spreading outwards in a fluid motion that released all of the crowarangs. Each projectile found it's intended target, cutting through the throat's of more than three men, and just managing to strike the hands of five others, thereby disarming them. Shouts of distress and curses filled the night sky, and as chaos broke out around him, the Crowman stood calmly, sifting through the screams and the vibrations, searching, searching.
The rush of wind was unmistakable, and the series of sudden vibrations only further clarified the position of the invisible speedster, coming straight at him from more than halfway across the room. It shouted something at him then seemed to soar at him, forming itself into a large projectile, which the Vice of Vengeance evaded. He simply stepped backwards, feeling and hearing the figure rush past him to land and slide across the floor, it's own momentum to powerful to control completely. It had attacked Crowman, twice. It was officially classified as an enemy. And so, as pandemonium thrived around him, bullets flying and curses flowing, he leaped at the figure, twirling as he flew, bullets piercing the edges of his billowing cape, barely missing his body. He tucked his body inwards as he soared, turning himself over and aiming a flying kick at the head of the speedster. If it connected it would possibly break his jaw and leave a throbbing pain, but it wasn't so powerful as to kill him. Crowman slid across the floor, using his hands to mould his course as he went. He swung around, grabbing a pair of thugs closing in on him from behind, smashing their heads together aggressively, shattering their skulls. He spun on his heel, decking another oncoming criminal. A bullet grazed his thigh and another drove straight through his shoulder. He grimaced, tilting his head towards the mysterious speedster.
Time to end this.
A man to the left, arms raised, holding a large object. Presumably an axe judging by the disposition of air. Two crates beside him.
Two more figures directly ahead, both unarmed, panicked. Heap of broken chains from the warehouse doors at their feet.
Last one a few metres back, finger pulling back on the trigger of an enormous weapon. Weak stance, poor aim.
The Crowman's torso shuddered with insurmountable speed, his left arm striking out at the throat of the axe-wielding thug, tearing his windpipe from him in a single fluid motion that involved a solid side-kick to his groin, levelling him instantaneously. The axe spun through the air, landing blade first into one of the crates, cylindrical handle pointing upwards. The shadowed figure of the Aviator Avenger swathed through the darkness, sliding in between the pair of approaching assailants before they could react, grabbing the chains from the floor and tugging with amazing strength, the single foot of a thug placed directly within the chains' lair. He could hardly manage a yelp before his entire leg was locked within the steel rope's grasp, the mighty pull from the Crowman spinning him around and into his partner's back, the force from his spin carrying onto the thug, who careened forwards, tripping over the first crate and landing head first on the second, the handle of the axe protruding from the back of his bloodied skull. The criminal with the chained leg tried to scramble away with his hands but was unable to evade the heel of the Vice of Vengeance, which stamped down hard on his spine, splitting it into three separate pieces. The man opened his mouth to shriek in pain but was knocked out by another boot to the back of his head.
"Fck fck fck fck- "
The remaining foe quivered opposite the scene, his AK-47 shaking unsteadily in his terrified grasp. Despite his night vision gear, he could hardly make out the swift figure of the Crowman, who's outline was mottled in darkness. After witnessing the gruesome murders of his allies, he had surrendered all focus and now pulled back aggressively on the trigger of his weapon, firing aimlessly, hoping that he get a bullet at the mysterious demon. The screams from his nozzle awoke the rest of the warehouses thugs, lost in haphazard pandemonium, suddenly realizing the severity of the situation they had found themselves within.
The man threw his empty weapon at the shadows, turning on his heel to make a break for his life. He had hardly taken two steps when the butt of his gun struck the back of his knees and he was sent sprawling across the ground, cursing in affliction. The volume of his voice suddenly ascended drastically, his cries of distress muffled by the whistling of wind and objects flying around the room.
Crowman held onto the wooden beam near the southern exit, jaw clenched grimly, breath rasping in and out of his grinding teeth. His arms rippled with incredible muscle, the strain of anchoring his entire body to the weak pillar against impossible wind speeds taking its toll. His cape fluttered out behind him, slowly loosening his grip with the force it was being tugged at. A crate smashed into the beam, the contents and wooden debris striking his body. The beam emitted an unhealthy cracking sound but it was muted by the fierce roar from the struggling Vice of Vengeance. The airborne body of a wailing thug struck Crowman with painful force and his arms were jerked free from the beam, which snapped in half seconds after he had left it's embrace. He tucked his body into a ball as he flew around the room, evading other flying objects by hairs breadths.
"I'm not paying for this!"
His torso jerked upwards instantly, blood coursing fiercely through his body. Instantly he assessed his surroundings, sifting through the eviscerated room, setting a lay-out within his head from the dispositions of air and the difference in the atmosphere. His body had survived the sudden mini-hurricane, only a few meagre bruises lining his shoulders and ribs. His cape was in tatters though, and with much remorse he tore the expensive thing from the back of his cowl, throwing it aside as he clambered to his feet, spitting a glob of blood at the floor. He could hear at least four heartbeats left within the room, the majority heaped across the room among a shambles of wood and debris. He could make out another throbbing sound, but was unsure whether it could be classified as a heartbeat, it's hasty pattern resembling more of a series of vibrations. The Crowman deemed this to belong to the mysterious speedster, who had been the obvious cause of the whirlwind. The Cowled Crusader whipped out his crowarangs in a one-handed motion, three of the projectiles sliding into his palm. As he strode towards the heap of fallen bodies he brought his arm up in a streak of movement, three heartbeats snuffed out instantaneously. The last was left to beat so that when it regained it's composure it could be of use. Crowman's interrogation tactics were extreme, but effective. For now he aimed to finish this vermin speedster that had proved so slippery, and so pesky.
He came to a stop in the centre of the room, pulling his twin tonfu batons from the pouch across his back, normally concealed by his cape. He wielded them solidly, slowly tilting his head, calculating the location of his target. A sudden rush of wind to his left and his body reacted accordingly, rearing back a few steps and bringing his right arm forward, baton aimed to clothesline the speeding figure. He then twisted his body away, pivoting 360 degrees and striking at his foe's lower back, with an attack intended to cripple his spine. He wasn't nearly as fast as his hurricane inducing opponent but had timed his assault just so that he might be swift enough to get his shots in. He spoke as he spun around, his voice cold and harsh. Unyielding.
"You cannot run from the Crowman."
His strikes connected fluidly, felling the hasty figure the first time but failing to do much damage with the follow up, a swift deflection from the being's arms and legs, the force of the defence sending him skidding backwards through the dusty warehouse floor, his legs spread apart so as to retain his balance. The Crowman's ears tapped into the sonic layer of sound again, locating the location of his speedster opponent, who had leaped off of the floor and zipped around the room with little regard for stealth or silence. He seemed to buzz, probably an attempt at speaking, but distorted by the haste at which he moved. Suddenly he paused, causing the Crowman to do the same, cocking his head to the side, hoping to get an image in his head of this being from the air displacement and vibrations on the ground. He had formed a rough idea before something with the force of a rubber bullet struck his shoulder, entailing him to grunt in pain. He heard the tennis ball roll across the floor, away from his feet, and instantly identified it from it's shape and texture. He grimaced, a sudden realization hitting him square in the face.
Unable to evade fast enough, he covered his head with his arms, backing away as quickly as he could, leaving as little space on his body open. The tennis balls shot at him, bouncing off of his muscled frame with blunted speed, leaving massive bruises on his body, damaging more than a few of his bones. As soon as it had begun, the onslaught ended, leaving the crouched Crowman with barely enough time to lick his wounds before a rock sized fist struck him beneath the jaw and sent him more than two meters into the air, soaring backwards through the warehouse in graceless fashion, crashing into a heap of rubble, the momentum allowing him to roll a few more times before coming to a stop. A silence fell upon the room, Quickster unsure whether he had murdered the man accidentally or he was just unconscious.
"Justice... Will prevail."
A strained voice cut through the quiet, the beaten figure of the Crowman lifting itself from piles of wood and concrete, bloodied chin bristling with stubble. He rotated his neck deliberately, sorting out the kinks. Then he bent over and picked up his tonfu batons, walking towards the frozen figure of the Quickster, amazed at this display of endurance.
"Evil can never run from good."
He broke into a sprint, arms spread out fiercely, batons grasped firmly in his hands, forearms rippling in poised muscle, his feet beating a rapid tattoo into the floor. A few meters away from the boy, he leaped into the air, flipping over once before coming down with a single leg outstretched, aimed to fly kick his opponent's head off. He would then land in a crouch and spin his body around, directing a series of strikes with his baton towards his speedy foe's torso, mainly his kidney and spleen, where incredible bursts of pain would be inflicted. He would then throw the twin weapons into the air, simultaneously whipping a handful of crowarangs from his utility belt and swiping through the air with his arm, unleashing the projectiles at his foe's legs before catching the batons out of the air and rolling backwards in one fluid motion. The crowarangs were embedded with explosives and designed to blow upon moments of bypassing speeds of 2 mph. Whether they struck Quickster or not, they would initiate minuscule explosions, very possibly blowing the main factor of the mysterious speedster's mobility away.
The boy flew across the room, landing in a pile of debris, the like an abstract mixture of wood and cement. A behemoth cloud of smoke from the explosion rose slowly, eventually filling the entire warehouse, giving it a hazy look, it's scent thick and noxious. Corpses littered the building's interior, a collection of gruesomely dispatched thugs lying lifeless here and there. The structure seemed ready to collapse, a vast majority of it's support beams destroyed by the speedster's vortex.
Crowman stood in the centre of it all, dirty and battered. Scratches from flying debris littered his frame, a tear or two spread across his costume. His cowl's operational systems were still intact, as were the remainder of the gadgets placed all around his figure. He harboured remorse over the loss of his cape and did not look forward to asking his uncle for a new one. He turned his head, spitting another glob of thick blood, staining the floor with it's crimson tint. Dusting off the grime on his shoulders in John Cena fashion, the Vice of Vengeance headed in the direction of the fallen speedster. He was down, but not yet out. In order for Crowman's quest for justice, all evil would have to be eradicated in this world. His heartbeat was faint, and his breathing seemed extremely laboured. The Cowled Crusader growled menacingly as he sifted through the rubble, kneeling over the fallen figure of Quickster. He grabbed the boy's throat with a single hand, wrapping his fingers around it with a steely grip. He raised his other arm in the air, fist reared to strike, poised above the teenager's head like a viper, able to reduce his skull to pulp within moments. He regretted using such extreme force earlier, he'd not left a single one of the criminals over for interrogation. He clenched his jaw in frustration, then felt the muscles in his airborne arm tighten, ready to annihilate the malevolent speedster.
Vicky's monotone voice sounded through Crowman's com-link, causing him to pause moments before he struck his foe. He applied two fingers to his ear, replying coldly.
"I didn't request a scan."
There was a brief silence before his AI assistant responded.
"Scans indicate that current opponent is not of criminal intent. Name: Quickster. Defender of Mazomanie, possesses super-speed, presumed to be a male teenager."
He hesitated, struggling to process the information.
Did I just fight a child?
He released Quickster's throat quickly, straightening up and taking a step backwards, brow furrowed in confusion. If the boy was a hero himself, then what was he doing here fighting against Crowman?
A sudden realization hit the Nocturnal Knight, his face paling considerably. Recounting the events, he remembered being struck by a speeding force back in the alley, but also recalled the sudden defeat of his opponents, the thugs. He'd entered the warehouse after the speedster, and had instantly assumed he was a threat. But the vortex and it's reckless nature indicated that the boy's intent had not been kind towards the criminals. The ragged figure face-palmed himself dumbly, unbelieving of his fatal mistake. He'd been seconds from murdering a minor. Seconds from joining the ranks of evil.
"How are his vitals? I can make out a heartbeat but its weak, and his breathing seems to be deteriorating with every moment. Asthma?"
"Affirmative. The subject has slipped into unconsciousness and appears to have a dislodged rib. If left untreated, subject shall definitely die."
Benjamin, dismissing the thoughts of his mistake, knelt down once more and after locating the dislodged rib with his hand, slammed a fist down on the marrow without a moments hesitation. It popped back into place and Crowman frowned in both satisfaction and focus. He then put both hands on top of one another and shoved down hard on the child's chest, hoping to give his failing heart a jump-start. He shoved once. Twice. Three times.
He was about to repeat the procedure when the doors of the warehouse were flung open from behind him. He heard frustrated voices, yelling and cursing seemed to be the like. Counting the heartbeats swiftly, he was able to affirm the amount of newcomers as he grabbed Quickster by his foot and dragged him through the rubble, keeping silent and settling behind a heap of debris and rubble that would conceal their presences. He didn't want to attract any attention with the boy still unconscious. By his estimation, there were two beings at the battered doors, one in the driver's seat of a large vehicle of some-kind, and another near the rear. All had calm breathing patterns and their heart-rate was calm with a slight disturbance at the scene they had just encountered. They seemed distressed, but simultaneously calm. Crowman gritted his teeth, fists clenching frustratedly.
In the world of his dreams, Max stood atop a tree in a jungle, dressed, for some reason, like Tarzan. Far across the way, in a clearing through a patch of trees, there stood Felicia, dressed in a spotted fur dress, grabbed up in the arms of a Gorilla, which was strangely dressed like the man from the warehouse, though that didn't occur to the hero. "Save me!" she screamed. "No worry...uh...I'll save you!"
Grabbing a vine, Max leapt courageously from the tree. To his dismay, he ended up somehow tangled up in the vine, which wrapped itself around his neck. *Gck-gack-gck-ccckkk* He struggled for a few seconds before finally managing to free himself, only now he was plummetting to the jungle floor.
Max hit the ground hard. Only, it wasn't a jungle floor. It was the sidewalk, and three of his old bullies since grade school stood over him. Two of them grabbed him up by the arms and the leader, Tommy Gallagher, punched him in the rib one good time. Then he just started shoving him. Small shoves, but with a lot of pressure. It was nothing big, but that puncg still hurt like butts. He just did this again and agan and again, and Max actually got confused. One more good shove and the others let go so he could fall, and they grabbed him by the leg and started dragging him on the ground over to a car.
"Nah uh! No! Nope! Nah uh!"Max started kicking and squirming and shouting, before eventually shouting himself awake. "Aaaaahhhhh!" Quickster sat up shouting, even more, with added kicking upon realizing he was with the guy who just knocked him out. "Hey! Back off, you! Get! Get!" All the while, Felicia hissed in his ear for him to shush, before finally she shouted. "Will you shut the hell up!?....Please," she threw in sarcastically, sensing he was distraught. "I've been trying to tell you, everything isn't what it seems. Okay, so his methods are a bit...harsh, compared to yours, but he's no villain."
"Yeah, but...he hit me. And then he hit me again, and what's that smell? And what's that squishing in my boot? Oh yeah," he thought back to the moment of his bladder release just before passing out. "We gotta fix that. That's nasty." And then just as he moved to stand, his legs gave out in pain. "Ow. Ah. Ow. That's right. You blew up my legs!" he hissed. "That still hurts! I'm still hurting all ov—ooh!" Lightly he massaged his still hurting midsection.
Then he heard it. A voice, saying something in some language Max didn't understand. He bent over backwards and saw a tall, fair-skinned man standing above him with a funny looking sword raised and poised to strike. Quickster jabbed him quick in the leg, taking it from under him. More voices were heard in the distance. "Hmm, something's not right? Since when did thugs go back to funny looking swords from guns? And why's it so weird looking? I feel like I've seen it somewhere before." Before he could finish remembering, more men had already advanced upon the two. The next received a jab the same as the first who approached. Then, Max started pumping his arms, pulling himself along the ground, dragging himself along like a dog whose hind legs no longer worked. They seemed confused at first, but he was halted, cut off by a sharp stick, thrown directly in front of him. "Yipes. Talk about a close ca—doof!" A hard kick to his jaw cut him off and the whiplash left him momentarily stunned, but he quickly recovered, speeding through the man's legs while simultaneously tripping him to the floor.
"Hey! Uh, dude! Hey! Mean dude! We should probably do something, like get out of here!" A few shots rang out, bullets missing him just barely. "You know, considering the both of us just got beat up! Plus, I really need to change my outf—aht!" A hard boot crashed down on his back, and another collided with his face. Ah. Crap. I'd be fine if that jerk didn't mess up my legs. Another hit. Then another, and another, and successively more hits crashed down on the child speedster until he was forced into a fetal position, swallowed up by a crowd of men, what was still good of his armor just barely keeping their hands, feet and weapons at bay. Come on, body. Get up and move.
Only a moment later, the bodies started hitting the floor. One went down. Then two. Three, four, five, and so on, until the Quickster stood in the center of the ring of fallen foes. Stunned momentarily, but not down. But a moment is all the Quickster needs.
"He-hey! My legs! My body! I feel fine!" he exclaimed ecstaticly, running in place, stretching out his limbs. "Okay, time to move!" Not another moment to lose, Quickster zipped throughout the warehouse, dodging and weaving past fists, swords, and sharp objects thrown at him, from all directions, stopping momentarily by where the weird mean guy was. "Hey, guy. I'm about to make a tactical retreat. I think we need to regroup." With that, he shot off outside the storage house.
Pushing himself at just over a thousand miles per hour, Max found himself at his house in just a few seconds. He stopped outback, ditched his clothes in a bush, and climbed up the window. Under the bed lay a big black footlocker, a combination lock hiding the contents from his parents. Inside, he found his stealth suit. A black suit designed only for backup, in case anything went wrong and he wasn't able to use the original. On the bright side, it was a bit lighter than his normal outfit. However, only a normal steel, it wasn't as durable, making it necessary that he try to keep as little attention as possible and not be shot, stabbed, or otherwise beat up. Hence the name, stealth suit. He was able to wash briefly and change in less than three miutes before heading back to the storage house to check in with the other guy.
Midword his legs gave out again and he started feeling weary and worn again. He stopped to rest just outside in the parking lot behind a large truck. "I'm...not done...Just gonna..sit here and...re-get my...tired...sore...I'll be back...."
He swerved his torso away from the golden broadsword, a thick chunk of his flesh cut out by it's cold blade. Another weapon was directed towards him, slicing through the air to dismember his head from his shoulders. The Crowman heard it coming, ducking beneath its singing steel, before dropping to the floor and rolling away from the mass of bronzed figures.
"تقع، اللعنة عليك!"
The smallest member of his assailants threw a string of sounds from some strange language at his battered figure, following it up with a raucous cry of blood-lust as the squad of lethal beings initiated another perfect attack. Their movements were fluid and coordinated, the sheer speed with which they mobilized almost impossible. The Crowman scowled frustratedly, his body slowly running out of reserves after a lengthy night of physical activity. He had been engaged with these newcomers for almost fifteen minutes now, and had barely managed to land a single strike. As it was ,they were steadily beating him, every second swing of their foreign weapons whetting itself with some of his crimson blood.
They were unlike anything he had ever encountered. After the speedster's sudden recovery and incredible display of fighting skill, he had disappeared, leaving the seemingly unaffected combatants in his wake. One moment, they had been on the floor, unconscious. The next, they were up, twirling their massive blades around in their golden shaded hands.The Crowman failed to identify their foreign scent, it's musty tinge uncommon to a small town like Mazomanie. He had listened intently to their speech, each rushed collection of syllables bringing him closer to the true origin of these peculiar foes. Despite years upon years of perfecting his languages, he had still not been able to master instant recognition, especially when a heated situation as was the one he was currently engaged within came along.
There were at least eight of them, each one possessing an undeniable amount of uncanny skill. Their swordsmanship rivalled his own, and he had to make full use of his tonfu batons in defence, deflecting the razor-sharp blades with the sides of his small weapons as quickly as his injured form allowed.
A swift alternation in the air alerted him to a pair of deadly attacks, one aimed at the back of his skull, the other intended for his sternum. He pivoted around on his nimble feet, blocking the blades simultaneously, the force of the sudden cease in momentum jarring him to the bone. Not seconds later, a boot struck him in his spine, sending him smashing into the floor, tonfu batons slipping from his gloved hands. His body slid across the debris littered ground, coming to a stop a few feet from his assailants.
"Euuuhhh... Can't...Take much more..."
He heard their footsteps moving towards him.
Slow. Confident. Taunting.
He clenched his jaw determinedly, a last ditch plan formulating within the base of his intelligent mind. Mustering the remainders of his strength, he raised his tattered figure from the floor, blood tainted odd patches spread across his being. He reached his fingers into a pouch situated upon his utility belt, pulling a small silver cylindrical object out, and lifting it up into the air in a blatant act of arrogance.
A sudden smirk broke out across his dirtied face, realization flooding the Crowman's body.
He spread his palm calmly, the little object falling from his hand before rolling towards the steadily oncoming group of deadly intruders. A minuscule grunt of confusion was the last thing heard from his foes, before he rolled away and a diminutive explosion shook the already battered warehouse. The Vice of Vengeance rose to his feet once more, the gut-wrenching scent of burnt flesh lingering in the air. He ignored it, satisfied that his simple, almost effortless manoeuvre had succeeded. He wiped a beadlet of blood from the corner of his mouth, turning towards the large truck still parked within the expansive doorway of the damaged building. It's engine was still running.
Without a moment of hesitation, he began to walk towards it, his footsteps stoic. If his senses were correct, there was one remaining being left from the horde of skilled intruders, and he was cowering behind the wheel of the vehicle. He stopped before the hood of the truck, his figure illuminated by the bright headlights. It gave him a fierce appearance. He spoke, voice cold and unyielding.
"I'm only going to say it once."
He narrowed his blind eyes, scowling menacingly at whoever was behind the wind shield.
"Get. Out. Of. The truck."
There was a moment of precarious silence, the hum of the engine the only thing sounding out through the night air. But, sure enough, another noise followed suit, the door opening slowly, two shoes kissing the cement floor uncertainly. The Crowman was upon the man in an instant, both hands wrapped around his bronzed throat. The small man struggled futilely against the relentless grip of the Vice of Vengeance, his breaths strained. The Cowled Crusader dug into his skin, leaning in until their noses were almost touching. He spoke, a single raspy word slipping in between his grit teeth.
"Max? Max? Max! Wake up!"
"Gahwhoblahwobblewhat?!" Max awoke throwing fists all around to fend off any possible attackers, puzzled when he saw none. "Oh. Felicia. It's just you. How long was I out?" "Well, I've been trying you on and off for the last twenty minutes or so," she said, actually laughing a little. "I hope that was enough for you, because we've got to get back in this. I heard explosions from inside and I'd hate it if we had to deal with whatever is going on here alone."
Almost as if on cue, a loud banging noise was heard on the cabin, followed by the reappearance of Crowman right in front of Quickster in the bed of the truck. "Aah!" Max covered his face with one arm and swatted at the man with the other. With a frustrated growl, the Crow grabbed his arm and jerked him in forcefully, without words, glaring into his eyes. "Ow, hey, sorry man, gosh! Let it go!" He wriggled his arm out of the grasp. "This one isn't as tough as the old one. Looks nice though, don'tcha think?" Crowman scowled at him wordlessly, then spoke after a moment.
"I managed to gather some intel on this operation. I t was a huge fencing deal, set up with hired decoy goons stealing valuable objects from around the area, and collecting them all in this warehouse. We arrived just after the last of it had been shipped off to the big boss' place. Those 'tough guys' near the end had come by to finish off the decoys. It seems they didn't want any loose ends. I interrogated one of the drivers, and got some info out of him, but the fear of his employer seemed greater than the fear of me. I planted a tracker behind his neck and let him think he slipped out on me. Here's the tracking frequency." He pulled out the accompanying device used to track the beacon, and immediately the Quickster snatched it up. "Hold on a sec. Just lemme sync it up with my own." A couple quick seconds and his headpiece and goggles were calibrated to track on the same frequency while also feeding the data to Felicia. "Thank you for sharing." He handed the device back to the still glaring man. He looked like he was about to speak again, but the Quickster took off before he could get the words out, already on the trail of the fleeing criminal.
Eventually, he tracked the man all the way to Madison. He stopped at a museum. The Chazen Museum of Art. Another heist? At this time of night it's closed, but there's still security walking the building. They might get hurt. He'd helped stop a con artist from making off with some stuff temporarily on display from the Uffizi Gallery in Italy, so he was kinda popular around there. Quickster waited until the man was just exiting the vehicle, then ran by and slammed his head into the door. Out cold. He got to the door and it was already unlocked. "So someone was expecting those guys at the museum. Let's hope they didn't hurt anyone." Quickly, quietly, he slipped inside. Strangely enough, the place was crawling with security. How that guy expected to get in was a mystery itself. But such issues wouldn't be a problem for the Quickster. He moved about the museum without a hitch, but found only one thing amiss: There's nothing amiss! He stopped in a halfway set-up Egyptian exhibit to contemplate his situation.
No sooner had the thought crossed his mind than a group of armed guards stormed upon his location, armed with tasers, flashlights...and even a few with old swords. Raising his arms in the air, and true to his good nature, the Quickster tried reasoning. "Hey, listen guys. I know you might not know it from looking at me, but I'm that hero, Quickster. Remember me? Helped you out with the Uffizi angel thing a while back? Old suit's at the cleaners, so for now I'm stuck with this. So, I'm here because I caught this guy, and he stole a bunch of stuff, and he came here. I just thought, I dunno, he might be trying to rob you, or there might be some bigger robbery thingy planned where a bunch of other guys show up too and try to rip you for all your artifacts." The guards looked at each other in silence, then a taser shot fired off at him, which he dodged by ducking backwards, limbo style. "Okay, so either you're new and you're some of those 'take no prisoners' guys who takes this very seriously, and I can respect that, or THAT GUY IS REALLY DENSE!!!" He jabbed an accusatory finger at the one who fired the shot. Something about that set them off, because they all started moving. Quickster started off to make out of there but tripped on somebody's foot and fell flat on his face, actually hitting his jaw and biting his tongue. "Ow! Okay, the nestht persthon to trip me tonight ith going to wake up in hith undawea, thwapped to a fwagpowl!" He got up, dusted himself off, and tried again. "I thold you, I am noth youwa enemy!"
Even still, someone came from behind, swinging wildly with an old sword. Quickster side-stepped and he went crashing into an old Anubis doghead artifact, shattering the glass and setting off the alarm. Everyone in the room looked at him, then eyes fell back on Max.
"I dunno, Max." Felicia chimed. "Something doesn't feel right about this. The door's unlocked, they don't seem concerned at all with the possibility of a heist, they'd rather focus on you , who have a history here." Max stopped to consider it. "Maybe. But even back then, they didn't get a good look at me, so maybe they're still confused." Taser shots came in from all directions. He was mostly good for avoiding them, but in dodging one, he managed to move right into the path of another, which bit deep into his lip. Then shocked. "Gnflplplplpplagh!!!" The shock ran through his whole body, causing his muscles to seize and clamp up, he fell to the floor. It was like a really horrible cramp, all over the body, times a thousand. And the metal suit didn't help.
"Confused or not, they're hampering our job. They attacked you, four times. Twice is where I say it's officially classified as an enemy."
"You know, you might be right." Max pulled the probes out of his mouth and got up, then punched the guy who had shocked him. Out cold. The others went into a sort of frenzy, rushing him with swords and blunt weapons. Normally, he'd just do his whole tornado act, but the whole being in a museum thing was delicate, so he resigned himself to avoiding every strike and moving down low to all fours and getting to a more open space.
Across the room, a small explosion rang out, shaking the floor, blowing out a portion underneath. The explosion disoriented everybody in the room, but Quickster seemed even more surprised than the guards.
Another, this time closer. Guards, completely apathetic. Worst workers ever. "How are you guys security around here when I'm way more concerned about not break—"
"<My Lord. The Dogs have found an intruder within the fifth tunnel. He disturbed one of the Egyptian sectors and the curse you set was triggered. Some of the Legion were caught in the explosion and lost their essence, the remainder tied the intruder up and transported him to the second tunnel, where they have outfitted him with some of Ra's string. It's mystical properties will keep him from moving an inch, my Lord.>"
The sturdy bronzed messenger kept his eyes to the floor, his knees and hands kissing the ground, head bowed in utter respect, his ancient robes draped across his body, concealing his muscled form. Above his bowing figure were steps, leading up to a large, blood red throne, it's texture weathered by thousands upon thousands of years of misplacement.
A raspy, cruel voice cut through the musty air like a blade, it's sheer authority sending shivers down the messenger's spine.
Upon the throne sat a purple-clad being, legs crossed neatly, both hands placed upon his knees, a perfect image of royalty. A golden crown rested silently around the figure's cranium, glinting powerfully within the confines of the dimly light tomb. His neck was craned forwards curiously, staring at his lowly servant with pure golden eyes, considering his words carefully. Finally, he opened his masked mouth, voice tainted by raw evil.
"<How did this intruder know about us?>"
He narrowed his eyes threateningly, words finishing in a harsh whisper. The messenger trembled slightly as he replied.
"<W-We do not know, my Lord.>"
IniHerit's narrowed eyes burned with irritation. Leaning back in his throne he brought his hands up and placed the tips of his fingers together, breathing forcefully.
"<The Enchantment will not last much longer. If we do not collect all of the artefacts before the end of this night, each and every one of us will lose our essence and return to dust, to sleep for another thousand years before we are allowed the chance to bring back our Master.>"
His eyes settled upon the back of the bowed servant's head, seeming to bore through it.
"<Do you understand? Tell the Sorcerers to prepare their incantations. Prepare the Vessel. Send all of the Dogs out to scour this damned place for the last relics. Anubis will lay his feet on this earth, and he will restore things to the Way of Old.>"
The messenger muttered an oath of allegiance and worship to IniHerit before scrambling to his feet and making way for the exit, when suddenly from the other side a being collided into him, and both fell to the floor in a confused heap of bronze flesh and worry stained features. It was one of the Dogs, the Way of Old's foot-soldiers and infantry. His meta-human face was contorted into a look of pure panic and he barely noticed the messenger, instead setting his eyes upon his Lord, speaking faster than his mouth would allow.
"<My Lord! One hundred apologies for my unbecoming entrance! But I bear ghastly news!>"
The messenger stared at him in horror. Nobody was allowed to even raise their faces up to IniHerit. This was sacrilege.
"<A pack of Dogs have been murdered by one of the New World's warriors, a terrible creature with devil horns and grotesque wings! He has slain some of the Legion's finest troops, and been led straight to the catacombs! The intruder is believed to be an ally of his!>"
He paused for breath, eyes wide and distressed. He was about to start speaking again when a ball of fire struck his face and reduced his skull to dust. His lifeless frame collapsed to the ground, body slowly dissipating as his essence left the earth for a second time in thousands of years. The messenger lowered his head, not daring to make eye contact with his Lord. IniHerit's calm, raspy voice spoke clearly through the tomb, issuing an order to the messenger once more.
"<Prepare for the Ascension. The remaining artefacts are useless now, we shall make do with what is available.>"
The messenger nodded, turning away to relay the command.
"<And another thing.>"
He paused, waiting.
"<Kill the intruder.>"
"Be still, and keep your eyes, and mouth, shut."
The Crowman's sandpaper voice came out of the air inches from Quickster's right ear, barely audible, even when the man was standing directly behind him in some of the thickest shadows the Vice of Vengeance had ever encountered. These catacombs were a melting pot for darkness and night, with barely a flicker of illuminated rock anywhere. The Crowman wondered how any of these resurrected Egyptian minions managed to find their way around this stark, unholy blackness. Even without his eyesight he could feel the cold, dead atmosphere around him, with a vast majority of his scanners unable to operate. A feat, all things considered.
He moved past the restrained figure of the young hero, his movements utterly devoid of sound. He had mapped out at least four other men in this small space with him and Q, his abilities only boosted by the shadow bathed cavern. He felt as if he could see them before him, conversing quietly to one side, surrounding a certain object of some sort. He felt the use of even an inkling of sound would alert these beings, and was steadfast that it would take barely any effort to identify his black figure. The darkness did little to effect them.
Deciding that sneaking up behind these figures would be a futile manoeuvre, he bent his legs slowly and built up tension in his calves, releasing the pressure quickly and launching himself up, reaching the ceiling of the cavern without any incident. He brought his forearms up before him, hooking the garbs along the edges of his gloves into the ancient stone, entirely inaudible. Although it slowed his movement considerably, it allowed him to bring himself right over the top of the Egyptians. So caught up in each other's foreign words and the unidentifiable object before them that they didn't even look up. The tone of their rough voices indicated that they were arguing about something.
That was good.
The Crowman dropped a miniature flare from his belt, the sudden burst of bright light in this nest of ebony blinding the men. They staggered away, howling in pain, hands clawing pitifully at their eyes. The Vice of Vengeance was upon them not a moment later, his formidable right fist smashing into the jaw of the nearest, least affected Egyptian. His hand seemed to bounce off, but he didn't let it deter him, and shot off another strike with his left arm, aiming a devastatingly powerful haymaker at the ancient being's face. This time it proved fruitful and the meta-man crumbled to his knees, managing a pitiful moan before he fell on his face. The Crowman didn't stop, propelling himself toward his next opponent with an unforgiving roundhouse kick to the temple. The Egyptian sank like a stone.
A savage snarl to his left alerted him to the advance of another, still blinded; judging by the being's sluggish stumbling. The Crowman slipped underneath a pair of outstretched hands and brought his elbow in toward the oncoming sternum. He felt the man's breastplate wheeze from the impact but didn't let it slow him down, pulling his shoulder back and driving his arm forwards once more in rapid succession, detecting the satisfying crack of broken ribs. The being staggered backwards, tripping over the fallen body of his incapacitated ally. The Crowman straightened up, wiping the blood off of his left fist. His own blood, he noted. His last opponent had collapsed already, unable to deal with the pain in his eyes, he'd simply keeled over and let himself slip into unconsciousness.
He turned and strode purposefully back towards Quickster, clenching and unclenching his left fist, letting himself grow accustomed to the affliction. He ran his fingers over the boy's restraints, inspecting them in his blind way. They were unlike any material he had ever encountered. Probably ancient, too.
"Why would you just jet off like some over-excited idiot, straight into the clutches of your enemy? Just because you know the location doesn't mean you can waltz in and ask them to please surrender. Did you think it would be that easy? You're barely capable as it is, kid."
He felt strangely responsible for the boy's actions. It would have been his fault had Quickster been harmed, or at least that's how he felt. Like a guardian. Which was strange for him on two accounts; he didn't register much emotion, and not over two hours ago he had been exchanging punches with this little guy. He pushed the thoughts to one side and pulled out a crowarang, attempting to slice through the binds with the razor sharp edge of the weapon. It merely glanced across the surface of the string-like chains.
"What have you gathered about these people since regaining consciousness?"
He slipped the crowarang back into his utility belt and instead tried to cut through with a small laser firing device, no bigger than his thumb. It did nothing but reflect off of the material and shoot past the side of his head, nearly burning a hole through his forehead. He recoiled in frustration, replacing the device. His mind sprang into action and it took him little effort to deduce that this string was affected by ancient magic, just as Quickster's Egyptian captors were. He did not believe in magic due to it's illogical substances but found himself without a clue as to freeing the boy. He paused, then turned on his heel and went over to the fallen body of one of the beings, grabbing a sort of miniature scythe from the figure's belt. He assumed it would possess the same otherworldly properties as the string, and without giving himself a chance to think the situation through he brought the point down on the binds, mollifying his frustrations as the material gave way and dropped from Quickster's wrist. Grunting to himself by way of satisfaction, he freed the boy from all of the other binds, catching him in his arms as he fell forward, weak and disorientated by lack of movement. Crowman was about to scold him once more when he felt three bodies move into the cave behind him and a ball of heat shoot through the air towards him. He wrapped Quickster in one arm and threw himself to one side, rolling across the floor with the speedster beside him.
The voice of a being draped in royalty and power echoed through the cavern, sending a slight shiver down the spine of even the infallible Crowman.
"I am so glad to see we have visitors. I believe you are the demon that interfered in the affairs of my Legion on the surface? Ah, how fortunate. I would like to have a word with you."
His tone was condescending and rich, but did little as a scare tactic, not to a force of nature, not to the Crowman. He dropped Quickster, straightening up and speaking to him, but never turning his face from the newcomers. He flexed his fingers in anticipation, feeling the blood course through his formidable body. His voice was cold, harsh, and unforgiving.
"Somehow I doubt he wants us to make ourselves at home."