Doesn’t take a genius to see the ritual’s draining the life force from these upstanding super-scientists. But where is it going? Margot thought to herself as she carefully approached the ritual circle. She was surprised no one had noticed it. She turned around as saw people heading straight towards it and turn away at the last moment, their eyes glazed and unfocused. Repelling charm, has to be Sylvia.
Margot carefully regarded the two Fixers. Warren, like all Grauzuls had shiny, almost polished, dark brown skin. She knew the Fixer could take a bullet and not even shrug. Adding his superhuman strength, the cockroach-man was a one-man army. His wife had speed and countless gnawing mouths and piercing eyes over her body. Knightmares see through everything and eat everything. Virtually unstoppable.
“Not your day, Vance.” She said to herself, shaking her head.
The two Fixers paced the ritual circle they’d drawn in chalk, chanting something that made little sense to Margot, not any language she’d ever heard before. Their attention was on their victims, three white-robed figures bound with steel beams. They writhed in agony and Margot could sense them dying as much as she could see it on the map in her hands.
One of the ritual victims suddenly vanished and reappeared out of the circle, stumbling but starting on an adrenaline-fuelled sprint away from them, stopping in his tracks when he ran into Margot, recognition and terror in his eyes.
Sylvia moved so fast she made it seem almost as if she’d teleported to where the man was. Margot didn’t know him and fighting the two Fixers was suicidal, but she quickly stepped between them and used her TK to gently push them both. “That’s enough Sylvia.” Margot said, regarding the snarling Knightmare with cold eyes. “You, run.” She tilted her head towards the scientist. “I’ll take care of the rest.”
“Big words, Vance!” The Knightmare said, stepping to the side. Margot mimicked her actions, staying in front of her at all times, not giving her an opening to rush towards the escaped victim. If she wanted, she could get him and a coffee and bring them back before I could blink. “Get out of my way!” She growled, muscles tensing.
“Won’t happen, Sylvia. Got a job to do.” She said flatly. Why is she even talking to me. Warren! She shifted her gaze to her partner and he wasn’t there. She turned back to Sylvia and saw a glint in her eyes as she involuntarily looked up. Margot jumped back and used her TK to push herself further, just as Warren landed where she stood with a deafening boom. The ground exploded under his feet, sending rocks everywhere, one hitting Margot in the shoulder, and leaving a small crater around him.
“Didn’t think you’d avoid that one, Vance.” Warren said in his squeaky voice.
“Your girlfriend’s a crap poker player.” Margot replied, frowning and rubbing her shoulder.
“Why’d you let him go, Margot?” Sylvia said, then ran back to the other victims and thoroughly searched them.
“What are you doing?” Margot asked Warren. “What’s all this? Why’d you leave your zones?”
He leaned forward, looking at her with his insect eyes, studying her features. “As I thought, you’re not one of us. He was right after all!”
“I’m a Fixer…” Margot said, incredulously.
“You’re not on the wave. You don’t feel it don’t you? What we’re made for, what we’re supposed to do!” He said, his eyes almost shining with fervour.
“No! Take the power back! These things took it from our parents! We’re just taking it back for them!”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Margot snapped. “Your parents are as dead as mine!”
“Those aren’t our parents you idiot! Those are fakes! The Harrowed Ones, the wave, they’re our parents! They gave us the eyes, Vance, the eyes!” He said with fanatical abandon.
“Ri-i-i-i-i-ight…” Margot said. She looked at both of her former colleagues and sighed. “I’m pretty sure this is a stupid question, but can I convince you to stop this nonsense?”
“Sorry, Vance, can’t do. It’s our mission.”
“That’s too bad, ‘cause I have mine.” Margot focused her TK on a single point, Warren’s left eye, and pushed. He reeled back in pain, blood streaming down his face. Margot stepped forward, ready to TK his other eye but then the Knigthmare slammed into her at full speed and sent her flying back. Sylvia stumbled from the impact, but she was smiling, the mouths in her arms chewing on the bits they ripped from Margot. She turned towards her lover and fussed over him, but he patted her hand, the eye already healing.
Vance groaned as she stood, every bone in her body aching. She grimaced when she saw the torn clothes and flesh in her arms and chest. It burnt to even move and a part of her, deep inside, just wanted to sleep. Can’t lie down on the job, suicidal! Why did I have to pick up that Corpselord power? It’s useless here, can’t even properly touch them to make them screw each other senseless.
“I’ll have to take one of theirs…” She muttered to herself. She wobbled on her feet but still regarded them with hard stares.
I can help you, you know. She heard the voice echo through her mind. Just jump on the wave and they’ll be nothing. There’s so much you could do with the power, just take me in Vance! It’s me, John, you always want me in. She could see his leering image in the dark corners of her mind.
“Sorry, not today.”
“Who…ahhh.” Warren said, smiling, recognition in his eyes. “You’re hearing it, aren’t you?”
“Give in, Vance, give in!” Sylvia said, with the same manic tone in her voice as Warren. “It’s amazing!”
“Don’t need it, don’t want it.” Margot said. Her rejection made them snap back to attention.
“As you wish!” They said in unison, their eyes all but empty for a second. She heard the same words repeated in her mind.
Sylvia rushed her once more, vanishing as she sped around her. Over and over, she slammed into Margot, taking little bites to weaken her. It worked and Margot fell to one knee, bleeding all over, her sight losing focus. She wants him to have the last shot. Damn.
Margot was on her hands and knees when Warren approached. He grabbed a handful of her hair with his right hand and lifted her, making her scream from the pain. Blood flowed from her wounds, dripping down to the pool below her. “Sorry it had to be this way, Vance.” He said, and for a second she saw sadness in his eyes, but it didn’t last. As the mad fervour returned, his mouth widened into a grin and he pulled his left fist back as far as he could. As he swung it, she used what little energy she had left to TK his fist away, making him punch empty air. She grabbed onto his arm, struggling to keep it in place. Warren chuckled, thinking she was trying to stop his strength with hers. Sucker, she thought as she jumped in and found the core of his powers. She found something else there, something calling to her, but she ignored it and drew on what made him a Grauzul. “Dammit!” Warren said as he let her go, noting her skin turning as hard and shiny as his was.
Margot stumbled and wobbled but forced herself upright. No superstrength, damn. Will have to do with invulnerability.
Sylvia rushed her once more before Warren could stop her. Margot readied herself for the impact but it still sent her flying and rolling away, though she felt little of it thanks to her newfound protection. Sylvia on the other hand stood there, where she’d hit Margot, blood streaming down her arms. Broken fangs pierced the inside of her many maws. The Knightmare screamed in pain, clutching herself tightly as she fell over.
“Sylvia!” Warren cried out. He turned to Vance, veins bulging in his neck. He roared and rushed her. Margot didn’t have the strength to move aside and just braced for the impact as much as she could but it still knocked the air out of her and sent her flying against a nearby building, the façade and their near-invulnerable hides cracking from the superhuman blow. Margot fell to the floor, bits of brick and mortar around her. Looking up she noticed Warren also fell to his knees, his shoulder and left forearm torn. Strongest spear meets strongest shield, wish I could say I planned it. She coughed out blood.
Warren stood, groaning from the pain, his arm hanging limply by his side. He stepped towards Margot but just as he reached for her a blast rang loud and hit him square in the chest. Margot knew who it was. Warren stumbled back, then doubled over from the pain. There was shock in his eyes when he saw his chest cracked open. “How?” he said, wide-eyed at the approaching hunter.
“Not the first time I’ve killed ‘invulnerable’ monsters. Just need the proper tools…and a heavily customised weapon.” He said, and without even looking, Margot knew Roberto was grinning. “You have three broken ribs, a punctured lung and you broke other bits crashing into Vance. And I can see your healing can’t keep up with it.”
“Son of a bitch…you were watching weren’t you?” Margot snapped, despite how much it hurt to talk. Probably already knew where they were. “Another test?”
“Yeah but not for me, for him.” Margot heard the crackle of lightning and the ground erupted under Warren, sending the Grauzul tumbling back. Over him now stood Peter Ng, dressed in a way that reminded Margot of Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon, though Lee never had feline eyes, fangs and claws.
Margot felt something coming and turned to see the Knightmare rush the Tiger, only for him to swiftly avoid her. She dashed at him repeatedly but he stepped aside with ease. Sylvia snarled but didn’t rush him again. She watched him intently, then took a deep breath and screamed from all her mouths, the sound piercing glass and even cracking Margot & Warren’s almost crystalline hides. Margot screamed in pain until her hearing went out, eardrums burst. Peter crouched and forced the earth to mould around him, creating a shell to protect him from her sonic attack, but the stone cracked and collapsed around him, leaving him stunned. Roberto on the other hand stepped out of the sonic wave’s range and plugged his ears, unfazed.
When the scream ended, Sylvia opened all her eyes at once, the pupils shining brightly, and she vanished under their glare. Peter glanced around, extending his senses, trying to find the Knightmare. “Need some help?” Roberto shouted from a distance, but Peter waved at him dismissively.
But even though he knew she was there, he couldn’t see or sense her presence, not until she leapt on his back, tearing into him with her many mouths. Peter screamed, in pain, but before Roberto could interfere, the scream turned into a feral roar. A bolt of lightning crashed down on them, burning the Knightmare alive while leaving him untouched. “Fucking hate Fixers!” He shouted as he stepped towards Warren. He stood over the downed cockroach, and slammed his fist through his broken chest-plate. Warren shone and convulsed, as Peter unleashed a flaming spell and burnt him from the inside, leaving only the smoking shell of the former Fixer.
Both men helped Margot to her feet and propped her against a nearby railing. Peter then approached the circle. “Dammit, we’re too late. They’re gone, power’s drained.”
“What about her?” Roberto said. Margot regarded them with curious eyes, unable to hear their conversation. She did however understand the Tinkertownies were dead.
“She’s ok, handled herself well. I’m impressed to be honest, hadn’t see a Psyclone in action. What do you suppose would happen if she took mine?” He matched Margot’s curious stare.
“She’d beat the crap out of you.” Roberto said flatly. He turned to Margot and pulled a piece of paper from his jacket. He put it in her limp hands, tapped it then pointed away, mouthing the word ‘Go’. She nodded before they left.
“You think it’s ok?”
“She’ll be fine.”
“Wasn’t talking about her condition.”
Margot got off the railing and sat on the ground. She tried to move but had no strength left and before long her vision went black as her consciousness drifted.
With the power broken, the ritual and its victims were now in plain sight. The sound of anguished screams and shocked cries woke Margot. She half-expected them to attack her, blaming her for what happened, but instead she saw concern in their eyes. She saw a group of them take the bodies away while others stayed to analyse and catalogue the circle. Two young women sat by her, using complicated tools to scan her condition. “You’re gonna be ok!” One of them typed into a tablet, showing her the words. “We’ve given you something for the pain. We have facilities that’ll heal you in no time!” He typed and beamed proud and confidently.
Margot shook her head and with great effort handed them Roberto’s paper. “Need a cab, send me there.” They started to protest, but a hard glance from the psyclone was enough to silence them. Resigned, they nodded and called for a taxi service, a vehicle straight out of the pages of a science fiction novel.
Margot stumbled out of the taxi, using it and a nearby wall for support. She realised the building she faced was only a few blocks away from her own place. You stubborn fool, Vance. If something here wants to fight, you’re screwed. Groaning with each step, Margo climbed the stairs, muttering curses at the broken down elevator. Soon she faced the apartment Roberto mentioned in in his note. She tried to sense if there was someone inside, but her head pounded too much for it.
She leaned on the doorframe and reached for the handle, but the door swung open on its own before she could grab it. Margot stepped inside. The moonlight coming through the windows showed her a simple living room, with a small leather sofa and a round dining table by the far wall. A man stepped out of the shadows and regarded her with a warm smile. As recognition dawned on her, she felt rage coursing through her.
She glanced at John William Spencer with cold hard eyes that matched his happy ones. “You son of a bitch!” She snapped.
“It’s good to see you too!” He smiled. He stepped forward and put his hands on her shoulder, muttering a simple spell. She immediately felt better, her hearing and strength coming back.
“As I said, it’s good to see…” She interrupted him with a right hook to the chin, sending him sprawling to the ground. He looked up at her, holding his mouth in his hand. “What was that for?” He mumbled.
“I know!” She snarled. “I know you and Weston experimented on me!” Margot felt her anger rise and as it did things started flying around the room, her TK picking things up and throwing them at John. He put up a simple shield around him, but still put his hand in the way of her attack.
“We…had…good…reason…for…it!” He said in between hits from the books on the shelves.
“I don’t give a shit what your reasons were! You used me, you played with me until you didn’t need me anymore and then discarded me. Was it worth it?” She cried, her rampaging TK ripping fixtures from the wall now.
“Yes.” He said so coldly it stunned her for a moment, giving him time to stand up. Then his features warmed. “You’re safe from the wave, Mar. Your safety is worth everything, even lying to you, even pushing you away and making you angry. Even you hating me is worth it if you’re safe from the Harrowed Kings.”
“You could’ve told me!” She snarled, tears streaming down her face. She wiped them angrily. Not the time to cry, not for him, not for anyone.
“I couldn’t. You couldn’t know about the wave. I couldn’t risk you looking into it, into yourself.” He said with concern in his eyes.
“What do you think I’ve been doing tonight? Every time I’ve gone looking for you, I’ve had to figure shit out on my own, I’ve had to face shit I didn’t ever want to see. Did you plan that as well?”
He looked at her with genuine fear in his eyes. “Not me…I didn’t want you near this…not until it was over. I knew Weston would hire you, but I hoped we’d be done with this by now. But the Fixers, they’re too good, better than I ever considered.”
“Took two of them out thanks to your Super Friends.”
“Sylvia Maura and Warren Markovich, I know.” He said, stepping closer. “But there are still more out there, and we’re running out of time.”
“You’re gonna tell me everything, now!” Margot seethed.
“I can’t Mar, I can’t have you any closer to the wave!” He insisted, desperate.
“It’s too late for that! I already have some copy of you in my head telling me to ride it. I can still fight it off, but I need to know what I’m up against!”
“Oh my god…we failed…” He gave her a blank stare and stumbled back, collapsing on the sofa. He looked up to her, with sadness and shame. “You’re feeling it, hearing it. Soon you’ll follow it.”
“Not if you tell me how to fight it.” She grabbed him by the neck of his white ruffled shirt and lifted him off the sofa.
He sighed and considered his options. He saw the determination in her eyes. “Ok, I’ll tell you everything, but not here. We need to move to the next spot.”
“Where?” She let him go, though she still felt the urge to punch him.
“Salem Bar, there are four of them there.”
“I barely fought off two of them and now you want me to take on four?” She gave him an are-you-out-of-your-mind look.
“Last time you didn’t have me. I’m still the most dangerous being on this island.” He noted while straightening his shirt.
“Second-most, dearie.” She said harshly.
“Who’s the first?”
“The one who just clocked you on the chin and sent you to the ground!” She allowed herself a confident smirk.
“Fair enough!” He smiled.
“You and I still have a lot to talk about, but we’ll sort this out before that. But when we do, I promise you that if you’re not straight with me, I will fuck you up!” He felt the anger in her, the bottled rage from years of manipulations and lies.
“Noted.” He said, nodding repeatedly, giving her wide, frightened eyes.
(Featured Image Credit: Rogue Moon Studios)