“FUCK!” I swore, as another dart hit my armor. I was in a lighter set for the additional mobility, but I was still trying to play catch up. Jason and I were being mobbed by a group of gangsters of mixed nationalities, and power levels. The core of the group was composed of non-powered “civs,” but there were people with powers scattered throughout the crowd. Most of them were too weak to do any damage, but they still annoyed the hell out of me. Especially that asshole with the darts. I couldn’t see who he was, but someone in the crowd was using a manipulation or telekinesis power to throw darts that would seek me out, and hit me. Again. And again. They had interrupted Jay and I right before we kissed, and I was pissed.
“Screw it,” I muttered, then raised my head to shout. “Zeta! Maneuver 61!” From wherever he had been fighting, he leapt into the air, switched to lightning, then brought down a weak bolt on every attacker he could.
The entire crowd dropped.
“Well, that was easy,” he said, landing next to me. I banished my armor and shook out my hair.
“Yeah. Really, really bad timing, though.” He glanced at me sideways.
“No. Not bad. Planned. Someone either led them to us, or-”
“Wha-” I said, as the ground vibrated around us. “What’s going on?”
Zeta bore his teeth, crouched to the ground.
“Giant. He’s supposed to be a member of The Court. One of the strongest ones. It’s gonna be a tough fight.”
“Wait… We’re fighting him?” He looked at me in surprise.
“Of course. I’m not missing out on this fight.”
“You’re serious? You’re actually fucking serious? You want to fight Giant?” he kept looking at me like I was crazy.
“Look. Diana. Physically, he’s probably second only to Iapetus in physical strength in the entire state. How could I res- Oh, look. Our guest is here.” I looked up in shock. He… was huge. He must have been over forty feet tall. He was able to look over the tops of four-story apartment buildings. “Shit,” Zeta swore. “I hadn’t thought about the collateral. Shit’s going to get messed up.” I slapped my forehead.
“There’s still enough time to run,” I reminded him.
“NOT QUITE,” Giant boomed, looking down on us, “IF YOU RUN, I’LL JUST BREAK THESE BUILDINGS.”
“See!” he said, “We have to fight him! He’s practically asking for it.”
“He’s not practically asking for it. He literally came to fight us,” I argued.
“So why not oblige him?”
“Because when the VILLAIN wants to fight you, he has something up his sleeve!”
“What if he promises he doesn’t?” He asked.
“If he promises he doesn’t have something up his sleeve, then can we fight him?” Jason said slowly.
“Do you promise?” I think that’s the only way we’re gonna get a fight out of this.”
“ACTUALLY, I DO HAVE SOMETHING PLANNED,” Giant grumbled, shaking the earth a bit.
“Oh,” Jason said, a bit taken aback, “What is it?”
“MY TEAMMATE IS HIDING BEHIND THAT BUILDING,” he said, pointing in the direction he had come from. “HE WAS GOING TO COME OUT AND SURPRISE YOU WITH HIS POWER.” Jason turned to me.
“Are you satisfied?” he asked, “Cause I’m getting bored. I’ll take him, you take the teammate?”
I threw my hands up.
“Fine. Jesus. I don’t even know what’s wrong with you today.”
“I’VE BEEN ORDERED TO INSTIGATE A FIGHT WITH YOU. IF REVEALING THE RUSE IS WHAT IT TAKES, SO IT GOES,” Giant said, scowling at the delay.
“Excellent,” Zeta said, and leapt towards the titanic villain. I shook my head and jogged away. Behind the building, I saw Giant’s teammate. He was a short, fat, nervous-looking man, sweating profusely.
“That idiot,” he was mumbling, “ he gave my position away. “I have to move before the moon-bitch finds-oh shit.” I stood in front of him with my hands on my hips.
“Before the moon-bitch does what?” He looked up at me, eyes wide. He swallowed nervously, and started to raise his hands. I stepped forward, preparing to accept his surrender. With a bit of roughness. After all, I’m not my brother, and no one talks to me like that. No one. Of course, then he disappeared.
“Fuck!” I heard a scrape behind me, and I whirled around. He was clutching a knife in both hands, his body half in a shadow. Literally, inside the shadow. I had already manifested a helmet, gauntlets and boots to make a presence, but I made the rest of the armor, then batted his knife aside with a long sword. I lunged for his body, and as the sword’s light passed near the shadow he was hiding in, his legs solidified and he fell.
/My constructs,/ I realized, /they undo his power./ I grinned at him.
“Oh, you are so totally boned right now,” I said.
“Get back here, you fucking asshole!” I screamed, running towards the nearest shadow.
“Ha!” He screamed, obviously terrified, “You can’t catch me!” I had been about to stab him when he had rolled out of the way and into a shadow, disappearing and reappearing a few yards away. Rinse and repeat. He was leading me somewhere, I just wasn’t sure where. Away from the big fight, at least… or that’s what I thought. He led me in a circle, so I ended up running right into Giant’s foot.
He looked down at me, and started to wind up for a kick.
/Holy fucking shit. He’s fucking huge. He’s kicking, and I can’t move. I’m going to get fucking pulverized./
At the last second, I felt a sudden impact at my side pushing me away, and saw Giant’s kick send something black flying.
“Zeta!” I cried.
“I’m okay,” I heard back, “I’ll be fine!” He flew back over, clutching his side. “Dammit,” he said, “I think he broke a rib.”
“This is my fault,” I said, tearing up a bit, “I couldn’t even move.”
“Really. It’s not a big deal. I can still move.”
“It is a big deal! I got you hu- uh. uuuuuhhhh,” I groaned, keeling over.
“HA! NICE HIT, MOUSE!” Giant shouted, congratulating the shadow-porting asshole who had just stabbed me in the back. As I fell, I turned to look at Jason. He was rigid, his eyes wide under his goggles. And then he was gone. I heard a scream from behind me, suddenly cut off with a gurgling sound, and then Zeta, his hands dripping red, flew into Giant’s face and roared.
Zeta jabbed a flaming fist into Giant’s eye, sending various fluids everywhere, but instantly cauterizing the wound. Giant screamed, shaking his head and sending Zeta flying off. He hit an apartment building hard, crushing his arm. Rather than falling and probably killing himself, Zeta turned on flight and flew into the air. As I watched, his bent arm straightened out, and he windmilled it, not looking away from the screaming Giant.
/A healing factor? While flying? What’s happening?/
Without shifting his position, he sent a bolt of lightning into Giant’s wounded eye, then rushed forwards, leaving a trail of flame.
/Something weird is definitely going on./
Zeta roared again, grabbing Giant’s face and tearing at it. I saw a dark mist rising around him, seeming to take the shape of –
“shitshitshitshitshit!” A yellow and black shape, low to the ground, rushed past me. It left the ground and went up Giant’s body towards Zeta, then seemingly disappeared into his body. Instantly, he regained control. All the powers except flight turned off, and he flew around the monstrous head. With a quick, fiery stroke at the back of the neck, Giant fell, dead in a second.
He alighted softly on the ground next to me, then offered me a hand. Unsteadily, I took it, and he helped me up.
“Wow. That was brutal. And yet, kinda sexy. I’d say let’s try to pick up where we were, but I sorta have a knife in my back.” He snorted.
“Are you kidding me? I’m glad we got interrupted.”
“Wh-What? What are you saying?” I said, wincing at the sting of the knife wound and his words.
“You know exactly what I’m saying. You’re weak, stupid, and ugly. If I never see you again, it’ll be too soon,” he sneered.
“How… How can you s- Hold on,” I said, just before I started crying, “I just realized. You’re not Jason.”
“HA! That’s right! I’m Zeta, now, stronger than ever!” he threw back his chin and laughed. I narrowed my eyes, looking at his shattered goggles.
“Not what I meant. Jason doesn’t have two personalities… or slitted eyes,” I said. He looked taken aback.
“Clever girl… very clever,” he said softly.
“You’re Khan, aren’t you? Why are you trying to drive Jay and I apart?”
“What? I’m not doing that!”
“BULLSHIT!” I screamed, slamming my hand into his shoulder ignoring the pain that went through my side, “You’re fucking playing with us!” He paused for a minute, then chuckled.
“You see, my intentions are, in reality, noble. Zeta is weak. He cares too much about collateral, about other people. He got hurt because of you. I’m simply trying to remove weakness from his path.”
“His path? What’s his path?”
“Secrets, secrets are no fun, unless they’re kept from everyone,” he sang.
“So, he doesn’t know?”
“Nope. And he never will. Even if you try to tell him, I’ll just remove it from his memory again.”
“Again,” I asked, “You’ve done it before?”
“I’m doing it right now. He’s in his mental landscape, getting a lecture from me about how you had to finish both of them off because he passed out after getting kicked.”
I gritted my teeth. There was nothing I could do, and he knew I knew it. “But… I’m a nice person. I’ll let you have your time with Jason. For now. If you’re willing to take the risk.”
“Stop speaking in riddles, asshole. What risk?”
“I’m afraid I can’t tell you that. What I can say is that you will, in all likelihood, live a long and fruitful life… if you give up on Zeta.”
“Threatening me? Bastard. Get out of his body. God, you must be the worst compa- oh. Oh. You-”
“Don’t say it,” he said sharply, “Or I’ll kill you right here.” I closed my mouth.
“Fine. You win,” I said, dropping my head, “He’s yours. I’ll spend my time with him as I want, but I won’t tell him about who…about what you are.”
“That’s a good girl,” he leered, “but you don’t even know where to start to figure out what I am.”
I thought of Jason, being shamed with false failure, slowly being isolated from everyone, his relationships being shoved back in his face. I started to cry.
A week later, we fought Iapetus, and Zeta punched him through a building.