The man in the golden armor stood in front of me. His jūmonji yari was pointed towards my face, its cross a reprimand for my sins.
“It’s over, King. It ended the moment you ticked the Dragonslayers off. Nobody escapes us.”
Slowly, I got off the ground. Spitting the dust out, I said,
“It’s not over till I’m dead. You can’t deal with my power, Duel. Not like you dealt with Jormungandr.” Duel laughed humorlessly.
“Dealing with powers is what we do. We got Port, a member of the SVRA Richmond team, to teleport your underlings away. We got Tombstone, the bloodless abomination, to fight you. I’m clad in armour, so you can’t touch me. Plico is controlling the paper demon protecting the rest of my team. Need I say more? We’re destroying you. Truly, there’s no shame if you surrender now. Your death will be painless.”
I cocked my head, appearing to consider his offer.
“No,” I said.
“No?” He asked, looking seriously surprised that I rejected it his proposal. “Ah well. That’s too bad.” He rushed forward, almost faster than I could react. Almost. I pushed his spear away with my hand, using my other hand to jab at his unguarded face, trying to get a scratch. He flinched away at the last moment, jumping back.
“That’s faster than you should be able to go… What have you been hiding?” I didn’t reply. I just sent a quick barrage of long range attacks at him. Fire, ki blasts, even a few light constructs. Without waiting for the smoke and dust to clear, I dashed at him, sharpening my fingers into claws and hardening my body to the strength of steel. As I entered the cloud, I turned on my ki-sensing vision, looking for his body. Right… Where?
Where did he go? Whe-AAAAAAHHHH!
I sat up suddenly, wide awake. Looking around, I noticed I was alone, and relaxed. I threw off my opulent comforter and silently padded to the bathroom on bare feet. As I brushed my teeth, my eyes fixed on my right hand. As I moved it back and forth across my mouth, I flexed the fingers one by one, to test that they still worked.
In a world with Post-humans, many capable of healing and more of regeneration, you wouldn’t think that the loss of a hand would be too bad. Inconvenient at first, sure. But for those with power, finding a healer to restore it would be simple enough. It was. I found a healer the week after I escaped. But, whatever dark power Duel had used to sear off my hand prevented it from regenerating for an entire year.
I screamed in pain as blood gushed out. Duel walked out of the smokescreen, his armour gone. Instead, he was surrounded by a dark mist, a sharp contrast to his white hair.
“So many powers. You have more followers. They have to be… Plico. Bring Port to the basement. Check for a hidden chamber. Now… King. What to do with you…”
I stopped screaming and crouched over, trying to focus any healing or regen powers I had on my wrist. The leader of the Dragonslayers walked forward, almost contemptuously. “Our powers make us tools in the hands of God. Our purpose is determined from the moment of our birth, and it is all we can do fulfill it. It is your fate to die here. Why resist? You merely prolong your suffering.”
“Weren’t you listening? It’s not over…” I grimaced, bending my legs, “TILL I’M DEAD!” With that, I leapt towards the ranged members of his team, shrugging off their blasts. With Plico down in the basement, they didn’t have the stopping power to prevent me from tearing through them. I burst out of my headquarters, blood pouring down. As I ran, and the building reached the end of my range, I used the only power I had access to that helped. I detonated my blood. The explosion shook the ground, covering me in a wave of painfully hot fire, and collapsing the building. Duel, at least, survived. My followers… doubtful.
I sighed, looking down at the scars covering my chest. That day had cost me everything. I had to leave the state, burn my bridges just to escape. I had fled all over the country, running and running until the Dragonslayers moved on to Fafnir. When it was clear they had truly given up on me, I moved to Connecticut, the place called Villain’s Haven. I built up my power base again, discreetly spreading my influence over the entire state. I am once again, a true King. But, I daren’t become too powerful, too influential, lest I attract the attention of the Dragonslayer again.
“Iapetus has lost. He survived, and one of our psychics was able to glean an image of the fight from his mind while he slept in jail. Would you like to see it?”
“I would. I shall view it in my throne room, in ten minutes.”
“Yessir!” The messenger saluted and rushed off.
A trio of shapes flew over the buildings, rapidly approaching the combatant. One in black, one in white, and one in red. Mirage, dressed impeccably in her dark red, skintight suit gently lowered herself, pushing the dust away from her feet. Zeta flew down as fast as he could, landing in a dramatic pose and cracking his knuckles. Everest, in his form fitting white body suit, crashed down on a nearby building, sending bricks everywhere.
“OW!” He shouted, rubbing his head. Zeta and Mirage rolled their eyes simultaneously, then turned to the villain.
“Iapetus, is it?” Mirage asked, “What are you doing? Why is this necessary?” Zeta glanced at her.
“Why do you think?” He said, “I’ll bet you twenty dollars it’s the same reason Giant and Mouse attacked. Shadowy boss of the Court, or some other gang, wants to test us.” Mirage donned a thoughtful expression.
“Giant and Mouse… those wouldn’t have to be the ones you killed, would they?” Zeta took on a blank expression for a second, then nodded.
“Yeah. It’s a shame Selene killed them, we might have been able to learn something.” Mirage shot him a sharp glance, then turned towards Iapetus again.
“So, what’s the shtick?”
“Zeta’s right, I’m afraid. Another test.” Iapetus said. Mirage groaned.
“Damnit, that’s twenty bu- Everest!” She shouted suddenly, spinning around. “I need your help! Zeta, fight him for now!” Zeta shrugged.
I stopped watching Zeta and Iapetus as they flew into the air. I’ve seen enough aerial battles, one more wouldn’t give me anything useful. I looked over to Mirage and Everest.
-sion,” she was saying, “We need to evacuate that building. Now. I’ll start levitating people on the top floors out the windows, you enter from the front and start warning people.”
“Are you sure they’ll know who I am?” Everest asked nervously.
“You’re not wearing a mask, your face has been all over the news, and you have a picture of a mountain summit on your chest. I think they’ll recognize you. Now, go!” They rushed off.
At that moment, I heard a whistling noise from the sky. It also occured to me that if Iapetus was fighting Zeta, he wouldn’t have known what was going on here. Hmmm. That psychic must have an interesting specialization. I need to find out more about it. It sounds like a useful ability.
The whistling noise was growing steadily louder, like a bomb. Then, just as Mirage levitated the last person out of the fifth floor window, Iapetus’ body smashed into the bottom of the building, Zeta pushing him at supersonic speeds. The building disintegrated.
The image I was watching began to fade into darkness. The last thing I heard was a female voice saying,
“Thank God for Precognition. He’s still alive, let’s get him into the holding cell.”
“Interesting,” I said, sitting on my throne, “Leave me. I must think carefully about what I have seen.” My followers kowtowed out of the room, and I was alone in the darkness, once again.