Tyrant IV. ??? I

It was perfect.  Everything was right.  The circle was measured and completed.  The runes were checked, double checked, and checked ad infinitum.  I had memorized the Latin, the Arabic counterspell, the Sanskrit counter-counterspell, and the Esperanto activation phrase.  Demons get weird when they’re intelligent.  It might just be a feature of this one; the King of all Demons.  Mephistopheles.

They had tried to keep me down, given me pitiful “tutors” to keep me in check, but they failed!  I took the books for advanced summoning, and found the mother of all rituals.  They said I wasn’t ready for greater demons.  Well, look who’s summoning the greatest demon of all!

I laughed out loud, almost dropping my spell book.

“Oops. Don’t want that to happen,” I said, giggling a bit, “but enough stalling!  Time to make my name as the greatest demonologist of all time!”

Ego istum contractum ut populus,” I began,

offerre magnum daemonem,

Mephistopheles, qui pacta infinitum facet.”

A dark mist began appearing in the center of the pentagram, swirling around in chaotic patterns.  A chanting, complementary to my own began, in a thousand voices.  I continued,

Fabarum vocat ad latus edax!

O regis inflantes!

Princeps maximae parti,

adiuva me superare regem abscondita!

The mist began taking a shape… no, shapes.  It looked like a row of people stretching off into infinity.  Wait…  that shouldn’t be happening.  I looked around frantically, trying to spot my error, and fix it before it was too late.  The circle… fine, the pentagram… good.  There!  In the runes!  I had written the rune for “From” wrong, and switched the two on it’s sides.  Fuck.  It was too late.  I was fucked.  Instead of writing, “I summon One from Many,” I had written, “I summon the Legion into One.”  It was flawed.  A small error, a small imperfection.  But it screwed up everything.

“My Lord,” I said, bowing to the throne. A powerful voice boomed out,

“So, the conquered killer returns in shame.  What happened to our hero killer?”  Shadowy figures along the walls tittered.  I gritted my teeth.

“I attempted to subdue the “hero” Zeta in his first stage, as a lone vigilante.  I had him defeated, when his companion reappeared and manipulated his body.  He defeated Krustallos and I easily with a power I’ve never heard of, then gave us a lecture. I have submitted my report, I believe.”

The man on the throne nodded.

“You have.  I’m more curious about your second failure, when I authorized collateral damage to my territory.  You sent an agent with… how many rogue demons?   Four?”

“Only three, Your Majesty.  The fourth was an agent to direct the others.”  He waved, slightly annoyed.

“Fine, three demons that you can’t control.  Tell me again how that failed?”  I growled slightly.

He’s making you repeat your failures in front of all the highest members of The Court to embarrass you.

/I know that!/

Then don’t rise to the bait.  Idiot human.

“The remora demon I placed to control the rogue ones was destroyed, with no damage to the rogues.  The agent’s mind regained control, and decided to use the demons to assist the SVRA.  However, if I’m given-”

“No.”

“I beg your pardon, My Liege?”

“You’re taken off the assignment. You are no longer the prime striker against heroes.”

“But…  Why?”

Stupid question.  Because you failed.

/Shut up. Stop annoying me./

“Because you failed. There’s someone else.  Stronger than you.  Less distracted than you.”

He’s slightly annoyed with the newbie, but proud of his strength. A samurai?  Some sort of mercenary, new.  A definite rigorous feel from him.  Code of honor.

/SHUT.  UP./

He continued, “Ronin. Show yourself.”  I heard a tap behind me, and whirled around.  An asian-looking man… no, boy.  Maybe a year or two older than me, but with a scruffy beard.  He had long black hair, and a sheathed katana at his side.

He’s a demon-hater.  He has powers, but supplements them.  See his amulet?  Strong power ratings.  Same with the sword.  See that, moron host?

/Of course I see the amulet!  He’s not wearing a goddamn shirt!  I’m not an idiot!  I also know why he’s dressed in sweatpants!  Want to hear a fucking over analysis of everything?  He’s wearing those pants to provide ease of movement and slightly conceal his movements.  Happy?/

Ronin spoke, a slight accent to his voice, “Demon bastard.  If we did not serve the same shogun, I would take your head and feed it to the dogs.”

Oh, this is going to be a treat.

/SHUT.  THE FUCK. UP.  I JUST LOST MY GODDAMN JOB./

Our “Shogun” spoke up,

“I’m not done with you, Legion.  In fact, I have a present, and a job.  The king of gods gives gifts with one hand, and misfortune with the other, eh?”

Wow.  That is a misquote on sooo many levels.  He didn’t even mention urns.

“What is your will?” I asked, bowing my head and clasping my arm to my chest.

“Do you remember why you are working for me, Legion?”

“I serve My Lord for the sake of enacting his will-”

“No, the real reason,” he said, leaning forward on his throne.  “Do you remember our bargain?”

The demons rushed into me, filling my body and mind with sensations.  I was shuddering in fear, shivering in cold, sweating from extreme heat, and yet falling asleep.  It was contradictory and impossible, and my mind tried to regain control.  All the discipline that I had accrued from magic training was for naught.  My voice was lost among the countless others in my head.

HAHAHAHAHAHA!

killkillkillkillkillkillkillkillkillkill

You’re tired… just lie down and nap…

taketheirbodiesandeatandfuckandeatandfuckandKILL

/Stop it!  Get… Get out of my-/

useyourbodytofuckherandhim

How’d you like to fuck a bloody corpse, mortal?  

fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckFUCKITALL

Ripoffyourcockandcutyouacunt

bloodandsexandshitanddeathandfuck

You’re a fucking ugly bitch. I want to stab you to death, and then play around with your blood.

/Stop it…  no… fuck…kill…/

I was losing myself, losing my individuality, becoming one of the legion.  Then, a voice, clearer than the rest, pierced through the fog.

Come on, mortal.  That doesn’t sound like you.   You call me here and can’t even hold a conversation?  Hm…  Icebreakers… icebreakers…  got it.  Care to make a bargain?

Suppressing my shudder at the memory, I nodded.

“You said you would help me suppress or remove the demonic energy from my body in return for my service.”

Psshht. Why would you want to do that?  We made a bargain too, remember?  And you got stronger out of mine, while he’s offering you weakness.

/He’s offering me peace./

“The time has come,” he boomed, holding up a small vial, “you will take one of these everyday while it is still effective.  It will suppress your inner demons, and restore your appearance to normal.”

“While it is still effective?” I asked, raising my head.  He glowered at me.  “While it is still effective, sir?”  He sat back, mollified.

“It is a temporary measure.  It prevents the demons from expressing themselves, not from being there.  It advances your symptoms, enhances your power when the time comes to fight.  You are enrolled in South Haven High School, where we believe some members of the SVRA team attend.  You will uncover their identities, destroy their lives… and let Ronin kill them.  Do you understand?”  I nodded.  “Good.  Your assignment begins in just under a mon-”

The door burst open, and a messenger ran in.

“My Lord! Giant and Mouse have been defeated!”

“What?  Where are they?  Did Rune intervene?”

“They-They’re dead, Your Honor! They were taken down and killed by Zeta and Selene only!”

He crossed his legs, resting his chin on his palm, and his elbow on the arm of this throne.  “Interesting,” he mused, “I shouldn’t underestimate them.”

Rook and Knight take two pawns.  That’s what he’s thinking.  Time to send in two Bishops.  You and Ronin, in case you were wondering, ignoramus.

“Legion, that will be all.  You know who to talk to for assignment details.”  I stood up, bowed, and walked out. As I did, the man on the throne stood up and gestured to someone hidden in the sides.  They walked up to him, bowing and holding something flat.  I heard two klinks as something dropped.

And King advanced his Bishops.

Stuff happening, loyal and traitorous readers alike!  This is the first ??? section, so I’m going to explain the rules.  Since you don’t technically know who the perspective is from, you have to guess.  This one is easy.  Others will be harder.  ??? sections will be pretty rare, partially because it’s a pain in the ass to write when the perspective is a secret, and possibly because there are possible spoilers.  The first person who comments correctly who the perspective is from, if they provide an email or a website with their contact information on it, will receive an email from the authors.  You can ask for spoilers, ask to clear up mysteries, ask for true truths, and ask to expose lies!  If an anon comments first, or we are unable to contact you, then there is nothing for anyone.  This section is easy.  Do good.

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Tyrant IV

“Sic Semper Tyrannis”

–You should know this one.  Really.  I’m not citing it.

“The Chess pieces are the block alphabet which shapes thoughts; and these thoughts, although making a visual design on the chessboard, express their beauty abstractly, like a poem.”

–Marcel Duchamp

Writers: Selene, ???, King, Discharge, Mirage, Zeta, Bird, Discharge

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Auditions II. Apollo III

I coughed at him.
“Stop with the Reagan jokes, and save us,” I choked. His grin faded and he walked over to me.
“Man, what the hell happened to you, Billy?” He looked down at me piteously, and I spat up a glob of blood.
“Don’t fucking call me that. How are you not roadkill?”
“Third power. Flight. Woke up in the middle of a falling truck. Now, who tried to kill me?”
“Shadow fucker. Ice and lightning and solid shadows. No rational thought. Enhanced.” He winced.
“Ooh. That’s gonna be h-” He was cut off as his shadow came alive under him and knocked him on his ass. The shadowfiend was standing above him, and plunged a sword at his head. Zeta rolled to the side, and it missed him by an inch. “Woah. Watch it, man.” The other sword plunged into the ground, trapping Zeta.  But, instead of curling into a fetal position, he grabbed a blade in each hand, and drove what must have been a few million volts into the shadowfiend. While he was convulsing, Zeta rolled out from under him. At that, I saw that Zeta wasn’t exactly mint condition himself. He was hurting bad, and one of his hands was covered in ice. He fixed that pretty quickly, though. His hand went up in a small inferno, and water splattered the ground. By then, the shadowfiend was up again. He ran at Zeta, lunging with a razor sharp blade. Zeta saw it coming and jumped, flipping himself up and over the shadowfiend, using his newfound flight to make himself turn in midair, landing right behind the shadowfiend with an arm around its neck. He jumped up, pulling it with him high, way up into the sky. I turned my gaze upwards, but couldn’t see much. I saw a few bright red flashes, then one constant one, steadily growing larger. All of a sudden, I realized it wasn’t growing larger… it was falling. Fast. The body hit the ground hard and fast enough to make it bounce a few feet in the air. Zeta landed softly, and didn’t take his eyes off of him. For good reason, it turns out. Half a second later, it stood up, looking as if it had just stepped off the production line. Zeta, keeping his eyes on his enemy, said, “Dagny. I know you’re there. Link me and this asshole up.” There was a pause. “Yes, I know what I’m doing. I meant what I said! Establish a mental link between me, and the guy who’s been attacking all of us! And cut yourself off from it.” Then, all of a sudden, the shadowfiend’s back straightened, and he and Zeta started walking towards each other. They stopped… maybe an inch apart, and didn’t move. Until, that is, Zeta socked him in the face. The shadowfiend danced backwards, swords windmilling at his sides, and adopted a fighting stance before charging forward, spinning both swords in a whirlwind. Zeta shot flames out at him, but they froze and sputtered out before they could get close to the cyclone of death around the other combatant. Leaping backwards, all fire from Zeta ceased and electricity began spilling down his arms. He focused a moment and let lose a steady stream of electricity at his adversary. The shadowfiend dropped one of his swords and grasped the other with both, taking the full blast head on, which simply dissipated, absorbed into the blade. Arching over, he retrieved his second blade before jamming it back into the ground, sending a rapidly quickening trail of ice towards Zeta. Flames began billowing out again, and the ice stopped in its tracks, but Zeta was breathing hard and sweat was pouring down his face. Using his powers so much was beginning to cost him. He dashed forward, but was repelled by the blades. He tried for a sweep kick, but the enemy simply jumped backwards to evade. Finally,with a primal roar, Zeta charged recklessly forward.
The shadowfiend leveled his blades.
And Zeta was run through.
My eyes widened in shock as Zeta’s quavering arms raised up and grasped his enemy’s face.
“Burn in hell, with the rest of your kind, you bastard.”
And with that, Zeta and the shadowfiend went up in flames. Then, all we could hear was laughter.
It took almost a minute for them to finally calm down. Zeta was collapsed on all fours, but the shadowfiend was oozing darkness as if it was blood, and its swords dragged on the ground, like it barely had the strength to lift them.
Slowly standing while clutching his wounded chest, Zeta kicked the shadowfiend in the jaw with a sickening crunch, then clutched both hands into a ball and brought them down on its head, hard. Gazing at his now defenseless opponent, he shook his head and chuckled.
Zeta, still standing straight, plunged his hand hard and fast at the shadowfiend’s head. There was a sickening crack and squish, as if someone took a sledgehammer to a clay pot full of live flesh. All I could see was Zeta crouching over the body, moving his hand around like he was looking for something. When he stood up, I could see what he had found. He was holding a small, black remora. It was flopping in his hand, and he looked at it with contempt, then quickly closed his hand. When he opened it, there was just a black powder that blew away. Right after he killed the small fish, the shadowfiend stirred, and sat up. I expected its face would be mangled and destroyed, but no. There was no sign of the terrible… demon… that had been attacking us. Instead, there was a thin kid, with long brown hair. His face was unharmed, and the mask was gone. With it went the swords and the shadow that seemed to surround him. He lost all of the ominous aura surrounding him. Zeta gave him a hand and helped him up. They spoke, too quietly for me to hear, and then they shook hands. Zeta turned and started walking towards me. From behind him, I saw a black silhouette appear. At first, I thought it was a back up hero who had just arrived a little late. It was only when he pulled a spear out of his mouth that I got worried. The figure spun around briefly, then lobbed the spear straight at Zeta’s back, then disappeared. I tried to shout a warning, but no sound came out. The spear was going… I have no idea. Faster than I could ever throw one. I thought Zeta was a goner. Already wounded as he was, I doubt he could have dodged. Instead, a change rippled through the kid who had been possessed by a demon. The mask reformed on his face, and two swords appeared in his hands. I didn’t feel that scared, though. There were no shadows around him, and he had lost almost all of the … whatever made me scared of him. If he was still possessed (Well, he was. But, he was only possessed by one thing this time. Exile and Rune later explained that Legion had given him a demonic symbiote with a mind controlling demon inside of it. Demonception. The mask was still there, just not as powerful or driven to kill Zeta), then I was sure he would fall much easier than the first time. However, rather than trying to kill someone again, he just reached out his arm and changed everything. In a different world, perhaps he didn’t, and Zeta died. A lot would be different. Though fate has not yet run its course with us yet, I wonder… maybe the world would be better off.
Regardless of my suspicions, Zeta lived. Legion’s (C’mon, who else could it have been? Legion really has it out for him.) spear hit the guy’s sword and fell. Zeta turned around, and saw what happened. He beckoned the guy over to me, and together, they helped me up. We went around picking up team members, and not saying anything. Everyone was ashamed and angry. While we were trying to wake Everest up, Zeta just collapsed. He had been holding it off as long as he could… but c’mon. It was a bolt of electricity and a ton of abuse. He lay there on the ground, then the guy tried to help him up. Zeta brushed his hand away, and said,
“What’s your name?” The guy, suddenly looking very young, glanced at me and stammered,
“Um, A-Alex. Alex Ro-” Zeta shook his head.
“No. Other name.” He looked at me, continuing, “I want this guy to join the team. He was stronger than all of us. Though I’m sure he’s weaker, he’ll still be useful.” I thought about protesting, but decided against it. Everyone was still alive, after all. Hell, I could even stand again. Besides, Zeta was right. I nodded my head. Alex spoke, more confidently this time.
“Crane. That’s my name. Crane.” All of a sudden, a shadow slunk up against Zeta’s legs. I was worried for a second, but it was just the cat that had appeared earlier, in the van.
“Hey guys. Wonderful job in that fight. Really. Can’t think of a way you could have done that better. Especially you, Everest. God, you’re all a bunch of morons. Still,” it continued, “Crane shows promise. Not just anyone can cut me so badly. To be honest, you all show promise. If Everest can stop being such an idiot, he’ll do fine. Exile… you’ve got guts, brains, and whatever organ magic comes from. Keep it up, and you’ll be leading the team soon. Luna… that was pretty shitty, but we’ll see. That leaves… Apollo and Zeta? No, wait. Dagny. Hm. Make sure that you’re useful for more than just photoshoots. Okay, that’s everyone. Apollo and Zeta, you both are useless assholes.” Zeta and I shared a look, then glared at Zeta’s other self. He looked innocently back at us and purred. Zeta grumbled at him, then said,
“Alright, Crane. Just ignore the talking cat. Now, help me up before the media gets here.” Crane did. Just as he did, the first media van arrived. The camera men jumped out, and the reporters started begging for a sound byte. After that, there isn’t much to say. Rune came back with the ambulances. The attack was called an assassination attempt by Legion (not entirely untrue, I suppose. That’s all Crane ever was to him.) and Crane a concerned civilian who had helped out. The casualties were attributed to Legion, and Rune pulled a few strings to get Crane in the clear. Oh. There is one more thing. As we were all being sent to the hospital, Rune gathered us together and said,
“When you get out of the hospital, we’ll start filling out the paperwork, getting you ready for boot camp, and making sure none of you are undercover criminals. Our files on you are already pretty extensive, but the higher-ups say psychic interviews before you join the team. Company policy, I’m sure you understand. But, we need to talk about your performances in this fight. That was pretty fucking terrible. The only reason you won was because Zeta learned how to punch from picking fights with people bigger than him.” Zeta looked as if he was about to speak up at this, but Exile punched him in the arm and he stopped. “That being said, not bad. I think. My first team did pretty badly too, but we turned out okay. I’m biased though. The real test is how the media reports it. Good luck on your audition, kids.” He waved and walked away, towards the ruins of the police station. we stood for a minute, thinking about what he said. Then, Luna, my dear, sarcastic, wise-ass sister said,
“So, when should we expect a callback?

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Auditions II. Apollo II

…riding to our first battle.  Zeta was telling us about Legion.  To be honest, I zoned out.  I had already read Legion’s file, and wasn’t worried.  He was the typical wreck shit up, then flee when the going gets bad villain.  The only thing to worry about was his healing factor.  According to the SVRA files, the amount of demonic power in his body had started to change it.  It said he had an extremely powerful healing factor, super strength, speed, and a few… cosmetic changes.  Namely, he’d started to grow horns.  I nearly cracked up when I read it.  His healing factor, on the other hand, is nothing to laugh about.  He’s a power switcher, and if he has those all the time…  since then, we’ve run into him, and he only gets stronger.  Eventually, he’ll probably be able to take on every metahuman in the world.  After all, he is, actually Hell itself.  Of course, I had no idea of how powerful he could become back then.   I thought he was just another villain.  I’m sure the others were freaking out a bit, but I was fine.  I’ve taken down A-class powers before.  I snapped out of the dose when I heard my name.  Zeta was saying the plan, “…You’ll go on the roof.  Use your bow or a gun to hit him in the limbs.  Don’t bother aiming for his head, he doesn’t need it and it’ll grow back.  Dagny,” He said, looking at a pretty blond girl with a drama mask, “you’ll go with Apollo and set up a mental link with us all.  If you can, try to use your telekinesis to reduce the amount of dust in the air.  Everest, you’ll be in close quarter combat with him.  Luna, you’ll protect Exile and Rune.  Exile and Rune will try to set up an exorcism circle and a ring of fire.  I’ll go where I’m needed.  I haven’t unlocked my third power yet, so I’ll only be using fire and lightning attacks.  Any questions?”  My sister raised her hand.  “Yes?”  She cleared her throat and said,

“Um, my constructs do pretty well against demonic energy, should I move to close combat?”  At that point, the van stopped.  Zeta raised his hands as if blessing us, and said,

“Let’s get the Motherfucker!”  We piled out of the van with our weapons at the ready.

We must have made quite a sight.  Too bad there was nobody there.  Legion was long gone.  It was obvious he had been there, though.  The ground in front of us was a giant crater, and there were cracks running up the sides of the surrounding buildings.  I let out a sigh.

“Very…Anticlimactic,” I said.  Exile, the magical prodigy, grunted in agreement.  Zeta surveyed the area, then bent down and ran a finger on the ground.

“No crystals,” He said, but didn’t elaborate further.  “Alright then,” he continued, “Form pairs.  Check out the area.  See if he left any clues.  Dagny and…Everest, go see if anyone saw him.  Disperse.”  He walked off with Rune to the edge of the crater.  Without saying anything, Exile and I walked to one of the cracked buildings. I whistled as I looked at the crack, then glanced sideways at Exile.

“So…  What do you think of Zeta?” I asked while recalling the little that was in her file. Magic prodigy, 16 years old, sensible and responsible.  I nodded approvingly.  We could get along well.  She smiled a little before responding.

“Well, I’ve known him for a few years now.  He’s pretty unpredictable, but decently smart and I think he’ll do as a leader.”  Or… maybe not so well.  I stared at her.

“Are you fucking serious?  He’s a thrill seeker!”  I was all but shouting at her.  She stopped smiling, and stood up.  She put a hand against my chest, and murmured something.  Sweating, I spoke. “Sorry?  I didn’t quite catch that.  What did you say?”  She shook her head.

“Just some latin.”  I gulped.  Latin=Spells.  Spells from a master mage=bad.

“Oh.  Well, that…  that sounds fine.”  She smiled in self-satisfaction and turned away.

“I thought so.  Now, let’s see if we can find anything about Legion.”  She walked off towards the nearest building, and I followed, shaking my head in confusion.

All of a sudden, Zeta called us over to the truck.  He was holding a walkie-talkie, and swearing profusely.

“Get back in the fucking van!” he screamed, “There’s a powerful super villain at the Police Station!  Legion was fucking distracting us!”

Our journey to the police station was tense and silent.  Zeta had no idea what to expect, and was trying to think of a plan with no information on the enemy.  He was brooding.  The others in the van were clearly nervous.  Exile was the only one doing anything.  She had her eyes closed and was muttering softly, creating a small glow around herself.  After a bit, Zeta stood up, cleared his throat, and started to say, “Okay, so-” He was cut off when something large hit the side of the van, denting it and throwing us forward. There was a muffled scream from up front that was suddenly cut short, and we realized something had just killed the driver.  I rushed towards the back, trying to open it, but something was blocking it from the outside.  Exile pushed me aside, then put her hands on the door, about to burn through it.  She didn’t need to.  Faster than even I could react, something bright tore through the side of the van, striking Zeta in the chest.  In front of our eyes, he started convulsing, then fell, a hole in the center of his chest.  The van smelled of ozone.  I had enough time to speak two words before the van fell apart like a coke can in a meat grinder.

“Oh, shit,” I said.  We fell out of the van and scattered.  I drew my bow, and got ready to fire, as soon as I figured out what to fire at.  I didn’t even get off a single arrow.  A guy shrouded in darkness, with two black katanas and a mask clearly visible landed in front of me and cut my bow in half.  I drew my foil to protect myself.  Though his face was covered, I thought he smiled.  He lashed out with a fast attack, but I countered easily.

“You picked a sword fight with the wrong fucking hero, asshole,” I spat.  He launched a fury of quick slices, but I stepped back and parried his last stroke, lunging for a simple riposte.  I thought I had him, but he moved faster than I thought he could, and my blade went harmlessly into the shadows.  I pulled it back as quickly as I could, but not soon enough. He dropped his blade and scored a deep cut on my overextended sword arm.  I grunted and jumped back, clutching my wounded arm and gritting my teeth against the pain.  I expected him to finish me off with whatever he had killed Zeta with, but he simply waited. I swore a little bit and forced the pain down.  I hoisted my sword again, knowing that I couldn’t win.  It wasn’t that he was much better  than me.  In fact, I probably had a slight advantage in speed and strength.  It was a question of weaponry.  One small, flimsy sword can’t stand up to two katanas.  Despite my knowledge of it’s futility, I feinted, expecting him to try to block.  Instead, without moving his body, he brought one of his blades down onto mine, snapping it like a twig.  Right then, I swore an oath to myself to never again be caught without a good weapon.  As I tried to recover, he turned his blade and swiped it right onto my arm again.  I collapsed in pain.  Except this time, it was different.  There was a sharp, bitter coldness to it.  I couldn’t move my head to look at it, but I could feel it.  Ice had formed where he had hit me, and it was slowly spreading.  If I had been able to move, I could have saved myself, but I felt like I was dying.  Later, when the paramedics came, they told me that I had lost as much blood as a person could lose without dying.  The ice forming over the wounds probably saved my life.  If he had been Zeta, or even fully comprehensive, he would have finished me off.  Instead, he looked around, then started walking towards the rest of the team, which had formed a tight group of three.  Rune and Dagny, I noticed, were missing.  And of course… Zeta.  Everest was in front, with his density raised so high the cement underneath him was bending.  Behind him was Luna in her full suit of armour.  Exile was in the very back with her eyes closed.  As the assailant walked towards them, two tendrils of shadow reached out and around Everest.  They raised off the ground, becoming solid somehow grabbing Luna around the chest and lifting her.  The shadows tossed her away.  As Luna went flying away from me, the shadows covered her armour, and it… just dissapeared.  With no protection, she hit a wall and crumpled like a marionette with its strings cut… by a car crash test.  I knew she was okay, obviously.  I was only crying because my arm hurt.  Honest.  With that, there were three combat ready fighters left.  Exile and Everest were still together, and Rune was missing.  I couldn’t find Dagny, either, but I thought I saw a flash of blonde earlier.  The shadowfiend didn’t even bother with dramatics.  He just jumped into the air, stayed there, and beckoned to Everest.  The idiot raised his density and crouched, then jumped, lowering his density to get some extra height.  I closed my eyes, knowing what would happen next.  Everest jumped straight into an outstretched foot, and with his weakened everything, instantly fell unconscious and collapsed at base of the column.  And then there was one less. Two, I think it’s safe to say.  Rune actually had left, but there was help about to come from an unexpected corner.  The shadowfiend (I’m getting to hate that name, but that’s what it was) fell back to the street, and his shadow spread towards the cut up and slashed van.  It became solid again, and like what it did to Luna, grabbed the truck around the middle and tossed it.  Straight up.  It flew out of sight, then landed with an impossibly loud thud.  It was hardly recognizable as an automobile anymore.  I felt sick, and threw up a little when I thought of what Zeta’s body must have looked like at that point.  Exile was looking a little green too, and I knew she was thinking of the same thing as me.  However, she quickly regained her resolve, made a complicated gesture, and a giant scorpion appeared in front of her.  It wasn’t really giant, like, monster movie big.  I say giant because it was much, much larger than a normal scorpion.  It was actually about the size of a german shepherd.

“This demon has the power of corruption, “ Exile said, her voice not even quavering, “Everything it touches will rot and decay.  Have fun, you little shit.”  At that, she turned and ran.   I thought she was chickening out, but she was just trying to get some space.  As soon as she had a few feet between her and the scorpion, she made a triangle with her hands, pointed it at the shadowfiend, and waited.  She didn’t have to wait long.  Her scorpion of corruption didn’t have time to do much other than make a few scuttling sounds before the shadowfiend gestured with his blade and froze it into a block of ice.  At that, Exile said, “Pyramidem igni.” and let loose an immense cone of bright blue flames, only to meet a sudden wall of ice.  She kept trying to melt through it, but from her angle she couldn’t see that the shadowfiend was constantly replenishing it.  Eventually, she fell to her knees, unable to continue.  As soon as she let up on the flames, the shadowfiend relaxed, and the entire wall melted instantly into a puddle of steaming water.  He had taken out the entire team in a matter of minutes.  All that was left was Dagny, and if she had half a brain, she wouldn’t have shown.  But, I saw her peeking her head out from behind a building.  If the shadowfiend hadn’t been hit by something falling from the sky, she probably would have leaped out and gotten herself killed.  But, she was saved by the bell…  ish.  It was actually the horn.  The steering wheel of the van had come out of nowhere and knocked the shadowfiend off his feet.  At that, I started to smile.  I had an idea of what was about to happen.  I guessed right.  Zeta fell from the sky, landing in the classic superhero pose.  “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” There was a pause.  “Are you scared yet?”

(Hey, long update today.  Not necessarily unusually long, but longer than they’ve been so far.  Eventually, we hope, they’ll all be much longer.  But, for now…  And hey, I know we’ve been less active lately.  That’s because of school.  However, there is a chance to change that.  Discharge and I can make another wager if someone comments with an idea (something creative, please), and we are willing to add new stuff.  If you ask for it.  I’ll be taking care of the timeline soon, so bear with the complications for now.  We’re sorta jumping around a few weeks.  That’ll be fixed soon.  Like, one week, soon. -Zeta)

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Auditions II. Zeta II

He leaped at me, screaming, “DIE!”  I switched to lightning, and jabbed at his chest as he flew past me.

“I’ll pass, thanks.  If I died, I couldn’t have fun kicking your ass!”  He turned around, in mid air.  With a thud, his feet hit the ground, and he became wreathed in lightning.  I laughed.  “Oh yeah.  Great idea. Fight lightning with lightning.  That’ll work.” He opened his mouth, stretching it inhumanly, like a snake, and let loose a torrent of power against me.  I didn’t even bother dodging. I let it fizzle against my chest, then rushed forward with my fingers crackling.  But, before I hit him, as I had expected, he switched powers.  What I didn’t expect was for him to grab me by the head and lift me.  You see Legion said he was a power switcher like me.  That means he can switch between various (usually simple) powers, and that he has a companion like my serval, who, by the way, calls himself Khan.  I called him an egomaniac (Khan means king), and he pointed out that he’s just a reflection of my personality.  That isn’t the usual for power switchers, though.  Companions just happen for power switchers, each in a different way, with different capabilities. Mine was particularly obnoxious, denying the fact that he was my companion.  He claims to be my jailer.  I had to find out what his companion was if I had a hope of beating him.  However, I was getting nowhere fast while he was grabbing my head.  I switched to fire and started turning up the heat.  He didn’t flinch. I swore.  Fucking Super Strength.  I started physically struggling, but to no avail.  After that, I blacked out for a minute.  I felt an impossibly powerful pain in my stomach, but after that…  next thing I knew, I was puking my guts out next to the wall of the arena, and Legion was still in the middle. My entire body hurt like I had gotten hit by a bus, and I couldn’t move one of my legs. Then, I saw a slight disturbance in the air, and I was thrown up by my neck and pressed against the wall.  I could feel the heat slipping out of my body, so I did the only thing I could.  I turned my flame on to the max, regardless what it would do to my air supply.  I was barely surviving, at that point.  It was all I could to do keep myself from hypothermia.  Legion leisurely floated over to me.  Telekinesis, I realized.  He looked at me with amusement, the same way a little kid looks at an ant that’s scrabbling at the glass wall of an ant farm.

“Go ahead,” He said. “While you’re struggling, let me give you a little science lesson.” I croaked. He smiled patronizingly, “Do you know what cold is?  It’s the absorption of energy!”  I grunted, getting tired from the constant output and lack of oxygen.  “So, if you pour enough heat into something cold, it becomes hot!  But…   What if all the heat is stored?” He winked, “Of course, this has only been possible since the superpowers came along, but you know that.  Then, the cold thing remains cold until the storage area is full.  When that happens?  All the heat and energy is released in one burst!  Do you know what that means, you pitiful excuse for a hero? It explodes.”  He grinned as my eyes widened in realization.  I slowly let my fire die, and looked at the wall I was being pushed against.  It wasn’t blue anymore.  It was a deep, blood red.  The same color as the crystal that had smacked me in the chin.  The same crystal that had exploded.  “Oh, fu-.”  My vision went black, as if covered by a blindfold in the middle of the night, in a dark, windowless room.  I couldn’t see any of what happened, but I heard it, and god, I felt it.  The earth shook, and it felt like my eardrums would shatter.  The earth under me spun, and I fell.  A few minutes later, I tried to stand up, my vision still black.  It didn’t work.  I fell back to my knees, and a jolt of pain shot through the one I could move.  When I did, though, the black retreated, and showed me…  Khan, licking his crotch in front of me, on what looked like snow. On a second glance, I realized it was the white remnants of the explosion covering the ground.  Thousands, no, millions of little white crystals.  Legion was nowhere in sight.  I looked at Khan again, and flipped him off.  “What.. Where…  What the hell was that, and where the fuck have you been for the past week?”  He didn’t answer for a minute.  He just continued making these disgusting slurping sounds, as he cleaned his privates.  I coughed.  He looked up.  Opened his mouth.  Closed it, and went back to his nuts.  I glared at him, and tried our thought channel for fifth time that day.  You see, this was about two weeks after the school fire.  A week ago, he had just disappeared.  He didn’t show up, he didn’t answer my thoughts… I had just gotten used to life with him, and then he was gone.  I didn’t know where.

/Man, I’m a dick,/ I thought.

/Hey.  That’s me you’re talking about. /

/I know!  Where the fuck have you been?/

/…/

/What?  Why can’t you tell me where you’ve been?/

/I’ve been…. elsewhere. /

/GRAHH.  THAT DOESN’T-  Nevermind.  Fine.  How am I still alive?/

/That’s easy.  I lent you your seventh power.  Just to save your life, mind you.  You still only have fire and lightning at will.  I just didn’t want you dying, so I stretched the rules./

/You can do that?/

/No,/ I heard back, the sarcasm practically dripping off of his thoughts.

Next thing I knew, I was in the hospital, with Rune standing over me.  He helped me pick a name, and acted as the liaison to the SVRA to get the team set up.  He was following Legion, and was rather impressed that I survived the encounter.  Turns out, Legion is the reason there haven’t been any heroes in Connecticut yet.  Legion works for a gang called “The Court.”  I had heard of them, of course, but I didn’t know just how powerful they were.  They’re one of two gangs in the entire state.  They hire metahumans to kill all wannabe heroes, and crush other gangs.  Rune said that nobody knew much about them, but New York SVRA agents had died trying to find out. He was trying to gather information, and saw Legion dispatched on a mission.  He saw the whole thing, but had to take cover when the crystal turned red.  I asked him what I had done to survive, but he wouldn’t say.  I wouldn’t figure out what happened for a long time.

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Auditions II. Zeta I

I met Legion before I was Zeta. I was just me, then. Not even a costume. I was beating up criminals in the street for fun. Mostly. I also wanted to attract the attention of the SVRA. I wasn’t being a vigilante for any sense of morality, or anything so noble. That’s not me. I wanted to try being on a hero team, and see if I enjoyed it.
I was punching out small time villains. People with minor stunning powers, small heat generation… stuff like that. Barely C class, some of them. Oh, I should explain that. Okay. So, there are a bunch of different power rankings. They say, essentially, how strong a person’s power is. They were invented back on March 28th, in 2016. It goes G, which is the weakest. If you have this, your power probably killed you at birth: whatever the reason, the power most likely involved heavy mutations that you just couldn’t withstand. Then, F. This is for the people whose powers make them weaker than most people, like those who have hollow bones… with no other birdlike traits. Then D. This is a power that doesn’t do anything, like being able to change the color of your own eyes or something. It might make your life a little more convenient, but nothing major.  Then, C. If someone has a C class power, they’re recruitable for a gang. It gives them an edge over the normal civilians. Maybe they can blow really hard, or paralyze people. Then you have B. B is the minimum for joining the SVRA. B powers are pretty useful. Flight, cryokinesis… usually these are standard powers. B rarely has unique things, but they’re decently powerful. Then, there’s A. A is one class, but there’s plenty of strength variation. I’m on the stronger side of A, so I can beat most metahumans in a one on one fight. But, my friend C…Discharge far outclasses me. He’s called an A, but he’s on par with the Enemies of Injustice, due to his resourcefulness in using an already powerful and versatile power. An A class can have standard or unique powers, but they’re always stronger than B classes. After A is the last class, S. S is reserved for the extremely powerful ones. Hacksaw, Samson…. ones like them.
I was fighting C class guys. In my defense, I only had two powers then. Fire and Lightning. Pyrokinesis and Fulgurkinesis. I was pretty weak myself, back then. I had just shocked a guy with knives for fingers. I saw him trying to mug someone, and I ran over, punched him, grabbed him by the neck, and gave him… a decent shock. I just realized I still have no idea how to measure my output. Holy crap. I need to get on that. But, back to my story. Shocked him, dropped him. I turned to the person I was saving, only to watch them turn into a bloody splatter before my eyes. I stared. Blood was dripping down into my eyes, but I didn’t stop to wipe it. That’s why I have no idea what hit me. All I know is that something hard slammed into me at a high speed. I was thrown… it must have been twenty feet. When I got up, there were two figures standing in front of me. I glared at them. I felt the rage building within me, and I let it out in a roar. As my fire bloomed around me, untouched by the inferno, I roared, “WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?” I let the fire die, savoring my rage. I got a clearer look at the people standing in front of me. One was wearing a black hoodie, with his face covered but an ominous aura around him. The other was dressed in a lab coat with a pair of heavy goggles covering most of his face. The latter raised his hand, and a blood-red crystal shot up from the ground, smacking me in the chin. I reeled, clutching my jaw. I shook my head out, growling slightly, and turning my flame on around my hands. Then, the crystal exploded. Red shards flew everywhere, and I hit the ground. The majority of them missed me, but a few shards (now pure white) lodged in me. I winced as I stood up. The one in the black hoodie walked forward, gesturing to the one who had bombed me. The scientist wannabe muttered, “Kruos,” and all around us, blue crystal started rising, forming a dome around the three of us. I faced off with the ominous one, ready for a fight. To my surprise, he bowed, and started speaking. “Hello, fellow metahuman!” He said in a theatrical tone, “My name is Legion! My companion here is Krustallos!”. I am a power switcher, and he makes crystals with various fascinating effects.” I stared at him in disbelief. He continued, “He created that bomb crystal that you were pitifully unable to dodge, and he created the arena we’re in right now! I should warn you though, it’s made of ice crystal. If you touch it, you’ll make this fight a very dull one. I’ve found myself rather bored, and I’m looking for a pick-me-up. Perhaps you can assist me?” I coughed.
“Um… Well, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog is a great supervillai-” I abruptly stopped, as something flew past my head. All traces of his polite manner gone, Legion hissed at me, “Don’t be a moron!” He leaped at me, screaming, “DIE!”

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Auditions II. Crane II

“I’m glad you made the rational decision” he breathed, a smile stretching impossibly far across his face.
The man stood up straight, the dark material on him writhing like a nest of snakes. Two black and gold katanas began to emerge from his back. He reached up and pulled the two blades out, black liquid spilling on the floor. The blades handles were long, and tapered into a point. The black material that the sword was comprised of was inlaid with gold. He handed the two blades to me. The first was light, but an intense cold radiated from the metal. The second blade was just as light, but had a hot and intense energy.
“These are Masamune katana, but with a little twist. Each sword possesses its own power. The left blade give you cryokinesis, telepathic control of ice, and the other, fulgurkinesis, telepathic control of electricity. Be forewarned, if you kill another human with an elemental power, the swords will take the new power, and the new power will become dominant. Go ahead, give them a try.”
I swung the two blades with an elegance and skill that I didn’t know I possessed. I’ve done a lot of martial arts training, but it was almost as if the swords had a mind of their own.
“Oh, you may also need this,” he said.
He handed me a bag with two long sheaths on the back. I put on the sheaths and found that they were still remarkably light, even with both blades in them. Now I decided to test out the powers that I had. Around my left hand ice crystals began to form in the air. I pointed my hand at the wall and mimed shooting something at the wall. To my pleasant surprise a shower of knife-like ice crystals flew into the wall and shattered. I tried to do this again, but this time I wanted to see what would happen if I relaxed. I opened my hand and a stream of ice shot forth from my hand and froze a row of trash cans to the wall.
“Alright, now we’re in fucking business!” I said.
Next was my right hand. I could feel the power pulsing through my hand and I made the motion I had used for the ice shards. A sudden burst of electricity exploded forward with a resounding sizzling sound. The dark man looked up and nodded.
“Very good. Now there is just one more power for me to give you. This will be your core power, your defining feature, if you will. But… before I give it to you, remember… take care of my, our, little itch.”
“Sure, sure.” I said, excitement still evident in my voice.
Then, faster than I was able to react, he dashed forward and grabbed my face, his fingers digging into the soft skin right under my jaw. His fingers became pointed and broke through my skin. Then, as quickly as it started, he pulled his fingers out and I dropped to the filthy alleyway floor. I turned to the ice on the wall and saw that I was reflected in it. There were four small black holes in my neck, and despite the trauma, there was no bleeding. I got up and began to turn to where he had been standing.
“What the fuck was…” He was gone. Not a trace of the man could be found.
I sat on the ground for a few minutes. I turned back to ice mirror and told my self to activate whatever had been injected into me. In a sudden flare of pain the four holes on my neck opened, and a shadowy material similar to that of the mystery man wrapped around my face. Two slits remained open for my eyes, and four short curved lines over my nose. There was enough space between the material and my mouth to allow for speech. In fact, the mask resembled an ancient kind of mask worn by ninja in feudal japan.
“Well. Apparently, I’m a ninja, now.  Looks like my costume have an Asian theme.” I thought to myself.  “Maybe I’ll get some Chinese food!”
I began to jog, but forgot that my mask was still active. My feet felt lighter, and found that I was moving forward with great speed. I tried to jump, and something pushed the bottom of my feet. I sailed up to a third story window.
“This will be fun. This will be very fun,” I muttered to myself.
I turned to the wall to my left, which was covered in ads for Big Poppa’s Gentlemen’s clubs.
In hindsight, I don’t believe Big Poppa knew anything about serving mink or fox hunting, but that’s irrelevant. I jumped across the alley, and started to run at the wall across from me. I found that in several swift kicks, I had sprinted up the wall. I looked down on the street from the roof of a three story building. I looked down at my arms and noticed that my normal clothes were no longer visible.  Instead, I was covered with what seemed to be a layer of shadow.   I looked in the mirror and noticed that I could hardly make out my image.  I tried out a few things, and discovered that if I focused my energy I could become almost invisible for a short period of time. I was overcome with an intoxicating and intense form of giddiness and joy, that seemed completely out of place. I sat down on the ledge and let my feet hang over when I was overcome with a searing headache, a pain on the back of my neck and the bizarre desire to tear a blondish teenage male to pieces.
A few minutes later I decided to return to downtown to give my new powers a good test drive. The headaches had become more and more frequent and I had started to fantasize about slicing some kid into pieces. The weirdest thing was that I started to form an unconditional hatred for him. I had my strong suspicions that this had something to do with the figure that had given me my powers, but I found myself unable to think about it for more than a few seconds. I got to running and began to sprint up a 10 story apartment building. The mask had taken its place and my deranged sense of excitement returned. I sprinted across the next building and kicked off a air conditioning unit onto the next roof. I landed as if I had just stepped down off of the stairs.

Then, I jumped from the roof of this building across the street. Unfortunately my jump fell short. However, when I reached out for the building long tendrils of shadows shot out of my lower arm and fastened to the side of the building, pulling my directly into the wall. After trying to determine whether my nose was broken or not, I climbed back up the side of the building and collapsed on the roof. I dropped down into the adjacent alleyway. From my best guess I saw I was rather close to the police station and began to make my way, however, I was stopped by a gruff voice.
“Hey there, slim jim. Chill out for one second, I just wanna ask you something.” said a tall twenty year old looking caucasian prick. If there was a standard degree for douchebag, this guy met it. His hat, his boots and baggy pants made it clear he was screaming for attention. He had two friends behind him, both of whom looked like they had some latino blood. They were snickering to themselves. However, I wasn’t sure if they were laughing at me, or at their friend who was walking in my direction.

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Auditions II. Crane I

I walked up to the front desk in the police station at about 2:15, nervous as hell.
“Um… hello? I’m interested in applying for the SVRA team?”
“Thats nice, kid, but you had to make a reservation. I’m not here to interview you.”
“Wait, really? The ad didn’t say anything about having to call. Today is really the only day I have free. Could I just meet with them quickly?”
“No.”
“Why?”
“Because procedure, punk.”
“Thanks for the details. Look, let me just show you what I can do, and you can choose to refer me to them if you are impressed.” I said
“Fine. Whatever, kid. What can you do, make the twenty bucks I have in my wallet disappear?”
I gingerly reached for a small knife in my coat pocket and quickly cut my upper arm. A small bit of blood began to seep from the wound.
“What the fuck?” shouted the cop.
“Wait, wait for it. I promise I have powers. Just give it a second.”
Despite my pleadings the police officer at the front desk did not look at all impressed. I stood there for another good twenty seconds, glancing nervously at the offensively bright, blue wall of the station’s interior. Then, the small cut I had made in my left arm started to close.
“That’s it?” The cop asked, clearly unimpressed.
“Yeah, pretty cool, right?”
“Kid, I’ve seen a stronger healing factor in a starfish. I’m sorry, you’d be lucky if that’s a D class power, and we simply can’t accept a low level power like that. You would get in the way of the other more…proficient members.”
“You’re shitting me, right? How many people do you know who can do that?” I probably shouldn’t have said that, as it was clear I was coming between the cop and whatever he was playing on his smartphone.
“Alright, now son. I know people who can spray fire from their armpits. What you have is hardly anything of interest. Hell, my great aunt is probably more interesting than you, and she’s dead! Now please, you’re keeping me from attending to the monitor and thus interfering with police activity. So please, get the fuck out.” I backed away, throwing a scowl the officer’s way before taking off running. I didn’t get far before a kid dressed in black, with blonde and brown hair walked out of a conference room. He cleared his throat, and said,

“The following heroes have been accepted. Apollo, Luna, Dagny, Everest, and Exile. To those applicants denied acceptance to this pres-,” He paused, his head drifting to the side as a devilish grin appeared on his face. “To those applicants denied acceptance, please get the fuck out and never come here again.” Then he marched out of the room, the six people he named following him. I stood there, stunned for a moment. I couldn’t believe the way these so called “heroes” were treating applicants. After a moment, I decided that it was in my best interest to leave. Maybe find someone more appreciative of my talents. Maybe strike out on my own, and become a vigilante. Maybe…maybe give up on this entire dream of being a hero. There were other viable jobs out there. It always seemed like there was a need for more telemarketers as the number of those people who were hunted down and killed must be remarkably high in that profession. Yeah, maybe that was the path for me. I knew that there was no immediate career in paleontology and I had to make some money first, and telemarketing might have been the thing for me.

I pushed through the large front doors of the station and made my way through the downtown area. The vast array of bank owned buildings towered over head, giving the illusion that I was actually in a large, and far more impressive urban center. It was time for some serious thought regarding my future, and when serious thought is called for it is best to smother that idea with a movie or some other distraction. After deep consideration I decided to just go buy a used game at gamestop, and head home.
To make up for lost time at the station, and to avoid getting to the store after closing hour, I decided to take a series of winding back alleys. It wasn’t too long before I began to regret my decision. The tight corridors of the alleys seemed to form a maze of brick and cold metal. The walls seemed to stretch up, tapering off into some unseen ceiling. I was so consumed with well designed urban architecture and my own troubles that I almost failed to notice a tall, lanky figure approach me. My eyes immediately started to hone in on him, but still, before I could even make out the basic figure of his body, I was struck motionless by an intense aura of uncontrollable panic. The corners of my eyes began to fill with darkness and a bitter chill cut right through me. With a good deal of effort I managed to shift my head upward and had my first clear look at the man who had frozen me in my tracks. He was tall, with long, thin arms and legs. His entire visage was shrouded in a thick shadow and constantly seemed to be shifting and bulging, making it difficult to make out any definite details. As I tried to focus harder on the figures head it would suddenly shift onto its side, then immediately back to its normal position. Simply focusing on the figures head was disturbing. As he approached I could see that he was wearing just a simple black hoodie and jeans. He removed his hood and bent down, to look me in the eyes. I stood there, unable to speak, or move.

At first, his eyes seemed normal enough. Vibrantly green, but otherwise human. Then…then, they changed. His eyes flipped to solid black, with just a tiny red dot in the center. I screamed. He brought his hands out from his pockets, and revealed long fingers with well kept fingernails. He shoved one across my face. I will never forget those eyes. Something in them implied … Look at it this way. Humans have three things going for us. That’s all that’s kept us alive since we evolved. Our brains, our hands, and our brutality. Our brutality, combined with the ability to make tools… that’s what’s made us the dominant species. When there were multiple hominids, we cro-magnons killed the rest of them, even though they were better in almost every other way. Since then, we’ve buried that side. We act politely, donate to charity. But, under that thin veneer of humanity, we’re still just brutal animals with a nice gimmick. What I saw in those eyes was demonic. It was not human. It was something far beyond. Infinitely more intelligent, looking at me as if I were an ant. But that wasn’t the scary part. No, what I saw in those eyes was a brutality so far beyond our pitiful human violence that there’s only one word for it. Evil. What I saw in those eyes was pure, unfiltered Evil. If I had seen them for any longer, I would have been left gibbering.

After half a second, his eyes turned pure white, and his expression changed. He looked as if he were trying to swallow an egg that a skunk had pissed on. Upon closer inspection, it appeared as if there was something slithering around under his skin. After a minute, he seemed to get it under control, and he looked at me, his eyes a psychedelic, changing mix.
“You look tense. What’s wrong?” He joked.
His voice was disturbingly relaxed. If I had been able to close my eyes and listen, I would have thought that he was an old friend, greeting me after a long separation. I could feel my limbs begin to relax, and control return to my muscles. I turned and began to run, but before I made it two steps, something cold grabbed my leg and pulled me back to him.
“Now, now” he said. “That’s no way to make new friends.”
“Who the fuck are you?” I shouted.
“Irrelevant. A far more interesting question is who are you…or perhaps, who could you be?”
“What?” My eyes widened a fraction. “Wait, what do you mean?” I asked.
“I know what you desire. I can smell the reeking stench of rejection, of failure. You strive to be recognized as something more, even when you really shouldn’t be. However, I find your desire to improve yourself…admirable. In fact, it reminds me of myself. That is why I am extending you an offer.”
“Wait, what do you mean? What are you gonna do?” I asked, fear starting to ebb into my voice.
“I’ve been watching you, and you really are not anything remarkable…not yet. Your power is weak, but I could offer you an alternative. An opportunity to be something, far greater than what you are now.” The soft certainty he said this with was chilling.
“Wait, so you can give me powers? Class A powers? What’s the catch?” I asked.
“Well, as I’m not one to lie, there will be certain desires to satisfy. One may stand out stronger than the others, however once you have “scratched” this itch, I think you will find you new power set very agreeable and, well, more stable.”
He paused and I thought over the opportunity. I knew that the ability to hand out powers was not common, and that there was probably something more to this man than I could see. I remembered the flat, bored face of the cop, and that smug look many with high class metahumans have. I was overcome with a burning passion, no, a lust to be more than mediocre.
“Yes. I’ll take it. Give me everything.” I said with more certainty that I was comfortable with.

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Auditions II. Everest III

I made a terrible first impression. In my defense, I didn’t do anything really bad. The interviewers just seemed to have it out for me. I showed up just before two o’clock, time the police station had given me when I called the number. It was half an hour until the results would be announced for everyone, so there was one more ten minute interview after me, then another ten minutes to finalize the team.

I sat down in the waiting room twiddling my thumbs and looking at the other applicants. That was when I started to get nervous. Not a single one of them had an exposed face. Some of them were dressed in makeshift costumes, others in regular clothes with a dramatic mask. I was the only one who felt comfortable enough to show my face. Probably, I guessed, because it was the only one that had already been revealed. I wasn’t the only one to notice this. Just before I was called in, a girl in a venetian half-mask sat next to me. “Hi,” She said, “You’re that guy who was on TV the other night, right?” I laughed.

“Yeah, you could say that.” She nodded. As she did, I noticed her hair. Reaching to her shoulder blades, it was light brown. An attractive light brown, but that wasn’t what caught my eye. She had a hair tie that looked like it was made of silver light. It was shining, and it looked unlike anything I had ever seen before.

“Eh-echm,” She coughed. “You’re staring.” I shook my head.

“Sorry, it’s just… your hair tie. What is it?” “Oh!” She said, reaching around and taking it off. “It’s a light construct I made.” She presented it to me, but as soon as her hands left it, it disappeared. She grinned, and procured another one to put it her hair.

“Light construct?” I asked. “It’s my power. Light constructs are just items that some people can make. They vary person to person, but mine have a light attribute, a limited duration when not in contact with me, and I have to draw them before I make them.”

“Draw them?” I asked. She rolled her eyes.

“Yes. D-R-A-W. I think of it as programing them. I carefully sketch out a detailed picture of what I want to make. Anything I’ve drawn, I can make. Except, of course, living, mechanical, or chemical stuff.” She shrugged. “That answer your questions?” I grinned.

“Almost. Why are so many people here?”

“We want to hear the results for the team. Honestly though, I think most of them are wasting their time. It’s pretty obvious who’s going to make it in.” I coughed.

“Oh man. You don’t know who’s going to make it? Alright. Sitting in the corner there is Exile. She’s a prodigal mage here to study under Rune. He’s the supervisor. That blonde surrounded by guys is Dagny. She’s an all around psychic. There’s me, Luna, and my hyper coordinated brother, Apollo. He’s actually been on a SVRA team before. He has enhanced speed and strength and everything, but his main power is he has perfect aim. With everything. He uses a bow, knives, some guns… even a sword and he never misses. He has super proprioception. If I’m not getting this across, he’s uber-deadly with any weapon. And then there’s you, of course. That’s everyone expected to make the team. It’s a little small, but everyone on it is pretty powerful.”
I was about to comment, but then a door in the wall opened and a voice called out “Everest.” As I walked to the interview room, I passed the so-called Apollo, who was exiting. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed, moderately tall. He was dressed in a costume, but it was completely unlike all the other ones in the room. His costume was simple yet flattering. He wore olive green pants, and a matching t-shirt. Over that was a black Kev-weave vest with a golden “A” on it. His half mask was the same green as the rest of his suit, and it covered his eyes, leaving his grin clear. The thing that stood out most about him, though, was the amount of weapons he had all over him. He had two bandoliers of uncertain content around his chest, a quiver and an old style epee on his back. He had a batman-style utility belt, and at least two pistols hanging from it. We sized each other up, then nodded with mutual respect. As he walked past me, I noticed an assault rifle slung across the small of his back. I shuddered, and walked into the interview room.

It was a small, bare cell. There was a small desk in the center, with one chair on each side. In the corner, there was a third chair. It wasn’t until I sat down in the empty desk chair when I started looking at the other occupants of the room. On the other side of the desk was a teenage hero dressed in black. His shirt was pure black. It was presumably a short-sleeved one, but I couldn’t tell because over it, he had what looked like a scuffed leather jacket with a rip over his chest. In closer scrutiny, it looked to be more Kev-weave, though very tightly woven, and very thick. Kev-weave is about fifty times as strong as kevlar, and a single t-shirt of it can deflect bullets. They’re usually used by close-combat mages who can’t buff themselves. It doesn’t do much against most superpowers, but it can protect someone against a stray bullet or a knife. The only drawback is its cost. Kev-weave garments are extremely expensive, usually a luxury only for the uber-rich and the SVRA. I looked at the thick concentration of the Kev-weave in his jacket, and shuddered at how much it must have cost. Then I realized what sort of power it would have taken to rip it, and nearly pissed my pants. His face was completely covered, with a half mask over his nose and mouth and a pair of tinted goggles over his eyes. I couldn’t see anything lower, but I guessed it would be black, probably with his as of yet unseen logo. Though I couldn’t see his eyes, he seemed to be glaring at me. The other occupant of the room seemed not to have the same wrath towards me. In fact, he didn’t seem to have anything towards me at all. He was staring at his hands, seemingly fascinated with something. Like me, his face was uncovered. He wore a long red robe with golden flames dancing across the hem. A mage, I surmised. “So, the superstar deigns to join us for an interview, eh?” the hero in black drawled. “Well, yes,” I said, rather confused, “I want to join the SVRA.” The man in the corner laughed, and said, “Congratulations. So do most of the people outside. Why do you deserve it anymore than them?” I grinned. This, I could answer. “Well,” I said, “I think my actions last night should speak for themselves.” At this, the hero in black stood up and glared at me. “Well, you’re an arrogant fucker. You think you can walk in here after taking down some minor criminal and expect to get a job? Look at some of the other applicants. Apollo is an experienced hero from Wisconsin. In his time, he single handedly took down eighteen supervillains, five of which were B-class. When the SVRA approached me to form a team, I had just finished fighting two A-class villains working together to kill me. I managed to stave them off and survived with no major injuries. All this without super invincibility or any of your strongman crap.” I just stared at him for a minute, actually a little intimidated by his tone. His tone, and the lightning dancing around his fingertips. All of a sudden, I heard a slow clapping from the corner. The mage said, “Wow. Twice in one day, he’s gotten emotional.  Seems like a record.” The hero in black turned and glared. As he did, I saw the utility belt with a red Z on it. I realized that I had just pissed off Zeta, who seemed to be the leader of the new team.

“Look, kid. What’s your name and power?”

“Um. Everest, and I’m a density changer,” I stammered. The mage paused.

“I’m Rune, and this is Zeta. Zeta is heading the team, I’m just helping out and making sure he’s following the rules. I’d like to welcome you to the team.” At this, Zeta turned to Rune as if to say something, but Rune started talking before he could. “Admit it, Zeta. He’s got more balls and more potential than most of those idiots outside have in their whole bodies. He’s already got publicity, so he’ll be a good move, and you need all the people you can get. You don’t have enough suitable applicants for a good team yet. Take him, and you can kick him off later when you get more members.” Zeta sighed.

“Fi-,” he started to say, but a siren started going off. “Shit! Look, Everest, if you want to prove yourself, here’s a chance. We have a supervillain that the police can’t handle. Let’s go.” He stormed out of the room. When I followed him, I heard him reading to the waiting room, “The following heroes have been accepted. Apollo, Luna, Dagny, Everest, and Exile. To those applicants denied acceptance to this pres-,” He paused, cocking his head as if he were considering something. He started again, “To those applicants denied acceptance, please get the fuck out and never come here again.” Then he marched out of the room, the five people named following him. As we walked out, I saw a familiar looking kid with long brown hair slip away. Rune was somehow waiting outside for us. He cleared his throat. “Welcome to the SVRA, and congratul-,”

Zeta cut him off with a wave of his hand. “You can give them the run down later; what’s the story?” Rune gave Zeta a pitying look. “It’s Legion again, I’m afraid. Alone this time. Shouting for you to fight him.” Zeta swore. A police van pulled over the the street. “Get in,” Rune said. “We’ll discuss the plan on the way there.”

“The first time we met, Legion nearly killed me,” Zeta began. “He was a student who scored highly on the magic potential test. Much like Exile here,” he said, nodding towards a girl in jeans and a t-shirt, “He surpassed all the tutors they could throw at him and started trying to advance his knowledge by himself. The difference is, where Exile succeeded at demon summoning, Legion messed up. He invited every demon in hell into his body by accident. Before he was driven mad or torn apart by the demonic energy, he managed to make a deal with Mephistopheles to control himself. Now, Mephistopheles lives within his mind, and allows demons to enter one at a time. Like me, he is a power switcher, utilizing the demonic energy in his body to do whatever the demon can do. Where I have seven powers, he has 666. Where I have my serval,” He paused to run his hand over what looked like empty air, then suddenly turned into a sleek wild cat. None of us jumped; we’d seen weirder things. Zeta continued, “he has Mephistopheles. His body has started to mutate from the power and it makes him very hard to kill. He has an impossible strong healing factor and enhanced strength no matter what power he’s using. Here’s the strategy. Apollo. You’ll go on the roof. Use your bow or a gun to hit him in the limbs. Don’t bother aiming for his head, he doesn’t need it and it’ll grow back. Dagny,” He said, looking at a pretty blonde girl with a drama mask, “you’ll go with Apollo and set up a mental link with us all. If you can, try to use your telekinesis to reduce the amount of dust in the air. Everest, you’ll be in close quarter combat with him. Luna, you’ll protect Exile and Rune. Exile and Rune will try to set up an exorcism circle and a ring of fire. I’ll go where I’m needed. I haven’t unlocked my third power yet, so I’ll only be using fire and lightning attacks. Any questions?” Luna raised her hand. “Yes?” She cleared her throat and said, “Um, my constructs do pretty well against demonic energy, should I move to close combat?” He seemed about to say something, but then the van stopped. He nodded, and we prepared. Luna conjured a suit of impressive looking-armour and Apollo strung his bow and loaded his gun. I raised my density, and Dagny closed her eyes. Exile muttered something and her hands became wreathed in flame. Zeta raised his hands as if he was preaching, then said, “Let’s get the motherfucker!”

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