Shadow Torches dragged the remains of the bizarre creatures away the second they arrived on scene.
Ariel patrol, Sicams, boots on the ground and a dosing of satellite coverage; it didn’t matter, they were both of them gone, like they had never existed.
The short had erased most of Rogers playback, only the ghostly image of the inky humanoid dragging the other into the darkness of the upper city remained; it was the only thing that told Roger that it hadn’t been a dream.
The rain intensified throughout the evening, and it took a good six hours for Roger to get debriefed, detoxed and reprimanded for letting the subject go.
He was back at his desk when he got the call, like he knew he would. Just two men in high fashion suits, a nod and a mag across town.
As the vehicle threaded its way between the needle like structures of the costal city, the rain got heavier, and the Palace hid behind dark curtains of water. Before them, the cluster of spires that made up Light Plaza swallowed them whole; brimming with radiant sources that made them aptly named.
Roger got out and let them take his gun; something an Inquisitor never has to do, but only Champion Light had that kind of pull, and arguing was way more trouble than it was worth.
He was “escorted” through the simple but elegant levels that served as the meeting and recreational areas of the massive governmental branch, and eventually a set of wide doors split open to reveal an expansive corner office.
His bodyguards ushered him in and then departed having never said a single word.
A mechanoid blinked to life behind the simple bar top and offered him a drink in High Latin, correcting to Rogers own accustomed Latamerian.
“Very good sir.”
The office was plush; dark wood floor, imported leather furniture and a rounded wall of transpericarbon. Roger watched the glittering city bellow through the warped view of rain for a while, and then settled down in a chair near a roaring fireplace.
It took Kenneth Light nearly an hour to enter the room. But when he did, as always, he impressed.
He came in from another entrance; tall, angular and moving fast. His suit was custom, his hair was perfect and sported several more rivers of grey than the images did, but his face wore the practiced blend of calm, cool confidence and absolute control.
“Inquisitor Armstrong; I am so sorry to keep you waiting, no no please don’t get up; I’m glad you took advantage of the bar; you won’t mind if I do as well?”
Roger shrugged, already weary at the start of the political game playing.
“By all means; it’s your booze.”
Ken smiled and ordered himself a gin drink and then with the flourish of a performer settled down opposite the Inquisitor.
“Now, I know it’s late and I rushed you over here, then made you keep waiting but I hope you appreciate how extraordinary this situation is.”
Roger indicated that he did.
“Now, we have the weapon; fascinating design. Crude in some ways but brilliant in others. The same can be said of the creatures. Their genetic makeup seems to-”
“Mr. Light…” Roger interrupted.
“Kenneth… no disrespect to you sir, but as you said, it is late…”
A wide, genuine smile opened across Kenneth’s face. “And the last thing you want is to hear an old science geek prattle on about genes and the like; of course of course; forgive me.”
He took another pull at the drink, the ice clinking softly along with the crackling fire, and he repositioned himself on the couch.
More open, more friendly. Player.
“I was told that you encountered what you described as a Nightwatch.”
Again, Roger could only shrug. “Thats what he looked like; all black, I mean like black hole black; I couldn’t even see him move.”
“And he shorted your AI?”
“Please understand, Mr. Armstrong, that when I ask for the technical supports I am not indicating any doubt or disbelief; it is just that the system is designed never to short; I know this because I myself designed the system.”
Roger softened his features doubtfully but produced the data stick. “Not at all, Kenneth.”
Placing the rod on the table, proximity flooded the top with images that Kenneth maneuvered around and breezed through. At first, Roger thought he was looking for a particular state, but seeing Kenneth’s eye movement, he realized the man was reading every word of the highly technical specifications with blinding speed.
“Hmmm. Curious. Very, very curious. And he gave you a communicator?”
Roger placed it on the table as well.
Gingerly, Kenneth took up the device and turned it around in his hands like delicate fruit. His eyes darted over it, and then he gently clicked it open, exposing an array of precious metal circuitry that looked better suited for a period soak piece rather than real technology.
“And he said he would contact you?”
“Did he say anything else?”
The lie fell out smoothly; the shorted AI left no record of their conversation, and the same hesitation that had allowed the men to escape was keeping the fact that he had wanted Roger to trust him to himself.
“I see.” With a sudden effect, Kenneth dropped the device and quickly crushed it under his expensive shoes.
Roger locked down the impulse to jump, but the slight movement caught Kenneth’s gaze.
“Not to worry, Mr. Armstrong; it was not a communicator after all, but rather a bug of some low sophistication.”
“Are you sure? I mean, no disrespect but…”
Kenneth leaned back and placed his fingertips together in front of his face
“Mmmm, but why would the same man who possesses an intricate knowledge of our bio signature tracking systems, our AI units and access to seemingly alien technology use such an antiquated device? That, my dear Inquisitor, is the real question that needs answering.”
“A few; but I think they can wait until the morning.” He stood suddenly, extending a hand. “Thank you, Inquisitor Armstrong for coming out here so late and putting up with my idle curiosity.”
Roger downed his drink and stood to shake hands with the politico; and the same slimy shiver that told him something was wrong in a fire fight pricked at the back of his neck.
“Always a pleasure.” He said cooly, locking eyes with the man.
A small moments passed between the two; a moment made of things left unsaid. Kenneth broke it cooly.
“Please do stay and have another round or two on me; when you wish to leave my driver Marry can take you wherever it is you are going.”
“I think I’ll just be going now if it’s all the same.”
Ken smiled warmly.
“Of course, please.” He gestured with a bladed hand.
Roger was no more than halfway out the door when Kenneth stopped him.
“Oh and Roger? One more thing; you don’t have any reason to believe that the other suspect; the boy with the gun; did he have anything wrong with his eyes?”
A cold wind passed through Roger.
“No, not at all; why?”
Kenneth nodded dismissively.
“Just a thought, just a thought. Goodnight then.”
Roger almost ran to the car.
“It’s… frak it’s 2 am.”
“I need to come inside, buzz me?”
“Roger… we cant keep doing this.”
“Just buzz me up, will you?”
Silence hung in the air around the combox.
“It’s just… look now’s not a great time.”
“Kelly, if I have to I’ll flash my badge and the door will open anyway; now will you please just buzz me up?”
The door slid open and Roger road the lift to the fifteenth floor. Kelly’s apartment was on the lower east side of the island; not exactly wealthy but floating well above the lower class dregs that made up most of the populace. The fact that she was a successful psychiatrist provided Roger with no small amount of irony. When he got to her floor, she was waiting outside.
“What?” She asked plainly.
“Can I come in?”
“Kelly; I don’t care if theres a guy in there, I’m not going to do anything I just need to talk to you alone for ten minutes.”
She shifted uncomfortably. her red hair was painted to her pretty face made all the better through generations of gene therapy, and the clingsilk nighty fell off her in all the right ways.
“Ten minutes; ditch the one night stand. Please?”
She rolled her eyes dramatically.
“Ugh, fine. But I’m only letting you ditch him because he’s a playboy type and will probably be all clingy in the morning.”
Sliding the door open, Roger followed her into the posh apartment he had been in half a thousand times in the last three years. With her typical nonchalance, Kelly moved to the kitchen to heat up some coffee, and threw a ‘what are you waiting for?’ kind of look across the room at Roger, who sighed and tapped on the bedroom door.
“Hey pal; get up, official Inquisitor business. Now, you’re not-”
It was too fast, inhuman fast; the door flew open and the bolo’s enwrapped the Inquisitors muscular frame, the same set charges exploding through him like frag; sending him down cold before he even realized he was no longer speaking.
Kelly screamed, rather Kelly would have screamed if the man in the doorway hadn’t slug a small delivery device into her thigh, sending her to the ground like a rag doll.
Roger was gasping in air like a drowning man when he came to; the training told him he was still bound and had been moved to a chair, but his synthetic functions were were still out.
The AI didn’t respond.
After a few more seconds of gasping, he raised his vision like a rusty gate over the black features of the one who called himself Nightflight.
“Roger.” Same rough’crete voice.
“If you have done anything to her…”
“She safe.” He replied, gloved hands moving across the holo’d keyboard that was snaking its way around the room and into his chest cavity. “I left her sleeping in her bed; she wont even remember you arriving.”
“Did you fuck her?” Roger didn’t know why he asked.
“Yes. I’m sorry, but it was the only way to be here and have your guard down.” He was still typing, still looking away. “And besides; the women is toxic. I think you-”
“Don’t you dare tell me what I can an cannot do you fucking piece of…”
But he couldn’t finish.
“Im sorry, I’m going to disable your speech functionality because I have to tell you something, and it has to be well before the dawn.” The masked man let his arms drop and the soft cape enwrapped his features like liquid darkness.
“I will try to make this as brief as possible; I accept you will not believe me immediately, but you’ll need some back story to put this all together. The first thing you should know is that I am not using some alien weapon to disable your functionality. All I’m doing is exploiting a weakness; a weakness built into your AI unit; into every unit ever created. You were given these abilities so that you could enforce Imperial law; law laid down by Doctor Destroyer; who you call The Immortal.” Nightflight moved to the console again and opened a view screen.
“I have spent the last several hours in research; destroyer arrived from the so called east nearly five thousand years ago clad in his mystical armor; he guided the Roman tribes to conquest of europe and eventually the world. He has orchestrated several hundred major wars, and won all of them; cementing his control over the human populace. I’m right so far? Blink once for yes, twice for no.”
“Mmmm. What you don’t know, Roger Armstrong, is that Doctor Destroyer is not from this timeline; he is from my timeline, the timeline from which all reality branches from like coral on a seabed. Destroyer used his abilities and genius to manipulate the powers of William Ryhs, a boy who would go on to call himself Kenix Kil, after his favorite comic book character. Now, time travel has muddled the past before, created offshoots, but Destroyer was no amateur; his genius was in how little he manipulated reality. He came back early to guide the human race, and he implanted an inborn fear, that was the real core of his plan, the fear. It takes years to master a skill, years to make it second nature but how many times do you have to watch a loved one nearly drown to develop unease near water? Or how many times must you wreck a car to be forever weary of a certain corner? Once. One bad experience at a restaurant, one assault on the street; and Destroyer has had five thousand years to perfect his fear into the hearts and minds of every living being on earth. He even used his genius to keep earth hidden from the Solarians and the their alien Doom. Its fear. The most powerful weapon of all and now he has you all firmly in his grasp, and with the coming day here in this very city he will activate a machine; a terrible machine that will spell the end of freedom across reality.”
“I will restore speech for any questions.” He said suddenly, waiving his hand over the controls.
“You’re fucked in the head, buddy.”
“Hmm. And what if I ordered you to assist me?”
“Yeah, lets see how well that works. Untie me and I’ll help.”
Nightflight moved in front of Roger once more, gliding more than walking, and placed his hands under his neck.
“And how about now…”
It might have been a little off; there were good cosmetic surgeries and obvious fakers all over the place; some even said it was a popular sex doll, not that Roger would know. But what couldn’t be fake, what held Rogers open mouth gaze the eyes; those famous, silver grey eyes filled with terrible purpose and absolute brilliance. There was just something that great men could do, searching the soul of another.
It was impossible to fake.
“It… can’t be…”
“You need to see this.”
Nightflight moved the dataslate closer and activated a hologram.
Roger was staring at himself.
“Hey there, well, ugh… me haha! Look um, I know were not the most trusting type…”
“What is this? WHO IS THIS?” Roger gasped.
“Quiet.” Nightflight disabled speech once more, lapsing Roger into silence.
“… So I thought I would just throw in my two cents; See, here in my time, you are a Hero, a member of Legion X and someone who protects innocent people. In my time, you naturally mutated into Ironside; something Nightflight tells me didn’t happen in your time.”
Kenneth paused the recording.
“In our time, mutants happened naturally as a stage of the evolutionary process that Doctor Destroyer regulates in your time to keep resistance down; you have the latent components for your mutation, but Destroyer has bred a gene sequence into humanity that blocks the catalyst that activates the genes. Thats why you have your Henly Act; it isn’t there to augment people, its there to make sure you stay in line, and the few outliers born without the gene are, obviously, hunted down.”
The recording resumed.
“But whatever you are now, I know deep down that you’re still us. Remember being a kid? That feeling we had, that fear that there was something waiting inside? Some beast we couldn’t control? I know you felt that, and if your… situation hasn’t helped you to resolve that then I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what you must be going through, sorry for all the long night and the uncertainty because unlike most people here, unlike most of the poor kids who wake up one day with these incredible abilities and this new, terrifying life ahead of them, what happened to me, to us; it didn’t ruin my life. It gave me one. Thats why I do it now; Legion X, which is an organization I use to help kids like me. Like us. Mutants.”
Kenneth stopped the recoding.
“There’s more, and I grasp the irony of this statement, but we’re running out of time, Roger. So here it is; Im going restore full functionality to you, and give you your weapon; I would ask you to take my prints, my blood; whatever you want and run a quick check across the net to see if I really am who I say I am. Let me finish. You wont be restricted, you wont be hindered; you could call the entire Inquisition over or just blow my head off; but when you figure it out, that either I’m the same guy you spoke to this afternoon, or else a perfect clone of his, you will have to decide what to do with me; and with the information I gave you.”
Kenneth tapped a few commands into the console and Roger felt the electric surge course through him like blood.
“I need you, Roger.”
The inquisitor narrowed his eyes.
“If you let me go, Im going to kill you; whoever you are.”
“No, you wont.” The system prompted a final confirmation.
“What makes you so sure?”
“Because, as I told you once in another lifetime; deep down, you are a force for good. Nothing can change that; not even Destroyer.”
Kenneth confirmed, and Roger’s functionality exploded inside him.
“I believe in Ironside.” Said Kenneth, even as the pistol but knock him unconscious.
It was nearly 5 am by the time he awoke. The pull of gravity put him at a blindingly fast speed, and and as his mind rose above the haze of trauma, he realized he was strapped to the seat of one of the mag vehicles that criss-crossed the great metropolis.
“Here.” Roger said tossing the mask at him.
“Thanks.” Said Kenneth Light, putting it on; bringing Nightflight back.
“So whats all this about a machine?” the car banked sharply.
“Where are we going?”
“How did do you know-”
“Listen, Mr… whoever you are; I don’t know whats going on here, and honestly I’m not sure that I care, but there are a few things that are certain. One is that you are Kenneth Light, only you’re in your early thirties and not late forties like the… well like Kenneth Light.”
“And…” said Roger with a sigh, “that… me. I was right. He was right. About me, about my… life. If what you’re saying is true, then I can’t let Destroyer succeed.”
“And if it isn’t?”
“Honestly, if it isn’t… I was probably only a few bad nights away from taking the dip myself.”
“Suicide. The big sleep; its slang.”
The rode on in silence for a few moments.
“Balzy though, you trusting me not to kill you; very balzy.”
“No.” Nightflight said immediately, turning to face at Roger. “I told you; I know you. Back home, you are the unflagging force for good that you are here; only you’ve never seen that side of yourself, but I knew it was there.”
“Frak of a risk on blind faith.”
“Not faith; belief. I believed in you.” Nightflight activated a switch on his belt and Roger saw him speaking beneath the mask, but no sound come out.
“What was that?”
“Telling my friend to be ready.”
“There a plan here?”
“There’s always a plan.”
Roger rolled his eyes.
“Are you always this vague?”
The mag car lanced through heavy sheets of rain and the cold grey fingers of daybreak glinted off the falling water and reached across the shimmering city with pale shreds of sunlight passing the thick clouds. Arching wide, the car settled down on soft cushions of electromagnetism and locked into a docking pad near the base of the towers.
“Okay, so I can get us in pretty far with my badge flash, but-”
“No need, already have a way in.”
Roger furrowed his brow.
“This is my building; my own security I made all of this; its how I knew about the weaknesses in the system; it’s why Kenix contacted me. Even I can’t hide from myself.”
Roger let that reasoning roll off his back.
“Fair. And this Kenix Kil…”
“He’ll be there.”
“He’s a mutant too? Because if he is, the psy-ops will find him and-”
“No” Nightflight opened the car door and moved to the entry of the plaza. “Thats what Doctor Destroyer doesn’t realize; it wasn’t an x gene that gave William his power.”
“What was it then?” Roger was running up behind the cloaked figure; his easy strides a harsh difference from the expected stealth that he seemed suddenly not to care about.
“I don’t know.”
Nightflight reached the main doors of the towers and stopped, his cape circling him once more, while inside the transparent doors, several security guards stood.
“Its a stupid idea to attack head on, to just charge in.”
“So then why are we…”
“Because,” Roger could almost hear the smile in his voice. “I won’t be expecting it.”
With blinding speed, Nightflight’s cape exploded open, and spinning blades lanced out in half a dozen directions,erupting on contact with the more fragile cross sections of the clear opening. With a shudder, and and spray of glass the entire door frame came crashing down, shattering into millions of smaller pieces, like crumpled bread.
Roger palmed his weapon, still reacting, but Nightflight was in the air. His cape open, the masked darkness sliced through the falling wall of glass and landed on the nearest guard, crumpling him to the ground. To his left, one guard raised a weapon, but the cable of a swing line took it from him, and spinning it like a rotor, he sent it smashing into skulls and throats of all the guards, downing the confused mass in seconds.
Roger crunched through the mess into the building where alarms were screaming.
“Well, thats one way to get in.”
Nightflight vaulted the now empty desk at the center of the room and plunged his dataslate into the main console.
“Disabling security. Take care of them.”
Glancing back, Roger saw four more heavily armed guards racing down the stairs.
“Yeah, I’m on it.”
“Oh and Roger? In our time, you are adverse to killing; we try to keep to a code of-”
Roger interrupted with two massive blasts from the SS; the slag rounds exploded over the guards and peppered their armor with burning hot metal. Distracted, only one was able to squeeze off a few shots before the Inquisitor was on them. He bowled into the lot, sending a massive fist into the trachea of the first guard; the wet crunch of bone ripping muscle his satisfying reward. Their armor was good, molecular bonded, bur Roger was in close, and their riflers were a liability.
This pistol still worked, but the flexible joints of the armor were now the real weapon. Roger slammed the heavy weapon into kneecaps and wrapped his huge arms around necks, twisting and cracking them, nearly taking heads off. In the end, only one was left breathing. In response, roger placed the weapon point blank, pulled the trigger, and a pollock of viscera exploded across the elegant Welcome to Light Industries signage by the foot of the stair.
Hardly breaking a sweat, Roger walked slowly back to the security console where Nightflight was nearly done.
“What was that about being averse to killing?” he said, wiping blood from the muscle of his weapon.
Nightflight unplugged the slate, looked past the larger man at the spectacle of slaughter, and then shrugged.
“Thats what I thought.”
The duo made haste down an elevator shaft that Nightflight had pried open; the alarm was still blaring, but it only confirmed the masked man’s fears; that disabling security was itself suddenly a breach, which meant Kenneth Light, this realities Kenneth Light knew they were coming.
The descent was quick; guards were posted, but between Nightflight’s stealth and the sheer force of Roger Armstrong, only bodies littered their path as they tore through the meager defense like frag; tearing away at the flesh of resistance to reach the heart of the Imperial initiative.
Nightflight had full access to the systems; every so often coming up against a firewall recently erected, but he always knew the password, and eventually they stopped spearing altogehter.
The halls were darkened or bursting with smoke, and Roger filled the air with bullets or tore at the rattling armor where they couldn’t penetrate.
He took wounds, fresh flowers of blood blooming all over his chest and arms, but he didn’t seem to mind them, and whatever tech he had was more than capable to stem the flow of blood, turning fatal wounds into scratches.
Deeper they went, deeper into the earth, all the while Nightflight attaching small modules to doors.
“What are those for?” Roger asked while he gathered his breath and sent a booted foot shattering the faceplate of a fallen guard.
“What does that mean?”
Roger removed his bloody boot.
“You are chatty, aren’t you?”
Nightflight looked back and pressed a detonator in his hands, darkening the passage before them, nearly disappearing in the void of night.
They moved quietly down the dark hall.
“You know, most people are equipped to see in the dark here.”
“Doesn’t matter. Real eyesight is comfort; real eyesight is adaptive. Take that away, and you become reliant, like you and your men; like everyone under Destroyer. Slaves to the tech.”
“Uh huh, look who talking. What happens when you need that tech?”
Again, Nightflight stitched a smile together under his cowl.
“I’ll just have to be better. Here; this is it.”
They had reached a massively reinforced door with various failsafes; impossible codes that could never be cracked; Nighflight and his little dataslate melted through them all.
“Handy, that.” Roger observed, covering their rear, back down the hall. “Did you make it?”
“Quiet; its about to start.”
With a shudder, the massive bonded corbosteel sheathed itself open, and the two deactivated their night vision as a flood of light shined from the rapidly fading door.
Inside, the room was enormous; half a football field at least, and a dozen meters high. Catwalks lined much of the walls and criss crossed the massive mechanical spike that dominated the center of the room. A wide ring of bridging encircled the shimmering device; here metallic and cold, there vividly bright where glowing cables hung about it like burning vines.
And there, at its center, behind a wall of transparent monitors stood the lord Immortal himself.
“Gentlemen.” His amplified voice boomed as the door opened before them. “Welcome to my triumph.”
Nightflight narrowed his eyes and moved slowly into the room.
“Destroyer.” He gritted out with hate.
Roger wasted no time, raising his weapon.
“Im sorry, Inquisitor.” Destroyer raised a metallic hand and with it, the rounds in Roger’s weapon exploded, sending shards of metal flying. “But there are fragile components in here.”
The blast would have killed a normal man, and blood ran down Roger’s arms and hands; but he didn’t scream, didn’t even make a sound.
“Don’t. He wants you to charge.” Nightflight said, standing perfectly still.
“Ahh yes; the detective.”
Destroyed moved from behind the screens, resplendent in his purple robes and tabard that draped his legendary armor and stasis capsule; his living tomb adorned with angular features of a man, like a the casks for the pharaohs of old; a metal grate where his teeth should be, and burned embers smoldered in place of eyes.
“You think you have come to stop me; but it is I who have allowed you be here.” The half human voice echoed throughout the room.
“You made it far; farther than I expected, but it’s over now; I wont let you do this.” Nightflight was stone; only the kevlar cloth over his mouth showed any movement.
“Oh but you have no say in the matter, Mr. Light. No more hand in my destiny than a fly lost in the mists of time. You have impressed me much, I will admit, which is why you shall witness my victory; my conquest over all life, all realities! I will merge us all into one, unified universe, and carve the name of Destroyer on the face of every world!” He raised his hands, and the room seemed to grow with his presence. “I will give the people what they have so long wanted, Kenneth; what they truly need.”
“Tyranny. Oppression. War.”
“Hmhmhmhm” his laugh echoed coldly throughout the synthetic jungle.
“No, boy; I will give them the God they always sought after. An immortal Lord to fulfill their little whims; I will do what God himself could not and bind the living together!”
He raised his left hand, and a faint shimmer glowered from his palm. With it, Roger screamed and collapsed to the ground.
“No!” Nightflight made towards him but stopped, not daring to touch.
“You see? Even you could not stop my control; my utter command. He is still a slave to the gifts I have given him.”
“You call this a gift? The subjection of an entire species is monstrous and you know it.” Nightflight palmed a com channel open under his cape.
“So limited to your precious ideals, Kenneth. As always. God demanded obedience from his people or a lake of fire was their fate; and the pious chatted gleefully about it everyday. How am I any different from that promise, other than the fact I can deliver paradise to the chosen!”
“Hynnng I… I can’t…”
“Steady…” Nightflight whispered, as he tapped his finger impatiently near the button.
“He’s… tearing me apart…”
“A better world, Kenneth; a Better world than has ever been realized; no time traveling mutants to lord over us; not tears in reality; just a single existence for the pious, for those who serve. And you shall see it now, for all your meddling, I want you to be the first to witness my ascent.”
“If you’re a God; and what does that make me?”
Destroyer almost faltered.
“What indeed?” he hissed quietly. “You had your chance; you were given a place by my side for your talents. You’re drive. But you denied these gifts, denied my hospitality and now, you have been replaced. Come in here now and say hello, my son.”
From bellow the machine, the well dressed visage of Kenneth Light stepped out of the shadows.
“So what does this make us then? Brothers.” He smiled.
“You were never my father.” Nightflight spat the words. “No more than he can be your son; a son created in an alternate time from your own? Not the same. Not to you.”
“Silence!” Destroyer bellowed, shaking the room with rage. “I have entertained this farcical nonsense long enough! Allowed you to live longer than I should have because of a fathers grace! Like the spawn of the Caesars of old, you have returned to usurp my power; But where is your army, child? Where is your conquest?”
“Here.” Came the voice of Kenneth Light past the black mask.
Several thing happened at once. The AI on Rogers chest exploded, and an oily green smoke engulfed the man, screaming. Nightflight sent a line into the canopy of the metal catwalk and rose to the same level where Destroyer perched.
As the smoke threatened to consume the room, Rogers cries intensified, but a cyclonic motion stopped the gasses spreading; containing it in a single area. Then, with impossible speed, the hatch behind destroyer flew open, and inside, ensnared by malicious looking cable, the half naked body of a broken Kenix Kil fell from his lofty perch, and a young, quiet William Rhys took his place.
“Father,” Nightflight said as he sent a boot into Kenneth Light’s face, knocking him unconscious, “This is Dash.”
As if from nowhere, the young, lean, carefree figure appeared next to Destroyer.
“Heya.” He said, and with impossible speed plucked a control node from the resplendent armor of the Doctor. “And that, I think, is your ability to teleport gone.”
Nightflight kicked low, and his father blocked as best he could, but the masked man’s speed was incredible.
“And this,” he said, still forcing his father back in a furry of blows, “thanks to your own serum, thanks to your own desire to control,” a bulky form flew from the green fog, and landed with a massive thud before them all, “is Ironside.”
Slowly he rose, his clothing torn, his chrome bright skin the shimmering spectacle of organic metal and incredible strength a full head taller than the Destroyer.
“Doctor.” Roger said, sending a fist like a freight train into Destroyer’s faceplate, sprawling him on the floor.
The three of them stood together; the dark defender of his city, the champion of justice and the master of speed, towering above the enemy of humanity.
“So you see?” Said Nightflight. “Your machine will send this Kenix Kil back, and he will correct you incursions, and save our own time from your tyranny; trapping you here. Forever.”
For a moment, nothing happened and Destroyer floundered sickly on the ground.
“HmmHmmmhmmmhmmmhaahaahhaaa” came his cold laugh.
“Stop it. It’s over.” Nightflight pressed a button on his belt, and the massive doors shut. “We are sealed in now; tell me how to activate the machine, accept your defeat. You wont delay me more than half an hour if you refuse.”
“My boy. My. Boy. I am proud of you; a winning combination if ever there was one. This makes your inevitable failure all the more complete.”
“What is he talking about?” Ironside asked.
“He does this,” said Dash cooly. “He’s not big on losing. Or playing fair. Or anything that isn’t trying to rule everything really…”
“Quiet.” Nightflight felt his senses sharpen. “What did I miss? WHAT?” he knelt down and grasped his father by his cloak.
“HmmHmmHmmm, you have your champion of speed, and your champion of strength; a potent mixture with your preparedness in battle. But perhaps the boy should have attempted to disable communications rather than teleportation; I have no desire to run.”
The ground shook violently and the catwalks rattled on their cables.
“It was no easy feat,” Destroyer continued, “keeping the treaty a secret, but perhaps you should meet my champion.”
Not here, not now.
“But as I have told you before, son; my family is what is most important to me.” He rose, brushing Nightflight aside limply.
“And after all, my son needed a woman befitting his status.”
“What is that?” Roger glanced at the ceiling fitfully.
After she murdered a psychic turned psychopath and his cadre, Galactica vanished from earth space, Nightflight’s mind raced, every scenario proving inadequate. She was never to be seen again. I had no way to contact her, but the research said I didn’t need to anyway.
The ceiling shook violently, and a blinding flash of brilliant light exploded across the spectrum.
My fault. I wasn’t ready.
When the smoke cleared, she was there; stunning in black enameled armor and her short battle skirt hung lightly in the air, blond locks gently floating and her eyes smoking white hot flame.
“Son; allow me to introduce to you your brother’s lovely bride.
“Oh no.” Dash gulped.
“Who is that?” Roger narrowed his eyes.
“Her.” Nightflight said sadly.
Galactica was a Solarion, a species of humanoid with mater altering powers, impossible strength and speed, and energy dispersal that rivals the stars from which they drew their strengths. She was the most dangerous being on the face of the earth, we were powerless to stop her, and she was working for Destroyer.