Raina and Malcolm at a man’s feet. That’s what I saw as I entered the dank warehouse.
Frozen in place, electricity was already around my body and I was pretty sure I’d made a terrible mistake coming here. I mean, if Malcolm and Raina were still alive, I suppose I had to be the one to save them. However, I’d pulled the logic I’d used on Eve earlier right out of my ass. If both of them had lost against the man standing over them, then I didn’t stand a chance.
But I still had to try.
“Lightning Bee, you’ve finally arrived,” the incredibly imposing man said. He had short and spiky light blue hair, and blood red eyes. This combined with his glowing skin made him barely look human. His costume choice seemed pretty odd. He was wearing a white, gold, and red toga, like someone from ancient Rome. “I’m honestly disappointed. I thought for sure you’d take first place.”
First place? What was that supposed to mean?
That wasn’t what was important right now. I had to stay focused.
I stared down at my friends.
“What did you do to them?”
“Oh. These two?” He kicked Malcolm in the stomach. “Just knocked them out. They didn’t put up much of a fight.”
Okay, so they were still alive. Good. On the other hand, maybe he was just about to kill them and now he was going to kill me as well.
Shaking, I asked “Who are you?”
The man walked towards me. “That’s right. I suppose you wouldn’t know who I am. After all, the Guardianship did a pretty good job covering us up.”
I don’t know what I was expecting, but his saying that caught me off guard.
“What are you talking about?” I asked, almost whimpering.
“Really? You don’t know what I’m referring to. Okay, this should be fun. You see kid, the Guardianship weren’t as perfect as they led the public to believe.”
Yes they were.
“They liked people thinking that battles between superheroes and super villains were essentially just games of cops and robbers, where nothing too serious ever really happened. Those of us who didn’t fit their parameters were swept away, and put in prison without a trial.”
“No,” I said shaking my head. “No that can’t be true. They wouldn’t lie to everyone and they most certainly wouldn’t go against the law.”
“Of course they would. You see, real heroes only exist in fairy tails. But villains? The real ones anyway. We’re far worse in reality.”
He walked towards me.
Nearly pissing myself, I asked again “Who are you? What’s your name?”
“Well I can’t tell you my real name just yet. That would spoil all the fun.” The closer he got, the more I could see the darkness in his eyes. “For now, you can call me Smog.” He smiled. “Hey, why do you look so scared?”
I took a few steps back and spoke in my deep, superhero voice.
“I’m not scared. Now tell me why you’ve been trying to kill us!”
“You want a reason?” He smiled again, this time donning a toothy grin. “I was bored.”
He was taunting me. He’d probably already answered my question twice before. But his power was just making Demigods go crazy, and since I wasn’t a normal Demigod, I figured he wouldn’t be able to affect me. So with Smog only a couple feet away from me, I rushed forward, grabbed his face, and discharged as much as I could.
This bastard was clearly yucking it up as a super villain. He’d beat up my friends, he’d try to kill me and the people I care about, he’d murdered innocents, and it was all just because he was bored. While he was definitely lying about the Guardianship, Smog was far worse than most of the villains that the Guardianship would have fought, and with them not around, and Raina and Malcolm down, it was up to me to stop him.
Rather than burn like I thought he would, he exploded into a cloud of black smoke. Before I could figure out what was going on, he reformed above me and struck my head with a powerful kick, smashing me into the wooden floor.
Standing over me, Smog rhetorically asked “Would you like to try that again?”
My whole body aching, I felt my head and realized he’d put a hole in my skull. Worse though was the fact that he apparently had more than one power. The most powers anyone’s ever had was four, a record held by Darling. But I was already getting the feeling that I’d only seen the tip of the iceberg of what Smog was capable of.
Thankfully, that fear is what I needed as I raised my arms and blasted Smog. This time, he exploded, but into what looked like small pieces of black clouds all over the place.
There was no way he was dead. I wasn’t a killer so I was glad about that, but it also meant it was just a matter of time before he reformed.
Continuing to put pressure on my head with a hand, I got up and sprinted over to Malcolm and Raina.
“Come on guys, wake up. I can’t really do this by myself. I need your help.”
“Oh this is adorable,” Smog’s voice echoed.
Turning my head from my friends, I saw that all the pieces of fluff from across the floor were coming together. In a matter of seconds, he was back looking like his freaky self. At least because of the Stallion effect, he was still wearing his toga and not naked.
Standing up, I asked, “Just what the Hell are you? I’ve never heard of anyone having powers like this.”
He smiled. It wasn’t his usual evil grin. It was just a warm smile.
“What am I you ask? Well, I’m more than a man. But I’m less than a god. Though perhaps…” his grin returned. “I’m just a carnivore.”
Before I could react, his right arm turned into a blade of smoke, extended across the warehouse, and pierced my stomach.
“Ahhhhhhh! Ahhhhhhhh! Ahhhhhhh!” I screamed at the top of my lungs from the pain.
Smog then, with it still inside me, retracted his arm, pulling me across the room so that I was right next to him.
Still an unimaginable pain, Smog licked my neck.
No. No. Don’t tell me he was a cannibal. There’s no way I was going down like that.
With his left arm, Smog then punched me in the face, launching me off his arm and back across the warehouse.
The wound in my stomach was now open. It was just then that I noticed that his blade had gone all the way through me. I wanted to keep fighting, but I couldn’t even move.
And just to make things worse, I could tell from his punch that he was far stronger than Olivia. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that he had super strength.
“Raina!” I panted loudly. “Malcolm! Please help me!”
A small geyser of blood rushed out of my mouth.
I was losi…th…abil..thi..
“Oh no!” Smog shouted. “You’re not allowed to die until I say so!” He then picked up Raina by the head, and turned the arm he wasn’t using to hold her into a blade. “If you let yourself die now, I will cut her apart!”
The hero of the future…
No fucking way.
Howling at the top of my lungs, blue lightning charged up from the hole inside of me, and as it blasted Smog into pieces, the wound was sealed.
Getting up, I was still in a great deal of pain, and odds are I wasn’t anywhere close to being completely healed. But at the very least, I could function again.
Raina fell back down as Smog reformed only a few feet away from me.
“You see that? You only need the right motivation to keep on living,” Smog said.
I knew that using my electricity sped up my healing. However, if that attack had been strong enough that it was able to fix that big an injury in an instant and yet it still hadn’t able to scratch Smog, then that meant that this fight wasn’t winnable.
My only option was to try talking him down like I’d done with Raina. Unfortunately there was a big difference between a troubled teenage girl and a monstrous psychopath.
Still panting, I said “I don’t know what your game is, but I know now that you don’t want us dead. I also know that you won’t be spilling the beans about why you’re really doing this, because it sure as Hell isn’t because you’re bored.” He was smiling, seemingly invested in what I was saying. “But it still really pisses me off that you know all about me, but I don’t know anything about you. So tell me more about your supposed history with the Guardianship. Do it, or I’ll show you what I can really do!”
I was completely bluffing, of course, but hopefully even with his vast amount of knowledge about me, he didn’t know what my limits were.
“No thanks,” Smog replied. “I think I’ve seen enough for today. You all lasted longer than most people would. Well, except the girl. She may have gotten here first, but she went down real easy.”
Damn. So I wasn’t going to learn anything more than I had. At least he was going to leave.
“What are you waiting for then?” I asked. “Get out of here.”
For the first time, Smog looked genuinely upset.
“I wasn’t finished talking. While the girl lasted the shortest amount of time, I was still rather impressed by some of the cunning she displayed. You on the other hand are quite foolish. You never tried running away, even when I’d made it apparent that I wasn’t go to kill any of you and you asked all the wrong questions. For this and for failing to display true power, you have lost the game, and you shall die!”
Dozens of blades fired out of him, straight at me. I flipped out of the way of their initial assault, but apparently being controlled directly by Smog, they kept chasing after me as I ran away.
Realizing that running would do me no good, I spun around and blasted the tendrils with as much as I could still muster, destroying them.
“You say you want to see true power and craftiness, huh? Well that’s what I’ll give you then!” I shouted.
Moving before Smog could, I aimed my hands at a specific point of the ceiling and fired, causing rubble to fall down on Smog.
He casually turned into two clouds of smoke, avoiding being hit, but anticipating this, I quickly fired at both clouds, turning them to pieces.
“And now for the coup d’e ta!” I shouted, hoping that what were likely going to be my dying words actually made sense. I’d read it in one of Shay’s books once and…”
Shay. She’d kick my ass if she saw me not fight till I’d used everything I had. So that was what I was going to do.
With Smog in pieces, I left a charge in my hands and ran across the warehouse. Reaching the smoke puffs, I started punching the crap out of them. I wasn’t physically strong by any means, but especially with my electricity, I could take these things out.
Even after I couldn’t see any more puffs, I kept punching, just to make sure I got them all.
Eventually though, I was out of juice and out of energy. Continuing to pant, I slowly made my way over to Raina and Malcolm.
“Okay, I’ll admit.” Smog’s voice echoed. “I spoke too soon.”
God fucking damn it!
The thought hadn’t even occurred to me that I might have killed him. But I thought I would have done something.
And even though I thought my heart couldn’t sink any more, it did, as five clones of Smog materialized around me.
I tried to summon some lightning but I was completely spent. There were no other options but to shut my eyes and take it as all five Smog’s proceeded to beat the shit out of me.
My face, my balls, my still severely in pain stomach; they got me everywhere until, at last, I collapsed. With no electricity left, that was it for me.
The five Smog’s merged into one and he said “Congratulations. You get to live now.” Oh no. “And in doing so, you’ve sentenced the girl to death.”
Before he could act on that, a growling Raina leaped off the floor and roundhouse kicked through Smog, making him revert into a cloud. In this form, he flew over to where an abundance of wooden crates were stacked.
“You alright Snipey?” she asked like everything was okay.
Unable to respond, I just nodded.
“Good. Now watch. I’m gonna take care of this guy.”
I wanted to tell her to just run since she was the one he was trying to kill, but I couldn’t speak.
Damn it! Raina was going to die and there was nothing I could do to help her.
Queen ran over to Smog and threw a flurry of punches and kicks at him, but he just phased through them all. Looking at her, I could see that Raina had taken a Hell of a beaten from her first round with Smog. Her suit was torn up, she was covered in cuts and bruises, and there were long steams of blood coming from her legs.
Raina continued to struggle until Smog made himself tangible with her fist still inside his chest.
Screaming, Queen attempted to pull her arm out, but it seemed to be completely stuck.
Smog once again turned an arm into a blade, but stopping him from killing her this time was Malcolm, shooting at Smog from the ground.
To avoid being hit by the bullets, Smog had to go into his cloud form, releasing Raina, and he started flying all around the warehouse.
Malcolm kept shooting at him, a look of pure rage on his face. Smog flew back towards Queen, who now had a deep gash in her arm, and apparently confident that he wouldn’t hit her, Malcolm kept firing.
Unable to get out of the way in time, Smog slammed Raina into the tower of crates, sending them toppling onto her.
I tried to scream, but I just ended up coughing.
She had to be okay. She had to be okay.
Still furious, Malcolm ran at Smog.
What was he doing? He had to get by now that Smog was untouchable in hand to hand combat.
Not even turning around to face Malcolm, Smog raised his arm blade, and sliced off Malcolm’s left arm.
He screamed for a moment, his eyes bulging, then proceeding to pass out.
“Well, it looks like my job is done. But, just to be safe…”
Smog made his other arm into a second blade as he sliced through crate after crate, trying to get to Raina.”
Come on lightning. Just give me a spark, a jolt, something! I need to save her.
Continuing to slice through crates, Smog said “I seriously can’t believe that you three are the world’s champions. I mean, really, none of you were even able to hurt me. Maybe I was wrong thinking it could be one of you, but I doubt it. If not the super hero, the super villain, or the anti-hero, who the Hell could it…”
Smog was cut off by a limo crashing through the wall and ramming into him, sending him flying.
Even though the windows were tinted, it was obvious that it was Olivia in there. I wasn’t sure how she knew we were in trouble or how she was able to hit Smog, but I was hopeful now that we could make it out of this alive.
Olivia stepped out of the car and surveyed the situation.
Enough crates had been destroyed that Raina’s hopefully just unconscious body was visible, and Malcolm’s was clearly out cold.
Olivia turned to me and nodded.
Like usual with her, I had no idea what that meant.
Smog stood back up and say, “So the bodyguard has decided to crash the party. You know from the looks of it, you kind of suck at your job.” Olivia didn’t respond. “Having your car armored in Anthrotynaxcerul though? Pretty cool.”
Anthro what? From the fact that it was able to hit him, it was probably the scientific term for anti-Demigod metal.
“You think that beating up a bunch of weaklings gives you the right to be cocky? Lets see how you fair against someone like me.”
“Please. You made for a good testing tool, but you’re no champion. You’re just the hired help.”
Olivia pulled back on her gloves, each of which had a strange bulge in them.
“Maybe that is what I am,” she said while Smog continued to smile. “But I’m also the only person to ever kill a member of the Guardianship.”
Kicking through the floor to send her off, Olivia leaped across the warehouse and threw a punch at Smog.
Probably thinking that he was humoring her, he stood there and waited for her to phase through him like we all had.
But that’s not what happened.
Olivia’s punch landed, knocking Smog back into a wall.
He wasn’t bleeding but at least he look a little hurt. That was more than the rest of us had accomplished.
“How the Hell…?” Smog asked.
Olivia slipped off her gloves, revealing a pair of metal knuckles underneath, definitely made of anti-Demigod metal.
“Okay,” Smog said. “So you have quite a bit of that stuff. But don’t think you can win just because you have…”
Olivia cut him off by whipping out her sidearm and unloading a clip into Smog, going for the kill.
As his body twisted and turned from getting riddled with bullets, Smog said “This has officially stopped being fun!”
The weirdest thing going on was that even though her bullets were clearing going into him, Smog wasn’t bleeding.
“Are you quite done?” Smog asked as Olivia ran out of ammo.
Olivia responded by inserting a new clip and opening fire once more.
“Alright, fuck this. Fuck this all,” Smog said, turning into a cloud and engulfing Olivia.
As he turned back to his normal state, Olivia collapsed.
As if all of his other damn powers weren’t enough, he could also knock people out instantly. Or Hell, for all I knew, he might have just instantly killed Olivia. Smog was no doubt one of the most powerful Demigods of all time.
“You know, I think she was right,” Smog said. “You are a bunch of weaklings.” He had to know that I was the only one listening. “So I’ll tell you what. Any of you that manage to get out of this warehouse alive will have four months to get stronger and find a way to beat me. Then the game can actually get exciting.”
And with that, he flew away.
Four months, huh? Shame there was no way we were gonna live. Malcolm, Raina, and I were all in critical condition, and Olivia may have already been dead.
Then for a single moment, I stopped being an idiot, and remembered I had a cell phone.
Barely able to lift my arm, I pulled it out and found that it was completely broken.
Damn it all to Hell!
I broke down in tears.
I couldn’t believe my last words to Shay were going to be ones of waving her off.
I’d failed again.
Pop music then started playing from somewhere. I opened my eyes and noticed Raina’s phone laying across the floor.
It was her ringtone.
Why I kept getting more chances to be a hero I didn’t know, but I wasn’t going to waste it.
Crawling across the floor with every muscle I could still use, I barfed up more blood.
I had to pause for a few moments before continuing to move.
After about two minutes, I’d reached the phone and dialed 911.
With that done, I finally allowed myself to pass out.