“Max!” I shouted, running towards him and Carter.
I was already a bit tired from having to get past David’s goons, and going as fast as I was wasn’t made easier by the fact that my former friends had turned the outskirts of the city into what looked like a war torn wasteland.
Standing in the middle of a chalk drawing and in front of a magical looking geyser, Carter made a gesture with his head, resulting in five of my ex colleagues to move towards me from the distance. I wasn’t sure I was up for this, but I was the only one who could possibly stop them.
The first opponent I was able to make out was Mandy, flying above me. As she charged up her lasers, I saw Christian dashing at me with both of his giant swords in tow.
Taking out Mandy was going to be more difficult than beating most of them, so I decided to focus on Christian. That way I had a chance of at least having one of them down before the other three reached me.
“We don’t want to hurt you,” Christian said, stopping right in front of me. Mandy was floating right next to him with only her orange lasers ready to fire at me. That meant she was trying to convince me she didn’t want me dead, but I knew that was a load of crap. Just like Trent, Mandy was a sadist through and through.
“Right,” I responded, still chewing my gum. “But you’re more than willing to kill billions of people.”
“It’s what needs to be done to save the world. You saw Carter’s vision.”
“So goddamn what?!” I asked slamming my arm against the air. “We can stop that from happening the way we always do. Innocent people don’t need to die.”
“Oh give it up,” Mandy said. “It’s clear he’s not going to back down.” She smiled, her lipstick matching her pink hair. “So let’s have some fun.”
Mandy fired her lasers down at me, but I avoided them by performing a back flip. Christian then came at me swinging his blades. I’d sparred against him for enough years to know his fighting style, so after avoiding him for a few moments, I kicked one of his blades from his hand into the air and jumped up to grab it.
The next thing I knew, I was flat on my ass with my head bleeding. Momentarily confused, I then put two and two together, seeing that David had arrived.
I stood up and said “Hey Dave. Before you try anything, I figured I should mention that I didn’t kill any of your henchmen.”
He tilted his head. “Thank you, but you really couldn’t come up with a better word to use than henchmen. You make me sound like a super villain.”
“What the fuck would you call yourselves now?” I growled.
Before any of them could answer, I was sent back to ground by a sudden arrow to the shoulder.
While Fabian wasn’t someone I would have too much trouble with one on one, the presence of his power made my chance at victory much less likely.
Gritting my teeth, I ripped out the arrow. Even if I did manage to beat all 11 of them, I probably wasn’t coming out of this battle alive. As such, it really didn’t matter how much damage I did to my body.
With another arrow aimed at me, Fabian said “Come on guys. We don’t have time for this. We need to perform the ceremony.”
“Oh hush up,” Mandy said. “We were just getting around to ending this.”
I had to figure something out quickly. There were four of them staring me down at the moment, I could see now that Danny was standing by, and then there were the other six.
Jumping towards Christian, who I was pretty sure wouldn’t skewer me, I spat my gum at David. Christian went to the ground with me, while my gum made contact with David’s skin, electrocuting him until he was out cold.
I’d been hoping to save that trick for Max, Carter, or Mandy, but much like Fabian, with a group, David’s power was incredibly dangerous.
Besides I still had one more trump card.
While I was still on top of Christian, Fabian shot an arrow at me. I rolled away, and though I was happy to see it go into Christian’s stomach, his power allowed the arrow to make contact with me first, skinning my forehead.
Christian got up, the arrow still in him.
“Damn it @#$%! Why can’t you see that we’re doing the right thing?”
“He’s probably too stupid to see it,” Mandy said. “Sure he’s good at making gadgets, but a nigger is still a nigger.”
Sucking up the pain I was in, I said “You have no idea how many years I’ve wanted to shut that racist mouth of yours.”
Mandy was born and raised in the south. It wasn’t her fault she turned out to be such a prejudice bitch, but it still wasn’t an excuse.
Finally arriving, Danny approached me.
“Oh god, @#$%. You look hurt,” he said in his usual soft voice.
Cracking my knuckles, I said “Yeah, I am. And I know that if just one of you can see the evil in what you’re doing, the two of us could take down everyone else.”
While the other four stood there in silence, Danny said “Sorry @#$%.”
Mandy fired a neon red laser at me which I was able to duck under. If she was using red lasers now, she was going for the kill. Fine by me.
From my sleeve, I pulled out my retractable sword and, recognizing the challenge I was making, Fabian aimed his bow at me, and began firing arrows in rapid succession. No doubt in part to his power, I kept getting nicked while he dodged every one of my strikes.
Mandy was watching the duel from the air with a grin on her face, Fabian seemed to be concentrating on fixing the fight, and Danny just looked uncomfortable, hugging himself.
“Damn it you bastards,” Christian said. “Why are we just watching? This isn’t a game!”
Christian slammed his swords together, generating an ear piercing noise which brought all of us to our knees. It’s hard to truly describe the sounds that Christian could make. The best description I’d heard was from Xander. “It’s like a booming, crappy orchestra had a baby with a record scratch and nails on a chalkboard.”
Covering his ears, Fabian said “A little warning next time would be nice.”
My ears were ringing and still in a massive amount of pain, but realizing the chance I had, I picked up my sword and using all of my strength to ensure it was able to pierce him, stuck it through Fabian.
As I pulled it out, Fabian fell over, most likely still alive.
“Fabian!” Danny cried. He then looked over at his unconscious boyfriend. “Mandy, I don’t want anyone else to get hurt. Can’t you just fly him away so he can’t interrupt the ceremony?”
She shook her head, apparently having recovered from Christian’s sound wave.
“No can do. Max wants him dead so he dies.”
Mandy started charging up pink lasers. No one but Perses could survive those.
Christian put a hand on Danny’s shoulder.
“I’m sorry,” he said, probably referring to both the sound wave and my having to die. Seeing as how Christian had basically been my best friend, I thought he’d be feeling more sympathy for me than Danny.
“So am I,” Danny said, elbowing Christian in the face before performing his 100% transformation.
Christian went to the ground and Darling fired at me, but before the blast could finish me, I hopped on top of my galloping new ally.
Mandy was fast, but even flying, she wouldn’t be able to keep up with a transformed Danny.
In only a couple of minutes, we were back inside the city.
I hopped off and said “Alright time to come up with a plan. Because there are still eight active psychos out there bent on killing us and committing genocide. “
“I already have a plan,” Danny said turning around.
He then proceeded to buck me in the face with his hind legs, only to then transform back into a human.
Pulling out a few teeth he’d loosened with his kick, I asked “What the Hell?”
He sighed. “Its been said by the scientists who performed tests on Mandy that her pink blasts have the concentrated power of a small sun. I don’t want you to have to go through that.” He pulled out a knife. “I’ll make your death quick.”
Standing up, I said “Danny. You’re not like the others. You can’t beat me one on one.”
He clenched his eyes as well as the knife.
“For your sake, I have to try!”
Danny came running at me swinging his knife wildly. I easily stepped aside and elbowed him in the center of his spine. He charged me again and this time I picked him up and threw him over my shoulder. With him on the ground, I started walking back towards where the ceremony was taking place.
“I’m not done yet!” he shouted, dashing towards me once more.
Before he was anywhere near me, I pulled out my bolas and threw them, thus entangling his legs.
“I appreciate what you were trying to do, Danny. Please try to understand that this is what I have to do.”
Before I made it very far from the city, Mandy and Christian found me.
“Oh great,” Mandy groaned. “Danny’s dead isn’t he?” She smiled. “You know Chris, maybe we should wait for David to wake up so he can avenge his boyfriend.”
“He’s not dead,” I growled. “Unlike you, I’m not a murderer. And neither are you Chris.”
He clenched his fists.
“I will do whatever it takes to complete our holy mission!” Christian shouted, tearing up. “Even if that means killing you.”
I shook my head.
“You had the chance to kill the woman who murdered Brett, but you didn’t take it because you knew it was the wrong thing to do. I can see the pain you’re in doing this. Please, for your sake, stop.”
Still holding his swords, Christian’s hands were trembling.
“Oh boo hoo,” Mandy said.
She flew right at me, and unable to dodge her, she upper cutted me in the jaw, sending me high up into the air. Mandy went back to the ground and began charging a pink blast. She’d done major damage to my jaw right there, and none of my gadgets could protect me from her.
“Christian! Please!” I shouted, pleading to my best friend one more time.
He stopped trembling.
And he looked me with a ferocity in his eyes.
He’d made up his mind.
As Mandy’s blast encased my entire body, I shouted in utter agony. My clothes were instantly destroyed, along with my gadgets, and a large amount of my skin. I was pretty sure my hair was gone too.
I fell to the ground half dead.
Both of them standing over me, Mandy said “Well what do you know? No idea how, but he’s still alive.”
“Not for long,” Christian said.
He lifted one of his swords above his head and prepared to plunge it into me.
“Hey Chris,” I said, barely able to speak. “What do you think Brett would think if he saw us right now?”
Christian spat out some saliva.
“No more talking,” he responded.
“Alright then,” I said. “I’ll just scream.”
Shouting at a consistent sol tone, the one gadget I still had, the one that was inside of me, activated, and every bit of pain I had taken through this fight came out of my mouth and was fired at Christian and Mandy, but with double the intensity. It didn’t heal my wounds, but it did get rid of the pain.
The two of them weren’t able to take it and went down.
Standing up, I was partially disbelieved that that had actually worked. I’d never used that tech before so I was pretty grateful to be alive. Still, I couldn’t bank on using it again. It was powered by my blood so I’d already lost a lot of it.
There were still six more of them to deal with, but before I could fight them, I needed to get back to the city and quickly get dressed, eat something with sugar, and get more of my gadgets.
Going as fast as I could, I eventually reached the city.
There, I found Xander, Trent, Valeria, and Alexi waiting for me.
“Alright,” I said. “Who’s first?”
Bro, the pussy’s waking up. Carolina said, waking me up from my nap.
“Ugh. What happened?” Carter asked from his hospital bed, his eyes opening.
“Welcome back kid,” I said.
“Malcolm!” he exclaimed. “You’re alive!” Apparently it was only after he said that that he really looked at me. “Oh god. Your arm.”
I clenched my right fist as I looked down at my stub of a left arm, if you could really even call it that. Smog had pretty much cut off all of it except for two or three inches past my shoulder.
“Yeah, it looks pretty bad, doesn’t it? How are you feeling? And if you say fine because of your fancy healing powers, know that I will backhand you with the arm I have left.”
“Don’t worry. I’m plenty banged up myself.”
I cracked half a smile.
“Good. But I’m still curious about a couple things.”
“What?” he asked.
“How are we not dead, and how did we get here?”
“You can thank Carter for that,” Raina said, wheelchair bound and being brought in by Olivia.
“Raina!” Carter shouted, a huge grin on his face. “Thank God you’re okay.”
“Trust me, God had nothing to do with it,” she responded. “It was all you,” she said addressing Carter.
“You saved us?” I asked.
“I guess. The last thing I remember was calling 911 on Raina’s phone after Smog took down Olivia.”
“Hold on,” I said. “Olivia fought Smog? When the Hell did that happen?”
“”Right around the time you lost your arm,” Raina answered.
“Yeah, and she was really kicking ass,” Carter said. “Though one thing was weird. I was really out of it by that point, and I thought I heard Olivia say that she’d killed a member of the Guardianship.”
Before Olivia answered, Raina flinched.
Keeping a secret, huh? Erica wouldn’t like that.
I shrugged Carolina off.
“Carter, when I showed up, you were half dead. You were hearing things. Honestly, I’m just a bodyguard. You should know better than anyone else that I couldn’t take on the Guardianship.”
“I guess your right,” an easily convinced Carter said.
I stared at Carolina for a few seconds before realizing something.
“Hey, what kind of hospital would let me hold onto my gun? And sure Carter wasn’t in costume but you were. The Hell is going on kid?”
“Remember, Carter called from my phone. Being me has certain privileges, not the least of which being special medical treatment. After the ambulance came to pick us up, the first thing they did was get me out of critical condition, an obviously fake summary of what had happened already given by Olivia, and then I gave a few hundred thousand to all of the doctors and nurses who’d seen me in costume to keep and them quiet, and to get you two the treatment you needed.”
How fuckin rich is this girl,. Bro? We need this kind of money.
“Now’s not the time to worry about money,” I whispered.
“So I guess we all helped,” Carter said cheerfully. “I made the phone call, Raina got the doctors to save us, Olivia saved us from getting killed by Smog in the first place, and Malcolm….uh”
“Lost an arm?” Raina volunteered. I grunted. “Which, by the way, no one was able to find. It looks like Smog took it with him as a souvenir.”
“Yeah, I kind of figured,” I said. “But in any case, this was the first and last time you kids will be taking on Smog. He’s too strong for you.”
“He was too strong for you as well,” Raina said. “Olivia’s the only one who was even able to hit him.”
“Only because she had all that anti-Demigod stuff,” Carter said. “Give Shay all of those weapons and she can probably take Smog down.”
“Now that’s funny, because Olivia couldn’t do that, and when Shay fought Olivia, I seem to remember her getting her ass kicked,” Raina responded.
“That was only because Olivia has Demigod strength. With Smog strength doesn’t matter so…”
“Enough,” Olivia said, silencing them both. “He was able to knock me out just by surrounding me in his smoke form. Fighting him directly is a losing battle. If we hope to defeat him when he resurfaces in four months, we’ll have to come up with a plan.”
Four months, huh? Based on what he’d told me, that meant that Smog was likely giving us time to figure out how to stop him.
But I wasn’t going to wait four months. After what he’d done to Erica, I couldn’t.
I was going to kill him.
He’d made this a family matter.