Heather spent the night at my place and with her in my corner; I knew what I had to do. Studying the aether would allow me to get the elemental gun working for Spades, but it would also give me an ace in the pocket. After extensive testing, by noon on Sunday, the elemental gun was fully operational.
I’d just finished another round of testing when Owen Walker entered my workshop. He’d caught the tail end of the aether test, just in time to see another target vanish upon contact. “Splendid! Absolutely breathtaking…”
“I’m glad you’re happy with it. According to my diagnostic readouts, the temperature is running normal and the power cell is humming like a finely tuned up car.” I set the gun back in the case, along with the four elemental chambers. “Seeing as how you don’t need your mask anymore to hide your identity from The Dark Lion, I also came up with these.”
He took the goggles in his hand. “Reflective, dark lenses… Am I to take these as eye protection?”
“Yes, especially for the cryo chamber. The light the condensed blue energy puts off is amazing.”
He slid them into his coat pocket and picked up the case containing the gun. “Meet me at the base at five. Together we’ll go over everything one last time. Victory will soon be ours Jericho.”
With the case in hand, he went back to the elevator, disappearing behind the metallic doors. Little did he know that in my pocket, using a very thin needle, I was able to extract some of the aether. I had just enough time to make what I needed to ensure this upcoming battle went according to my plan.
Bored, I turned on another computer and put on the radio. As I began working on my secret project, my music cut away and the DJ said we were being taken to City Hall for a very special report.
Chief Grimes was the voice that started talking. “Tonight, we’re putting a curfew on the city. I have it on very good intelligence that The Dark Lion and the leader of The Aces are going to meet in Waves Park. I’m asking all the public to stay indoors. The PSPD will be making a three mile perimeter around the park, as well as the new Super Villain Intervention Squad.”
The next voice was the real deal, the raspy growl of The Dark Lion. “Citizens of Pacific Station, keeping your families safe is the best way you can help me. Avoid Waves Park and follow both the orders of PSPD and the SVIS.”
Many voices exploded at once, asking both men questions. Neither would be taking anyway and the radio broke away. I turned the radio off, done with what I needed to do.
Five o’clock came too quickly. The police were ushering people towards their home, so I had to be extra careful to get to the base. I pulled in and Spades opened a bay door to pull my car into. Beside me was the team van, dried blood on the front tires from where it ran over Hearts.
Spades was dressed for combat, sans the mask. Over the top of his hair were the goggles I’d given him so he could use the gun properly. “Jericho, the time is almost upon us.”
The sun was getting closer to the horizon outside. “This is the title fight, for all the marbles.”
“When The Dark Lion succumbs in battle, we can finish our plan. A new hero will be born and it’ll be the dawn of a new day here in Pacific Station. From here, the world will be our oyster.”
Spades didn’t need to get ahead of himself. “The Dark Lion won’t be a pushover. Even with the gun, he’s proven his effectiveness in battle.”
Laughing, “Each time the fool had a chance to kill me, he bailed. I think he’s losing his edge.”
It was John Wonderton’s honor that’d gotten in the way. He wanted the fight, craved the fight. He couldn’t just kill someone by surprise or taking advantage of them. That wasn’t The Dark Lion way. “He knows your power. The gun will be your best bet to end it quickly.”
I don’t want to end this quickly.” He looked up as if staring at someone above us. “I sacrificed my friends, a chance for a normal life to be superior. I want him to know just how much better I am than him.”
“I’ll be on the comms, monitoring the whole time.” More for my own sake than his. “Do you want me to communicate what I see to you?”
“That wouldn’t be a fair fight would it? It’s not like The Dark Lion has a Jericho Staley to talk to.” His watch went off. “Well look at the time. Spades needs to make a very public introduction.” He pulled down his goggles over his eyes, loaded up the chambers into a special belt, and grabbed the elemental gun. “I do hope you enjoy the show Jericho.”
We went our separate ways; Spades towards the van and me towards the computer room. In position in my seat, I hacked into the traffic cams from the base to Waves Park. Spades sped down the highway, nearly killing just about every cop he past. His arrogance and disregard would be his downfall.
At Waves Park, The Dark Lion was standing at the front like a lone sentinel. The setting sun behind him made his cape look like it was on fire. When Spades came speeding to a stop, DL barely flinched.
“I didn’t think you’d be so punctual John.” Spades used his real name, almost like the opening jab. “I’m glad you were on time to your own death sentence.”
“Owen, is there no talking sense into you?”
He pulled out the elemental gun, the cryo chamber loaded. “Why when I have a means to kill you.” He locked the mechanism and fired. The bright blue ray dashed forward right for DL.
Using speed like I’ve never seen, DL somersaulted out of the way, landing upright and ready to move again. Spades fired again and again, with DL just staying out of harm’s way. The cryo blast hit two trees and a monument, freezing them so hard they shattered.
DL pointed his gloved hand at Spades and fired off one of his metallic claws. The needle like projectile went right into his shoulder, but Spades was intangible. The claw went right through him and landed out in the parking lot. “Come now John, you thought that parlor trick would work?”
“No, but you can’t keep that up forever.” Two more claws were sent in his direction. Just like the first, both landed harmlessly on the other side of Spades.
I wanted to yell into the comm ‘don’t be a fool, he’s forcing you to stay intangible until the time limit expires,’ but this was his fight. Plus, I really wanted to see him fail.
Spades let loose another cryo blast, halting DL’s unmolested attacks. I wondered if he was smart enough to shift back to normal when on the offensive. We’d find out soon enough. The attack almost worked, but DL flipped forward and brought his fist down on Spades nose.
The crack of bone and the blood spray were the best indicators that Spades either ran out of time or was too slow shifting back and forth. But DL was too close to avoid another blast and even with his super quick ducking, the cryo blast hit him in the right arm.
Spades followed it up with a kick to the head, taking advantage of the pain DL was in. “Don’t like the cold John? That’s a damn shame.”
DL rolled away from a kick and the ice shattered. Luckily it only coated the top armor of his suit and not his actual arm. That being said, cryo hitting the exposed skin would be bad. Spades had the same thought and went for the weak point, just missing. His next attack didn’t, hitting DL in the left boot.
I’d seen enough, I needed to end this. I abandoned the computer room and ran to my car. Popping the trunk open, I grabbed the secret weapon I created as well as my mask. Whether either of them liked it, I was joining the fight.
The roads were clear, all the cops around the perimeter of Waves Park. I parked outside the zone and snuck in on foot. When I got to the fight, DL was in big trouble. He’d freed himself of the frozen boot, but his reflexes were not up to par. Spades was toying with him.
The elemental gun, which had the red fire chamber in it, was pointed at DL’s chest. “I wonder what barbequed lion smells like?”
“Stop!” Both men looked over surprised to hear another voice in the park. I couldn’t see any of their reactions, as both were wearing goggles, but their body language told the story. I walked with a purpose over to where they were standing. “I’ve had enough of this!”
Spades lowered the gun, in awe of who was in front of him. “You’re here…”
“It can’t be…”
I pulled my mask off. “Why can’t it be?”
Betrayal in his voice, “Jericho, no this can’t be true…”
“We’ll talk in a second DL. I need to kill this disgrace to my city.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out the vile with the aether in it. I’d discovered that if I reversed the polarity, it would suck Spades into whatever dimension his powers created. With the proper charge, I tossed it at him and watched with great joy as it sucked him in like a black hole. The crunching of bones as he warped away was really satisfying. The pathetic excuse of a man and the vile weapon I created were both gone.
“I can’t believe it. You were under my nose this whole time.”
I returned to my fallen enemy, the one man I hated/respected more than anyone else. “What better place to seek refuge than as your personal assistant. Though to be honest, I came to you to see if you could do what you promised.”
He lifted himself up. “No! I don’t want to hear any more of your bullshit. It’s time we finished what we started, Negative Man!”
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