“You can barely stand and you want to end this now? This is the reason you’ve failed John.”
He pushed himself up to his feet. “You don’t get to lecture me on failures! I trusted you, treated you like a brother!”
I was surprised at my mixed feelings. “And you didn’t get anything out of our mutually beneficial relationship? Look at everything I did for you the past two years.”
“These two years have been frauds! We could’ve done so much good, but it was all shrouded by evil.”
Even as Jericho Staley I found his preaching annoying. “John, when I disappeared, it was because I wanted to give you a chance to clean this city up your way. Hell man, I even helped you try and reach those goals, yet you kept falling short. Now it’s my turn.”
He fired one of his claws at me and it dug deep into my thigh. “You’ll never get a chance with this city. As long as I have breath, Pacific Station will be defended from the likes of you.”
I ripped the claw out and threw it back at him. His powers of recovery were well documented and I’d given him enough time to recover mostly from his engagement with Spades. The claw missed the mark and he tried to counter punch me in the face. I knew his movements well enough to see it coming and avoid it.
Putting my mask back on, “If you dying is the only way we can move forward so be it. At least you won’t be dying to that idiot Owen Walker.”
He rushed me and pushed us both back into the parking lot. He jumped at the last minute and drove me back first into the pavement. It hurt, but nothing I hadn’t felt before. My hands were fully charged and I blasted John on both sides, returning the favor.
His suit, made by me, absorbed a great deal of the electricity. “You’re not going to fry me as easily as you did Massacre! His death is completely on you Jericho!”
“He was a liability for too long. I did what you didn’t have the stomach to do.” I waved my hand at a handicap parking sign, using the polarity to shift magnetism towards me. I reached out and grabbed the sign, using the momentum and putting it into DL’s stomach. “Maybe we wouldn’t be having this conversation if you didn’t keep turning a blind eye to his stupidity.”
“What about his wife and child? Did they deserve to lose their husband and father?” Fighting dirty, he tossed a bunch of dirt into my eye holes, obscuring my view. I doubled over when a foot hit me in the chest, then an elbow to my back. “No, you don’t have an answer for that, do you?”
I got back up, more annoyed by his cheap tricks than anything. “The same could be said for the people he killed that night in City Hall. You see, you come at me with a flawed argument.”
The standoff continued. “He would’ve faced punishment for his crimes.”
“So there’s a difference in killing thugs, but not a super?” He spit in frustration. “You can’t pick and choose when you use your ethics John. If it’s good for one, it’s good for all.”
“I can’t wait to hear what your grand plan for the city is.”
“You and Owen gave me all the ideas I need.” It was funny how that worked out. “You both wanted to put fear into groups of people so they would respect your power. Unfortunately, neither of you has the power needed to sustain that sort of approach. I do.” And to prove it, I blasted a huge chunk of ground just inches from him.
The Dark Lion didn’t even flinch. “Nothing you can do can impress me. I’ve seen you at your best and it’s very clear to me you’re holding back. Why Jericho?”
“You’ve become my friend John!” I almost felt ill making that confession. “I hated you for so long as The Negative Man, but as Jericho Staley, you became my friend. That was the greatest trick you could’ve pulled on me.”
“The man I knew as Jericho Staley was my friend too. But you, you’re just another nutcase who needs to die for everyone’s own good.” He swept the feet out from under me, putting me back on the ground. “When you’re dead and gone, I’ll do my best to remember the good that Jericho was, not you.”
He tried to stab me with a knife, but it was pretty half assed too. Blocking it easily, “You say I’m only giving it half an effort, look at you. It’s not easy to kill a friend is it?”
I kicked him away and regained my footing. This stalemate wasn’t going to change unless we could see past the bond that’d been created. “At the end of the day John, we’re two sides of the same coin. I can’t change who I am or my beliefs.”
“Nor can I Jericho.”
Accepting what needed to be done. “To the victor goes the city’s future.”
“I’m sorry it comes to this Jericho.”
Jericho Staley and John Wonderton disappeared from Waves Park. All the remained was The Negative Man and The Dark Lion. No longer holding back, the two of us picked up our battle from two years ago.
I couldn’t break his iron resolve. No matter how much energy I put into an attack, the damn fool wouldn’t have the good sense to die. “Why do you keep fighting off the inevitable Dark Lion? You can’t beat me!”
He advanced slowly. “And you can’t beat me. You might have more power, but I have more belief. It is my mission to make this city safe, starting with the elimination of you.”
I avoided his lightning fast kicks and punches, sending another burst of energy into his stomach. It should’ve killed him, but it only slowed him down momentarily. “How can a man like you hope to change this city? No one respects you; they only see a fool in a cape.”
“You’re wrong, they see me as hope.” He caught me with a right uppercut to the jaw. His punches were no joke. “What they see as the problem is you. When you’re dead and gone, I’ll remember you as the opponent who made me better.”
The city was full of corruption, from the top to the bottom, yet The Dark Lion kept fighting for it. Why couldn’t he see that what I was doing was just as effective? I was going to change how the people who ran this city did so, and make it a better place for the people. The citizens of Pacific Station would respect me because I wasn’t afraid to do the dirty jobs. “If you manage to beat me, and that’s a big if, someone will come along and replace me. It’ll be a never-ending cycle, one you claim to be up for.”
He avoided a sneak attack, something no one else would’ve been able to see coming. “Let them come. I’ll form a team to help me, surround myself with people who care about the well-being of Pacific Station just as I do.”
“I’ve heard it all before, from all those supers I had to kill because they hid their true intentions behind good deeds.” The first thing I did when I came here was clear out the imposters. Killing those frauds had the repercussion of bringing The Dark Lion in. “I don’t think you’re any different.”
“Ha, a murderer lecturing me on morals and ethics. Why don’t you give up and let me show you how well this city would respond to my methods?”
I caught his punch with my hand, charging one last energy attack. “You truly believe all this, don’t you?”
“I have to; it’s the only thing that makes the fight worth it.” The conviction in his words was unreal.
With the blast ready, I made a choice. Blowing up the ground in-between us, I called off my fight with The Dark Lion. Falling out of sight below, I’d let the city think he won, that he chased me off. His belief was so strong that he needed a chance to prove to the world he could do what he promised. And to up the ante, I was going to help him.
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