Even with losing my mask, the identity of The Negative Man was still a secret. The news was buzzing on DL’s death and the ramifications that it’d have on the city. I had a plan, but it wasn’t time to release it on to the world. No, at this moment, I wasn’t in the mood.
I drank all night, not in celebration, but in sadness. Killing The Dark Lion – no John Wonderton brought me no joy. The only reason I won the battle was because of Heather. I was lucky that I’d been able to manipulate the cell waves to get the message to her. She’d been watching the battle on TV and with the knowledge I was in trouble, had been able to use her power to blow up John’s phone. It took a great deal of focus and strength from her, but she’d saved my life.
I called her once I safely reached my apartment and told her I was okay. She asked to come over, but I said not tonight, it might be suspicious if she was spotted walking around. Truth be told, I just wanted to be alone. Two years ago, if I’d been successful in killing him, I would’ve been thrilled. Damn feelings and respect! Each time I closed my eyes to rest, I saw John’s face staring back at me. I eventually gave up the idea and just sat there.
At eleven a.m., I got a call from Wonder-Tech requesting my presence. That struck me as odd, as it was gl-O-bal I’d been expecting to call with the recent power vacuum. Either way, I got dressed and went in. Everyone was dressed in black and paid me no mind. I got into the elevator and went to Legal, the department that called me.
Heather was waiting for me and unlike everyone else, seemed very pleased. “Mr. Staley, a pleasure to see you this morning.”
“You seem awfully chipper with everything going on.”
She didn’t answer and I followed her over to the boardroom on the floor. Inside was most of the Legal team. I didn’t know, or even really care, what most of their names were. In the center was an older man, John’s head lawyer Marvin St. Clair. He stood as I entered and the rest of the lackeys did too.
This was odd. “Morning everyone.”
Marvin took a seat and opened a folder. “Mr. Staley, as you probably are well aware by this time, John Wonderton is dead.” Oh I knew that alright. “He was the masked vigilante The Dark Lion and he died in duty, murdered by The Negative Man.”
I’d turned the news off well before this information had been made public obviously. I tried to act a bit shocked. “I can’t believe it. You never think of your boss as a super powered vigilante, you know?”
“Well, you’ll need to work out the shock because he knew he was in a battle of life or death. On Saturday evening, he had me re-write his will.” He placed the stack of papers on the table. “Most of it does not pertain to you, but one major factor does. He’s turned over sole control of Wonder-Tech to you.”
I went from trying to fake surprise to showing the real deal. “He did what?”
“As of this morning, Wonder-Tech and all of its properties are yours.” He slid the paper down and one of the lawyers handed it to me.
I read that declaration at least five times. In his last act, before he knew I was The Negative Man, he gave me his legacy. “What does this mean going forward?”
“As soon as you sign that, you will be the CEO of Wonder-Tech.” Everyone sitting at that table, except for Heather, looked extremely nervous. “This will become your legacy.”
Heather handed me a pen. “Go ahead Mr. Staley, sign the paper.”
With her prodding, I put my name on the declaration and slid it back.
Sitting in the office that belonged to John was incredibly weird. Time and time again I’d come here in the hopes of helping him change the city his way. Starting tomorrow, his way was gone and my way would be the new source of power. My first order of business would be to rebuild the secret lab just on the other side of the wall. It had been a source of invaluable information.
I heard a knock on my door. It was Mike Blackfield, the guy I used to share a floor with in IT. “Hey man, are the rumors true?”
Something strange hit me about his voice. “Yeah, turns out I’m the new CEO of Wonder-Tech.”
He walked over and gave me a high five. “Sucks about John though, being The Dark Lion and all. I can’t believe he got offed by The Negative Man.”
“Yeah.” There was something wrong here. Where had I heard this voice before, outside of work? “I guess we will soon see what he has instore for Pacific Station.”
His eyes darkened. “Unless someone gets to him first. You can’t take out a city’s hero and not expect repercussions.”
An animal’s mask appeared in my head, one of a Tiger. I walked around the room and clicked the door, locking it. “I think we need to have a quick talk Mike.”
He looked on at me nervously. “What’s going on Jericho?”
“I know you’re the guy behind the tiger mask, one of the new SVIS task force members, right?”
He backed up, bumping against the locked door. “How do you know that?”
I snapped my fingers, electricity sparking. “Because I too have a secret.” I took my time advancing to him, beginning to remember the joy I got out of ending the lives of imitator supers. “I’m The Negative Man.” I pushed the energy into his chest with my left hand while I covered his mouth with my right. I ratcheted up the intensity until Tiger was dead, a hole burned into his chest. He didn’t deserve the same mercy that was reserved for John.
I picked up his dead body and tossed it into one of the chairs reserved for guests. I considered it my first trophy in this new era for Pacific Station. I intercommed down to Legal, “Miss Adams, would you mind coming up here? I need some help understanding this one document.”
“Of course Mr. Staley.”
When she got there, she smiled at the dead body of Blackfield sitting there. “That guy always creeped me out, leering at me.”
“Turns out he was a minor super that was part of the new task force Chief Grimes formed.” One down and four more to go there. “I need you to go to his house and find the tiger mask. We’re going to use him as our first example.”
Maybe it was the connection I created when I attacked Wonder-Tech, but I could see more of my own personality rising in her. “Oh, I can’t wait to see what you have planned. The more this city fears you, the more it will stay in line.”
“Pacific Station is broken, some of it caused by me, but mostly because no one has grabbed control.” I walked over to the window and looked out. The sadness of the city, with its hero dead loomed large. Makeshift memorials were popping up for The Dark Lion outside of Wonder-Tech. “We let the people grieve the loss today, but soon they will forget about him. A new force will rise in his place and they will come to respect him. And he will give them reason to believe again.”
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