CHAPTER SEVEN

If anyone was awake at two o’clock in the morning and happened to be looking out their window they would have seen eleven very battered superheroes flying overhead. They would have noticed seven of these heroes wearing uniforms that looked as if they had been sliced with scissors and thrown into the mud. And they would have seen four very scantily clad super heroines. Top Ten soared through the skies over Founders Falls, across the Liberty Town neighborhood of the zone on their way to WillowWind’s apartment.

She lead them to a tall skyscraper overlooking the new university on the right and William’s Square on the left. As the team landed on a 32nd floor balcony they were able to see the tunnel into Talos Island and farther to the left Louis Forest, dark with the telltale green glow of Circle magics sporadically dotting the silent park. WillowWind walked up to the huge sliding glass door and, on the wall at it’s right, punched in a series of numbers on the softly glowing keypad. The door clicked and she slid it open.

Stepping inside she flicked a switch and as the room glowed with soft light said, "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my world."

The heroes entered the large room and began to find places to sit and rest after a long night. Because they entered from the balcony they found themselves in the living room. It was a large airy room with a wooden floor painted black. The walls were a deep purple which blended into a lighter shade as the color rose upwards. The ceiling was a light purple as well with four large black beams extending from the four corners of the room, meeting together in the center where a large wrought iron chandelier hung.

A long sofa draped in swaths of red and black sat against the wall on the right. Pillows of varying degrees of purple adorned it and in front of it rested a large low coffee table made of thick dark wood. A black chain wove its way around the table and down each of it’s legs. Across from the sofa a flat fireplace, with no mantle, stood in the middle of the wall. Inside it’s hearth lay four logs mixed with dried flowers. Above the fireplace looked to be a large mirror but was, in reality, a 42" flat panel plasma television.

A black iron spiral staircase was at the left of the fireplace. It was a decoration for there was no second floor to the apartment, and on each of its steps dark flowerpots sprouted with flowers of every color. Three reclining chairs made up the rest of the room.

Looking across the living room, one could see into the kitchen through a large square cutout that served as a counter. The cabinets were painted black and the countertops were blood red and Willow could be seen and heard rummaging about, preparing the promised coffee for her guests. To the right of the kitchen was the foyer and front door and another door which lead to a bathroom.

WillowWind exited the kitchen balancing a huge pot of coffee and several cups on a tray. "All right, here it is," she smiled. She looked at the group and pointed to the door by the kitchen. "There’s a shower in there for whoever wants to take one." She turned and walked towards another door to the right of the fireplace. "And ladies," she said over her shoulder, "come with me!"

Buttercup turned and gave the tablet to Tropic then faced the rest of the room. "All right, who has my uniform?" She waited expectantly almost tapping her foot.

Johnny rose from his place on the sofa and handed the heroine four balled up ICON bags. "Here. Bet you thought I lost ‘em," he grinned. Buttercup took the bags and followed the other girls to Willow’s bedroom. "Sure you just don’t want to stay in that outfit?", Cognito called after her as he sat back down.

"NO!", she said emphatically over her shoulder.

"I’ll get to work on this tablet," Tropic said quietly. He walked to a door next to the sofa. It led to another bedroom, a small room containing a bed, dresser and mirror and a desk. He flipped on the light and walked to the desk staring at the tablet, already beginning to translate the writing in his head.

The heroines entered Willow’s bedroom and closed the door behind them. While the living room had a hard wood black floor here a thick, deep black carpet met their feet. The room was big, only slightly smaller than the living room. A black four poster bed was against the middle of the far wall. The bed cover was a blood red and the canopy consisted of drapes of thin gauzy pieces of red, black and purple fabric. The top of the bed itself was almost covered by pillows of every dimension in varying shades of black, from light gray to midnight onyx. The night tables on each side were topped with lamps of twisted iron and dried flowers were sprinkled on their bases. On one wall of the bedroom a sliding door seemed to go it’s length and sliding glass doors led out to the balcony again.

On the far wall sat a dresser with a large mirror. The body of the dresser was a deep black and its top a deep red. The top of the mirror’s frame was carved. At its top, on the left and right, were etched small bat wings and along the border it came to several points. A doorway led to an enormous bathroom, it’s floor a checkerboard of black and red, and contained a shower stall large enough for four people.

The other women had already stripped off their clothes and Buttercup was happy to remove what she was beginning to call her "tramp" outfit. She tossed three of the bags containing the Top Ten uniforms on the bed and Miya, Tempt and Willow went to retrieve them. Buttercup opened her bag and held her uniform at arms length, a frown already etching itself on her red lips.

The costume was a mess. It’s midsection bore the claw marks the demon had torn in it at the battle in Perez Park.. One of the shoulder seams had split and tendrils of thread poked out freely. The thing was a mass of grass and dirt stains, rips and tears. It was, simply, ruined.

Buttercup looked up and saw the rest of women staring at their costumes and all had the same expression. "I can’t wear this," she said softly. The heroines in the room muttered in agreement.

WillowWind smiled broadly. "Oh, nobody worry," she said brightly and walked to the sliding door. She pushed and watched as the door slid effortlessly open. "You want costumes? I got costumes!"

The sliding door revealed a closet and on it’s rack were hanger after hanger of superhero outfits. Some were Top Ten colors, others were just a scheme that had caught her fancy that day. There were at least thirty and the heroines stared at them with open jawed surprise.

"Willow, does ICON have any left?", Temptations asked in awe.

"Probably not," Miyaka answered, already going through the rack trying to find one to wear.

Willow grinned and grasped Valya’s hand. "Well, it is my plan to make ICON beg for mercy," she laughed. "Well, we’re going to take a shower. If anyone wants to join us, come on!" The two naked heroines padded, giggling, to the bathroom.

Miyaka stopped her search and trotted after them. "Hey! Wait for me!", and the three women disappeared into the bath. Soon the sound of rushing water and laughter could be heard from the room.

Temptations turned to Buttercup and shook her head, a crooked smile on her face. She crossed to the wall and switched on the ceiling fan. Returning to the closet she continued her search. "Well, let’s see what we can wear. And we get the shower next."

Buttercup shook her head and idly scratched her thigh. The breeze from the fan caused her to shiver and she looked up, catching her reflection in the mirror. The super heroine regarded herself and smiled inwardly. "First I get dressed like a hooker," she thought, "now I’m standing around naked in a crazy woman’s apartment." She sighed. "It’s been a very interesting evening." She walked over and joined Temptations as she ransacked the closet.

Forty five minutes or so later the heroines emerged from WillowWind’s bedroom freshly showered and wearing clean new Top Ten uniforms. The outfits were all different in some regard; tight leggings, a miniskirt, thigh high boots. But all were Top Ten colors of deep blue and gold, the shield etched proudly on their chests.

The heroes were spread about the room on the sofa and reclining chairs, some laying prone on the floor. They noticed that Kunai had arrived and General Scrap filled them in on what had happened in Talos Island and the disappearance of the demon. The women joined them and Buttercup crossed to the small spare bedroom to assist Tropic in translating the stone. The rest lay about the living room, sleeping lightly and fitfully as the last hours to sunrise crept by.
It was a few minutes after six thirty when Buttercup and Tropic emerged The sun had begun to rise and the large living room started to lighten, the bright rays shining through the glass door. The superheroes started to stir, not fully asleep, yet not fully awake. They all noticed their two friends standing amongst them and the expressions on their faces served to awaken them quickly.

All the color had drained from Buttercup’s face and both she and Tropic had the same look in their eyes: worry mixed with grim resolve. And fear. The members of Top Ten looked at them expectantly until finally Buttercup spoke. "It’s not a demon," she stated simply.

They looked at each other with raised eyebrows and General Scrap asked, "So, what is it?"

Buttercup looked at Tropic. The fire blaster nodded slightly and gestured with his hand in a "go ahead" type fashion. The heroine took a deep breath and began to reveal all they had discovered.

"The Circle," she began, "in their quest for world domination, I suppose, wanted to bring something over that was powerful, as evil as they were and could be controlled. They found the Arkandian spell…ritual…I don’t know…and started their magics." Buttercup looked at her friends. "But they didn’t have all the components to complete the incantation as it was laid out."

"Components?", Elendil asked.

"Real eye of newt, wing of bat stuff," Tropic nodded, "which, oddly enough, are ingredients in this thing."

"So, at best, they substituted," Buttercup continued. "At worst, they guessed. The planets and stars were all in alignment and they had no time to search out what they were missing, so they went ahead with the spell." The heroine tugged at her lower lip. "They brought it over but they couldn’t control it. And it’s evil dwarfed…was more than they could ever have expected."

The gathered heroes looked at each other in confusion. Ryuuhoshi looked sidelong at Scrap then turned to his two teammates. "You said it’s not a demon. What is it?"

Buttercup gazed about the room at her friends then sighed heavily as though the weight of the truth would crush them all. She frowned and said softly, "It’s a descendant of the first evil."

The statement was greeted with raised eyebrows and looks of bewilderment. Their heads turned towards one another, trying to see if anyone understood what had been said. "What do you mean?", Willow asked with a furrowed brow. "I don’t underst…"

"Oh my God!" exclaimed Valya from one of the recliners. "You don’t mean…," the fear in her voice was palpable. Tropic nodded once and the color drained from the Controller’s face.

WillowWind looked at her dear friend, the expression on her face flowing from confusion to concern and then to frustration. "Look," she said, "I don’t want to be stupid here but what are…"

"No!", Cadecus whispered from his spot on the sofa. He stared at Buttercup and Tropic in horror. "You’re sure?", he asked, his voice barely audible.

"All right, that’s enough," Temptations said forcefully and stood beside Willow. "Explain. What’s this ‘descendant of the first evil’?"

Tropic chewed on his lower lip for a moment until finally he raised his head and, with the fire flowing from his eyes said, "It’s one of Satan’s children."
CONTINUE >
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