Years in the making, the days of wanting to see one’s favorite heroes battle it out in friendly combat are finally made a reality. The final details of The Colosseum’s construction were completed weeks ago, and both heroes and citizens alike are eagerly awaiting the grand opening.

“This is going to be great. There is always some competition of some sort between heroes, and this way, we can duke it out without worrying about dying.” said one red-clad superhero named RedBolt. “I mean, who hasn’t wondered who would win in a fight, The Statesman or Dream Doctor? Now we’ll get to know.

While the thoughts of such a match-up are tantalizing, it would be highly unlikely. Despite the enthusiasm that the Colosseum has received among the public, certain heroes and government officials seem somewhat hesitant about the concept of heroes fighting heroes.

“Due to various features of arena combat, such as ranking, the ability to place wagers, etc., there is the distinct possibility of heroes wanting to spend more time fighting each other than the criminal element. I, for one, do not support the idea. I would rather expend my energies elsewhere.” said the Statesman in a tersely worded press release.

Of course, the Colosseum has not been without it’s share of controversy. One concern of City Council has been the issue of gambling. While technically illegal in the state, lawmakers have made a provision to allow small wagers (under 1000 dollars) to be made in fights. There have also been rumors of Family involvement, primarily due to the role Brienza Construction, the contractors of the project, have played.

When reached for comment, company president, Anthony Brienza, denied the allegations of any Family connection. “Look, just because we’re a company run by Italians does not mean we’re associated in any way with The Family. Perhaps in the past, there have been individuals loosely associated with them, but we are a legitimate and reputable construction company. It has been a great pleasure in adding to the beauty of Paragon City. If nothing else, people can enjoy the gorgeous architecture of the Colosseum.”

The Colosseum opens this Friday with expected attendance of 100,000 people.

“So, you understand what I need from you.” The Don said.

Kirk looked down at the paper in front of him. It explained in detail what was expected of him.

“And this is not illegal?” he confirmed, hesitation in his voice.

“Absolutely not. For you, it would be like betting on a rerun of the Kentucky Derby. How can it be illegal if you knew how it would end? Just let us know in advance who will win any given fight. Your cut will be very generous, I must add. You’ll have more Armani suits than Marco in no time.”

Kirk paused for a moment. He had heard stories about the Family. While he was unsure about being connected with them in any way, he did need a job. Besides, the man made sense; it would be almost like betting on a rerun. He had come to Paragon City to use his talents. If he couldn’t use it to help heroes, he might as well use it to make a buck. It hardly sounded illegal. Swallowing loudly, he signed the paper, again making sure that there would be no unpleasant end for him if his predictions were wrong. The Don smiled, and slapped the table. “Excellent!” he declared.

The door opened, and three people entered, two men and a woman. One of the men was tall and broad, dressed in a black leather jacket and lime-green shirt. His hair was dark and greasy-looking and also looked like he hadn’t shaved for a couple days. He wore sunglasses, making it impossible to tell what he might be thinking.

The second man was also tall, but not as built. He seemed almost overly polished compared to the first man’s roughness; well-dressed, clean shaven, hair immaculately groomed. He regarded Kirk with a calm, aloof gaze with strange, violet eyes.

The woman was unlike any other he had seen since coming to Paragon City. She was probably the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Tan skin, and a voluptuous figure squeezed into a black mini-dress and long, curly hair so blonde, it looked almost white. She too, looked at Kirk with violet-colored eyes.

“Allow me to introduce Draco, who you will report to.” The big man extended his hand, Kirk shook it and tried not to wince from the iron-like grip. “This is Edward, and his twin sister Bianca, his personal assistants, and also your coworkers in this little endeavor.” The twins merely nodded in greeting.

“It’s nice to meet all of you.” Kirk said.

“Well, if you’re working for me, then we got to get busy. First things first, you need some new clothes.” Draco commented, pointing at Kirk’s raggedy jeans and t-shirt. “Nobody works for me lookin’ like that.”

Edward rolled his eyes in a way that indicated Draco should be the last person to play Fashion Police.

“If you four will excuse me, I have other things to attend to.” The Don said in a tone that told them they were dismissed.

Draco smiled and gestured that they needed to leave the room. “C’mon, Kirk, let’s go. I’m gonna show you to your new digs. Better than that dump you’re stayin’ at in Skyway.”

As they walked down the hallway, Kirk wondered how they seemed to know so much about him.

When Sara got back to the apartment building where they were based out of, she found Jon waiting for her. The brooding leader seemed to be in an exceptionally foul mood.

“What kind of lead was that supposed to be?” he snapped as she walked past the study.

Taken by surprise by his tone, Sara became more aloof in her demeanor. “That was what was given to me, Jon. What happened?”

“The Tsoo connection lead to nothing. As far as we can tell, it was just a revenge killing. There’s all these stories floating around about the man’s gardener, and no one seems to know where he is. That seems to be where the real case is.”

“Look, Jon. All I know is what I reported in. The gardener was taken by the Family. I just got a call from Detective Wright. Crime lab analysis of the place came in. Prints in the place belong to Marco Firenza and Louie Ludovico, known enforcers of The Family.”

Jon sat down in one of the chairs that lined the long table in the study. “What would they want with him?”

“Who knows? If the rumors about him are true, though. The Family could know all kinds of things.” She sat down next to him, and looked at the strange tattoos on his arm. Ever since the Perez Park incident, he had stopped wearing the robe. His costume was even more simple now. Black muscle shirt, leather pants, motorcycle boots. He looked more like a biker thug than a superhero. Her scrutiny did not go unnoticed.

“Is that one new?” she asked, pointing to one that was midway down his arm.

“Yeah. Hurt like you wouldn’t believe when it formed. They pop up whenever the time is right. We got into a bit of a fight with the Tsoo, when it happened.” he rubbed the site and continued. “We arrested a few of them, but like I said, it was a wild goose chase. Talk to your detective friend, maybe they’ve found out some additional info.” He got up and left the study.

“Yo, sis!” she heard her brother yell.

“Don’t shout!” she yelled back.

Her brother came into the study. In one hand was a slice of cold pizza, in the other, a stack of mail. He was dressed in his costume, which allowed his spines to emerge without shredding it.

She looked him over critically. “You did not go to school dressed like that.”

“Relax, will you? Picked up the mail from the apartment.” he said between bites. “Fought a few Clockwork on the way, got hungry.”

“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” she said as she took the mail from him. The top letter was a gold envelope. Instantly, she knew who it was from, without even looking.

“Invite to a party?” he asked.

“Yes. Dianna DeMarco.” she looked the gaudy invitation over. “She’s having a little thing the night before the Colosseum opens this Friday. That’s where she’s hosting it.”

“Sweet! You get to go there before the place is open? You gotta take me with you!” he begged. “I have so been looking forward to going there!”

“I don’t think so. I’m not even sure if I want to go.”

“Go where?” asked Xandria as she walked into the room. Of the six heroes, she had probably changed the most since Perez Park. When she started her career as a superhero, she often came across as an oversexed brat. But after about a month, she became serious about her new occupation, and started to show signs of having extremely good leadership skills.

“Dianna DeMarco is having a party at the Colosseum on Thursday.” She held up the gold invitation.

Xandria grimaced at the thing. “Another DeMarco Disaster? Ick. I remember the last one I had gone to. You’re not missing anything, Evan. Her parties are painfully boring and tacky. Gold fabric all over the place; sequins on everything else; it’s horrible.”

“You want to go with me?” Sara asked.

“Oh God, more than anything!” she exclaimed. “Ever since JD found out I was pregnant, he’s been doing everything possible to keep me here. Maybe that’s why I’ve been so bossy. I’ve got no outlet for my frustrations.”

“Well, look at it this way. Your telepathy could help us out at this thing. The Colosseum is rumored to have Family involvement, and since they also are implicated in a recent kidnapping, maybe you could see if anyone there knows anything.”

“You never take me anywhere!” pouted Evan.

“Look, next time I get invited to do SI’s swimsuit issue, you can come with me.”

JD suddenly stuck his head into the room. “Swimsuit issue? Did someone say swimsuit issue?”

Xandria turned to face him. “Excuse me?”

He winked. “Just teasin’, darlin’. You’re the only supermodel for me. Hey, Evan, did you eat all that pizza from last night?”

Evan shrugged. “I was hungry.”

“When do we leave?” Xandria asked, intent on ignoring her husband’s debate over uneaten pizza.

“It’s at 7:30. Dianna is providing transportation.”

“I hate limos.” She changed the subject. “Bluedragon isn’t here. He had to run out right before you came home.”

Sara arched her eyebrow at Xandria. She was just about to ask where he was. “You weren’t hacking into my mind, were you?”

Xandria smiled sweetly. “No, I wasn’t. I know you like to keep in touch with your ex-boyfriends.”Even after you dump them, she projected into Sara’s mind.

“I couldn’t love ‘em and leave ‘em, like you, dear.” He left me, remember? Running off to Chicago without so much as an explanation as to why, she answered mentally. Then, becoming aware of her brother and JD watching them, she got up.

“I’m going to check my closet and see if I’ve got anything I can wear.” she announced. “If not, I’m going shopping. Actually, I’ll just do that. I need gloves to cover these things up.” Are you coming, Xandria?

Like I need an excuse to go shopping, Xandria quipped. She followed Sara out of the room.

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