By Michael Moore
"What do you mean? You're not Reaper!" Scarlet
stammered, taking an involuntary step backwards. This
creature couldn't be Reaper. It wasn't possible.
Reaper was human.
"Of course I can be Reaper. THE Reaper. The
Equinox Reaper, or the first Reaper. I was a simple
being, a universal force that balanced existence. The
only thing to know what happens when the living are no
more. You can thank HELM for creating me." the
creature calling itself Reaper replied. The black
meat connecting its jaws hung limply, and the charred
blackness of its bones contrasted greatly to its eyes.
"What's HELM? Some kind of government facility?"
she asked. She didn't need to ask politely. If he
was Reaper he would understand.
"HELM is an organization that surprisingly has
remained perfectly on the right side of the law, or so
they will always make it seem. The experiments they
implement could easily win the next World War, if it
comes. Mostly they keep illegal businessmen alive,
but contribute various combat suits, robots, and even
clones to unknowing companies. How did you think Bill
Gates became so rich?"
The White Hellion groaned slightly, and Reaper
knocked the poor man to the ground. When he had
uncovered Reaper's mask and looked into those eyes, he
had seen his death. Seeing into the future was
radical, but knowing how you will die would turn
anyone weak with fear.
"That still doesn't tell me anything." Scarlet
drew attention back to the conversation at hand.
"Their leader, a man calling himself Halberd,
wanted to live forever. How do you beat death? You
can't, he realized. But you can control it, or so he
thought. That's how I was created. In your terms, in
a test tube. I was made to keep one man alive
forever. Because life will exist for forever, no
matter what those silly scientists say. Well, there's
my birth story. After being created the container
holding me destabilized and gave me a human form, I
escaped an came to Paragon City. It was about twenty
days before we met." Reaper smiled, or got something
that resembled a smile.
"But why are you a hero? Why not stay with that
"Why should death serve man, when death can aid
Scarlet nodded, lowered her fists. She hadn't
even realized that she had raised them. Probably out
of habit. She found the handcuffs that the hunters
had held her with near the still unconcious Kent.
Drew was nowhere to be seen, but she still cuffed both
Kent and the Hellion.
"Has anyone else ever seen your face?" she asked
as Reaper was trying to wake Quartz.
"Only Ferguson. I hate knowing how he died.
Makes me wish I could myself. Maybe in another day
and age." he sighed. She was shocked. How could
death want death? It didn't make any sense. But she
decided to change the subject to something more
"So, uh, how are you going to fix your costume?"
"It grows back. Like skin. But I think I have a
"We're going to visit the Banished Pantheon.
They owe my brother a favor, so why not repay it to
"What do the Banished have to do with this?"
"Well, you see, they were originally godish, you
should know. And all godlike beings were made from
Life, my brother. When they were to be cast down by
their people, Life stopped me and let them live
forever. Basically, he stamped an electric fence
around them that'll fry me if I touch it, then nobody
will die. But being gods they can grant outragish
Scarlet just shook her head and searched Kent for
a cell phone. Hers was crushed by the struggle in
Crey Labs and they needed to call the police to pick
the guys up. She would continue on with Reaper to
--30 minutes later . . .
"I don't get it officer. I was knocked out for
the whole thing! Ask the crazy guy in white when he
wakes up! I got whupped, my but was handed to me on a
silver platter, I ended up," Tec was cut short by the
"Alright, I get it. But my duty requires me to
put in a nice fat paycheck request for you for helping
to apprehend these three. Thought the white one was
dead for awhile. And the other two are wanted for
more than twenty eight cases of suspected murder."
Tec only grinned at the idea. He walked away to
grab Quartz and head off to meet the contact Reaper
had mentioned before the crazy night had begun. He
was being payed for getting knocked out and destroying
private property. His philosophy had changed. Life
was good to you sometimes.
"Who're we meeting?" Quartz asked for the
something hundredth time. His head had been pretty
banged up in the fight, and it would take some serious
time in a quarry to fix it. But until then, it was
"We're meeting that Ferguson fella. Supposed to
be a doctor. He called in one of the Quantum Force to
help apprehend one of the last people Scarlet had
talked to before being abducted."
"Still can't believe it's Scarlet. Carmen never
did know what was good for her. But then again, ol'
Bob Breaker didn't either. Wonder if she'll recognize
"Probably not. It's been a few years since we
left Arizona. I didn't think to bring my old wallet
with our pictures in it for reference." Tec yawned.
"At least we know she's safe. Reaper's gone too, and
he's a lot smarter than we know."
Quartz nodded and continued on the long road back
to King's Row. When they reached the address Reaper
had left them (which Tec had taken from Quartz because
of his condition) nobody seemed to be home. It was
just another abandoned aparment building like the one
they had just left. But something was going on
inside. They heard faint sounds underneath and
followed them down a staircase behind a lot of rubble.
At the bottom was a tale-tell sleek metal door.
Not knowing what to do, Tec knocked. When nobody
answered, he made his stone fist and began banging on
the door. Real subtle, Quartz thought quietly.
"Who's making all that racket?" an old man in a
lab coat asked as the door slid away without warning.
Tec thought it was cool that it made the swish noise
like in the movies. "What d'you whiper snapers want
from a poor old man?"
"Uh, I'm Tectonix and this is Professor Quartz.
Reaper said you'd be expecting us."
The old man changed almost instantly. He no
longer pretended to be feeble, but more like he was in
his prime, which would have been sad. "Then what're
you doing in here? Come on in and question this man
so we can get back to our game! Johnny's real nice,
more than you. Came willing, believe it or not. Said
he owed it to Scarlet after all she did." They didn't
bother listening to the rest of the rant. The
blinding whiteness of the lab and florescent lights
made them blink several times and they didn't have
enough eyes to take in all the sleek steel tables and
instruments and test tubes and what nots.
In a small corner of an antechamber sat a small,
heavier built man with dazzling red hair like Scarlet.
He wasn't too muscular, but just enough to be a
respectable figure in a fight. The strangest thing
about him was the fact that both his hands lacked
"Well, well, well. If it ain't Johnny Armstrong!
You helped her get here, didn't you?" Quartz asked as
he sat down. Johnny nodded, but didn't speak.
"I was wonderin' how she got here from out under
Bob's nose! Should've expected her brother the whole
time. Enjoy your stay with the Family?" Tec asked,
taking the only other seat at the table. Ferguson
mumbled and went to get another chair.
"Didn't too much like the way I did things.
That's why I'm called Johnny No Thumbs. Compliments
of Tony Danza himself." Johnny replied, pretending to
twiddle his stubs. "Would've been killed if Ghost
Hero hadn't shown up. Great guy that Ghost Hero.
Brought me to Ferguson here. I couldn't complain.
They would've killed me before long."
"Ain't Ghost Hero that illusion guy? You know,
the one who took on you and Bouldergast single handed,
bro?" Quartz teased, hitting Tec with his elbow. Tec
grimaced, remembering the defeat. "Sounds just like
you. Throw a shroud over someone's eyes and run away.
Not that he had to run, eh, eh?"
Johnny nodded and continued the conversation. He
was finally back in familiar protection. Big John and
Jim had taken care of him as a child and would take of
him now too. Now all he needed to hear was that his
sister was still alright, and he could begin a
superhero career. Joining the Family willingly had
always been and would always be a mistake.
-- Dark Astoria 11:59 PM
"Wow. No zombies. Guess they know not to come
near you." Scarlet said sitting on a tombstone of one
Curtis Melvin Moore Senior.
"Actually, they just don't want to ripped to
shreads. Putting life in a dead body is a terrible
thing to do, but genious. I have to admit that they
deserve some credit. Only the Banished could think up
something like that. At least they did it first,
remember that." Reaper replied. He had his bony arms
crossed like he usually would have and looked as if he
were waiting for a bus.
"So, what's your wish gonna be? Make you an
indestructable costume? It would make sense, after all
" Reaper shook his head and smiled. Being able to
see his mouth when he smiled was interesting, if not
creepy at the same time. No one would really be able
to be comfortable with the real Reaper.
A clock began ringing midnight in the distance.
From the first stroke the air started becoming dark
and stale. When the final stroke rang out, a large
totem appeared before them. Scarlet tried not to look
as afraid as she really was, and rubbed her arms to
get rid of the creeping cold chills.
"How may we repay you?" the totem's voice boomed
and echoed. It tried desperately to make itself seem
more menacing but Reaper failed to quail, even though
Scarlest was now openly gasping for breath and
"A wish. One wish, and only one wish. Your
powers are almost boundless in that area, aren't
they?" he paused and let the totem do what Scarlet
decided was a nod, but looked more like a step to a
dance. "Good. Then I wish to have a human shape and
form and lifespan."
The totem seemed taken aback, and glanced from
side to side. "We have never performed such a task as
great as this. It may not be doable."
"Your masters are the sons of my brother, who's
power is greater than mine. They can do it. And if
they do, their debt to my family will forever be
"Without your brother's consent?" the totem asked
suspiciously. Reaper nodded and the totem fell back
into the darkness. "So be it, Master of Death. Your
mastery shall be weakened, but not removed entirely.
You do know that becoming a mortal carries what you
yourself dubbed the greatest of all shames. And so
become one with the world you so served. For the rest
of your time."
Scarlet woke sometime the next morning, but who
could tell in this dark room? It didn't even have any
windows. Grumbling, she stood up and took her time
dressing. It was just another boring day, after all.
She tried finding the door handle, but there
wasn't one. She eventually decided that she would
have to break it down when it swished open for her.
Outside was a small kitchen, blindingly white with
sleek silver steel everywhere. Ferguson's, she
thought. At least she was alright.
The door to the kitchen led to a slightly larger
dining room where a few people were seated. One was
Dr. Ferguson himself, enjoying a plate of pancakes,
badly made pancakes by the looks of them. Two others
were Tectonix and Professor Quartz, both in a deep
discussion of some kind. The fourth was her brother,
Johnny Armstrong, chomping gladly on Poptarts, one of
the few foods he could eat without all of his thumbs.
But the fifth was unfamiliar. It was a man
wearing a nice black t-shirt and blue jeans, with
short, well cut black hair. He had green eyes and a
pretty well shaped face, and reminded her slightly of
another of her father's coworkers who had received
The man noticed her and motioned for her to have
a seat next to him. "Mornin' sunshine." he said as he
handed her the tray of bacon. She took a piece but
eyed him warily. People just didn't show up out of
the blue and have breakfast with strangers.
"Who're you?" she decided to skip the
pleasantries. Curioustity didn't let her just take in
the man fully.
"Well, you should remember my wish from last
night. I'm Reaper, but with a human shell now instead
of the skeleton, zombie thing. Good thing is that the
good doctor here allowed me to take his last name
seeing's how I don't have a real name. Now I'm
Richard Alan Ferguson, a.k.a. Equinox Reaper."
Scarlet felt her jaw drop. She hadn't really
expected his wish to come true, but she also didn't
remember falling unconcious during the scene at the
graveyard. But this new Reaper, or Rick, she thought,
was much better to look at than the other, especially
Turning to Tec she asked, "So you found me, huh,
Big John? You and Jim wouldn't 'ave found me if it
weren't for these three, would you?"
"Naw, if we wanted to find you we could've. We
just didn't think that either of you had gotten away
from Breaker. Bob's gonna be mad when he gets here.
Called him last night and told him I found his kids."
Quartz replied for Tec, who proceeded to knock his
little brother on the head for interrupting.
"So, what's the first order of business?" Johnny
asked standing up. Unwittingly, he found everyone
else's plates stacked on top of his. "You're too
kind." he replied and went into the kitchen to wash
"First thing is to get you kids some respectable
jobs. Heroes may be good for saving the city, but
common people are good for paying the rent." Ferguson
"What rent?" Tec asked suspicously.
"Well, all of your apartments have been given
away. I was able to retrieve your things, with a
little help from Ghost Hero again. But you'll have to
stay here until further notice, and I'm not taking any
more than two freeloaders at a time, which includes my
new son here." he patted Reaper on the back. "You'll
have to fight to see who else doesn't have to pay."
Johnny emerged from the kitchen and cried, "To
the Colosseum!" Everybody rose from their chairs and
headed to the door, each trying to make their way to
the arena before the others.
"It's done?" Twelve Helm asked.
"Yessir. We can apprehend him now. Without the
hunters." another, similar figure replied. It was
Eleven Helm, Twelve's right hand man.
"Who do we have on site?"
"Helms One, Two, and Six are already in the City.
Eight and Four are prepped and ready to go."
"Let's test our puppet. Just send in One Helm.
He'll make our point very clear, and he's disposable."
"It shall be done." Eleven Helm said and left the
room, his armor clanking with every step. Only time
would bring Reaper back to his master. And time was a
power above all known.