Chapter 5: Breaking Hell Loose

The next day came with the speed of a charging Synapse. The Club was filled to capacity, something that always brought worry to Colin. A psychopath could easily meld into a crowd, especially one of this magnitude. He just would have to keep his eyes open. Unfortunately for him, the manner of psychopath that had its sights set on them today had little interest in subtlety. Neither he nor his brother even had time to draw their guns before they found themselves falling under a wave of blades. The last thing Colin saw looked like someone he knew.
The resultant confusion hurtled most of the crowd into a panicked frenzy, running in search of possible escapes. The cause of the panic wasn’t about to just stop there. His left arm reached skyward, summoning a host of creatures that looked like a cross between demons, ghosts, and mechanical medieval suits of armor. Behind these were people who looked like Circle wizards, and the master of them all. Dressed all in black, with an aura of dark energy surrounding him, the leader of these beings leveled his gaze on the Club’s patrons. His target was in here somewhere, but there was a considerable power interfering with his ability to find her. ‘No matter,’ he thought to himself, his eyes now glowing a deep crimson, ‘It’s always fun to play the hunter.’
Elsewhere in the building, Kadmon was tearing through the groups of shadow armors, his blade flashing from mechanized demon ghost to clockwork spirit demon. Unfortunately, the blasted wizards just as quickly reconstructed every one of them he managed to cut down. As if to compound his troubles, Sera had gotten separated from him somewhere along the line, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to backtrack. If the machine men weren’t so dangerous in and of themselves, Kadmon would have happily pounced on the all but defenseless wizards. It was taking everything he had to avoid being slashed to pieces and filled with arrows. The presence of another great power here was distracting. The fact that it was a malevolent force was somewhat distressing. Almost instinctively, Kadmon took to flight, dove under a razor sharp blade, and brought his through the breastbone of one of the wizards. The armored fiends linked to him dropped as their anchor died. That was the first real victory all day. With his newfound breathing space, the hero launched himself past a squad of armors. He went back the way he’d come. He would not fail in his duty, especially not on the first day back to it. His eyes burned with ferocity not native to his emerald glow. The path before him would either clear itself or be cut down.
The malevolent force moved through the Club as a shadow, unseen by any who didn’t know to look for him. His target was close now. He could sense her nearby. His sword flew from its sheath with speed normally not seen outside of electron movement. A maintenance closet fell open, the door, hinges, knob and frame sliced to bits. “Ms. Sera Dalton, one of this world’s descendants of Mu.” The crimson orbs turned to the closet. A crate flew and struck the invisible man fully in the face. Much to Sera’s dismay, this didn’t actually seem to affect him. The box shattered and dispersed, but the shadow didn’t budge. His left arm shot out, knocking the singer back into the rolling mop bucket, which further catapulted her into the shelves. “That wasn’t terribly polite of you. I simply came here to ask for your help with a spell I’ve been working on. Not such a big deal, to my-“ The shadow stopped and looked away from his quarry. The powerful force was too close now. Cursing under his breath, the invisible man backed away and hid himself.
Kadmon rounded the corner mere moments later, his glow piercing through the sunglasses that would normally hide it. His stomach felt as though it had fallen out of a plane when he saw the doorframe. He rushed in, not caring about the sense of vertigo he was getting from the presence of such an awful force nearby. “Sera!” He knelt down and lifted her head away from the shelf. She was conscious, and remarkably not that badly hurt, mostly shaken up. “Can you walk, Sera? We need to get you out of here.”
Her eyes were blurred from the impact, but she knew the glow of this regenerator when she saw it. She also knew the glow of the shadow, and to her dismay saw it rounding the corner again. “Kad…” She struggled, pushing herself up a bit, “Behind you…” Kadmon didn’t have time to turn before he found what she had been warning him about. His blood splattered onto her face as the blade cleaved through his left shoulder, dragging itself in a straight line through his ribcage, and came out just above his right leg.
“Now then, Ms. Dalton,” The shadow stepped into the closet again, shedding his invisibility. He stood a little over six feet tall, and was dressed in black from head to toe. A cloth muffler covered much of his face while sunglasses and a large hat obscured the remainder. “Might I ask where we left off?”
“We left off,” An unexpected voice answered, “Right around the part where I kick your ass for thinking you could kill me with a sneak attack like that one.” The mirror image of Kadmon stepped back in shock as the upper torso of Kadmon turned, in mid-air, to greet him. Sturm lashed out at the doppelganger, and was met by the other’s blade. Though only half the man he was moments before, Kadmon’s assault was relentless. He felt the anger rising from his hand, but squelched it. His blade flew to meet his enemy. It was met in kind mid-way. The shadow returned the attack, but was blocked and countered. Again and again, Sturm sundered the air and crashed into the blade of the enemy.
The black-garbed warrior was too baffled to truly mount an offensive. It would take some getting used to, being assailed by a flying torso. ‘How is that even possible?’ He thought. He hadn’t counted on his counterpart being a telepath as well.
“It would be a lot harder if I were a normal human.” Kadmon said, a grunt of effort behind it as he swung Sturm in an attempt to strike down his confused opponent. The blade hit home, but did far less damage than he’d hoped. By now, his lower half was up and moving. Casually, as though he’d done this a thousand times before (which wasn’t exactly unlikely), the hero put himself back together. “Congratulations, Prima Ombra, you’ve met your first Regenerator.” Kadmon lifted his sword high, “Now die painfully!” Sturm flashed down, but Ombra managed to step back just in time to avoid getting his skull cloven in half. His ribs were a different story entirely.
A cry of pain split the air as Prima Ombra, the mirror image of Kadmon, stepped back gripping his chest. He looked again at his double. Wounded as he was now, he wouldn’t stand a chance. “Shadows! Defend me!” He shouted, thrusting his left arm into the air. More of the mechanical ghost knights appeared, their swords at the ready. With them in front of him, Ombra vanished into thin air. He would have his prize, even if he had to wait a while longer. Kadmon cut them down with the practiced swiftness of a true master of the sword. Without their anchor nearby, the armors couldn’t regenerate themselves.

Chapter 6: Giving Chase

They weren’t safe just yet. The other armors, along with their wizards, were rapidly closing on their position. Making matters worse was the fact that in her fall, Sera had hurt her knee badly enough that her leg couldn’t hold her weight. Kadmon knelt down and picked up his injured friend. “I’ve called in some support, but it will take them a while to reach us. Hold on to me, I’ll get us out of here.” Supporting her with his left arm, the knight moved as quickly as he could for the exits. Periodically, he would use his magic to render both of them invisible. This, he discovered, was particularly draining, and keeping two people unseen was an exercise that could be maintained for a minute or two, at most. Several times Kadmon found himself setting Sera down and unleashing the terrible power of Sturm on the shadow armors. Finally, the pair reached the door to the outside. However, now out in the open, the remaining armors and their wizards charged them. Wrapping both of his arms around her, Kadmon took to the sky. To his dismay, as they exited the building, the wizards gathered their minions about them and also began flying. They were fast. And, unfortunately, the armors were remarkably accurate with their crossbows while flying. Their arms would snap into place, and Kadmon would be forced to perform aerial acrobatics just to avoid them. There were times, however, when there were too many firing to dodge. At these times, he interposed himself between the armors and Sera.
“Kad, what are we going to do?” She asked, looking back at their attackers. There were easily a dozen of the wizards and about twice as many armors. They were already well exceeding the fifty-five mile per hour limit for flyers in the city. She looked at Kadmon’s face. His muffler had fallen away, and it was clear that he was gritting his teeth against the pain of having arrows lodged in his back.
The hero didn’t need to look back to know that his enemies were gaining on him. He had a plan, but there was a good chance he was going to get a ticket for it. “Sera, you’re going to have to hold onto me as tightly as you can.” He said, the glow in his eyes becoming almost blinding, “I’ll do the same for you.” Her grip around his neck tightened as much as it could. His around her torso did the same, and he silently cast a spell to protect her against what he was about to do. The windows around for hundreds of meters shattered as his plan took effect. Those along his path on either side did the same. Now passing the speed limit by over six hundred ninety miles per hour, Kadmon launched himself and Sera through the tunnels in the war walls. The blast from his sudden acceleration knocked many of the wizards out of the air, which bought the pair some time.
Kadmon stopped to rest on top of a building in Skyway City. With the precious few minutes he’d bought with that maneuver, he took the time to remove the sharp projectiles lodged in his back. With them gone, his energy quickly returned. It wasn’t a moment too soon. The swarm of summoners and their bound minions crested the war walls, avoiding the drones near each tunnel. “They’re nothing if not persistent, I’ll give them that.” Kadmon growled. He could feel the destructive force welling on the back of his right hand. It danced there, distorting the air around it, looking quite like it was preparing to combust. He knew he could use it and destroy these monstrosities. But then, with all things, there were consequences. After all, there was a reason why Kadmon had sealed it away to begin with. Still, given the current situation, he gave it solid consideration. He came to a decision. “Sera, find something to hide behind. This is going to be ugly.” With a knowing nod, Sera crawled as quickly as she could behind some ductwork.
The glow of Kadmon’s eyes illuminated the night near the building he stood atop. With a deliberate lack of speed, he removed the armor from his arm. Now exposed to the air, the energy around his hand took form. A gray flame gathered where once there was nothing but rippling air. “Know that I do not call on you lightly, you cursed rune.” The hero spat onto the roof to punctuate his disgust for the situation, “Give me your strength, Rune of Wrath! Show those who would seek to bring us harm the power of a god’s anger!” The flame, and the hand it surrounded, rose into the air, “Come, my rune, let us show them the true meaning of destruction!” His fist clenched, but before he could grasp the power, fire split the sky, piercing a line of armors. Bone spikes launched from the ground, impaling others and striking those near them with a spray of smaller spines. A human form passed through several buildings then flew straight into a group of the armors with claws outstretched. “You’ve missed your chance, you curse. There is always next time.” With speed unlike that used to remove it, Kadmon returned the black armor to his right arm. “It’s about time you guys showed up!”

Chapter 7: Soloing Archvillains

Jack Zodiac, the man behind the fire, chuckled as he tossed an explosive fireball into another group. “Stamp, Vault and I weren’t the only ones to respond to your call. We kinda figured that if you were sending out broadcasts for help with an ambush, it would have to be one hell of one.” Flames danced on the tips of the centuries-old wizard’s fingers. “We brought the cavalry with us.”
He wasn’t lying. Leaping over the buildings were another two heroes, Feral Kat and Tayuya. Flashes of light were plainly visible on the skyscraper’s ledges. These were quickly identifiable as the demon, Jala, the void walker, Flow, Kadmon’s next-door neighbor, Atomic No. 90, the aptly named yet misspelled, Icey Guy, and the mutant wizard, Amrien Talfrey. Coming in from the sky were the shape shifting alien/human hybrid Thomas Vesper, the somewhat insane MadBorg, and the lovely Miss Informed.
Looking at the friends he now had assembled around him, Kadmon grinned. With a flick of his wrist he summoned back his cape and muffler. His glowing eyes turned to the mass of armors floating their way. Already he had a plan. “Alright, Tay, Icey, I’m going to need a lot of imps and ice men to help me keep the armors busy,” He started, “Kat, Jala, Stamp, Vault, you’re with me. Amrien, Jack, MadBorg, Flow, aim for the summoners. Miss, make sure we don’t bite it out there. Tom, make sure no one sneaks up on us and take out anyone who gets through, and 90, I want you throwing out as much support as those hands of yours will allow.” It should be noted that, while Kadmon loves being in the fray, he absolutely hates having to devise strategies, preferring the ‘get in their faces before they get in ours’ approach.
In a flash, Atomic No. 90 was launching raw kinetic energy into everyone assembled, hastening their movements and making them far harder to push around. Miss Informed pumped the fighters with adrenalin while Tayuya summoned every small fiery demon she could get her powers around and Icey conjured up as many of his soldiers of solid ice as he could. The melee fighters lined up alongside the summoned creatures, creating a nearly impenetrable wall of death. The blasters took up position in the air around the building. In a perfect world, the plan would’ve gone off without a hitch. However, there had been an unforeseen addition to the group presently closing on them. Well hidden among his minions, the shadow kept pace with his ever-advancing wall of armor. His eyes were aglow with rage at the retreat he’d been forced into less than an hour earlier, but his invisibility didn’t falter. The target of his attack was in sight; he dropped altitude to match with the roof of the building and increased his speed.
Kadmon’s eyes shone in the direction of his stealthy adversary. “Change of plans,” He said, holding his right hand out. Lightning struck into his palm, and Sturm appeared where once there was nothing, “You gents take care of the armors, I think my double there wants another round.” The swordsman flew from the rooftop, meeting Prima Ombra at the midpoint between the wall of armor and the wall of heroes. Their blades clashed as they rose skyward, striking at one another as they entered a deadly orbit.
Meanwhile, those still on the roof launched into their attack. Armored ghosts and demons landed and clashed with claws, spikes, ice monsters, and flaming monkey-like demons. The first half dozen fell swiftly, only to be rebuilt and return to the battle. A demon armor broke past the line, only to meet its fate at the tip of the glowing blue sword belonging to a transformed Thomas Vesper. The same six armors were dropped, and this time, before they could be rebuilt, two energy bolts ripped through the air and tore the linked summoner apart. In response, more landed, while others rained arrows down from their aerial positions.
One Kadmon plummeted rapidly through the air, struck fully with a blast of black energy, and was quickly followed by the other. The one who dropped, eyes burning crimson, rocketed back into the sky only to be hammered down to the ground again by his Primal counterpart. The pair struck at each other again. Kadmon withdrew Sturm and allowed the attack to pass unblocked. With a grin, he brought the Sword of Storms down on Ombra, whose own sword was now lodged in his opponent's chest. The shadows around him shifted and absorbed the brunt of the attack. Another sword pierced Kadmon's back, this from an armor that looked different than the others. It was lithe, slim, and even a little small compared to the others. "Go away," Kadmon growled, "The ADULTS are busy having a discussion!" His eyes flared and dark energy shot out around him. The armor didn't budge.
There was a sound of titanium hitting pavement, followed by a pneumatic hiss. These translated into the small armor getting catapulted away, sword and all, by a robotic foot. "You focus on what you're doing," Max Kampfer, the former 5th Column soldier turned zombie-ninja-cyborg-pirate (that, however, is a story for another day), said. It was impossible to tell what facial expression was attached to those words, as he never removed his helmet. The armor, now mad as a hornet, came charging back at the zombie. Max responded by leaping onto his hands and giving the running armor another solid boot to the head. "In the meantime, I think I'll have some fun with this one." Kadmon's battle elevated back to the sky once more, while Max went foot to head with the speedy armor.

Chapter 8: Not OUR Problem, Kad

By now, all but one of the summoners had been obliterated. Smoldering remains of shattered armors littered the rooftop. Jack, Icey and Amrien were now toying with the last one, alternating burning, freezing, and electrocuting the unfortunate spell caster. By now, his focus had been utterly ruined, and his armored minions had fallen to the pieces on the ground.
Their blades clashed again and sang their song to all who would hear it. Over the music of steel, the combatants were having a bit of a conversation.
“I’ve been meaning to ask you this,” Ombra said, retreating back through the air several feet, “Why is it that you wear that amplifier?”
Kadmon cocked his head and looked at him past the glow of his own eyes, “What are you talking about? What amplifier?” He casually fired off a blast of negative energy that his counterpart deftly avoided.
Ombra quickly returned the attack in kind, but Kadmon waved it off like it was nothing. “On your right arm. Why do you wear the Oranbegans’ weapon for fighting our kind?”
“This is no amplifier, Prima Ombra.” Sturm moved through the air with a near deafening crack, like that of thunder. Ombra narrowly avoided the silvery blade. “To think of it as such is folly. I can assure you though, that you don’t want to see what would happen without it.” His eyes narrowed on his shadowy opponent, “What do you mean ‘OUR kind’?”
“Constructs, Kadmon. The handiwork of Mu.” Before he could elaborate on his answer, Ombra found himself ducking and dodging out of the way of blasts of all manners coming from the rooftop and the surrounding air. “Another discussion for another time, I fear. Don’t think you’ve seen the last of me.” What appeared to be an inter-dimensional portal appeared behind the dark swordsman. Ombra dove through, and the force of the disturbance closing itself drew the shattered and destroyed remains of both summoners and armor minions. The small armor that Max had engaged leapt through the rift just before it vanished with a mighty crack.
The battle left Kadmon with more questions than he had ready answers to. What could Ombra have possibly meant by “the handiwork of Mu”? This, he decided, would require some degree of research. That wasn’t the most pressing matter at this juncture. With a leap far superior to any that an average human could muster, Kadmon landed atop the building. Several of his fellows had gathered around the injured celebrity, and at least two of the Empaths were working on patching up the damage that the night had inflicted thus far. Before even going over to thank his friends for the timely save, Kadmon walked over and helped Sera up. “Feeling much better now?”
“Very much. I guess I should be thanking… err….” Sera looked at the assembled metahumans. She didn’t know who any of these people actually were to be able to thank them properly. “Kad…”
Kadmon looked at her briefly then figured out what the problem was. “I suppose some introductions are in order.” Pointing at each hero individually, he introduced everyone to her, “Everyone, this is-“
“OOOOOH! You’re Sera Dalton!” Miss Informed yelled, “I have all of your CDs! Well, not on me, and maybe not that compilation one, and I might’ve actually lost a few of them, and then there are those ones that the CD player broke, but I have some of your CDs!” Words flew from her at several hundred miles per minute, ending in a rather abrupt, “Can I have your autograph?!”
“Missy, Sera’s had, what could be considered by most, a rough day. Her head bodyguards just got cut down by what I can only guess is the Praetorian Earth version of myself.” Absent-mindedly, Kadmon tossed Sturm away while talking. The sword was struck by lightning and vanished into the night. “So, any other time I’m sure she’d be happy to do that, but right now-“
“I don’t have a pen.” Sera stated flatly, “I think I left my purse at the hotel…” Remarkably, she didn’t seem to be very badly bothered by the loss of her guards. Or, Kadmon thought, she was more likely just trying to keep it from her mind and would explode about it later. “I meant to ask, did you get the band out of there?”
Kadmon blinked a couple of times. “I think they escaped through the fire exits when all the chaos broke out… If you just need a pen and don’t mind, I could probably summon one for you…” With a snap of his fingers, the brown-clad hero summoned a fountain pen. Sera accepted it, and, on a piece of newspaper that she caught as it blew by, signed ‘To my biggest superhuman fan,’ followed by a nearly incomprehensible scribble that was only identifiable by her fans as her signature. When she finished, Kadmon returned the pen to wherever it was in the Void that he summoned these things from.
“At any rate,” Jack interjected, “I don’t think it would be safe to send you back to the hotel. Too attractive of a target.”
Flow nodded in agreement, “Judging by how that guy left, I don’t think it would be too hard for him to just open a portal right into your room.” He looked around at his fellow heroes. Aidan, Tom, Max, MadBorg and Jala had already left. “Anyone here have any ideas?”
“I’m headed back to the Shadow Shard shortly, so she’s your problem,” Jack replied, idly playing around with some fire on his hand, “Faathim wanted to speak to me about something, and I’ve left him waiting. So, if you’ll all excuse me.” Zodiac’s feet removed themselves from the ground, and he vanished from sight as he sped off in the direction of Portal Corp.
“I’d offer to let her stay with me, but I don’t think I’d be able to stop that guy if he came back,” Tayuya scratched her head, “You held him off well enough, Kad. Maybe she could stay at your apartment.”
A bead of sweat rolled down Kadmon’s face. It was no secret to any of his friends that his apartment wasn’t exactly fit for habitation by any person who actually cared what their surroundings looked like. “Are… Are you sure that Sera wouldn’t be safe with you, Tay?” His mind was slowly but surely freezing up. He didn’t mind sharing the apartment with one of his fellow heroes. If Stamp needed a place to stay for the night, there was always the couch. Several times, Max had stayed there while he was alive, but the sigils along the walls and floors wouldn’t allow the undead through. Trying to get a hold of himself, he stepped over and whispered, “My apartment isn’t exactly clean right now. I haven’t actually been in there in almost a week.”
Tayuya just shook her head, “I’m sorry, but that’s your fault. I can’t stand up against someone like what’s-his-name-”
“Prima Ombra,” Kadmon said.
“Right, him. I said it before, I wouldn’t be able to stop him.” Tay stepped away, “You’ll be fine Kad. Just don’t do anything… Well, just don’t do anything that Borts would normally do.” With that, she and the other assembled heroes left Kadmon and Sera alone.
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