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THE GAME:
PLAYTIME’S OVER


    The hypnotic song was a lilting, enchanting melody that seemed to embrace the mind of the listener. Overriding the ego, it resonated against it, causing a mental short circuit, and a re-route of thought patterns. Across the city, people were swaying, unable to avoid the music due to the expansive and loud nature of the emergency system.
    The music slowly began to change as another melody faded in on top of it; instead of a cheerful tune, this second song was more like a somber march, which people found themselves doing. However, they found themselves completely enthralled by the music, and soon the streets were flooded with heroes, villains, and ordinary citizens.
    Solanum and the Psirene, having heard this music before, looked at each other in a panic. Psirene quickly grabbed her brother’s mind, and told him what they needed to do. Casting their mental shielding as wide as they could, they looked for other psychics.
    Several blocks away, a young mother was desperately trying to stop her two toddlers from marching out the door, when she suddenly went rigid. Gently, the twins added her abilities, explaining that although she was untrained, she was very powerful. Using her strength, they expanded the shield.
    Further and further they reached, each mind gifted with psychic abilities expanding their shield and protecting anyone within it. Their minds had cleared out Eastgate, and expanded into the surrounding areas.


    Dr Collins felt a strange pulling on his mind, but it wasn’t from Piper’s song. Mentally answering the call, he found himself caught up in a wondrous mental weaving; a psychic tapestry woven of minds of all kinds like different colored threads. Enraptured, he joined it, travelling along the pathways to the source; twins who were very gifted, and obviously, very powerful.
    I can help undo Piper’s song, he told them. He received a wordless acknowledgement to do that; his abilities would only be amplified by the psychics they gathered.
   
    Sister Psyche was in a trance, trying to keep herself shielded from the strange music that made everyone else go berserk. There was a sudden tug on her mind, and then found herself being knocked over mentally by the psychic equivalent of a tidal wave. Realizing what it was, as well as what it was doing, she added her strength to it. For the first time in a long time, she found herself yielding to the control of another psychic.


    The Dogs of War had been closing in on the base they thought Gamester hid, right about the time the music began to play. Numina and Myth looked at the rest of the team as they began to move to the rhythm of the song.
    Linking their minds, Numina started to throw a mental shield around himself and Myth, when he bumped into one that was even larger, and more powerful. Weaving himself and Myth into the psychic structure, he was greeted wholeheartedly by the throngs. Numina was amazed at how many there were; empaths, telepaths, telekines, and even those who didn’t know what they were, all could be found.
    Their minds protected, the rest of the Dogs of War were free to act, and they ran into the warehouse.


    "And now, my fellow citizens…"announced Gamester, unaware of what was going on. "It is time for all of you to start funneling your money to this account: 316…What the hell are you doing?!" he screamed.
    Sounds of someone being beat up were broadcast throughout the city; and everyone was listening intently to what would happen next.
    Suddenly, a new voice came over the loudspeakers.
    "The Game is over," it announced.


EPILOGUE 1

    "So, the Gamester got caught?" asked Medik as he looked around the gorgeous house he and his team had been invited to.
    "That’s what Wraith is saying. It was just some really weird guy running around without his shirt, half nude. I guess that makes him half genius," Nightbringer smiled as he took a swig of beer. He turned his attention to the news coverage of the arrest.
    "In the aftermath of Gamester’s arrest, all stolen goods had been returned back to the rightful owners after proper identification had been made. Gamester’s gang had vanished shortly after the broadcast, and no one had seen any trace of them. All the children had been found and reunited with their parents, save one," reported the anchor.
    Footage of the man whom Solanum had gotten into an altercation with at the school began to roll. "If it hadn’t been for the presence of super-powered children at the Sussex Academy, this tragedy would not have happened, and Dana would be coming home where she belongs!" he declared, trying not to sob. "I am proposing legislation regarding the children of superheroes and their education. All too often, we give the supers carte blanche regarding how they conduct themselves, but when and where do we draw the line? As of today, I am working on reforming the superhero agencies to make them more accountable when citizens get hurt."
    The anchor appeared again, a forced smile on her face. "We hate to interrupt, but we have just received word about the Gamester, we’re taking you live to City Hall and Action 7 News reporter, Kyle Newman."
    "We have just received word that the Gamester who had been arrested two days ago, was in fact, an android. Police were questioning the devilish villain when he exploded, leaving only parts of himself intact, a chess piece, which was Gamester’s logo, and a note. The note reads, ‘When in days of future past, When what was first becomes the last, When you think all’s said and done, The Gamester’s game has just begun.’" The words appeared on the screen as the reporter read the poem, and faded out again as he continued his report.
    "Again, no one is certain about the poem’s meaning, but police take it all as an unmistakable sign that The Gamester is still very much at large. Back to you, Jill."


    "JACK!" screamed Eva, "Get your butt down here, now!"
    "What?" came her son’s sullen reply.
    "A piece is missing from the antique chess set. Do you know where it is?"
    Jack’s lip curled up in a sneer. "I don’t play chess." He retreated back to his room, despite the angry look from his mother and the exasperated sigh she let out.
    The sneer shifted as soon as his back was turned to one of sinister slyness. Being a supervillain was so much fun, he thought. He couldn’t wait to do it again, and next time, those who had stopped him were going to pay.


EPILOGUE 2

    Jon Fix’s head was buried under the hood of the car he was working on. Suddenly, cutting through the smells of gasoline and oil came the scent of perfume. He stopped, almost afraid to turn around. She was here.
    Slowly, he turned around, leaning against the front of the opened vehicle. She was wearing something black and skimpy, a mix of trashy and classy, and he found it irresistible.
    "Hi, Psirene," he said.
    She smiled warmly and came closer. She was looking up at him with her eyes half-closed, giving her a dreamy, seductive look.
    "I never got to thank you for helping us out at the review board."
    "Statesman is putty in my hands. He never could say no to me." she purred. "But don’t worry about it, I already received my payment up front," she flashed an enigmatic smile at him.
    His brow furrowed, he found her reference confusing.
    Sensing his bewilderment, she leaned in and whispered, "I’m carrying your child."
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