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Taste of Blood
By Myths n’ Wraiths
“Stop, Desimus!” Myth shouted and held
up his hand to hold the burly mutant back. “This man is
mine,” he added and turned to fix the darkly dressed figure with
a glare filled with unadulterated rage.
“What do you mean ‘this man is
your’s’?” Anarchy shot back, moving to the front of
the team in a blur of motion and rush of wind.
“This is not your fight Anarchy,” Myth
scolded. He stepped around the agile mutant with amazing speed and
wreathed his hands in negative energy, readying himself to attack.
“The Hell!” Anarchy challenged.
“This is not Bloodlust,” Valdien stated, his usually monotone voice etched with confusion.
“This is not your concern!” Myth
persisted and continued gathering the negative force into a dense ball
of murky darkness, which he cradled between his trembling hands.
The dark figure responded by taking a quick step
back and crouching in the filth and squalor of the sewer floor. Paying
his surroundings no mind, he seemed to focus solely on Myth’s
aggressive presence. With his hands held low, barely skimming the waves
of sewage that were being tossed about by the commotion, he too began
to gather negative energy to his fists.
“That’s where your wrong boss!”
Deadeye said while slapping a magazine into the tricked out assault
rifle he had kept slung over his back, and cocked the weapon. The
resounding sound of a full metal cartridge being chambered into the
weapon caught everyone’s attention except Myth’s and the
Deciding that Myth was not going to be very
enlightening on the subject, Deadeye turned his attention toward the
dark stranger and, after he leveled his weapon at him, asked,
“Who are you, and why does he want to kick your arse?”
A unified response came from both the stranger and
Myth, the content of which was as shocking as the striking similarity
in their tone and voice. “He’s my brother,” both men
spoke at once.
A silence that seemed to drown out the constant
background noise of the sewers stretched awkwardly across the seconds
that followed. Anarchy Soldier finally broke the stillness, after
managing to gather his composure.
“Oh,” he mumbled, shrugging his
shoulders. “Well I ain’t one to get in the way of a family
brawl.” With that, the scrapper walked over to the slime covered
wall of the sewer pipeline and leaned cautiously against the cleanest
set of bricks he could find. “Knock yourselves out,” he
“Hold the phone,” Deadeye broke in,
shaking his head in confusion. He looked at each of the two men, taking
in their features despite the dim light. There was no doubt about it.
They were identical, in an almost creepy way. Not only their features
but their very mannerisms and stances mirrored each other to
perfection. Their dark eyes bore the same fury and their squared jaws
were set in the same manner.
The only noticeable differences between the two were
their clothes, though even their taste in jeans and T-shirts were
similar, and their hair. Though they both sported unkempt, shoulder
length hair, Myth’s was stark white while his brother’s was
“This is not the fight you came here
for,” Desimus said to Myth while taking up a position between the
two brothers. “Destiny brought us all here to face another, and
if you are meant to settle whatever dispute you have with your own
blood then destiny will provide a time for that as well.”
“He is right,” Valdien agreed, using his
empathic abilities to stem the flood of aggression that had been
building around the entire team, and in particular their leader and his
newly revealed sibling. “We must have all come here for the same
reason. Can we not put all other differences behind us until we have
accomplished our first purpose?”
Slowly, in response to the logic of his companions,
Myth released the dark energy he had been conjuring. In like response,
the stranger also allowed his powers to fade into dormancy and took up
a more casual stance.
“Much, much better,” Valdien said at last.
“Well since it looks like were playing nice
for the time being, what’s your name?” Deadeye asked
Myth’s darker twin. He had already lowered his weapon but, to no
one’s surprise, the magazine was still locked into the weapon.
“Wraith,” the stranger spoke in a low
tone which, despite its gruffness, still resembled Myth’s.
“And I wouldn’t bet on that ‘playing nice’
deal,” he added with an annoyed shake of his head.
“Yeah,” Deadeye said to Myth, seemingly
ignoring Wraith’s last statement. “He’s your brother
“Don’t rub it in,” Myth shot back.
“Nice to see you too, bro,” Wraith
nearly growled. The two siblings began to pace around each other. Each
brother was sizing the other up in a classically threatening manner.
“So, what’s it going to be?”
Wraith asked, stepping close enough to Myth for his breath to be felt
on his brother’s face. “Or we gonna settle this
Myth did not even bother responding to
Wraith’s taunts. “What makes you think there will be a
tomorrow?” he asked bluntly, turning away from his brother and
waving his hand dismissively.
“We should press on to our goal,”
Desimus spoke up, his thick native African accent and deep voice
resounding off the narrow walls.
“Wait a sec,” Anarchy cut in and
rejoined the team. “Just like that,” he said snapping his
fingers, “and this guy is on our side? We don’t even know
him or what he is really doing down here.”
“Don’t worry,” Wraith retorted. “I’ll make my way there alone.”
“No you won’t!” Myth snapped at
his darker twin. “You need us; that is why you flushed those
Rikti out of the sewers. You could have made it by them on your own but
“So what’s the point?” Wraith growled, not bothering to deny his brother’s logic.
“You know you can’t beat him on your
own. So you have been following us ever since you stole the documents
from Saundra’s office, waiting for us to move so that you could
use us as back-up,” Myth explained, in a tone that resembled that
of a professor lecturing on English 101. When he was done, all eyes
turned on Wraith expectantly.
“So you can connect the dots,” Wraith
replied calmly. “But you’re wrong on one thing. It’s
not Bloodlust I need help with; it’s the army of Circle of Thorn
that will be there with him that I won’t want to deal with.”
“Army?” Valdien questioned with a note
of grief in his voice. “Saundra’s information made it sound
as if it would be a meeting between Bloodlust and the senior mages of
the Circle of Thorn. She said nothing of an army.”
“Yeah well, Saundra’s intel was
wrong,” Wraith said, stepping out of the murky sewer water and up
onto the cement walkway. “Bloodlust promised the cultists
an artifact in exchange for a force of minions large enough to support
his return to Paragon.”
“What type of artifact?” Deadeye questioned while lighting up a cigarette.
“It is some type of map that is old as sin.
It’s called the Path of Verrazano and it is supposed to open a
path to Oranbega,” Wraith continued.
“Right…” Anarchy sighed sarcastically. “And what exactly does that mean?”
“Oranbega is a lost city below Paragon. It is
the birth place of the Circle of Thorn’s powers and the hiding
place of their leader, Zoria,” Myth spoke up, his curiosity
slowly overcoming his former anger. “If Bloodlust did find an
artifact that could open a path to the ancient city then the Circle of
Thorn would do anything to keep it out of a hero’s hands.”
“Well he did find it,” Wraith countered
Myth’s doubts with an aggressive tone. “But there
isn’t much need for the cultists to worry about any hero getting
their hands on it.”
“Why is that?” Valdien asked.
“Cuz’ I broke the damn thing,”
Wraith said pointedly. Reaching into the cargo pocket on his faded
black jeans, he pulled out a curiously carved stone for all to see. The
weather worn artifact was a sandy brown color and showed signs of
centuries of natural aging, but along the bottom part of the long
cylindrical artifact could be seen the jagged edge of a recent break.
“How on earth did you come by this?”
Valdien’s voice rang out over the collective murmurs of surprise
that the Dogs of War were uttering.
“Short story?” Wraith said, more as a
statement than a question. “I ran Bloodlust to ground in Talos
eight days ago. I thought I had him cornered but that bastard is more
resourceful than I counted on. He managed to escape but not before I
snapped part of the artifact off.”
“Then you’re the hero he put in the
hospital, the one Saundra told us about?” Anarchy questioned with
“I told you, I can handle Bloodlust,”
Wraith retorted. “The hero that got sent to the hospital got in
his way while Bloodlust was trying to get away from me,” he
continued with an unconcerned wave of his hand.
“If you have part of the artifact then why
would Bloodlust go through with this transaction?” Valdien
“I don’t know, but I do know that he
always has a back up plan. More than likely he is expecting me to track
him here, where he plans on retaking it,” Wraith replied.
“And you’re bringing it right to him,” Myth sighed and shook his head.
“When I go to battle, I take every weapon at my disposal,” Wraith shot back.
“So, what size of a force are we looking
at?” Deadeye asked, shifting the focus of the conversation while
replacing the snub of a cigarette he had been milking with a fresh
“A Mage from the Circle’s higher
echelons will be there with his security guard to make the trade. Best
as I can tell, the main force that Bloodlust will be getting is already
dispersed around Paragon but the leaders of those minions will all be
there for him to take direct control of. All totaled, probably two
hundred,” Wraith explained. The faces that stared back at him
when he was finished however bore expressions of doubt and skepticism.
“How do you know all this?” Anarchy voiced his companions’ doubts.
“Because unlike my brother here,” Wraith
growled aggressively and pointed at Myth, “I didn’t let
other people hunt down my leads for me. I do my own dirty work.”
If his aggression and confidence were not enough to convince the
skeptics among his brother’s team, what he said next was.
“And there’s a tree in Perez Park that has twelve Circle of
Thorns buried under it to prove that. Each one had something I wanted
and I took it, along with their life. That’s how I operate;
that’s how I know.”
A long pause would have followed Wraith’s
oration had it not been for Deadeye’s gentle chuckling. His
fellow Dogs of War turned to eye the weapons specialist curiously when
the gentle chuckle broke out into an all out laugh.
“That’s some good shit,” the aging
soldier said slapping his knee. “Wraith,” he continued,
choking back his laughter, “I like how you operate. You’re
alright with me, troop.”
“Glad I meet your approval,” Wraith grumbled sarcastically.
“We should get going,” Myth broke in.
“All this information is no good if we miss the meeting.”
The team, along with its newly found member, made
its way toward the rendezvous point in relative silence. In the hearts
and minds of each man a brooding anger had been building, in some cases
for years, and now, as they approached their quarry, that anger was
beginning to burn into their faces. Even Valdien, whose face was
obscured by a low hanging hood, had become a caldron of stirring rage.
After a quarter of a mile of walking in silence,
Wraith moved up to the front of the group and took point in place of
Desimus. The tank relinquished his position with a note of passive
indifference and fell back to guard the rear of the procession.
With Wraith temporarily out of hearing range,
Valdien walked up beside Myth. “You never told us you had a
twin,” he said evenly, his question implied.
After a moment of hesitant silence, Myth began,
“We were together the day that Bloodlust kidnapped us, and we
were together in that park, the day we were orphaned.” He had
never bothered to keep his personal history a secret from his
teammates, though admittedly the events of that day were often blurry
in his own memory. He had simply never bothered to include the fact
that his brother had been with him through those events or even
mentioned that his darker twin even existed.
“We were both placed in the care of G.I.F.T,
but Wraith was never able to accept our mentors and their training. We
were only ten when he ran away. It took me months to come to terms with
the fact that he was not coming back. We had made a vow together that
we would revenge our parents’ death and when he ran away, I
thought that he had abandoned that vow,” Myth continued in a low
even voice, which seemed almost cold despite the emotional wake that
his memories were creating.
“Because you felt he had abandoned you,” Valdien pointed out.
“I hated him for it. We had promised each
other that we would not let the memories of our parents die, and his
leaving…” Myth’s voice trailed off.
“But he hasn’t abandoned the hunt for
your parents’ killer,” Valdien stated. “It was
destiny for you to meet here. It is proof that, despite the fact that
you both took separate roads, it was to achieve the same goal.”
“Yeah,” Myth replied vaguely. The
remarks that his brother had made about him using others to do his
‘dirty work’ still burned in his mind. The Empath was
forced to admit, however, that the anger toward his brother that he had
been fostering for all these years was indeed unfounded.
“Our immediate future is at best
uncertain,” Valdien pressed, sensing the conflict in his
leader’s mind. “Perhaps you should settle matters before we
meet our enemy.”
Myth nodded hesitantly and, gathering his thoughts
and resolve, made his way to the front of the team where his brother
was patrolling. When he was only a few steps behind his sibling’s
dark form, readying his comments in his head, his mind suddenly went
blank. All he could focus on was the anger that had driven him for the
past ten years. It wasn’t even focused on his brother any more,
it wasn’t focused at anyone; it just was. It was all that
Wraith glanced over his shoulder at his brother, an
annoyed expression on his face. “You want something?”
“Yeah,” Myth replied, his thoughts
becoming clear once again. “If my team and I hadn’t been
here what would you have done? You wouldn’t have been able to
take on Bloodlust and the Circle of Thorn on your own.”
“I would have watched and waited.
Opportunities always present themselves; you just have to know how to
take advantage of them,” Wraith replied nonchalantly.
“And if no opportunities came up?” Myth persisted.
“They always do,” Wraith said more
emphatically. “What is it you really want to know?”
“Nothing,” Myth retorted. “I
already know it. You need us, Wraith. If my team had not been operating
in the background all this time, if we had not stayed below
Bloodlust’s radar, then you would have no element of surprise
going into this. You tipped your hand already.”
Wraith froze in his steps and turned to face his
brother. To Myth’s surprise however, there was no anger in his
brother’s expression. There was instead a level of acceptance and
agreement. In that moment both brothers realized that no more needed to
be said about the hard and lonely road that each had hated the other
Wraith had been able to come closer to capturing
Bloodlust on his own than Myth had with all of his resources, but Myth
had managed, against all odds, to keep an entire team of heroes a
secret from one of the most devious villains to ever penetrate
Paragon’s borders. Even apart they had accomplished more than the
most cohesive team and now that they were at last united, they would
accomplish the one final task that both had worked so hard to achieve.
After a moment of reflection, Wraith turned and
continued to walk down the filth- covered corridors of Paragon’s
sewers. “Glad we had this talk,” he muttered in a low
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