MVR Round 2 P4
With Guardian Merrow Rivenlight, Fury, Warchild, The Floating Man, and Sammy sent to Folia to rescue the hostages from Mogul, Remnant 9 Lucius "Brickhouse" Cassidy has been sent to the Champions Universe to investigate a potential Remnant. However, this Remnant is unlike any other.
(Author's Note: Special thanks to @extrusion for allowing me to use the character "Lens" and her nemesis character "Fraser" in this story.)
Marcel Franklin Soni.
According to the reports by Sammy and Merrow, Marcel is a super in Millennium City, currently working as a hero for UNITY as well as the Champions along with a large multitude of other heroes. The nature of Marcel's powers are healing based, and apparently, he's able to manipulate his life force.
Unique to Soni, is that he is an otherworlder, just like me. One who is not from the Champions Universe. When Soni arrived to Millennium City, he was whisked there along with his classmate, Cybil Chase. The two were given powers by a mysterious apparition, but at some point, Cybil's powers corrupted her. Marcel is now at war with Cybil, and from the looks of it, that war continued well on into the future, where Cybil tricked Marcel into making love, and ended up with Cybil becoming pregnant with two children.
Lena Soni and Fraser Soni.
And from there, my investigation of these two had begun.
I sat on Pariah, as the blade continued zipping across the country to Millennium City. It has been eight years since my fight against Prime Aspect Mogul, along with my brothers. We lost viciously. So hard, that Arman of all people abandoned who he was and left us to get stronger.
When Merrow told us that Arman had left, she was devastated. It hurt me so much to see her in that state. And it hurt me also to know that Arman, the guy who stood for righteousness and honour, the guy who was our moral backbone and was always true to himself no matter what, decided to turn a 180 into the darkness.
I clenched my fist as several black and red spikes protruded from my forearm.
From that battle, Mogul told us that he was interested in our power, and gave us ten years to prepare. Not like it mattered. We were all destined to be slaughtered. Even the seer at Corinth confirmed it.
But even so, even if we were going to fight a battle we could not win, we had to do our best to hit him as hard as we can.
Because if we aren't around, who will stop Mogul?
Mogul would be free to rampage not just his world, but all the worlds, in all the multiverses.
Me and the other Remnants are all that stand between Mogul and ultimate destruction.
I noticed a big billboard, advertising a man called James Harmon. I was here.
"Pariah. Halt." I commanded, as the blade stopped. I leapt off of it as I held out my hand. The blade spun and I caught it, strapping it to my back.
Lena Soni and Fraser Soni. Sister and brother. From what my sources could gather, they were at war with each other. Despite being siblings. While Lena wanted to follow her father's footsteps in being a hero, Fraser decided to take after his mother, and become a villain.
Convincing Lena might be easy. But convincing Fraser will be a whole different story. I'd have to ruffle him up a bit.
I took a deep breath and focused.
My eyes became bestial as my senses heightened and my heart rate went up. I began searching. Hunting. For Lena and Fraser's signature.
Weird. I wasn't sensing Fraser's signature anywhere. Or Lena's. Could it be that they were time displaced? I never honed down my Apex Hunt ability to that degree. It took two years to discover it, and another year to develop it to the level it is today.
If I could find Marcel, maybe I could pinpoint where Lena was.
I shifted my hunt, and pinpointed a young healer near Westside.
I leapt into the air as I calculated my trajectory. Closing in fast on a young man wearing a leather jacket and black goggles. He was in the middle of fighting a powerful foe alongside three other heroes.
I cocked my fist back, as I waited for the monster to raise its head.
I slammed my fist down, so hard that the creature's skull buckled and a shockwave blasted the windows around apart. The creature slammed into the pavement as it went limp. Marcel and the other heroes stared at me as I got to my feet.
"Marcel Franklin Soni." I said.
"Hero Name: Mason. Is that right?"
Marcel hesitated, as he cladded up into his armour and charged an attack. The other three heroes did the same.
"Who are you."
I raised my hands.
"I'm not here to fight. I just want to talk."
Marcel raised an eyebrow, but one of the heroes became cocky.
"You took our kill. And now you're making demands? Someone oughta teach you a lesson."
The man stepped forward. He was wielding two swords. A dual weapon user.
Just like Arman.
My chest hurt momentarily.
I kept my hands raised.
"I don't want to settle this with violence, sir. I'm just here to speak to Mason."
"Settle with violence? Are you threatening a hero?"
I narrowed my eyes.
The Champions Universe follow a certain metric to gage out a fighter's abilities. HP. MP. Level. And Class.
Judging from this guy, he had around 15k HP. 120 MP. Level 40. And was a melee.
My battle intuition was telling me that this guy was geared to take damage, and to deal damage as well. Most likely the type to duel other heroes.
"No. That's not what I mea-"
The hero didn't give me a chance to finish my sentence, as he instantly ripped a chunk of rock from the ground and hurtled it to me. I dodged it, as he lunged forward with a flying kick. But I dodged it too.
Okay. Fuck it. I'm not going to play pacifist any longer.
I spent many years learning to control my temper, but I guess some people were an exception.
I leaned back and continued dodging as the hero's swings became more and more aggressive.
"Stop dodging! Hey!"
There wasn't much he could do. Maybe if he was fighting me from eight years back, he would have gotten a hit in. But I doubt he would have been able to break through my invulnerability.
But now, I was a whole different beast.
My evolved reflexes continued to dodge the hero's strikes, as the other two joined in. But none of them were able to land anything.
I brought my foot back and slammed my fist into the ground, as I summoned my Quasi Organic Spike Clad to rip through the cement and send spikes into the air, piercing each hero and sending them hurtling into the air. The heroes crumpled to the ground one by one as they went unconscious.
Marcel aimed a blast of poison at me and fired, but I stopped it with the palm of my hand.
"Enough, Mason. You can't hurt me."
I closed my fist and extinguished the flame, as Mason stumbled back.
"What.. do you want. I'll comply, as long as you don't hurt my friends."
I sighed, trying to calm my nerves.
"Like I said. I just want to talk."
"Broken... builds..." One of the heroes muttered deliriously.
"Uh. Will these guys be okay." I muttered.
Marcel nodded. "Yeah. They'll come to eventually. If you want to talk, come with me. I'll take you to the Sanctum."
We walked through jungles and vines in an old arcane region of Vibora Bay.
"Where are you from, Lucius?"
"Classified. Sorry." I replied.
Marcel continued walking.
"But I can tell you're not from this universe."
"What gave it away?"
Marcel tapped his temple.
"You don't have a Level. When I try to see your stats, it just gives a blank. You're rated a Cosmic. Despite walking around like a hero. That's a dead giveaway that you're abnormal."
"Oh..." Shit. Merrow never mentioned this part of going undercover.
"But that's okay." Marcel smiled. "I'm an otherworlder too. So I understand. It usually takes a lot to make me surprised."
Marcel spoke too soon, as the moment he opened the door to his hideout, a young woman was standing at the table, inspecting some books. The first thing I noted was that she was extremely attractive. To the point where my first instinct was to make sure Sammy wasn't around to act like an idiot, or Thomas was around to have a sudden nosebleed. She had brown auburn hair which flowed to her shoulders neatly. Her bangs covered one of her teal eyes. I had a feeling it was intentional. She wore a short sleeved jacket similar to Mason's, but it was blue red and white like an American flag. Her leggings brought out her voluptuous figure, which were lined by two red streaks along her thighs, going down to her knee high white heeled boots.
Tribal tattoos decorated her arms similar to Mason's whenever he used his powers, and she wore fingerless gloves, along with her mascara gave her a delinquent appearance.
If someone like me, a man who already professed his love and marriage to another woman, had this first impression, I could only imagine how Sammy or Thomas would have reacted. There was also no telling what the other Remnants would say or do, since, I know it's kind of mean, but Kanade decided to let his testosterone kick in at the worst possible moment with his one night stand that one day.
No wonder Merrow sent me here alone.
I was the only one out of all my brothers who was loyal.
"D- Dad...?" The girl muttered, her teal eyes wide as she dropped the book.
Marcel froze at the door.
"Who the hell... what are you doing in my hideout?"
The girl put her hands in the air.
"N- No! It's not what it looks like. Oh god. I've made a mess. I'm- I'm-"
"You're trespassing. I'm calling the police."
"No! Please. You have to listen to me." The girl ran forward to try to latch onto Mason, but Mason pushed her back.
"What are you trying to do? You stepped into this place unannounced, trespassed on this sacred property. You're lucky I haven't decided to blast your head off!" Mason shouted, as the girl recoiled back.
"M- Marcel... I..." The girl's voice broke, as I noticed her eyes were starting to get teary eyed.
"And calling me Dad? What kind of sick joke is this? Are you accusing me of being unfaithful to Cybil?!" Mason's voice got louder, as veins began to appear on his head. He was getting really upset, and the girl looked like she was about to cry.
"Hey. Calm down Mason. I'm sure there's a reason why she's here-"
"You stay out of this Lucius! You have no idea how important this place is to me! To Cybil! To us... to..." Mason gasped for air, as he rushed forward and tried to dust off the books and realign them. The girl began to shudder, no doubt attempting to conceal her sobs.
Mason turned to the girl, as she gasped and jumped in terror. But I stood in front of her and put distance between the two.
"Mason. You need to calm down."
Mason's hands powered up with green energy.
"Don't. Stay out of this."
"Or you'll what, Mason? Attack me? You're facing a Cosmic threat, you said it yourself. Can you fight a Cosmic all on your own as a mere healer?"
Mason fell to his knees, as tears streamed down his eyes.
He was finished.
The girl and I watched as Mason walked back to the desk and dejectedly put the books back.
"Do what you want. But please. Just... don't touch these things. They're really important to me. I'm... I need some time alone."
I sighed, as I turned to the girl, who rushed out of the hideout in tears. I followed her as I found her sitting on the ground, knees to her chin as she sobbed.
I knew who she was. Just from how she called Mason "dad".
So that made one of the two I needed to investigate.
"Lena Soni?" I asked.
Lena stopped crying as she sniffled.
"How do you know my name?" Her voice was hoarse.
I knelt down in front of her and pulled out a tissue from my jacket pocket. Lena took it and blew her nose.
"My name is Lucius Cassidy. I know you're going through a lot right now. But I need to have a word with you."
Lena stared at the ground.
"What do you want? I never disclosed my name to anybody, yet you somehow figured it out. I'm guessing you're not from around here."
"No, I'm not. And neither are you, Lena."
"I know that." She muttered.
I stood up.
"No. I don't think you really understand what you are."
Lena shot to her feet, her eyes turning demonic as blue energy surrounded her body.
"Excuse me? I know why I'm here. I don't need some peasant telling me I don't-"
Lena's eyes widened as she stopped herself.
"S- Sorry. Old habits."
Lena took a deep breath.
"Lucius. I know what I am. I'm time displaced. My father, Marcel Soni. I was whisked back to his timeline along with my brother. I'm here to save my Mom from herself and turn her back to the path of the light."
If only that story was all there was to it.
But as I looked at Lena more and more, I could see it.
It made no sense.
That day when Merrow assigned me to the Champions Universe.
It was because she spotted something. And during my eight years, I learned to evolve my senses past its limit. To the point where I had something similar to Lightning Reflexes. I could sense things no other human, being, Remnant could sense.
And with Lena, I could sense it.
I work with my brothers to find others of my kind. With the help of Merrow, Skylar, and Kyrael's Inquisition.
But when I was told there was a Remnant here, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It took using Apex Hunt to see it for my very eyes.
I looked at Lena's teal aqua eyes. So dazzling, just like Mason's. But her face, beautiful and kind. Innocent like an angel, just like her mother.
She looked nothing like them.
There was no way she could be like them.
She was a girl.
Who she came from, was it possible? Was it possible for one to be a different gender from its creator?
But that feeling. My senses. They all pointed to her.
"Lena Soni." I said, as I reached out and put my hand on her shoulder, as the last of her sobs went through her.
Lena looked at me, as I took a deep breath.
"You are a Remnant of Decen, Lena. You are my sister."
She slapped me.
I hadn't forgotten that day. When Arman had told me that I was a Remnant. I had responded aggressively, violently, and threw him into the ring to fight. At first, I always thought that was just because it was who I was. An angry, temperamental, egotistical teenager who always had a chip on his shoulder.
Turned out being confrontational was a common trait thanks to Dad.
"Creep!" Lena exclaimed, as she leapt back and made distance. Her body began to emanate darkness similar to how Sammy used his powers.
"Lena. You need to calm down." I said, but she was not having it.
"Me calm down?! You're the weirdo who's claiming I'm your sister! What would that make Fraser?"
"It's hard to say." I said, as I bolted backwards, dodging several of Lena's Ebon Ruins as she began firing them at me relentlessly.
"There's a chance he could be a Remnant or not. Paladin Decen's soul could have entered him too. But if he wasn't, he'd still be your brother. Meaning he'd be a stepbrother."
"Gross!" Lena yelped, as she phased out of the darkness and slammed me in the chest.
"I- Yeah. You got me on that one." I muttered, as Lena continued her barrage on me. She didn't land a single hit, but I was not getting anywhere with her.
I let my power course through my veins, as my corrupted arm began to glow red at the cracks. Red electricity jolted from my body as I shot forward and grabbed her wrists, pinning them against the wall as Lena gasped for air.
"Lena. That's enough. There's no benefit in me trying to do anything to you. I have a fiancee and I'm happy. I don't need this."
Lena began to stop struggling, as she started to calm down a little.
"Can I trust you enough to let go?" I asked, as Lena reluctantly nodded.
Lena led me to a quiet sector in Renaissance Center, behind Club Caprice, as we sat on a bench. I watched as a couple of heroes took to the skies, others in flying vehicles, and some were straight up bounding around with their super jump without a care in the world.
"That's a badass looking sword." Lena commented.
"Yeah. Its name is Pariah." I took the sword out of the sheathe and inspected it.
"Can I hold it?"
"It's too heavy for you."
Lena smirked. "Bet."
"Your funeral." I said, as I handed it to her, but I didn't let go as she took the blade.
"Be careful, Lena." I told her.
Lens looked at me with those teal eyes.
"My name is Lens. That's what Defender and Witchcraft call me. I don't... like being called Lena."
"Oh. I'm sorry Lens."
Lens smiled, as I let go of the blade. Immediately, the sword slammed into the ground and sliced through the concrete as Lens yelped in surprise.
"What the hell?!" She exclaimed as I snickered.
Lens tried to lift the sword but she wasn't able to make it move.
"What is this made of?! Neutronium?!"
Lena let go as I walked up to Pariah and picked up the blade, mounting it back on my shoulder.
"Yeah. It was a material made by the old gods. In the town of Amod, the sword was used to kill celestial beings. It belonged to my- our eldest brother. Until it broke in two. This is half of it."
I could tell Lens was still uncomfortable with me saying I was her brother. I decided to drop it for now.
"If half of the sword is that large already, I can't even imagine how large the full version is."
"It was a hell of a sword. It's seen some crazy battles."
Lens sighed, as she sat back on the bench. She was dressed casual. A black wool top, jeans, and a pair of brown fur boots. Her long brown hair sat neatly on her shoulders. In many ways I could see why she would automatically assume I was some pervert who wanted to try things with her. She must have gotten that a lot.
If she came back with us, I'd have to keep her away from Sammy at all costs. Hell. I'd have to keep her away from everybody at all costs when I think about it.
"You okay?" I asked.
Lens closed her eyes as she ran her hand through her hair. A habit that I had too back when my hair was long.
"Look. I still don't believe you're my brother. I've lived my whole life being trained to hurt others by Mom. I know for a fact that we don't share the same parents. But... if such a possibility were true..."
Lens rolled up her sleeve, revealing her tribal tattoos.
"That would make Fraser family to you too. I know I'm not in the right place to ask you this, since we just met. But before you take me back to the Remnants, there's something I need to do first. And... I could really use your help, Lucius."
"What do you need my help with?"
Lena clenched her fist, as the tattoo on her arm began to glow blue.
"I need to defeat Fraser."
Beep beep. Beep beep.
Lens pulled out her phone from her pocket.
Lens put the phone back and tapped a module on her belt, as her outfit changed to the gear she was wearing back at the Sanctum. A pair of blue goggles appeared around her neck.
"Very Mason." I commented.
Lens smiled, but it looked pained.
"Yeah." She whispered.
"I'm sure Marcel didn't mean the things he said. He's probably been through a lot."
Lens straightened her back, her face getting a little brighter. "Yeah. He has. I'm not giving up on him. I'll become a hero just like he is and save Mom."
Lens and I made our way to Irwin to teleport to one of the Cosmic battles, but Lens stopped me.
"Wait. You're rated a Cosmic threat right?"
"Yeah. Is that bad?"
Lens nodded. "You'll stick out, like a sore thumb. I'm surprised you haven't been caught already, walking around as one."
"Are Cosmics really that bad?"
"It takes around forty to fifty heroes to take one down, and that's assuming we have a mix of hero types. So yeah. They're pretty terrifying. There's only three major Cosmics we fight since they seem to like causing trouble. Kigatilik, Qwyjibo, and Teleiosaurus. There's also other Cosmic threats like Grond, but he's been pretty tame lately. And now there's you."
Lens pointed at me.
"Great Lucius Cassidy. The Arbiter of Poor Fashion Sense."
"That's hurtful, Lens."
Lens gasped and shook her hands frantically.
"N- No! I didn't mean to hurt you. Sorry! If- If it makes you feel any better, I have insecurities about myself as well."
She just straight up assumed I had insecurities of my own. Of course, I didn't tell her that.
"And what's that?"
Lens stared at the ground, her face bright red.
"I think I weigh too much. My hips and thighs are too wide." She said, quietly.
"They look fine to me." I replied.
Wait. No. What am I even saying? That I like her child bearing hips? Should I even say that to a woman? I spent so many years training my power and my skills, that I never really spent much time out. The only girls I spoke to were Merrow, who found my poor social skills to be hilarious, and Sophia, who simply agreed with everything I said, thinking it was adorable.
Lena's face turned even more red.
"Do you think so?" She whispered.
I scratched the back of my head, awkwardly.
Lens' eyes widened as she realized what she was doing. She coughed and slapped her face with her hands.
"Sorry. I- I went off track. Ahem."
Lens looked away from me as she brought tapped on her phone. Instantly, my vision lit up with stats.
"I've never tried this before. But since you're friendly with us, there's a chance I could lower your power just by setting you as a sidekick."
"You can do that?"
Lens nodded. "Mm. But you'll be weak as hell though."
My stats began to decrease as the sidekick system changed my power, adjusting it until I found myself fighting at a small percentage of my power.
"There." Lens said.
"You're now a Level 40 like me. With less than average abilities."
"Thanks... I guess..." I muttered. I didn't like how the power that I spent so many years learning to grow was just suddenly chopped away like it was nothing. But at least now I could help out with Lens' issue with Fraser, without letting other heroes in on our business.
The first Cosmic we had to stop was Kigatilik. The moment I arrived, I was greeted by a large horde of heroes. I found myself clinging onto Lens to make sure I didn't get lost. It was a bit embarrassing, considering I was older than her, both from Remnant Normalization and even here. From the files Merrow had on her, she was 18 here. I'm 23.
I took out my sword.
"Do we engage?"
"No." Lens said, as she pointed at the four dogs that were by the giant being's side.
"Our first objective is to kill the dogs. Then we go for Kigatilik. But..."
"Why is he looking at you like that? Do you think he knows?"
Kigatilik was glaring at me from his throne. The other heroes didn't seem to notice, as they were all getting ready for the battle.
"Maybe." I replied. "Only way to find out."
I lifted my finger and pointed at him.
Kigatilik acknowledged me, as his voice boomed in my mind.
You are an otherworlder. Just like this girl's father.
But no ordinary one.
"Yeah." I replied, in my mind.
I am the ancient being of the north. To many, I am considered a Demon Lord of Ice and Snow. To these worthless heroes, I am considered a god. But you do not seem fearful of my power. Cowardice is perhaps a possibility, but my intuition tells me you conceal your power.
"Yeah. I'm not fearful of your power. Because I happen to know a Demon Lord myself. And I can confidently say he'll kick your ass if he ever met you."
A fellow Demon Lord exists with power that possibly surpasses mine? How laughable.
"You doubt me? Kigatilik? Surely you've heard of the Devourer of Worlds."
Kigatilik was silent.
Come. We shall speak, away from the heroes.
Lens was peeking at me, her face confused.
"Um, Lucius? Is everything alright? You and Kiga have been staring at each other for almost five minutes."
I turned to Lens.
"Yeah. I've got something to tend to. Sorry I can't fight the Cosmic with you."
Lens looked disappointed. "Oh."
"I'll find you again. Don't worry, Lens."
Lens gave me a grateful look. "I'll keep that in mind. I'll see you around, Lucius."
I found Kigatilik near a mountain in a smaller form. I had to change regions to ensure no heroes were around.
Kigatilik had his arms crossed, as he regarded me from the distance. His demonic horns were detailed, and there was no evidence that snow was covering them despite the weather. Skulls lined his belt. If anything, he reminded me a lot like a Shaman.
"Otherworlder." Kigatilik said, as he approached me. His footsteps melting the snow around him as we stood face to face.
"How do you know Demon Lord Samael."
I smiled. "He's my brother."
Kigatilik's body began to hum with power.
"No. This is impossible. Unless..."
Kigatilik's eyes glowed, as he unleashed a blast of frost in my direction, completely levelling the mountain as the entire lands shook violently. Snow blasted all over the place. Kigatilik watched as the destruction cleared, revealing me standing in the middle of it, unharmed.
"You are a Remnant of that accursed Paladin."
I brushed off my t-shirt, as I made a fist.
"Mason gaged me as a Cosmic threat. But I don't think that's accurate. For one thing, I'd say I outclass you a fair bit."
Kigatilik's face contorted in anger.
"You dare make a mockery of a Demon Lord?"
"I don't care about your antics, Kigatilik. I've got shit on my plate right now, and I don't have time for this. If you want a fight, I'll finish it quick. Best to leave your ass whooping to the heroes. At least that would be a longer fight."
Kigatilik roared, as he blew me back. I smashed into another mountain as my body flopped, creating a crater along the side.
"Remnant or mortal. You are just a man. No greater than the millions of Shamans I have slaughtered for amusement. And I will kill you."
Kigatilik materialized in front of me and slammed his fist into my chest, smashing me deeper into the mountain as we levelled it, creating a massive avalanche.
"You dare put yourself on my level, mortal? You shall regret your words today. For they will be your last!"
Kigatilik reeled his fist back and landed a devastating uppercut under my chin, launching me violently into the air. I broke through the clouds as I soared up high. The Demon Lord then blasted above me and slammed me back into the ground, as I created another ginormous crater.
"This will be your final moments, Remnant."
Kigatilik powered up another frost attack, and blasted it right at me, but I lifted up Pariah, intercepting the blast and absorbing the magic.
"For someone who gets beat up by heroes regularly, it's a little hard pressed to claim to be a god, Kigatilik." I replied, as I emerged from the debris. Kigatilik stared at me in disbelief.
I jolted to his position, reeling Pariah back.
"Just my luck. If you're a Demon Lord and a self proclaimed god, that would make you a celestial right?"
Kigatilik clenched his teeth.
"What are you saying, Remnant. That you possess a weapon that can defeat me?"
I slashed down, the blade cutting right through the Demon Lord's chest, severing him in half.
"Meet Pariah. The Celestial Slayer."
Kigatilik exploded into numerous ice shards as his mouth opened, his voice escaping him.
"Great Paladin Decen..." He muttered, as he disappeared.
I stood at the top of the mountain, overlooking the lands of an alternate Canada. I remembered the conversation I had with Merrow just before I was sent to the Champions Universe to investigate Lens and Fraser.
"Merrow, I really think we should reconsider. How is it even possible for a Remnant of Decen to be a girl? Isn't a Remnant a part of Decen? I get Kanade. Decen wanted to be a good person moments before his death. But Lena? Isn't that pushing it a bit?"
Merrow shook her head.
"Lucius, we can't risk her being captured by Mogul. Even if it is the smallest possibility, Mogul will take that as an absolute."
"I still think you should send me to the Remnant 2 and 15 retrieval mission. We need more people over there. There's no guarantee Sammy will be able to make it back given it's such a time displaced ravaged universe, and if Mogul sends the Acolyte Heracles, I don't know if Deacon can hold him off, let alone protect the fifteenth."
Merrow silenced me with a glare.
"Lucius. Mogul will hurt her if he finds her. Are you really going to say you are going to let that happen?"
"No, but this is ridiculous! Think about it, Merrow. A female Remnant of Decen. Does that make any sen-"
"And what if that girl was Sophia, Lucius? What then, will you do?"
I stopped, as my eyes widened in surprise.
Merrow sighed and got up, putting an arm around my shoulders.
"Lucius, this isn't about the mission, is it."
"I..." I was at a loss for words. I was under a lot of stress at the time. It was just everything coming at me like a train at once.
"No matter how old you are, how mature you claim to be, you'll always be the same delinquent Lucius Cassidy who tried to hit on me when we first met. I've known you for so long, you don't think I can't figure out what makes you tick?"
"Okay. You got me, Merrow."
Merrow patted me on the shoulder, as I felt a sense of sisterly warmth.
"I'm proud of you, Lucius. We all are."
"I know, but I don't know if it was a good idea. I know I'm not going to live-"
"But Sophia agreed to it, didn't she?"
I paused. She did. She accepted right away when I revealed it to her that day.
"Sophia agreed to marry you, Lucius. Because she knows everything will work out in the end. You can't keep putting yourself under fire so much. You may be the most durable of the Remnants, but you're still a man. And in my eyes, you're still a kid."
Merrow ruffled my hair as I squirmed away.
"Cut it out, Merrow. I'm twenty three. I'm old enough to handle these things on my own."
"Oh. Watch out everyone! He's getting married! He's better than all of us!" Merrow teased, as I pouted instinctively.
"Sophia is going to be part of our family now, Lucius. And you know how important family is. We can't leave Lena and Fraser out there to Mogul. You know that."
Merrow pointed at my chest.
"Your heart knows. In the end, it was your heart that helped pull this group of Remnants together. And it will be your heart that leads us. So trust your heart, Lucius.
"Bring Lena home."
I found Mason in the hideout.
I knocked on the door cautiously.
"Mr. Soni? Can I come in?"
Mason was quiet for a few seconds.
I opened the door as I stepped inside. The place looked like a sanctum all right. It had druidic decorations all over the place. It kind of reminded me of the old seer's place back when I frequented it a few years ago.
"Nice book you're reading. Is it good?"
Mason smirked, as he closed the grimoire.
"I shouldn't have yelled at her."
"It's okay. She understands."
Mason sighed, as he ran his hand over the grimoire's cover.
"This is confidential, but I feel like I can trust you."
"For what?" I asked.
Mason gestured me to sit, as I propped Pariah against the wall.
"I'm an otherworlder. From another Earth. To the people here, it's an alternate Earth, but to me, it will always be my home Earth."
"How did you end up here?"
"I was whisked away. Along with Cybil."
"So you knew Cybil, for a really long time."
"I knew her, even before we came to the Champions Universe. Before we got our powers. She and I were classmates in high school."
A faint echo appeared in the Sanctum. Arcane whispers which illuminated the room with an ethereal environment.
"I loved her, and I still do." Mason said, quietly, before clearing his throat and continuing.
"On the day I decided to have the courage to confess my love, a magic circle appeared before our feet. And before we knew it, we were in a countryside. The Champions Universe. When we arrived there, a voice appeared in our heads. It called itself the Apparition, and it instructed us to choose between two powers to begin our new life. I don't know if you've watched anime before, but it's kind of like an isekai."
Thank god Thomas wasn't here. He would definitely not have been able to shut his trap upon hearing anything anime related. But I kept my calm demeanor.
"Yeah. And you ended up with your powers and Cybil got hers?"
"That's not the entire story."
Mason stood up and looked out the window. From his reflection, his cyan eyes glowed in the dark.
"We were supposed to choose. One of the powers was the ability to control the heavens, but only for good, as well as bending the laws of the world. The other power was to manipulate life force of oneself."
"Controlling the heavens for good doesn't seem that bad."
Mason managed a weak smile.
"We both wanted that power. But the Apparition said only one of us could choose. I saw it in Cybil's eyes. She looked so longing for such a cool ability. Even when she played videogames, she always loved celestial based characters. I wanted to make her happy, so I chose the lame power."
"That's really sweet of you, man."
Mason shook his head.
"I thought so too. For a time, Cybil was so happy. The look on her face whenever she used her powers to help others. To heal. To defeat the bad guys and save townsfolk. She was like an angel, and she always made sure I was never forgotten, despite being her sidekick due to having a weaker power. I loved her for that.
"Seeing her happy made me happy. Of course I wanted to be able to do something so cool, so awesome. To have followers and to be a hero to the townsfolk. Everybody wanted to be one, anybody who wanted to be isekai'd all wanted to be a hero. But what I wanted more, was to see the girl of my dreams have the best time of her life.
"But over time, I realized Cybil was becoming darker and darker. Her methods had become more and more ruthless. She went from sending the bad guys to the guards or police, to beating them up and injuring them severely. I wanted to say something, but Cybil was so happy. I didn't want to ruin it for her. So I let it keep happening. Until one day..."
Mason went up to the desk and pulled out a scarf. It was stained with blood.
"This scarf belonged to a man called Leon Belladonna. He was a man who committed theft to make money for his family.
"Cybil killed him."
Silence hit the room, as I could tell Mason was struggling to keep it together. But he took a deep breath and continued.
"She said that it was because his kids could not find out what he was doing. They had to live free from their father's sins. Otherwise, at some point, the father would snap, and he would lash out on his own family one day. Just like how her father did to hers."
Mason put the scarf away.
"When Cybil killed the man, I was in shock. I couldn't stop her. Then she went even further, and killed his kids in cold blood. I can never forget the look on those children's faces. Or what they said. They asked Cybil where their daddy was. And Cybil told them that he was free, and soon they would be too."
"And you couldn't stop her from doing it?"
"No. After the kids and wife were slaughtered, I finally lashed out on Cybil. I demanded why she would go so far as to kill, and that was when she revealed to me her past. Her abusive father, and how he abused her every single night after a stressful day. At some point, her mom died from heartache, watching her own daughter get abused by the man she loved and there was nothing she could do about it. I never knew. I never knew Cybil was hurting so much, and that was when I realized it."
Mason clenched his fists.
"The Apparition tricked us. It didn't tell us about Cybil's true power. The ability to bend the laws of the world were never under her control. They were under the Apparition's, and he made her bend the laws of her own celestial powers to allow her to use them to kill. I told Cybil to stop, but she didn't listen, and accused me of betraying her, saying that I was all she had, and now I was dead to her. We fought and I lost, then hid for nine years.
"And here I am now. Trying to find her again, but while I got stronger, so did she. And her followers have been attacking me ever since. Lucius, I don't know what to do. Cybil's too strong, but I want to save her."
I had an idea now of Mason's circumstances.
"And this Sanctum, I'm guessing it's really important to you because it was shared by you and Cybil, right?"
"Cybil and I used this place to bug out. But eventually, we called it home. Just the two of us, living together. We had our ups and downs in this place. So seeing her... just waltzing in and touching our stuff like that..."
"She didn't mean to, Mason."
"I... I know. I'm sorry. And to have her claim I'm her father? I just... It's too much, Lucius. I'm trying to get Cybil back. I will always be faithful to Cybil and never choose another woman in my life. Never."
I glanced at Pariah. I remembered how I got the blade. It wasn't because I was being honorable. Or heroic. Quite the opposite, actually.
I got Pariah because of a mistake I made. I chose to leave alone, and Arman had to bail me out.
By fighting Prime Aspect Mogul alone.
"You feel guilty, don't you. You made a choice, and it resulted in all of this."
Mason raised his eyebrows.
"How... how did you know?"
"I went through something similar." I got up, as I took Pariah and strapped it on my back. Then I held out my hand to Mason.
"I'll help you get Cybil back. But first, we need to help Lens. I know it's hard to believe, but she isn't lying. She's time displaced."
Mason took it as I shook his hand.
"Lena Soni is your daughter from the future, Mason. And right now, she needs her father to stop her brother, Fraser. Let's take it one step at a time. Alright?"
Mason took a deep breath and gave me a smile.
"Yeah. Thanks Lucius. For everything."
I nodded, as we made our way out of the Sanctum.
"Oh good. You two losers are finally out." A young man greeted us from within the shadows.
We stopped, as the man stepped forward. He had similar tattoos to Lena, but were bright cyan like Mason's. A bright strip ran down the side of his face, as they were complemented by snow white hair streaked with purple.
His purple eyes glowed through the darkness, reminding me of the photo of Cybil from the report Merrow had compiled.
In his arms was a girl who was unconscious. She was bleeding and injured from a hundred places. My heart raced as I quickly realized who that was.
"Lena!" I shouted.
"Dear sister. She thought she could beat me, after finally achieving her fortieth level. She thought she could defeat me after working hard to become dear old dad. God. You're such an annoying little bitch."
Fraser spat at his little sister's face, as she moaned in agony. The entire right side of her jacket was soaked crimson.
Mason's eyes were wide.
"How could you do this to your own sister? She's your family!"
Fraser glared at his father.
"You don't know shit, old man." Fraser snarled, as numerous zombies appeared from all directions. We were surrounded.
"What do you know? Huh?" Fraser grabbed Lens by the collar and dragged her across the ground. She must have lost a lot of blood, because her whole face was completely pale.
Mason tried to keep calm.
"Look. I don't want to fight. Lucius told me everything. You two. You're both time displaced right? As your father, please. Just stop this."
"Shut. Up." Fraser said, as the zombies began to prepare to fight. I took out Pariah but didn't attack. Not when Lens was in this condition. I couldn't risk her getting any more hurt than she already was. It didn't take much to know she was in critical condition.
"As my father? You were never around. Mom told me everything. Your sick tricks. From the very start, you were against her. She was trying so hard to escape her past. All she wanted was to make sure no child would suffer from the mistakes of their parents. That was all she wanted. But no. You had to fuck it all up for everyone! Where the hell were you when we were born? Where the hell were you when I lost my first tooth? Where the hell were you every time I felt like shit because I wasn't living up to mother's standards?! And now, you're telling me you want to be a father?!"
Fraser's voice was getting louder and louder until he was practically shouting.
"Fraser. The Mason here isn't the Mason from the future." I said, calmly, but Fraser glared at me.
"Oh no. And now there's also you. Lucas Cassidy."
"I don't fucking care what your name is! It's bad enough Lena got influenced by Mason. Now she's being influenced by you. I've seen how she looks at you. Her little subtle blushing. It's like every time I run into her, she's got something new to piss me the hell off. But I've had it. All I'm doing is ranting. If I wanted to rant, I'd do it during the last few moments of your dying breath. Marcel Soni. Lucius Cassidy. I'm going to do to you, just as I did to Lena!"
I brandished Pariah, as the zombies closed in. One swing sent them all hurtling into the air, while Mason charged forward to get Lens. But Fraser intercepted his father and landed a kick which sent him flying into a building.
"That all you got? You're nothing compared to mother."
"I never said that was." Mason replied, as his armor began to crack with teal lines, shattering and revealing his glowing tattooed figure. Mason flew into the air and blasted Fraser with poison bolts, but Fraser's tattoos began to glow as well, as he held out his hand, creating a conical funnel which siphoned all the poison out of the air.
"Do better. Dad."
Fraser fired a force bolt which caught Mason in the chin, launching him away from the battlefield.
A zombie tried to bite my neck, but its teeth shattered against my skin. I turned around and swung my fist, as the sheer force of the strike blasted a whole legion of minions away.
I couldn't use my spikes without hurting Lens. I had to use my other abilities. Thankfully, I didn't just spend those eight years honing down one power like an idiot.
I concentrated, as red electricity discharged from my body. I jolted forward and grabbed Lens and zoomed across the other side of the battlefield while Fraser was distracted with Mason.
Lena's head rested against my chest as I carried her to a nearby shelter. Her head lulled as she tried to wake up from her daze.
"Fraser... I just... want Dad to be happy. And I know Mom will be too..."
I sighed, as I laid Lena on the ground. She was delirious from taking such a brutal beating from her brother.
"Lena. Get some rest."
Lena's eyes rolled to the back of her head as she lost consciousness again. I felt terrible for letting something like this happen to my own sister. But I had to get back to the fight.
Fraser needed to be stopped. And I knew for a fact that Mason was no match for this guy.
Mason and Fraser faced off on the roof of the Sanctum. Mason was doing surprisingly well, and I realized why.
"God dammit. You're supposed to be a healer. You're not supposed to take a hit!" Fraser muttered, as Mason flipped and retaliated with poison blasts of his own. Fraser was starting to lose his advantage as his body began to weaken from all the poison in his system. But that wasn't enough to prevent Fraser from launching Mason everywhere with his force attacks.
Mason finally lost his edge, as Fraser had secretly wound up a surprise of his own. Mason leapt in, as I reached out.
Too late. Fraser let loose a devastating force cascade which blasted Mason point blank. I watched as the healer hero went through two buildings and crumpled into the debris. His armor destroyed and blood was spilling all over his face.
Fraser smiled as he walked up to Mason, powering up a finishing force cascade.
"Damn. Like daughter like father, eh?"
Fraser fired, but this time I was close enough to close the distance. I jolted to his position and caught Fraser's FC with one hand. The ball of force was vibrating violently in my palm as Fraser's face was shocked.
"What the hell?!"
I clenched my fist, bursting the ball of force, then opened my palm, striking Fraser and causing him to slide back.
"What are you?"
I took out Pariah, and slashed at Fraser's consecutive force blast attempts and closed in again, materializing in front of him.
"It's over, Fraser. We can talk once you're properly restrained." I gently struck him in the midsection, but I guess I didn't know my own strength, because Fraser's eyes rolled backwards and the kid slumped into my arms like a ragdoll.
"Oops. Shit." I muttered, as Mason managed to get to his feet, his healing topping him off instantly.
"Lens." I told him, as Mason nodded quickly, rushing to Lena's side and healing her.
I regarded Fraser's unconscious face.
So much anger and hatred. And resentment.
I knew that look all too well.
"Sorry kid. But this is the only way for me to get you to listen. You're gonna have one hell of a migraine, but at least you're not dead."
I'm never having kids.
Not even if Sophia is the one who asks for them.
Because it's just not gonna happen.
No one told me that this mission was going to involve looking after two siblings who did nothing but bicker with each other. But here I was.
Sitting in a room with Fraser and Lena, who were both glaring at each other as if they were going to go at each other's throats at any moment.
"Well isn't this great. Now I've got both of you in the same room together. It's almost like a family reunion!" I said, awkwardly, attempting to force Merrow's upbeat style into my own.
Neither Fraser nor Lena said anything, as the air was tense. I had to lighten the mood up a bit.
The only problem was, I was usually the one who made things tense. This was way out of my alley.
I awkwardly scratched the back of my head.
"Which one of you is the older twin?"
Lena and Fraser both raised their eyebrows.
"What?" Lena asked.
Fraser crossed his arms.
"This is a waste of time."
Lena looked away.
"Agreed. My phone has been pinging me this whole time alerting me of another Cosmic invasion attempt. And I'm missing out."
"Come on." I said. "I'm just trying to lighten the mood. Come now. Who's the older twin. Spill the beans guys."
Lena and Fraser looked at each other, then at me.
"I am." They said at the same time.
"Huh?!" Fraser said, his face contorted in annoyance.
Lena's face scrunched up too in irritation.
"I'm the older one."
"What the hell are you talking about? With your baby face? I'm clearly the more mature brother."
"If by mature you mean a petty kid who started this whole war just because mommy didn't give him kisses at night."
"You're one to say. Look at your taste in men." Fraser pointed a finger at me.
"This guy? Seriously? No. Absolutely not. I'm not letting you have sex with-"
"Excuse me?!" Lena squeaked, her face beet red.
"Who are you to tell me who or who not to date? And Lucius? He's not even that hot! I can't believe you just said something that disgusting. Ugh, I think I'm going to throw up. I don't like him. He's beneath me. He's-"
"Hey!" I protested, but neither twin gave me any sympathy.
"You're insufferable, Lena."
"You're irredeemable, Fraser."
Fraser put his hand under his chin.
Lens frowned. "What are you doing. Why are you smiling? What's so funny."
Fraser smirked, like he had an ace up his sleeve.
"Nothing. Just imagining how easy it'll be in a few years. What with your thunder thighs and child bearing hips."
"THAT'S IT! DO YOU WANT A FIGHT? I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!" Lens shouted, as she shot to her feet.
"Oh my god! Shut up! Shut the hell up!" I roared, as the two twins instantly went quiet, sitting back in their seats. I facepalmed as I tried to calm my nerves.
The good news was, now I had Fraser in my custody. Meaning whatever Mogul planned to do, he wouldn't be able to harm either one of them directly. The only problem now was, Fraser was very attached to his mother, Cybil. And Cybil was out there somewhere. If Mogul got his hands on her, that would basically undo everything I did.
If only Merrow was around to give some guidance. But there was no point wishing for the theoretical.
It was all on me to get this mission done. And that's what I'll do.
"Okay." I said, as I turned to them both.
Weird. I wasn't getting the same tingly feeling I got from Lena whenever I looked in his purple eyes. I would always have some strange feeling whenever I looked at a Remnant of Decen. Something in the bottom of my heart that instinctively wanted the best out of them. A familial urge. But with Fraser, I couldn't feel that.
Meaning I struck out with finding the other Remnant.
Fraser wasn't it.
"Lucius? Are you okay?" Lena asked.
"Yeah." I replied, as I walked back to the table of the Sanctum. Mason was quiet the entire time. I get he was doing his best to keep it together, but imagine having two 18 year olds bicker in front of you who happened to be your children you knew nothing about it. I would arguably be kind of freaked out too.
"Right now, we need to get Cybil back."
"She's not going to listen to some stranger, if that's what you're thinking about." Mason said.
"Cybil doesn't know me, but she does know you. Maybe we could restrain her and you can talk to her?" I suggested.
"Restrain her. She's way out of our league right now."
"Maybe out of your league." Lena muttered.
"What was that, you thot?"
"Hey! Cut it out you two." I ordered. I couldn't believe I was having to be the parent when their biological dad was right in front of them. But then again, he was sort of... not in the right timeline to say these things.
"I've tried talking to Cybil before." Mason said. "She didn't listen. She just wanted me dead."
"That makes two of us." Lena said.
"Three." Fraser muttered, his eyes were full of pain.
I remembered how Fraser had described Cybil. And what Lena had said. Fraser was so fiercely loyal to his mom, so desperately wanting her attention, but she never gave him any. Now to be treated like all the others, a hostile. It must have hurt a lot.
"Fraser, you tried speaking to Mom?" Lena asked gently.
"Yeah. I told her that I was here to crush you. And to swear my loyalty in crushing Mason. She said she wanted nothing with someone who didn't understand her mission. Whatever the hell that meant."
"It meant you didn't understand why she's doing the things she does." Mason said.
"Neither one of you two knows why Cybil is the way she is. Only I do."
Mason walked forward and put his hand on an orb, as it showed an image of Cybil and Mason back when they were still teenagers. They were out exploring and saving the town from an army of monsters. Cybil had a smile on her face as she fought them off and protected the weak, and Mason looked so happy, fighting alongside the girl he loved.
"She looks like Lena. Almost like an uncanny resemblance." Fraser said.
"She's really pretty." Lena commented.
"I just said she looks like you. There's no way she's that pretty."
I glared at Fraser, who immediately shut up.
"Freedom. That's what she fought for. Freedom for those who deserved to live a good and kind life. When she was little, she was a really well behaved girl. But over time, she began to develop alcoholic problems because of the influence her father had on her. Her father was a heavy drunk, and oftentimes would come home to abuse her. Right in front of her mother. Even from a young age, Cybil wanted to be free. Free from her father, and free from the guilt that had ended her mother's life."
The image shifted to Cybil slaughtered numerous families.
"I still remember that day. What she told me. 'Do you think his kids will ever forget the things he did to them? Do you really think they will move on?' She wanted to kill the children too, because she thought that would be the only way to free them from their memories."
Mason closed the hologram as he looked at all of us.
"What Cybil is doing, at least what she thinks she is doing, is delivering divine justice."
Divine justice, huh.
"Where is Cybil right now?" I asked.
"No idea." Mason admitted.
"I do." Fraser said, his face grim.
"You do?" Lena asked, surprised.
Fraser walked up to the map on the table.
"During my time in this past, I amassed my own troops to try to offer to Mom in exchange for a chance to work as her right hand man. I know a lot of how her forces are stationed. If we're talking about where she is, or where her base is for that matter, it's here."
Fraser pointed at a region on the map. It was a separate island, and Mason gasped.
"Cybil is in Destruga?!"
"Yeah. Why?" Fraser asked.
Mason stepped back.
"Do you know what this means?"
Lena closed her eyes and leaned back.
"What the hell? Why are you two reacting like that?"
Lena ran her hand through her hair as she took a deep breath.
"Fraser. Destruga is where Doctor Destroyer resides. If it's true that Cybil's base is stationed there that means she's working in line with the most powerful super villain in the Champions Universe."
Lens' phone rang again.
Lens took the phone from her pocket and read the message.
"No. That's strange. I've never seen an alert like this before."
Mason's wristband also lit up as he inspected it.
"Because it isn't a Cosmic, Lens. It's something else."
We heard a huge boom from the distance as we ran up to the window to see.
"What the hell?" Mason asked, as we watched a massive black hole appear in the sky. From the heavens shone a being that emanating black electricity but a heavenly celestial golden aura.
"Mom?" Lena whispered.
"I guess we can forget about heading to Destruga now. She came here to us." I said, as I turned around.
"Alright. Let's head there right now. We can stop Cybil and bring her to her senses and where did Fraser go."
Fraser was missing as Lens and Mason were looking everywhere for the missing super.
My blood pressure spiked as a vein popped out from my forehead.
"Are you kidding me?!"
We rushed out of the Sanctum and made chase for Fraser.
"That idiot! Why is he trying to go in there without a plan?!" Lens exclaimed.
"If he rushes in without thinking, he'll get killed!" Mason said.
"Fraser..." I muttered.
"How far will you go to gain your mother's affection?"
A hero waved at us, and greeted Mason.
"What's the situation? Any idea what's going on?"
The hero, Silvus, shook his head.
"No idea. We've never encountered something like this. That person over there looks like someone's nemesis."
"Ah." Mason muttered. "That's crazy."
"Any alert go out as to what we should do?" Lens asked.
Silvus shook his head.
"Nope. So far, no one has been able to breach the barrier that leads up to her lair. We just don't have that kind of DPS. We're all just fighting off all the minions that are busting up Millennium City right now. They're all incredible powerful. Whoever's nemesis this is, they've pissed her off real bad. I've never seen nemesis minions this powerful before."
"How powerful are we talking?" Mason asked.
"See for yourself." Silvus pointed at a group of heroes who were holding off a team of minions. They were all fully geared and maximum level from Apex Scan. They were barely holding on.
"We need everybody in this fight. For the first time in decades. Feels like we've got our backs against the wall with this one. The only time we've had to do something like this was when the Cosmic threats became stronger and prompted us to form massive teams of heroes to take them down."
"What the- nemesis minions?!" A hero said, as several zombies began pushing Cybil's forces back.
"Fraser." Lens grumbled.
"Lucius, you can hunt Fraser down right?" Mason asked me.
"I can't pinpoint his location. Apex Hunt only works on beings who aren't time displaced."
"It doesn't take a genius to know where he's headed." Lens said, as she pointed at the base of the barrier, away from the heroes. A kid was there firing force cascade after force cascade against the walls, trying to breach it. Cybil's minions were trying to stop him, but Fraser's own minions were fighting them back.
Silvus put his hand on Mason's shoulder.
"I have to go back and help the other heroes. You should help out a team too. We need your help guys. Otherwise this world is doomed. I don't know what happened or how this nemesis got so powerful, but we need everybody on board for this one."
Silvus nodded at Lens.
"I never had the chance to tell you this, Lens. But you've earned my respect. Even if your powers are the way they are, you've proven to me that what makes someone a hero is their heart. Go get em, kiddo."
Lens smiled, as she thanked Silvus. Silvus flew into the air and rushed to the nearest team.
"What do we do about the barrier?" Mason asked.
"I can destroy it. I'm strong enough. But we'll have to be extra careful once we're in Cybil's lair. We have no way of telling how strong her minions are now." I said.
"Leave him." Lens grumbled.
"Now Lens." I said.
"I know. I know."
We found Fraser struggling to hold off Cybil's forces, even with his own platoon of minions. His zombies were being folded like cardboard faster than his ranks could join their leader.
Lena held out her hand and unleashed an array of shadow tendrils which cut into the minions while Mason began healing Fraser's zombies.
"I didn't need your help." Fraser growled.
"I wasn't asking for it." Lens retorted.
"Shut the hell up and fight!" I shouted at the both of them.
We continued fighting off the forces.
"Mason. Bring Lens and Fraser back. Shield them with your powers."
Mason nodded without question, and flew in to grab the two kids and made distance as I took out Pariah.
I faced the entire legion of minions on my own as I lifted the great sword into the air.
"By the Paladin Code of Acadia..." My corrupted arm began to glow red as black and red electricity burst from my body.
"Acadia...?" Lens muttered, as she stumbled, clutching her head. Mason grabbed her before she could hit the ground and conk her head on the cement.
"Lens? Lens! Are you okay?"
I wanted to check on Lens, but I needed to do this. The cracks on my corrupted arm continued getting brighter until the entire region was illuminated blood red.
"You have been eliminated. Legion Slayer Avalanche"
I slammed the blade into the ground as a massive wave of spikes erupted from the cracks, completely overwhelming the thousands of minions that Cybil had sent into the city. The waves then ripped out of the ground and transformed into spiky serpents, each emitting a deafening roar and chasing the remaining minions as I regained my posture, slowly putting Pariah back into its sleeve on my back.
I turned around and faced the portal as I walked up to it. Then I reeled my fist back and slammed the barrier as hard as I could as the impact emitted a shockwave that blew Mason, Lens, and Fraser back. The barrier erupted and formed a local hole for us to enter. I could see why Silvus said they didn't have enough DPS to breach it.
I pretty much went all out with that punch and I was barely able to break it.
I grabbed the group and jumped through, as the barrier closed behind us. We were clear.
Lens' face was pale as she looked at me in terror.
"Who... who are you?" She said, terrified.
"Lens." I knelt down in front of her, putting my hands on her shoulders.
"You saw him didn't you. You saw our progenitor."
"I don't understand. I don't." She stammered, as her eyes brimmed with tears.
"Am I not Mason's daughter? Am I not Cybil's kid? Why... I don't get it! I don't get it Lucius! How am I a Remnant?! That man has nothing to do with me!"
"Lena!" I shouted, as I brought her into an embrace. She began to shake.
"Listen to me, Lena. It doesn't matter what you saw. You're a Remnant of Decen. But you're also the daughter of Mason. Is it wrong to be both? Hm?"
Lens slowly began to calm down.
"I know you're confused and scared. But you need to be strong. You want to stop Cybil, right? You want to help Mason. If that's the case, you need to steel your resolve."
Lens sniffled as she pulled away.
"Y- Yeah." She said, straightening her back. I stood up.
I glanced at Fraser, who was staring at the distance. His face was sullen, but was full of resentment.
"Remnant of Decen... huh."
"Fraser-" I said, but Fraser cut me off.
"We'll talk about this later. Right now, I need to have a chat with mother."
Fraser walked off on his own as we followed.
Mason clenched his fist.
"I could appreciate an explanation too. From the both of you."
I nodded. "Yeah. Once this is over, I'll explain everything. I promise."
We fought our way all the way up to the top floor. I could tell Lens was still a bit shaken from her vision of Decen. Mason was doing his best to cover up for her. As for Fraser...
"Come on! Is that all you got?! Come at me! Come at me, mother!"
Fraser fired force explosion after force explosion, rocking the minions around as I helped dispatch them.
I knocked the last minion unconscious, but Fraser had around broken through the door to the final level.
Fraser tried to rush forward, but Mason stood in front of him.
"I know you have unfinished business with her, but she's still my nemesis." Mason said.
The three of us stood before Cybil, who was sitting on a black throne. She had a silk gown on, which exposed one of her legs. She had a really beautiful figure and face, and her hair was white as snow with purple streaks, just like Fraser.
"Why have you come here, Mason." Cybil asked.
"Words won't get through to you. I know that. But at least let me say this." Mason stepped forward.
"Many people suffer every day. But no matter how badly they're suffering, it's not our call to end their lives. It's nobody's call."
Cybil narrowed her eyes, as she flicked a finger. The doors slammed behind us as the otherworlder got up from her throne. Celestial waves enclosed the circular room at the top of the tower, trapping us inside.
"You're wrong. Why do you think the heavens sent down calamity the way it does? Why do tsunamis take lives. Hurricanes destroy homes. Why do storms take families? Are you saying its wrong of them to do so? Are you saying it's wrong for nature to act the way it acts?"
Several goons appeared from the corner, but Fraser slammed the ground, and several zombies appeared, fighting them back. Then Fraser turned to Cybil and fired a force blast in her direction. Cybil weaved out of the way.
"Why are you here again." Cybil asked.
"When I was little, you taught us something. Something that I always kept in my heart. And that is showing the enemy no mercy is the easiest part. But identifying the enemy is what's difficult."
Cybil's face irked in disgust.
"I am not your mother."
"You will be. You created us. You created Lena and I so we could destroy Mason. But you made a mistake. You made the mistake of choosing Lena over me. I would have been the perfect soldier for you, mother. I would have done anything you asked. But it was all because Lena was the one who inherited celestial powers. All for that."
Fraser made a fist, which swirled with teal energy.
"And now you've just made your next mistake. You shunned me once more. Even after everything I have amassed for you. All these minions. I offered you my loyalty, and you spat in my face. I've now realized."
Fraser spread his arms and unleashed a powerful force explosion that knocked all of us back.
"Wait. Fraser, you're-"
Fraser cut me off, as I found myself trapped in a spatial restraint. A time based one. I couldn't escape. And neither could Lens or Mason.
"I don't need you. Mother. Why am I wasting my time trying to get the love of a person who never wanted to have me in the first place? Hell, even Mason that dumb turd bucket has given me more attention in the past few days than you have my whole life. I'm gonna make you regret everything. I'm gonna show you just how evil I can be. Everything you've done. All the neglect. All the pain you've caused me."
The entire room began to shake as Fraser continued getting stronger.
"You created a monster, Cybil. And now this monster is going to destroy you."
Cybil gritted her teeth, as she brought her hands up, summoning golden celestial energy, firing blasts of power at her future son, but Fraser was not like Mason or Lens.
He was out for blood.
Fraser roared and rushed forward, summoning two major gravitational singularities in each hand, sucking in the light as he charged Cybil head on.
Fraser said nothing, as he brought his hands together, blasted Cybil point blank with a force explosion. Cybil fell back but landed on the ground. Fraser continued attacking and laying down the pressure.
Mason's mouth was hanging open.
"How is Fraser so powerful?"
"His feelings." Lens said, as we watched Fraser completely dominate the fight.
"All that hatred and resentment. Fraser isn't a complete idiot. He used anger to channel his power, and spent all that time working to get stronger. If we're talking power wise, I used to be stronger than him, and he had the higher tolerance to damage. But now, times have changed. When I fought him in Millennium City, I needed the help of three very high level heroes to barely take him down."
We watched as Fraser continued laying fire on Cybil, but by the eighth cascade, Cybil had pinpointed Fraser's next attack trajectory, and countered with a slash of her celestial sword. Fraser's eyes were wide in surprise as he leapt back, his vest was slashed apart and droplets of red sprinkled the ground.
Fraser's look of surprise turned into rage, as he tried to retaliate, but Cybil had managed to turn the tide. Around her golden aura, was a black and purple demonic essence.
"The Apparition." Mason said, as he struggled against the bonds.
"Dammit, Fraser!" Lens shouted at her brother.
"Why are you fighting Mom all on your own?! Let me out! Let me help you!"
"Shut up!" Fraser growled, as Cybil landed another strike that caught the kid in the side of the head. Fraser stumbled, and Cybil took full advantage of that, unleashing a celestial explosion which blasted Fraser into the wall.
"You can't beat Cybil! She's completely turned the advantage around!"
"I said stay out of this!"
I struggled against my own bonds as well. This entire time. I wasn't doing anything. Because Fraser's powerset as the perfect counter against my super strength.
Time and space manipulation.
My strength couldn't transcend time. Meaning there was nothing I could do. Only Fraser could undo my bonds.
Come on Lucius. Excuses excuses excuses.
First it was because I wasn't a leader. So I avoided leading the Remnants.
Then it was because I wasn't agile enough. So I avoided learning the way of the sword.
If I keep coming up with excuses, there will be no one to lead them.
"Grrrrr...... RAAARRRR" I growled, as I closed my eyes. Spikes began to rip through my clothes as my fangs began to elongate.
Lena stared at me.
Bring out the beast.
Break your limits.
If Paladin Decen's powers transcended time, to the point where it could get to Remnant 2 and 15. And now Lena, then I had that potential too.
"Full. SPIKE. CLAD." I roared, as my restraints shattered before me. Fraser and Cybil stopped fighting to turn to me in shock.
My body was steaming with red mist, as it was completely covered in black and red jagged spikes. My breathing had become a low growl, as each footstep crushed the ground, sending a mini-earthquake everywhere I went.
Cybil pointed her finger, as minions swarmed me, but I roared, unleashing a shockwave from my mere movements. The force of the shock disintegrated the minions before they could even approach me.
Cybil brought her hands together and fired a beam of concentrated celestial energy, but the beam glanced off of my clad harmlessly as I made my way to her menacingly.
This is over. We tried to talk. You did not listen. Now we do things my way.
"How did you break my restraints?! Those things were supposed to trap you in the fabric of space and time!"
Cybil tried another attack, but I swatted my hand, as the otherworlder was flung across the room like a ragdoll, crumpling to the ground.
I turned to Fraser, who yelped.
I tore the fabric.
I went up to Mason and put my armoured hand around the teal rings the were keeping him restrained and ripped them off. Then I did the same with Lena.
I turned back to Cybil.
"No. It doesn't." Cybil got to her feet, her silk fabrics were torn, and her body was full of wounds, but she breathed hard and regained her composure.
"The Apparition gives me power."
"No! You can't listen to the Apparition any more! Can't you see what it's doing to you?!" Mason exclaimed.
Cybil glared at Mason. "Yes. It gave me a chance to be free from my past. And it's now giving everyone a chance to be free. Everybody is now free."
"No, Cybil." I said, as my clad began to disappear.
"I think I know who this Apparition is. You can't let him take control of you like that. Nothing good ever comes from someone who claims to represent Sin."
AND NOTHING GOOD COMES OUT OF ONE WHO CLAIMS TO REPRESENT WAR.
We all froze, as Cybil and Mason's eyes went wide.
A tall, massive, dark figure emerged from the shadows. A horribly scarred face. Those blood red demonic eyes. That blood curdling smile.
"Prime Aspect Mogul." I said.
Mogul walked to Cybil's side.
THIS ONE CHOOSES ME. A FOLLOWER. IN THE END, IT IS IN A MORTAL'S NATURE TO SIN. I AM EVERYWHERE. I AM INEVITABLE.
I unsheathed Pariah.
"Mason, Fraser, Lens. We're falling back."
"Hell no! We just got here-" Fraser tried to protest, but I cut him off.
"We're falling back. Now that Mogul's involved, this makes this mission even more dangerous."
What the hell do I do.
What do I do?
I glanced at Lens, who was by my side. She was a Remnant. I couldn't let her anywhere near Mogul. But Cybil was with him.
If we fell back, we'd lose our chance to deal with Cybil. We'd have to find a way to storm Destruga.
Family first, right? But Fraser was Lena's brother. He'd be family too. And so was Mason. And Cybil.
If I chose to save those three, I'd sacrifice Cybil. If I went for Cybil, I knew for a fact that Mogul would go for Lens.
What would Arman do?
You shall not take my brethren, and you shall not lay hands on Lady Rivenlight. I shall see to this, with my life!
Those were Arman's words. The day he chose to save everyone.
The day he chose to save me.
I bit my lip.
"What the hell kind of game is fate playing, huh." I chuckled softly.
"Yo. Lens." I said, as Lens looked at me.
"When it hits, I want you to use your shadow powers to drag Cybil and get out of here."
"What? What are you talking about?"
Fraser gave me a look of disbelief.
"When it hits? Are you serious? We're not leaving you here! What the hell do we do when you've distracted this Mogul guy? Run for our asses? There's no way Cybil is gonna-"
"Cybil is going to go unconscious." I said, as I raised my fist.
"I'll make sure this blast will knock her out. But it's on you guys to get to safety, otherwise what I do next is going to be a waste."
Mason was silent the entire time.
"Lucius, you know we won't let you stay behind."
"This is the only plan I have." I replied, as Mogul grinned at me. This guy. He should have slaughtered us immediately, but he was taking his sweet ass time.
He was enjoying this. Because he knew exactly what I was gonna do.
After all, he already experienced this with Arman.
HOW NOBLE, NINTHBORN. HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF ONCE MORE. BUT NOW THE NINTHBORN PROTECTS THE TWELFTH. JUST AS THE FIRST DID FOR THE NINTH.
"Lens, do you have a team teleportation device?"
"Answer me, Lens!"
"Y- Yes. Yes I do."
"Form a team with Mason and Fraser. Grab Cybil and teleport back to Renaissance Centre. Find as many heroes and take shelter."
I held out Pariah.
"I can't guarantee I can hold him of-"
NO. YOU CANNOT.
Mogul appeared in front of me. Such blinding speed for such a strong opponent...
Mogul swept his hand as it caught me in the side of my face. I spat out blood as I smashed through three pillars and crushed the wall behind me. I flopped onto the ground, but shot to my feet. Blood burst from a wound on my head and poured down the side of my face as I spat out a tooth.
"Damn." I muttered, as my vision was blurry.
"Took only one hit too."
"Get out of here!" I yelled, as Mogul delivered another chop at his ridiculous speed. My body accelerated with red electricity to react just in time and intercept the attack with Pariah, generating a shockwave that blew everything back.
"Port out of here!" I shouted, as Fraser took full advantage of the chaos and walloped Cybil in the back of the head, knocking his future mother unconscious. Son of the year award recipient right there.
I began to sink deeper, as my feet crushed the ground.
"Grrr.... ARRRR AAHHHH!" I yelled, struggling as hard as I could. But Mogul was far too strong. Even after all that time I spent improving my strength.
It was no match for Mogul's.
Mogul launched an uppercut which knocked the wind out of me as it smashed into my midsection, but I clenched my teeth and ignored the nausea, rolling out of the way and slamming Pariah against his head. Mogul reached out but I bolted backward and leapt back inwards, my corrupted arm generating three massive spikes which I used to impale Mogul's head. The spikes shattered upon impact. Obviously.
Mogul swung his fists at me, as I intercepted them with Pariah, but with each blow that clashed, I could feel my bones rattling and pain exploding in my joints. My tendons couldn't keep up with the rate of force I was expected to generate to keep up my exchange with Prime Aspect Mogul.
What the hell was I doing? Fighting Mogul all on my own?
If fighting him with all fourteen of the Remnants was a useless effort, why would I be stupid enough to fight him all on my own?
"Everyone's here!" Mason shouted at Lens.
"Teleport! Do it!" Fraser screamed.
Lens had her finger over the device, but she was hesitating. Her eyes were glued on my fight with Mogul.
"LENS PRESS THE GOD DAMN BUTTON!" I yelled, as Mogul grabbed my face and smashed me into the ground. Everything went momentarily dark as I let go of Pariah, my body going slack.
"Lucius I don't want to lose you! For the first time in my life, I feel warmth. My heart races so hard whenever I'm around you that it makes me feel warm and safe. You're the only person I've met who has done that to me! I can't just let you die!" Lens cried out.
Lens sobbed as her body trembled.
"I need you..."
Mogul turned to the group, as Fraser began firing force cascades desperately at Mogul, who tanked all the damage.
"This guy... he's got even more resistance than a damn Cosmic!"
YOU DARE COMPARE PRIME ASPECT MOGUL TO A MERE COSMIC THREAT? INCONCEIVABLE HOW IGNORANT THIS UNIVERSE'S MORTALS ARE.
"Urkkk.... grarrr...." I grabbed Mogul's foot, as Mogul turned to me. I growled as I tightened my grip and thrust myself into the air, launching a desperate punch at Mogul's face. Mogul's head recoiled as I yelled.
I swung Pariah as hard as I could with an overhead slash, but Mogul grabbed the blade.
AH. CELESTIAL STEEL. SAID TO BE INDESTRUCTIBLE.
Mogul turned to Lens and made eye contact with her. Lens' hands were shaking uncontrollably.
LITTLE GIRL. SEE HOW YOUR FEAR HAS COST YOU. YOU CONFESSED HOW MUCH THE NINTHBORN MEANS TO YOU, YET YOU FAILED TO SAVE HIM WHEN HE NEEDED YOU.
Mogul closed his grip and to my disbelief, The Great Celestial Slayer, Pariah. The sword which was made of one of the most powerful metals in the multiverse.
Shattered into pieces from Mogul's strength.
Shards of Pariah managed to pierce me in the chest and thigh as I roared in agony. The siphoning properties of the metal siphoning away my Spike Clad and Regeneration as I felt myself losing consciousness.
"LUCIUS!" Lens screamed. I held out my hand to her.
"You need to get out of here." I croaked.
"Protect them... Lens... stay alive for me..."
Mogul laughed as Mason grabbed Lens' wrist and forced her to press the button. The group began to teleport away as Lens screamed at me.
"NO! PLEASE, LUCIUS! LET ME GO FRASER! LET ME-"
All that was left was me and Mogul. Mogul turned to me.
YOU ARE NOT AFRAID.
"Like... hell I am..." I muttered. I was losing consciousness. Any second now everything was going to turn black.
YOUR KIND INTRIGUES ME. YOU HAVE PROGRESSED FAR.
"Don't give me... that shit..." I gasped for air, trying to stay awake.
Mogul picked me up by the throat and made a fist.
BUT NOT FAR ENOUGH.
Mogul launched an uppercut under my chin as I shot to the sky like a comet. Everything went black as I soared at supersonic speeds, thousands of feet into the air as everything became small and insignificant.
"Millions of lives. A Paladin reaps."
"For no soul. A Paladin weeps."
My eyes fluttered open, as a bright light shone from above. I was in a heavy daze. Where was I? How long was I out? What happened?
"Day by day, a contract to slay."
Who's voice was that? It sounded soothing, but strong. Commanding.
"For the better of Acadia. Our priests shall pray."
I tried to move my body, but I felt immobile. Someone was massaging it, applying some kind of ointment that made me feel sleepy.
"The strongest in the multiverse. For we see no defeat."
Someone was talking. I didn't know who this person was... but... this person knew all about Acadia. About the Paladins. I wanted to say something, but part of me wanted to wait for the next line.
"By the Paladin Code of Acadia...
"Contract Complete." I said, as the voice stopped. The massaging also stopped as I heard ruffling of clothes from someone getting up.
My vision returned as I sat face to face with a woman. She had wavy medium length brown hair which fell to her shoulders in a graceful way. It looked elegant. Her face was elegant too, but it looked worn, from battle.
"You awaken." She said.
"Who are you? Where am I?"
"Arcadia's Cliff, young one."
The woman nodded.
"I sensed another being similar to me. But not the same. Hurtling from the sky, like a fallen angel." The woman pointed at the clouds.
I remembered. I had lost to Mogul and he punched me so hard I went flying. I must have landed here. Judging from all the oils and ointment on me, I must have suffered tremendous damage in my fight against the Prime Aspect.
"War. I sense War in you, child." The woman said, as she tended to her plants. The bed was right out in the open, and I realized there was no roof. No shelter. Nothing. We were quite literally outside. Sun and perfect weather. If it so much as rained here, the whole place was drenched.
She could sense it. She also recited something. Something told me she was more than just some hippie doctor who put questionable chemicals on my body.
"Who are you." I asked the woman again, as she turned around. Her eyes were warm, but her face was like one I had seen many times.
From veterans of combat.
"Before I answer your question, I have one of my own."
I didn't have time for this. I needed to get back to Lens, Fraser, and Mason. There was no time. If Mogul got his hands on them I didn't know what to do. But looking at this woman, I could tell.
I was no match for her.
Not to mention the fact that Pariah was destroyed. I had no weapon on me that could do significant damage.
I took a deep breath.
"A poem of the Paladin Collective." The woman said.
"You finished the last verse. How do you know about Acadia. I sense a power in you similar to mine. But at the same time, so very different."
"I... am somewhat acquainted with Acadia. With Paladin Decen."
The woman nodded.
"I see. So that is why I sense War within you. You are a Remnant of the Paladin of War."
"Yeah. So who are you?"
The woman regarded me with critical eyes.
"I am Nika. The Paladin of Strength and Resolve."
"Did you just say Paladin?" I asked, as Nika invited me to the edge of the cliff to overlook the landscape.
"Does it surprise you?" Nika said.
"Yeah. I thought all of the Paladins were dead."
Nika smiled. "Yes. The day the Paladins were invited to unveil the statue of Great Acadian Philion. Many came. Not a single one escaped."
"Then how are you still alive?"
Nika glanced at me.
"How was Paladin Decen still alive after the great slaughter? For he was not present during the ceremony, neither was I. The Paladins who were contracted and did not arrive to the ceremony survived the ordeal. But Prime Aspect Mogul made it a mission to hunt down the remaining Paladins."
Nika took a deep breath of fresh air.
"The land is beautiful in Arcadia's Cliff. My sweet Arcadia created such a gorgeous place for her progenitor."
"Wait. Is Arcadia your..."
Nika's smile confirmed it.
"But that's impossible! None of what you're saying makes sense! I thought Paladin Decen was the only Paladin aside from Elder Paladin Rolah who could wield the Power of the Paladins! How were you able to have a Remnant?!"
"My dear young Remnant, the Power of the Paladins exist for all Paladins for a reason. Surely it isn't called the Power of the Acadians. Or the Power of the Aspects."
"Paladins aren't pure though. That makes no sense."
"Do you accuse me of being impure, child?"
I caught my tongue.
"N- Nah. No. I don't. That's not what I meant."
Nika laughed gently.
"Paladins amount among the thousands. Many Paladins go unnoticed. Many have unlocked achievements that never see the light of day. Their accomplishments, never recognized."
I remembered what Fraser had said. All the work he put in. All of the things he did to get his mother's attention and recognition, but going unnoticed.
No wonder he turned to villainy.
"Are you telling me there are more Paladins out there?"
Nika shook her head.
"I must not say."
"Sorry. I. The last Paladin I met was Paladin Icarus, and he was revived from the dead."
"Yes. I heard of the tragedy."
We continued watching the sunset in silence. But suddenly something popped in my mind.
"Where is Arcadia now?"
Nika's expression saddened.
"She is no longer with me."
Nika reached out to touch the clouds.
"Remnant Arcadia had her memory erased. For she wished to return to the world. Away from her shackles and isolation here. In hopes that Prime Aspect Mogul may never know of my whereabouts. She moved to Millennium City to become a Champion. One of the greatest healing Champions in the city."
Memory erasure. That must have been painful for her. It was basically like watching your own daughter leave you forever.
"I'm sure she's in a happy place right now."
Nika smiled at me.
"Indeed. And imagine the surprise, to know that the infamous Paladin of War, Decen of Acadia, managed to generate Remnants of his own."
"I- Uh. What was... Decen like?"
"He challenged me to battle. A Paladin of War against a Paladin of Strength. He believed he was superior." Nika recalled, as she put her hand under her chin.
"He was defeated."
Who was I standing with? She had the power to overwhelm Paladin Decen?! That meant she was even stronger than my progenitor. She could help me battle Mogul. But I didn't feel like dragging her into this mess. She was living a life of solitude. And even if I forced her to come along, what good could it do?
Legend had said that Mogul battled all two thousand Paladins at once during the ceremony, according to Merrow. He killed every single one. When I fought Mogul with my brothers and Paladin Icarus, the fight was even more one sided and didn't last long. Even if Icarus was weakened from being revived from the dead.
I couldn't imagine having Paladin Nika would help much. And I didn't want to get her killed.
Paladin Nika inspected me.
"May I touch your face, child?"
Nika put her hands on my cheeks as her eyes scanned me. Her touch felt warm.
"Tempered fire." She said.
"You emit aggression. Ferocity. And feral rage. But it has been tempered. Weathered over time. You have become wiser with age. Something Paladin Decen could not accomplish."
"I- You-" I was at a loss for words.
Wait. What the hell was I doing playing grandma grandson with a weathered Paladin?! Lens and the others needed me! I wanted to bolt out of here but I had no idea how to get back to Millennium City. And even if I did, Pariah was gone. I was still injured. And Mogul was now in the picture. I had no way of contacting the others because Mogul had shattered my portal generator back home.
"Look. Paladin Nika. I need to get back, but I don't have the sufficient power. If it's true you defeated my progenitor, is there anything you can do for me? So I could last even a bit against Mogul? Can you train me, please?"
Nika tilted her head.
"You wish to do battle against such a one sided opponent?"
"Y- Yes. Yes I do. If it means allowing them to escape, then-"
"You will end up like you are now, child."
Nika picked up a watering can and drizzled the plants around the garden.
"Self sacrifice is noble. But when used recklessly and without direction, it is simply foolish. I cannot give you the power to defeat Prime Aspect Mogul, and I truly do not believe battling him is a good idea. Even if I am a Paladin of Resolve."
"But even so, my friends need me, Paladin Nika. I can't just sit here and do nothing!"
Nika looked at me.
"Such a young fiery heart. I had to pull pieces of Celestial Steel from your body."
"From the way it was fragmented, and from the angle it had penetrated you, it was likely from an explosion. Your musculature suggests you are a melee fighter. So this steel came from your weapon. Is that correct?"
"It is." I replied, in surprise. She was able to deduce that much just from my wounds. She was the real deal.
"They say that Celestial Steel is among one of the rarest metals. Even among the gods."
"Where are you getting at with this?" I asked.
"What was the weapon's name?"
I paused. "Pariah. The Celestial Slayer. It broke in half in my battle against Paladin Icarus. I gave half of it to my elder brother, and kept the other half. Then this half got destroyed."
"I see. You fight with heavy weapons. If I were to train you, and guide you in your return, I will need to reteach you the ways in the sword."
"What are you talking about? I don't have a weapon, Paladin Nika. I doubt this little shrubbery has anything that is at Pariah's caliber-"
"Rigor." Nika said, as she held out her hand.
"Rigor?" My body began to surge with electricity as my senses dialled to eleven, indicating danger. I flipped out of the way just to narrowly dodge a massive great-sword which came flying into Nika's hand. It looked elegant. Broad. It wasn't like Pariah where it came with an armguard, but this weapon looked sharper and even heavier. Along the sides were Acadian scribbles. A prayer. It took me a few seconds to realize what was written on the sides of the blade was the same poem that Nika had recited to me when I regained consciousness in Acadi.
Nika inspected the blade.
"Paladin Decen attempted to fight me with sheer power without any technique. All of his attempts to destroy me were ineffective due to the exception defence capabilities of Rigor the Stoic. However, the blade, like Pariah, is comprised of Celestial Steel."
"That's not a problem. I can handle the weight."
"I do not think you can, Remnant."
"Just give it. I'll prove you wro- oh my god. What the hell?!" My arm dropped as I slammed Rigor into the dirt with a big
"How?!" I asked, incredulous.
Nika regarded me.
"Rigor is a special blade. Even among those that were smithed by the gods, Rigor was special. It was a gift from the Power Force."
"Yes. A gift from Prime Aspect Quinta of the Power Force. The reason why you cannot wield it, is because you lack the means to channel the Energy of the Prime Aspect of Ascension."
A weapon made by the Aspects?! This was ridiculous. I could see why this weapon was probably Nika's signature blade, and now I was starting to see why she could stand against and defeat Decen. But even so, as a mere Remnant, the chances of me wielding something that incredible...
"So you're telling me I have no way to wield it."
"Why do you say that?"
"You said it yourself. I lack the means to channel the Energy of Quinta. In the end, I'm just an annoying fly to Mogul. I'm worthless."
"Yet you asked me for guidance in fighting the Prime Aspect of Sin."
"Because I don't have a choice!" I yelled. Nika was unfazed as she regarded me with those empty tired eyes.
"Sorry." I said quickly.
"Look. I spent eight damn years training to get stronger. And the day I put it to use, I get rocked so bad I ended up in another Paladin's home. Lens, Fraser, Mason. Everybody is in danger from Mogul, and I'm just sitting here having option after option fly by my head because I'm still too weak after all that training I had done. I'm just super frustrated right now, Nika."
"Frustration is good, Remnant. Frustration leads to anger. Anger is what give you strength. But you need to learn to control that rage, or it will overwhelm you."
Nika pointed at my chest.
"You have rage. You have anger. But you never learned to control it. All this time, you learned to suppress it with calmness. Which is why you have explosive tendencies. In battle, these can be exploited. Which was how I defeated your Progenitor. Your first step in training, is learning to control those emotions."
"I- Okay. Okay, I'll do that." I said.
Nika smiled and gestured me to a small hut.
"Take your rest for now, Remnant. We will continue our training another day."
"Your friends will be okay, child."
"How can you say for sure?"
"Because time flows differently in Arcadia's Cliff."
I reluctantly made my way to the hut, but Nika interrupted me.
"You are also incorrect in assuming you lack a means to wield Rigor the Stoic."
I turned around.
"What do you mean?"
Nika pointed at me.
"I sense it. You possess an Energy of Quinta. But not the Power Force.
"You have what it takes to wield Rigor and to battle Prime Aspect Mogul, Remnant of Decen."
I was someone who had seen a ton of shit. Dark, dark shit. And depressing shit.
But even this was a little messed up for me.
This Lucius Cassidy guy was rated a Cosmic threat by my old man. But if I was going to be real, that guy was far beyond a Cosmic.
There were not a lot of people who could claim to be beyond a Cosmic Threat.
The only guy who might be considered one is Doctor Destroyer, and he's the Champions Universe number one villain.
So watching Cassidy get absolutely murked by the Apparition/Mogul was so hard to see, because it wasn't just unbelievable.
It made everything seem so utterly hopeless.
If Cassidy actually decided to stay here and become a hero without holding back, he easily would have become everybody's Superman.
Seeing Mogul brutalize Cassidy like that and having him potentially dead was beyond messed up.
We all took it pretty bad. But the one person who took it especially to heart was Lena.
When we managed to port back to the Sanctum, I plopped Mother into a holding cell. She was still unconscious as a knot had formed on her head.
I tried my best to hold back a grin.
"Is there a room I can be alone?" Lena asked, her voice defeated and dejected.
"Lena, it isn't your fault." Mason tried to reassure her, but Lena shook her head.
"I could have helped Lucius escape. It's all my fault. It's all my fault..."
"You were really brave, Lena. That isn't true. You fought through your fear and confusion from your seizure and helped us escape." Mason put his arm around her, but Lena stared at the ground.
"You don't have to lie, Marcel. I'm a failure. And because of that, I lost someone important to me." Lena replied as she pulled away from Mason and went up the steps to her room.
Even I felt bad.
For the next few days, Lena had shut herself in her room. She wasn't eating, and I could tell she wasn't sleeping. Because we didn't once hear the sheets rustle.
"Lena? I brought you breakfast." Mason knocked on the door gently.
"Thanks." Lena's voice emanated from behind the door.
Mason put the breakfast on the ground. Along with the other four that she "promised" she would eat later.
By the seventh day, Marcel pulled me aside.
"Fraser, can you try to talk to your sister? She hasn't been eating or sleeping for an entire week. I know she's going through a lot, but that can't be healthy. She's hurting herself."
"What makes you think she's gonna listen to me? Every time we met we fought. I won, all the time, by the way."
Marcel glanced at Cybil, who was glaring at her magical prison.
"I'm preoccupied with Cybil right now. Plus, I just don't think I'm qualified enough to talk to her. Even if she is my daughter, I just don't know her that well. I have a feeling you do."
I went up the steps, against my will, and approached the door.
"Can we talk." I grumbled.
Lena didn't respond.
"Come on. We both know I don't want to be here."
"God dammit, Lena." I growled, as I ripped the door out, and found Lena curled up like a ball in the corner of the room. Her face was buried in her knees as she sat in a fetal position. Her eyes were puffy from crying and it was clear she was starting to look emaciated from not eating.
She still had those thunder thighs and child bearing hips though, which I obviously was not gonna tell her.
"How long are you going to be like this?" I asked.
Lena didn't answer.
I threw my hands up in the air as I walked up to the jacket she had thrown on the ground. It was peppered with singed holes. No doubt from her Ebon Ruins.
"You do know that jacket was all there was from you getting a cold right."
I picked up the jacket. It looked so much like the old man's. Except for the colours. It was red white and blue. Like the American flag.
I glanced at her boots, which were high heeled, white and red.
God I hated superhero costumes.
"You're so lame, you know that. I hate superheroes and their flashy costumes and tights."
"I'm not a hero. Not anymore."
I threw the jacket to the ground and grabbed Lena by the shoulders. She gasped and stared at me in surprise as I shook her.
"For chrissakes. SNAP OUT OF IT." I yelled, as Lena continued staring at me.
"Look at you. It's been an entire week. Don't tell me you've been curled up here in a fetal position this entire time crying! What the hell happened to Lena Soni, the girl mother chose as her favourite? What happened to the frightening Lens of the Shadow Dimension that everybody feared? And worst of all...
"What happened to that determined Lens who swooped in to save the day every single time? To inspire hope despite having shadow powers similar to every cliche comic book super villain?"
"That Lens was never-"
"Nah. I'll tell you what happened to that Lens. She gave up. She lost one battle, and she gave up. Unbelievable, right? Disappointing, right?"
Lena's eyebrows began to furrow in irritation.
"Are you trying to provoke me?"
I stood up.
"So what if I am? I'm a god damn supervillain, Lena. I'm telling you how it is, because clearly no one has around you. Not mother. Not that pathetic excuse of a father, Marcel over there. Even when we were still in our timeline, no one ever challenged you. Every guy who tried to help you was just buttering you up so they could get in your pants and clap you till next Wednesday. Well, I'm not like those guys."
I pointed my finger at Lena.
"I am your brother. I don't give a shit about what you think about me. And I will tell you the hard truth, because I'm the only one here who can do that."
I steeled my resolve and made a fist.
"Lena Soni, your perseverence is absolute trash. I don't think I've met anyone who's as weak willed as you. And I've fought a ton of heroes to get to where I am."
"What are you- That's not true!"
"It isn't? I've been watching you through my minions. I've seen how whenever you join a Cosmic battle with those other heroes, you're always so attentive at your damage numbers. Whenever a hero is able to hit harder than you, you lose all of your confidence and leave the fight."
Lena's face flushed red.
"B- Because they had enough heavy hitters."
"Like hell that's why. It was because you felt like you weren't good enough for them. Am I wrong?"
Lena's hands clenched into fists.
"I'm supposed to be a hero, Fraser. How can a hero lose someone like that? Especially someone so important to me?! How can I not overlook the fact that I'm not good enough? That I can't hit as hard as they can? That I can't contribute and fight these villains as well as them? They're so famous. They're so happy and joke around with each other. You would think they're slackers. But once they're in the mission, they're instantly at the top. While I'm just a no name nobody."
"You're comparing yourself to the upper echelon of heroes, Lena."
"I don't care!" Lena screamed.
"I don't care if they're the upper echelon! I'm supposed to be up there with them! How can they do double the amount of damage even though I gave it my all?! I've lived my whole life at the top, Fraser. Back in our timeline. Are you telling me that was a lie? That I was just some weak dumb bitch who had lies fed to her this entire time?! And now... and now..."
Lena pulled her hair, as she began twisting it, her breathing was ragged.
"The one time I had to show that I was a hero, the one time I needed to be one, the one time Lucius needed me... I failed him. He sacrificed his life for me, and instead of helping him, I ran away. I'm... I'm not a hero. I've been trying so hard to be one. But each and every single time, I fail. I can never be like Mason or those top heroes. I can't protect the people I care about. No matter how much I lie to myself."
"Seems to me you just had a reality check." I said, as Lena stopped fiddling with her hair.
"Lena Soni. The Star Spangled Brat. Finally realizes that hard work beats talent every single time." I waved my hands.
Lena gritted her teeth.
"I do work hard."
"At what, Lena? Your makeup? I haven't once seen you work hard. At all. The day you were thrust back in time, you the same strength as you are now. You did nothing to improve yourself or challenge yourself. You just breezed through all your missions. Thinking you were some queen of darkness."
"But what about the others-"
"Fuck the others, Lena. I'm talking about you. I'm focusing on you. How the hell do you know they didn't go through some crazy seven labors type shit to get to where they are? You don't know what they had been through to get to this point. You don't know anything about them. But the one person you do know, is yourself. And I know that you know, you haven't been putting in that work to improve your powers. Because you thought you were strong enough. You thought you were good enough to suddenly become a hero and be like Dad."
I spat on the ground.
"You're delusional Lena. Even when I beat you up senseless. It was the same god damn mentality. You got to Level 40, one out of a gajillion things a hero should have accomplished, then thought you could take me, someone who spent years becoming stronger for Mother. And guess what? News flash! You got your ass handed to you."
I could tell Lena was starting to crumble again. But this time, I could see some kind of fire in her eyes.
I got up and went for the door, but stopped.
"You wanna get to the top like those heroes you keep seeing on the leaderboards, Lena? Then start putting in that work. Improve yourself. And stop comparing your zero effort self to those top ranked heroes thinking you're in the same league as them. I can tell you that you're not yet."
I was about to close the door, but Lena stopped me, grabbing onto my wrist.
"I need him." Lena muttered.
Lena closed her eyes, as she resisted the urge to cry.
"I need Lucius. I know it's wrong. I know he has a fiancee. But I can't help myself. Every time I'm with him, I feel warm. I've never felt that way before! And... and...."
"You let him down. Got him captured by that maniac Mogul, huh."
Lena choked back a sob.
"Fraser, what do I do? I feel like such a mess right now. I'm feeling things that I know I shouldn't feel. And I'm so stressed out with everything. I want to save him so bad, but at the same time, I don't know if I can face him. I hate myself for being so weak and naive with my own power. And I hate myself for... for..."
"You don't have to say it if you don't want to, Lena. Look."
I knelt in front of her.
"Let me make this clear. I still haven't forgiven you for anything. I quite frankly hate your guts. Now that I'm hearing you're a Remnant of Decen, just like that ridiculous powerhouse Cassidy. It's unbelievable how much gifts and potential you have now. So much shit that I don't have. But even so, you're my little sis. And don't give me that bullshit that you're the older one. We all know I'm the older one."
I put my hand on her head, as Lena didn't protest. Her eyes were getting heavier by the second.
"It's my job to look after my sister if she's in pain. I may be an asshole, but I'm still human."
Lena sighed as her eyes began to get droopy.
"Get some sleep, Lensy. You haven't slept at all. There's no way that's good for your health. Face your problems another day. Once we've rescued Prince Charming Cassidy, we can go back to normal. Where I kick your ass and take over Millennium City."
"Are you being serious right now, Arman?!"
"Don't call me that." I growled, as I shoved Sammy aside and put distance between him and Rei.
"I'm not going back to them. I will not ever use my swords on beings other than Abyssal Creatures."
Sammy opened his hands, his mouth wide in disbelief.
"So you're telling me you'd rather spend your life here and let us all die out to that maniac."
"And what if I am?"
A vein popped up on Sammy's forehead.
"Are you even listening to yourself speak right now?" Sammy said, quietly, as he approached me until we were face to face.
"You. Arman Wan. The Firstborn. The supposed strongest of our kind. Has decided to just give up and live your life here. What do you think Mogul is going to do once he slaughters us, Arman? He's not going to leave you alone. He will find you and kill you next. You're jeopardizing this entire mission for a girl. Do you not see how ridiculous this is?! We need you Arman. But instead of doing your duty, you're being selfish."
"I'm not being selfish."
"What part of all this shit you're doing isn't selfish, Arman?! Look at yourself! You're literally playing house right now! I can list all of the things your brothers have achieved while you've been away this entire time. They've been working so fucking hard for this battle against Mogul. Yet you're not even gonna show up. You're gonna screw everybody over just so you can live your little happy life."
Sammy pointed a finger at my forehead.
"Firstborn. The strongest of the Remnants. Maybe all of that shit was just a lie. You're just a sham. I can't believe Lucius even still believes in you. If it wasn't for your stupid Phoenix asspull transformations, Lucius would have overtaken you already. If anything, Lucius should have been the strongest Remnant because he deserves it given all the hard work he's put in. And Kanade should have been the purest."
"HE ALREADY IS." I shouted, as I shoved Sammy's finger away. My blood began to boil as I felt myself snap.
"He already is. I get it. Kanade is purer than me. Lucius is more hardworking than me. Deacon is more ferocious than me. Thomas is more innocent than me. You're right. Maybe I don't deserve to call myself the Firstborn. You're right. Maybe Arman Wan wasn't as spectacular as everybody said it out to be. Firstborn? Remnant 1? What the hell even are they? I'll tell you what they are. They're meaningless titles."
I glared at my Mark of Ares tattoo.
"I killed so many people, Sammy. I've slaughtered millions as a soldier to the City of Argen. As a Centurion. I believed it was noble. But ever since I saw the other side of the war. How badly the Silver City had struggled, to the point where they had to revive Paladin Icarus from the dead out of desperation. I realized.
"How the hell can I claim to be pure. How can I claim myself to be righteous. To be a Priest of Argen. To be a hero after all the pain and suffering I've caused, Sammy?"
I yanked at the Chains of Icarus on my forearm. The closest man I could call an uncle's last gift to me before he blew himself up to try and stop Mogul.
"A warrior can never be a hero. Because all warriors are murderers. And all murderers spread pain."
Sammy took a breath.
"So what if we are killers, Arman. That's just who we are. It isn't a matter of being a hero, dude. We need you. We need you to fight Mogul otherwise it'll be a slaughter. We're not looking for a righteous hero. We're looking for you. We're looking for our comrade."
"You don't get it." I muttered, as I turned around.
"You'll never get why I'm doing this. You don't understand."
I heard a rumbling as the ground began to vibrate. I turned around, as I felt a powerful wave of force blast me into a building. My bones instantly began to regenerate as I got to my feet, to be greeted with Sammy approaching me, menacingly. His body was rippling with darkness as two black angel wings sprouted from his back. His hands becoming like talons as his face began to grow scales like a dragon.
"The hell did you just say? You just say I don't understand? I don't understand what it's like to take lives? Did you really just say that shit, Arman?"
I drew my swords, as I transformed into my Phoenix Mode, my bright golden aura shining through Sammy's darkness.
"Yes. I did." I said, as Sammy and I shot forward with blinding speed, leaving behind our respective shockwaves as we clashed, shaking the entire city of New Kona.
That day, Sammy and I fought. I demonstrated the power of my Phoenix Mode. But I also revealed that I had two other forms that were ascended beyond that. Phoenix Mode II instantly overwhelmed the form he was using to attack me, but then he began to use more of his power, and I was forced to transform into Phoenix III. At Phoenix III, I defeated him. Sammy escaped, and I had to return to Rei explaining why half of the city was nearly destroyed.
Rei took it well, wrapping me in a hug and telling me that she would always be there to support my choices. As long as it didn't lead to the destruction of other people's lives. I had lied to her that it didn't.
I never lied.
I loved Rei. I loved her so much that I would do anything to stay with her and Tsuyuki-sensei's dorm for as long as I could. Because if it meant living my life as Samuel Mace, I would gladly throw away Arman Wan any day.
Because Arman Wan was a hypocrite. But not only that. This was what Sammy could never understand.
The Remnant known as Remnant 1, along with his brethren, were just like their progenitor. The Paladin of War.
We were destruction.
We were pain.
We were misery.
Everywhere we went, we spread hurt and suffering to everyone around us because we were who we were. Remnants of War.
Arman Wan turned the tide of the battle against the Silver City by leading the troops to take down their most mighty warriors along with the soldiers of the Argen Guard. Then he proceeded to kill a majority of their Angels who protected their pillars. It may have been to rescue Lyra, but it still caused destruction regardless. Because of that, the people of the Silver City were defenceless, and some of their guards resorted to Prime Aspect Mogul for strength and vengeance.
Deacon Chow went on an uncountable number of expeditions to conquer entire planets as Fury of the Halakites. He killed numerous superheroes and justice groups just to make sure his girlfriend, Meena Kennedy could be free from being forced to be out on the field and kill again. But because of that, Deacon himself was the one who spread destruction and misery across the multiverse. And since Deacon was much stronger than Meena, he spread even more destruction than his girlfriend ever did.
Thomas King discovered his powers from frustration over his unfulfilling life. And the first thing he did was kill the superhero Captain Metro, and destroy countless lives due to his recklessness.
Lucius Cassidy. When I first met him, he was hotblooded. Hot tempered. He resorted to violence every single time. I could only imagine how much destruction he caused during his time in the ring. And because of his confrontational, vile personality, it had caused Deacon to transform from a innocent, weak-willed boy, into a cold blooded killer, leading to his recruitment to the Halakites and his planetary conquest.
As for our progenitor. Paladin Decen. He had done the worst. He killed his own brother, Paladin Icarus, for power and greed. And not only that, but it was his Remnants that kept him from resting in peace, forcing him back into the land of the living to be a protector and to use his chains for blood once more. Even in death, Icarus was being tormented by Decen. Through his Remnants.
When I threw away my Argen Armor, and cut my hair, I felt like a different person. I felt like Arman Wan was no longer here. And that made me happy.
Because without Arman Wan, there would be no fighting chance for the Remnants.
We would all die from Mogul without the fight expanding to other realms.
We would all vanish. Every trace of Paladin Decen would be gone.
And we deserved to be destroyed, after all the pain and suffering we spread.
"Do you think that? Really, Arman?"
Who was there?
"Who's talking." I asked.
"That you deserve to die because all you do is hurt others."
I pursed my lips.
Someone was reading my thoughts.
"It is true. Paladin Decen stood for War. War always leads to pain and suffering. And all we've done was do just that. Not to just the people we have killed or harmed. But to even our family and friends."
"The only time I ever felt like I was in pain, was when you chose to do just that. To seclude yourself. To abandon yourself. How can you be so ignorant?"
"Who is this?!" I yelled into the abyss.
"After everything that we had been through, Arman. Everything. You being frozen to near death by your own blade. To abandoning us all. To abandoning Kaius and I to live in that secluded universe. The only times you have ever spread pain was when you decided that you wanted to be out of the picture. To let yourself die? To end yourself because you believe you kept hurting others? The act of doing just that was the only time I ever felt hurt from your actions."
I could feel something beginning to bubble in my body as I collapsed to one knee.
"ERRRGGAAAAR!!!!" I yelled, as black electricity burst from my body.
"Why do you keep leaving me, Arman?" Lyra's voice resonated in my head.
"Because I don't want you to get hurt!" I yelled.
"Because I don't want you to see me get hurt! The worst pain I could ever have is to see you in pain, Lyra."
Lyra materialized in front of me and grabbed me by the cheeks.
"Ouch!" I yelped, as Lyra glared at me with those orange eyes. Those same eyes similar to her father's.
The Demon Lord Diablos.
"Enough. This is enough. After all these years, you are still a foolish boy. You claim that the worst pain you could ever experience was seeing me hurting. When you are doing just that."
Lyra slapped me in the face as the shock went down my body. I stared at my caretaker in disbelief.
"You are selfish, Arman. You would put others in pain just so you could not experience it yourself."
"That isn't true!"
"Yes, it is. And you know that. You would put me in pain by abandoning Kaius and I and running off on your own. Just so you could not bear with the possibility of either of us getting injured. Do you know how hard my heart felt, when I first learned you left Argen? Then when I learned that you were impaled by Lozarus Quintus? Every battle you were in, I was worried sick. And it hurt me."
Lyra put a hand on her chest.
"It hurt me so much, but I kept watching and praying you would return home safely. Then one day, you didn't. You made the choice to leave us."
"Because I needed to get stronger! I had no choice!"
"YOU HAD A CHOICE." Lyra's voice boomed, similar to Diablos'.
"What was wrong in getting stronger with us? With Kaius and I? Did you truly think abandoning your ideals would make you a stronger Remnant?"
"Those ideals held me back!"
"Those ideals were what made you, you, Arman. By doing this, you are following the same footsteps as Paladin Decen."
I got to my feet, as Lyra also stood up and faced me. She looked older. Wiser. Perhaps in her late twenties. But seeing her made my heart feel warm. She cared for me along with Kaius when I was born. She looked after me, and we were there for each other, through thick and thin.
She was family to me.
But even so...
"I am not walking in his footsteps. I have what Paladin Decen didn't. I have full access to the Phoenix Force. I wield the powers of War and Light at the same time. I can do what he couldn't!"
Lyra shook her head as she placed a hand on my face, sending a warm current running into my body.
"And how much stronger were your Phoenix Modes? Hm?"
"Much stronger. Phoenix Mode II and Phoenix Mode III were enough to contend with Sammy."
"Who overwhelmed you as a Dragonoid."
"But I beat him as a True Phoenix."
"By being Corrupted."
I was speechless. It was true. Could I even access True Phoenix willingly? I always had so much trouble accessing my higher forms due to strain.
"Arman, do you remember how you accessed the Phoenix Mode in the first place?"
"Yes. I thought about why I wanted to get stronger."
"And why was that?"
"To protect... my family..." My voice trailed off.
"Arman, the power of Paladin Icarus was only channeled just by you because you were righteous. The reason why you could do what your progenitor could not was because you fought for a selfless cause. That was why you could never achieve greater heights than what you could potentially achieve."
I stumbled back.
No. She couldn't tell me that.
I sacrificed everything.
"I sacrificed everything!" I shouted.
"I abandoned my Argen Armor. I abandoned my family and people. I thought I could get stronger from isolation and loss. Are you telling me it was all a mistake?!"
Lyra's expression said everything, as I fell to my knees and broke down, but Lyra wrapped me in a hug.
"My foolish Arman. Have you forgotten, that the name Arman was the name I gave you? I was the one who freed you from Koios' blade. In the end, I will always look out for you. From your victories, to your downfalls. I will always be here for you. Let go of the hate. Let go of the loss. The moment you choose to give up on living is the moment you will hurt me the most. So let it all go, Arman Wan.
"Reject the Corruption."
My eyes fluttered awake, as I found Lyra sitting at my bedside. She was holding my hand and was giving me a warm smile. Rei was also there too and wrapped me in a fierce hug.
"Sam, you dumbass. I hate you. I hate you so much. Don't scare me like that ever again."
I stroked her hair as Rei sobbed in my chest.
"How do you feel?" Lyra asked.
"I..." I looked at my hand, and sighed.
"I feel I have made a big mistake. In everything. In how I have approached everything. And it took you to direct me back to the right path. I'm sorry, Lyra."
Lyra stroked my face.
"There is no need to apologize. I will always direct you back to the right path. In the end, no matter how powerful you become, you will always be the same Arman Wan who appeared in our garden that day. I will always love you like my own."
I smiled warmly, as Rei calmed down, resting her head on my chest. There was something I needed to do.
"Rei." I said.
Rei looked at me, inquisitively, sniffling. Her eyes were puffy.
"Sam? What is it?"
"Do you remember when you asked me which I preferred? Arman Wan or Samuel Mace?"
Rei frowned. "What brought that on?"
I sat up and got up from the bed as Rei pulled away.
I approached the window. Corinth. That same view I had when Lyra rescued me once before.
"I enjoyed my life with you, Rei. I truly did. For a time, I felt I was truly happy. But one cannot live a life of dreams forever. That is not who I am."
Rei rubbed her eyes.
"Sam, you're talking kind of funny-"
"This was how it always was." I turned to her, picking up an old bronze shoulder guard. Something I had never seen in eight years.
I strapped it on, as I felt something return to me.
"Rei Tsuyuki, my name is Arman Wan. I am the Priest Proxima of Argen. Rank Centurion to the Argen Guard."
I put my hands on Pariah and Loz-Q, strapping them to my back as the Chains of Icarus flew to my forearm and wrapped around it. My Mark of Ares tattoo shone in the sun, as I could feel the last bits of the Corruption dissipating from my body.
"I am free from the Corruption. It is no longer a part of me. And unfortunately, so is Samuel Mace. I... I enjoyed our time together. But if you are okay with accepting this version of me. This real version of me, I am always delighted. I will always be happy with you-"
Rei cut me off by pulling me into a kiss.
"Arman or Sam. I love you, all the same."
Rei pulled away, as Lyra smiled.
"Will I be looking forward to grandchildren in the future?"
Rei and my face flushed red as I stumbled back, knocking over one of Lucius' medals.
"Oh!" I yelped, as Lyra laughed.
"I wish I could spend more time with you again. I truly do. For we have been apart for so long."
"We can always arrange some time together, Lyra."
Lyra nodded. "Indeed. But, you are needed in the front lines. I'm sorry for putting you through this. But..."
"I understand. What do you need me to do?"
"Oh good. Our favorite Remnant poster boy is back. Welcome back Captain Acadia."
"Captain Acadia?" I frowned.
Skylar stepped forward and handed me a technological device.
"Port to the Champions Universe. Something's gone wrong with Nine's mission."
Skylar nodded, her face was contorted with worry lines.
"Lucius Cassidy's communications were cut out. Not too long ago. I have no read on his current location. I made these devices so they could withstand some crazy damage. And I had Ben help me out too."
"Ah. The cyborg." I muttered. I could not lie and say I was not embarrassed by my defeat to the Secondborn. However, his planning, weaponry, tactics and strategy was superior to my power. That garnered respect on the highest levels.
"That means Lucius lost to someone stupidly powerful. And we all know who that was."
I clenched my fist.
"Prime Aspect Mogul. That blasted Aspect. He said he would give us ten years to prepare!"
Skylar shook her head.
"Yeah. No. Clearly not. He's started to make his move. I know Nine is a tough one. Probably the toughest out of you knuckleheads. But his mission just got several times harder. I need you to go in there and help him out. Prioritize finding those Remnants."
"So, the OG Remnant 1 is back. Now we're talking. You better live up to your name, and bring Lena back. We could use some more ladies here. I'm so sick and tired of having to see dirty smelly guys in my place all the time."
"I will." I said, as I turned to Lyra and Rei.
"Do what you have to do." Rei said.
"I'll be waiting."
"And I will come home. To both of you. I promise."
I pressed the button on the teleporter, and my surroundings elongated as I made my way to the Champions Universe to assist Brickhouse in his mission.
From the very first day we met, to the day we fought Deacon, to our first major battle against Mogul.
It was always Lucius and I.
And I will do my best to make sure Lucius comes home.
"Absolutely not." Black Fang slammed his paw on the table, as I rested my head on my hand.
Black Fang's minions were readied up to throw down and my minions were powered up.
"What part of the proposal didn't you like?" I asked.
Fang snarled at me.
"What part?! What part of the proposal did I like?"
Fang slammed the paper on the table as his subordinates whimpered.
"10-90 split in favour for Chase in conquering Millennium City. And the payment is a lifetime supply of Milkbone Dog Treats?! You dare to mock my place as one of Lord Therakiel's greatest subordinates, and make a racist remark like that?!"
"To be fair though, I wouldn't be offering this to you if you didn't look like a dog..."
Fang growled and barked at me as he leaned in closer.
"Say another word about me, and I will bite your head off, little brat."
"What do you want me to do, man? Offer the same proposal to Valerian Scarlet?"
Fang's face paled.
"Oh." I said, as I got up from my seat.
"You're afraid of her aren't you? I wonder what she'll do to you if I offered her the same exact proposal. Called her a dog and everything. And said I was representing Black Fang."
"You wouldn't. Have you no morals, human?"
"MORALS?!" I cackled.
"Why the hell would I have morals?! I'm a supervillain, Fang. As one yourself, I can't believe you would make such an amateur move. Nah. Screw this. Now I know Valerian is a better dog for me than you ever will be, you're of no use."
Black Fang rose to his feet and snarled, as his pack of Dogz backed him up.
"Make no mistake. One simply doesn't cause havoc and claim to be a super villain. You shall regret underestimating me."
I flicked my wrist, as all the Dogz were flattened by a gravitational field which forced them onto the ground. Whimpers and yelps filled the air as I grinned sadistically.
"Pick em apart boys. Dog brains is better than no brains. It's fair game!" I shouted, as my minions approached the Dogz and began brutalizing them.
"You fool! I shall kill you myself!" Black Fang growled as he blasted to me.
I smoothed the folds to my jacket as I leaned against a wall.
"I'm not gonna fight you man. I'll let my lil sis handle that for me." I said, as a young girl appeared from the shadows, and fired a charged Shadow Blast which caught Fang in the chest, weakening his defences as an Ebon Ruin came flying his way, ripping him apart and sending him airborne backwards.
Lens landed on the ground. Her outfit had changed drastically. She abandoned her leather jacket and started wearing a sleeveless denim which exposed her tattoo'd arms. A tight tank top, shorts, and a pair of thigh high boots. Along her shoulders and forearms were chains. The eyeliner on her face brought out her new savageness as she approached Black Fang and blasted him with Ebon Ruin after Ebon Ruin.
Fang struggled to close the distance, as Lens acrobatically darted across the room, cutting the villain down as I watched in amusement.
Fang growled as he slashed at Lens, which connected as her shirt shredded and she spat out blood. However, Lena regained her composure and landed on the ground, launching another onslaught of dark blasts at Fang. But Fang slowly began to close the distance, and soon Lens and Fang were trading blows.
"Come on, Lena. You're really gonna lose to this fool?" I asked.
Lena gritted her teeth as Fang laughed, knocking her down and grabbing her leg, slamming her into a nearby pillar. Lena crumpled to the ground and cried out in pain, but got back to her feet. Her legs were shaking but the look of pure malice on her face was unreal.
God she had changed so much in the span of those two weeks. I was proud to know I probably ruined her whole hero vibe. Best brother ever.
"I won't... lose... I will get stronger for Lucius." Lena breathed heavily as she wiped the blood from her mouth. Her thighs were cut from Fang's attacks. And her tank top was ripped revealing her bra. I kind of felt like taking a picture and sending it to the Lens OnlyFollows account. I always used it to post Lena's embarrassing photos whenever I was short on change. It worked quite well actually, you'd be surprised how pathetic depraved losers were, finding my sister so hot they would spent their life savings on her. It already had a fanbase. Obviously, she never knew. And obviously,
I will make sure she never knows.
I know. I'm a scumbag. But you have to admit. This scored major points in every super villain handbook out there.
Lena shouted as she charged Fang again, and the two duked it out. Fang sliced at her, but Lens dodged and went low, her hand already generating an Ebon Ruin as she yelled and slammed the ball into Fang's mouth. Fang's eyes went wide as he began kneeing Lens in the stomach.
Lena was clearly in pain, but she held on, forcing the Ebon Ruin down his gullet as Fang continuing pummelling the heroine down.
"Staaah Stahhh thi!!!!"
"I... I won't... I won't lose!" Lena gritted her teeth as her face was contorted in pain from all the beating and punishment she was getting from Black Fang. Her whole body was full of scratches from his claws, and now she was taking blow after blow from this hulking monster. Lens wasn't particularly good at taking hits. She was what I described to be a "glass cannon". So I could tell she was in a lot of pain.
But if she couldn't take down Black Fang, there was no way she could step up and be the hero she wanted to be.
Plus it was satisfying seeing this annoying little girl who had all the good shit in life while I had none get herself beat up in front of me.
Lena fired the ER and Black Fang collapsed, as his unconscious body hit the ground. Lens stood victorious, but she looked so beat up I didn't know whether to laugh or get her medical attention.
"Congrats." I said, as I went up to Lena.
Lena glared at me as she clutched her arm, which was bleeding heavily. Her blood was making a mess all over the floor.
"Why didn't you help me?!" She screamed.
"You looked like you had that fight."
Lens tried to hit me, but her legs buckled and fell face first. I caught her and handed her over to one of my henchmen.
"Carry her like a princess." I ordered my subordinate.
"Hey! How dare you treat me like this! I'll kill you!" Lena protested as the henchmen gripped her legs and bounced her head against his shoulder.
I snickered as we made our way out of the hideout and headed to the next place.
The Trey Kings.
I had enough of the laughs and handed Lena a healing patch as she took it angrily.
"You're looking ready for Round 2. Ready to take on Valerian this time?"
I expected Lena to explode, but she just sighed.
"I barely defeated Black Fang."
"You're not gonna become overpowered overnight, Lena."
"I know. It's just... I thought I could do better. Portenia would have finished him easily."
Portenia was a hero that Lens had fought alongside in one mission. She instantly outclassed her in everything along with everybody else. From many of my minions this Portenia lady had killed, I could tell she had been in the hero game for years. She had all the right gear, all the right modifications, all the right load outs.
It was clear that Lena, someone who only relied on her powers with the shittiest gear, bootleg modifications, and questionable load outs, would not hold a candle to her.
"She's in a different class, Lensey."
"Yeah, but she's with a whole bunch of other heroes who are on a different class. I'm always second or third and it makes me irritated."
"You're doing that thing again. You're comparing yourself to others."
"Sorry." Lena muttered, as she sat down on a bench. She looked miserable.
"I'm sorry Fraser. I'm trying my best. But I can't help it. I just... can't ignore the fact that there are heroes better and stronger than me here in MC. I feel like someone expendable, someone worthless. It's not that I had started from the bottom, ya know? I started with everything. I was the strongest in Mom's army. I was at the top. There should be no reason for me to even be mid-tier in this place of-"
Lena bit her tongue.
"Peasants, right." I finished her thought.
Lena buried her face in her hands.
"I feel like I'm obligated to live up to a certain set of expectations just because I'm born a certain way. Because I was the daughter of a Celestial Otherworlder. Because I was chosen by Mom. I felt like even if I was to walk a path of a hero, there should be no reason why other regular humans be able to outclass me in power. Yet here they are."
"You-" I wanted to say something, but then it hit me.
Lena never asked for all the attention Mother had given her.
She never asked for this at all.
All she wanted to be was a hero just like Father, but instead, she was forced to have powers that were so terrifying that it made little kids cry. And Lena loved children.
And here I was talking all that shit about how she didn't deserve any of it and deserved to be destroyed because of it.
Was I the selfish one this entire time?
I wanted to tell myself that I was doing the right thing, but seeing Lena's face made me just want to throw it all away and give her a hug.
She looked like she was being crushed by all this weight and there was no one who could help her.
Except for me.
"Dammit. And I had plans to take over this city as the number one super villain too. Lena you annoying little bitch." I muttered.
Lena looked up at me.
"Nothing." I said, as I put my hand on her shoulder.
"Let's just go home. You're exhausted."
"I can keep going."
"Yeahhhh. No." I replied, as I pointed at her tank top which was so shredded her cleavage was practically showing.
Lena's face flushed red as she yelped in fright, covering her chest.
"Fraser!" She yelled.
"Hey. You can't blame me. You were in a middle of a hard fight."
"Still! That's so inappropriate! You're such a jerk!"
"You're not wrong." I smirked, as we made our way back to the Sanctum.
"Hey kids." Mason said, as we opened the door, to be greeted with an unconscious Valerian Scarlet bounded to a chair.
"How did... you do that..." Lena stammered.
I approached Valerian.
"Damn. Good work, pop. I always thought you were some worthless healer. But you did good."
"Hey! Treat me with respect!"
I scoffed as I went to a nearby tap and filled a bucket.
"What are you doing?" Lena asked me, as I approached Valerian.
"Hey... I don't like that look own your face... you have that creepy smile on your face again." Lena muttered, as I grinned sadistically.
"Ho. Yah. This is gonna be hilarious." I said, as I did my best to keep in my laugh.
Mason frowned. "What is he going to do? Fraser, Valerian is still a young lady. Even if she is evil, you can't-"
Valerian snapped awake.
"Who? What? How dare you?! Who did that?! What kinda imbecile is dumb enough to-"
"Oh. Wow." I said, as I knelt down in front of Valerian.
"Check it out, Lens. She's got child bearing hips too! Those thighs, my god. You sure like flaunting your stuff, Valerie."
Valerian and Lena's eyebrows furrowed in disgust.
"Excuse me?!" The two girls squeaked at the same time.
"Okay. Here's the deal." I said, as I brought out a map, drawing a huge circle on the city.
"You're gonna serve me, and we're gonna take over the entire city. I'll compensate you. You can do whatever the hell you want. Want to support your chicken wing master and raze the world? Deal. Want to beat up some stupid heroes while you're at it? Deal. Want that Robert Caliburn guy to give you that pipe? Dea-"
"Wait wait wait." Valerian cut me off.
"First off, on what grounds do you even think you can negotiate with somewhat like me? Do you even know who I am? I am Valerian Scarlet, one of the most powerful mages in history. I am a Herald to..."
If I could get the entire Trey Kings under my command, along with this weirdo Valerian, I could amass immense followers. Cybil was still uncooperative. So we had her locked away to the police in the meantime. But getting followers was the first step in the plan to take on Mogul.
Because if Mogul could outclass Cassidy that easily, it meant he was beyond Cosmic level. And if that was the case, heroes alone were not going to be enough to defeat him. We needed the full power of everybody here.
I already tried Black Fang, but he was a moron. I couldn't understand a single thing Baron was saying, so there was no point talking to him. I tried hiring Devana Hawke, but she charged me way too much so I called her flat chested and now I was on her blacklist.
If I could get Valerian of all people under me, it would mean the rest of Therakiel's idiots would be on my side, since they respected Scarlet. And once that's done, I had all of them under my wing to start getting the other criminal organizations to be on my side. Including Purple Gang. Psi. Argent.
My plan was to completely take over Millennium City and use my power to defeat Mogul. Then after Mogul was finished, I would be king of Millennium City and live my life with an incredible harem just for me.
The ultimate dream.
"Hey! Are you even listening?!" Valerian shouted at me, and tried to conjure a spell, but nothing happened.
"The binds on you are anti-magic." Mason said.
"Courtesy of Archmage Caliburn."
"Caliburn!" Valerian growled, as she tried to struggle.
"It doesn't matter what you say or threaten me with. I have been through it all. I'm not scared of any of you losers. Try your worst." Valerian sneered, as she continued to struggle from her bonds.
"Okay." I said, as I reached into my vest pocket, pulling out a device.
"Wait. What is that. What are you doing."
I started clicking and snapping with the camera, as Valerian stared at me. Lena gave me the most disappointed look ever as Mason was completely clueless.
"Fraser... you're... really a scumbag." Lena muttered, as I continued taking photos of Valerian's curves, cleavage, her... um... assets.
"Valerian Scarlet. You know what they call you? Deadly beauty. You can take it a certain way. But you do know, many of the heroes here are pretty big degenerates." I said, as I continued taking photos of Valerian who began to realize what I was doing.
"Hey! You fool! Stop this right now. I'm going to kill you. I really will! Delete those now!"
"Nah. I think this'll look amazing for a Valerian OnlyFollows. What do you think? If you're not gonna be my subordinate, I can still use you for a ton of cash. Yeah."
"Have you no shame?!"
I took another picture.
"No. Because I'm a super villain." I said, proudly, as I scrolled through all the pics I took of Valerian's assets.
Valerian gritted her teeth.
"Fine. I will be under you. But delete those damn photos!"
And so, that was how I managed to recruit Valerian into my group of subordinates. I made sure Caliburn's anti-magic was still on hand in case she was out of line. Word spread real quick about how the mighty Fraser Chase had toppled the Trey Kings and made Valerian Scarlet his subordinate. The rest of the Heralds were frightened, and soon turned in their loyalty.
And it was all thanks to OnlyFollows.
And all of your perverted users.
That night, I was sitting in the Sanctum with Lena. I was feeling good.
All that was left was use my new influence to take over the rest of the city.
"Fraser." Lena said.
"I was just wondering if... what I'm doing is the right thing?"
"Why are you asking? We're amassing a ton of followers to take down Mogul and save Lucius. The heroes will come together. But the villains will now too."
"I know. It's just... I feel weird. The things I'm doing. The people I'm threatening. I don't feel right. Making allies with bad people."
"It's all part of the plan, Lena."
Lena smiled, gratefully.
"I... Yeah. Sorry. I'm just not all there, I guess. I'm going to get some sleep. Goodnight."
I waved her off, as Lena went to her room.
Lena was a hero. I could see why she would feel this way.
And the more I thought about it, the more it hit me, that I wasn't thinking far ahead enough.
Because what would we do once I had all of Millennium City in my grasp? Once it was all over?
Lena would not just suddenly decide to be a super villain like me.
She would fundamentally want to be a hero.
She and Mason.
At the end of it all...
My sister was still my enemy.
"Hey. Lens. Lens!"
Someone snapped their fingers in front of my face as I snapped awake.
Volth sighed, as he shook his head.
"Lens, you can't be spacing out like that. I know this is a new alert. But we need everyone here with us. Okay?"
I looked around me, as the rest of my group was waiting for my confirmation to start. It was a new alert. Ever since Mogul had entered Millennium City, his minions began to take over all of our quota. We found ourselves fighting more of Mogul's minions than the criminals we usually fought against.
"If you're going to space out and freeze up, then don't come. This place needs real heroes. If you don't have the powers to keep up, you're useless." King Bete said, crossing his arms.
"Agreed." Another hero said.
More and more heroes in the group began to give me dirty looks as I felt like I wanted to sink and die.
"Hey." Volth put his hand on my shoulder.
"Are you okay? You've been looking pretty rough lately. I know things are looking a little dicey out there with this new Cosmic. But it'll be alright."
"Thanks." I said, as I straightened myself and joined the group.
Volth still looked concerned.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah." I replied, as I shouldered away. I immediately regretted it, as Volth looked hurt. I wanted to say something, like how I found it so sweet that he was concerned about my wellbeing, but there were so many things going on in my mind.
But the most current one, was the fact that I had to keep my cooperation with Fraser a secret. No one had to know I was helping my doofus brother build an army of super villains to help in our war against Prime Aspect Mogul.
Because no one would accept it.
The people that Fraser was forcing under his ranks were the worst. They were villains. They all wanted blood and to hurt others.
Only Fraser, Dad, and I knew how powerful Mogul really was.
Everybody thought Mogul was a new Cosmic, but we all knew he was far worse than that. Because if Mogul could destroy Lucius like that...
My chest hurt as I clutched it.
I never had my chest hurt like this before. Maybe once when I learned of Dad's letters to Mom, begging for her to come home and be with him again. Or that time I had fallen, scraped my knee, and Fraser took the blame and beating to make sure Mom didn't hurt me for being weak.
When I was still being forced to be a soldier by Mom. To be a killing machine, a weapon against Dad, I never found myself in a scenario where my emotions would overtake me. It never did. The only emotion I was forced to feel was hatred and resentment for Dad.
I never found myself feeling anything other than that.
But... with Lucius it was a feeling that was so new.
Whenever I was around him, I felt safe. And warm. A little bit embarrassed at times, but even then.
I felt like I could cling onto him forever and never be sick of it.
But that feeling wasn't all that great.
There's no benefit in me trying to do anything to you. I have a fiancee and I'm happy. I don't need this.
I should have been happy he said that. I should have been happy that a guy would tell me something like that. Who wouldn't try to be all nice to me just so he could strip me down and pin me on the bed.
Part of me wished he was lying. And I didn't know why.
"Great. Lens has stage fright. This raid is done." Bete grumbled, as he turned around.
"Tsk." One of the heroes shook his head.
"Wait. Guys! Come on!" Volth tried to beg the heroes to help out, but they all left one by one, until Volth and I were the only ones left.
"Hey. I'm sorry, Lens. I wasted your time. I really thought we could take down this portal together. As a team."
"It's okay." I smiled, as I sat down.
"Things weren't going to go so great with that obnoxious Bete around anyway."
"Yeah. Fuck that guy." Volth smirked.
I managed a faint smile, as I stared at the distance. The entire city was purple, like the Nightmare Invasion. But somehow, more sinister. The "chickens", we called them, were now replaced by giant Black Winged Angels which were even more deadly because they were much harder to react to. They had swords that could shatter the most strongest of tanks. To the point where the threshold was now at least an 18k health rating to even block one attack.
Everywhere I looked, Mogul's minions strewn all over the land. Purple Gang was nowhere to be found in Westside. They were wiped out ages ago, after Kevin Poe thought it would be a good idea to challenge one of Mogul's Acolytes, war generals, to combat. The Acolyte, a man who had a pair of night vision goggles, spiky black hair, and was wielding two guns killed him instantly.
Poe tried to shoot him down, but the one bullet he fired was the one that ended him. Because rumor had it that this Acolyte was able to wield firearms with his feet. He did a spin kick and deflected the bullet, which soared and pierced Kevin Poe right in the forehead, killing him. With that, the entire squadron of that Acolyte's completely overwhelmed the entire Purple Gang force, much to everyone's disbelief, and instantly took over Westside.
"Thanks, Volth. For looking out for me."
"Any time. You're a fantastic heroine, Lens."
I turned to Volth to tell him how grateful I was, but suddenly, his face was pale as he looked at his phone.
"Volth...? Are you good, buddy?"
"Lens... can you use your invisibility?"
Volth showed me his phone screen. There was a message from another hero. There was a photo.
"It's Teleiosaurus. What's wrong?"
"Yeah. But look who's she with."
I narrowed my eyes and squinted to try to focus.
My blood went cold.
"It looks like some kind of giant orc or something. He's got three other guys with him. And Teleiosaurus isn't even acting them."
Volth scrolled down from the messages.
"That's not all. Look at these HP counts that my friend sent me."
The bar was gold. Which was right away an outlier. It was just like Kigatilik and Qwyjibo.
And any other Cosmics.
The name was set to Unknown, meaning Primus Database had no record of this guy.
But that wasn't what made Volth so shaken.
Because what was written on it...
"What kind of monster has over 97 billion HP? Even the Eidolon of Destruction had 20 million and that was largest I've seen. This guy is over four thousand times stronger than the Eidolon. There's no way... no way... Oh god."
Volth and I went to Irwin, as we teleported to Slither Beach. There were already tons of heroes standing at the top of the hill overlooking down at the Dino, and even more at Mogul and his Acolytes.
I concentrated, as I went invisible, and snuck to their location behind a rock.
"There's no guarantee we can have this under our control, my lord." One of the Acolytes said.
Mogul crossed his giant arms as his Acolytes looked tense.
"B- But! We can make some arrangements." Another one said. I looked their stats up. Just as expected, there was nothing. An "Unknown" for a name.
But a Cosmic for a threat.
Mogul spoke, and his voice felt like a hundred knives were scraping against bone.
THIS ANIMAL HAS DONE BATTLE WITH THESE SO CALLED HEROES. BUT HAS FACED COUNTLESS FAILURES. IT WILL BE MINE, AND ITS POWER, STRENGTHENED MANIFOLD TO SERVE THE CORRUPTION.
"But my lord... it's feral. It won't listen to us. But we can make it. As your will commands it, Lord Mogul."
The Acolyte closed his fist, as he began to glow bright like an angel. My eyes widened in shock as I couldn't believe what I was seeing for his stats.
They were going up higher and higher.
From 5 million HP.
To 10 million.
To 15 million.
To 18 million.
Just a mere Acolyte... already possessed power among the Cosmic threats. Just like that. And he wasn't the only one. I could tell right away that the other two Acolytes that were standing there were just as strong, if not more powerful.
One of them looked calm. Menacingly. He was quiet. Like he didn't need to say anything to show he was on a completely different level compared to his fellow Acolytes. Strapped to his face was a pair of night vision goggles.
The same ones as the Acolyte who killed Kevin Poe and singlehandedly ended the Purple Gang.
The Acolyte flew into the air, his body shimmering with deadly celestial power. It was so intimidating that it made Mom's power look like a party trick.
"My lord demands your loyalty. What say you."
The heroes began to get restless.
"What the hell is going on?"
"Who is that? Who the hell are they?!"
"There's more of them? Should we leave?"
"No. We should be strong enough to take them if we pool our DPS on each one."
"The Dino was demanding enough. Now we have three Cosmics and that Orc over there who's almost 5000 times stronger than the Eidolon. I can't see us standing a chance. But they don't seem to be doing anything to us. Maybe we should take the Dino for now-"
The hero's voice was cut off, as Teleiosaurus roared at the Acolyte, firing its radiation breath at him. But the Acolyte took no damage, as he blasted forward, grabbing the dinosaur by the jaw and lifting the entire monster into the air, slamming it into the ground.
Everybody went silent.
There was no way...
What in the world were we dealing with?
Fraser had told me that Mogul was on a different level. Lucius' devastating defeat to Mogul confirmed it. But even so, I couldn't imagine how we could possibly defeat these guys. Even if everybody in Millennium City came together. UNITY, UNTIL, everyone. The villains that Fraser were amassing.
The idea that even with all of us united we would stand a chance against Mogul's Legion was starting to fade more and more from reality with every blow the Acolyte was landing on the Cosmic.
The Cosmic chomped down, but the Acolyte zipped out of the way and winded up a punch which blew the dinosaur back.
"This is so foolish. Look at you. Such an unsightly worm." The Acolyte grumbled, as he stepped on the monster's head, when suddenly, Teleiosaurus roared, and from the shadows, another dinosaur emerged.
"Wha-" The Acolyte said, as the baby swiped its tail and sent the Acolyte flying. Enraged, the Acolyte charged both dinosaurs, but slowly began to lose his advantage.
Nobody was stepping into this fight. All the heroes, and myself included, were too immersed. I could tell a lot of them were holding recording devices recording the Acolyte and Dinosaur's scuffle. But the fight soon ended, when Mogul stepped in and once again showed his devastating power.
THIS IS TOO LONG. Mogul said, as he caught the Teleiosaurus' tail with one hand, the force causing a slight shockwave.
"M- My lord? I was winning. I will be finished with these two soon enough. I will-"
NO. Mogul's words sent chills down my spine, as even I began to fear for the Acolyte's life.
"Please rethink! I will prove my worth. I am strong. I am-"
YOU WERE CREATED TO OPPOSE THE SIXTHBORN, KANADE ASAOKA. BUT YOU FAILED. YOU WERE NOT STRONG ENOUGH. IF IT WERE NOT FOR SHAINA'S BEAUTY AND APPEAL LOWERING THE REMNANT'S MORALS TO DEPRAVITY, I WOULD HAVE NO COUNTERMEASURE FOR ASAOKA.
Mogul stepped forward and blasted inwards with blinding speed, faster than my eyes could detect, and before I knew it, Mogul had his hand over the Acolyte's mouth, lifting him into the air as he began to choke, his feet kicking.
"MMF! M Mord! MMMM!!!!"
YOU ARE A FAILURE. AND I CANNOT HAVE FAILURES WORKING UNDER ME.
I couldn't watch, as Mogul closed his fist and I heard a disgusting squelch. The HP meter in the Acolyte's status instantly went to zero.
All 18 million health points.
Gone like that.
The two dinosaurs roared at Mogul. But Mogul was unfazed, as he zoomed to the baby's location. His hands behind his back as he regarded the monster.
MY INTERESTS LIE IN YOUR MOTHER, LITTLE DINOSAUR. YOU ARE OF NO USE TO ME.
The baby roared, and tried to chomp down on Mogul, but to my disbelief, Mogul flicked his hand.
The force of his flick caused the dinosaur's head to recoil as a massive shockwave blew everybody back.
"EVERYBODY GET DOWN!" One of the heroes shouted as heroes left and right were knocked unconscious from the wave. I clung onto a boulder for dear life as I watched the baby Dino get launched into the air at a ridiculous speed. The Dinosaur soared, airborne from the force of Mogul's strike as it smashed into the ground, lifeless. Its skull was caved inwards and its eyes were bulging out from its fractured skull.
"No... way..." I heard myself whispered, my mouth was hanging out wide as Mogul turned to the enraged mother, and held out his hand.
Instantly, black electricity exited it and entered Teleiosaurus' body as it began to power up even more.
YES. USE THAT HATRED. VENGEANCE FEEDS SIN. VENGEANCE FOR YOUR HATCHLING. DESTROY THIS WORLD. FOR IT SO CREATED YOU TO SERVE A HUMANLY FABRICATED PURPOSE. DESTROY EVERYTHING, TELEIOSAURUS.
The Dino howled in the sky as it gained a black electrical aura.
I couldn't tell what its status was because the shockwave had damaged my HUD. But it was clear.
Teleiosaurus was now fighting at a level completely different from the level we had faced her before.
The heroes began to jostle around as the Cosmic turned to them.
"Positions everyone! Tanks! Healers!"
Teleiosaurus roared as a tank rushed her, but was killed instantly from one bite. The dinosaur then went to kill the other tanks and turned to the healers.
"It's learning!" One healer shouted, as she was devoured instantly.
"Retreat!" Another healer shouted, but as the heroes ran up the hill, to everyone's horror, Teleiosaurus followed them.
"Why isn't she going back to her position?! What's going on?!"
"Keep calm everyone!"
I stared at the carnage, as Mogul approached me.
He saw right through my invisibility.
WHAT WILL YOU DO?
"I..." I muttered. My voice began to trail away, as I found myself losing the strength to stand.
YOUR FOOLISH WORLD BELIEVES THEY CAN DEFEAT ME. YOUR FOOLISH BROTHER THINKS AMASSING EVERYONE IN THIS WORLD CAN DEFEAT ME. I WILL KILL ANYONE WHO DOES NOT INTEREST ME. I WILL KILL THIS WORLD'S HEROES...
Mogul turned to the Teleiosaurus, who's now amplified power was viciously slaughtering heroes left and right.
A Cosmic threat that was once under control and systematically held back for years.
Now turning the entire Monster Island into a bloodbath of corpses from this world's strongest heroes.
...AND I WILL DESTROY THIS WORLD'S VILLAINS. NO ONE SHALL SURVIVE THIS, LENA SONI. NO HERO SHALL LEAVE THIS ISLAND ALIVE. JUST AS NO PALADIN HAD LEFT ACADIA ALIVE THAT DAY.
"No..." My face was turning stark white from the reflection of the blood that was splattered all over the ground.
"LENS!" Volth shouted, as he ran up to me.
"Use this." He handed me a teleporter.
"You're the only one here who isn't afflicted by any attack state. Since you were invisible the whole time."
"But what about you?! What about everyone!"
"Lens." Volth said, as he placed his hand on mine, closing it around the Ren Cen teleportation device.
"You need to escape."
Mogul raised an eyebrow as Volth faced Mogul.
"I'll admit. This whole time, I was only being nice to you so I could eventually build up the courage to ask you out. That was all it was." Volth smirked.
"Pathetic, right? I'm a guy. I guess that was all there was to it. When I first saw you, I thought you were the most beautiful girl in the world. There were incredible heroines all around me, but no one stood out as much as you. I fell in love right away. And so, I did my best to support you, so one day, you would feel the same way about me. I know I was selfish."
Volth began firing arcs of electricity at Mogul, who was unaffected.
"But just this time, Lens. I will help you for the sake of helping you. Because I know this lunatic is not gonna let us go. You're all that's left here. You need to keep living!"
"Wait! Volth, you can't!"
Mogul smiled sinisterly as he walked through Volth's lightning arc.
"Live, Lens! Do it for us! Do it for-"
Volth's eyes widened as his head twisted 180 degrees. His face became slack as his arms dropped, and his body crumpled in on itself, falling to the ground, lifeless.
Mogul tilted his head and regarded me, as the Ren Cen teleportation device began kicking in, my body teleporting away from the island as I watched the heroes being torn apart left and right by a Corrupted Teleiosaurus.
SCARED AND WEAK. YOU CANNOT EVEN AMOUNT TO THESE PATHETIC HEROES IN POWER. YOU WILL NEVER REACH YOUR BROTHERS. I WILL BE WAITING. TWELFTHBORN. FOR WHEN YOU AWAKEN. I WILL CONTINUE HARMING THOSE YOU LOVE. FOR EACH TIME YOU DISAPPOINT ME, LITTLE GIRL, I SHALL TAKE FROM YOU ANOTHER.
Everything went black as I teleported away from the carnage.
"I'm done with the windows and I've put together the hut." I told Nika, as I found her sitting on a lawn chair and enjoying the sun.
"Good work, Lucius. Your next task will be to tend to the plants. Remember. They are a sentinel and sensitive species. You must use a certain type of feed for the correct plant."
I did what I was told, without question. I wasn't going to get upset over the fact that instead of protecting Lens I was helping an old Paladin do chores.
I was sure there was a reason why I was scrubbing the floorboards. Putting together furniture. Watering her plants.
Maybe she was trying to hone in my muscle memory. Maybe the movements were what made up a form of martial arts she was trying to teach me.
I sat up, as I stared at the newly assembled cabinet that I made for Nika. I picked the whole thing up with one hand and went up to her.
"The cabinet's done."
"My my. What a strong young man."
"You're the Paladin of Strength!"
Nika smiled as she pointed at the corner of the little hut thingy that I spent the past few days working on.
"Place it over there, please."
I put the cabinet to where she pointed.
"So I'm guessing this is the real training, right?"
Nika regarded me as I began to scrub the walls. It had been several days since I landed here and asked for her training. But this entire time I had been doing tasks and chores for her. I had assumed maybe it was to help build my technique, but I didn't feel my reflexes getting any better.
"Why do you say that?" Nika asked.
I gave her an inquisitive expression.
"What? Isn't all this my training? To build up my muscle memory? My technique?"
"You already have the muscle memory. Muscle memory alone is not enough to win. You must have experience. This is why boxers must spar, and not practice on pads. This is why warriors must fight battles, and not live their life in front of a training dummy."
A bead of sweat rolled down my face.
"WHAT?!" I growled, as I shot to my feet.
"So this wasn't training?! What the hell have I been doing this entire time?! I really was doing chores!"
"Are you kidding me?!" I yelled. I threw my hands into the air.
"You KNOW how urgent this situation is. Prime Aspect Mogul is going to kill my little sister. He's going to mess her up physically and psychologically and break her. Then he'll destroy everyone around her. I can't just sit here and do jack shit, Nika. I know. My temper sucks. I've been keeping it suppressed this entire time. But seriously?!"
Nika looked like she was waiting for me to finish. It was like she didn't have the capacity to get upset.
And that pissed me off.
"God dammit! Get mad! You stupid old hag!"
"Middle school insults will not aid in your progress, young Remnant."
"Well neither is this!"
My fists were clenched as spikes began to protrude all over my body.
"I'm getting out of here."
Nika held up her hand.
"You are correct. Everything you have done so far has not aided you in your technique."
I paused. "Yeah. Right. So let me go. I have-"
"Tell me. Your routine, Remnant."
"What? I know I'm already used to the routine, Nika. I don't need to-"
"Tell me your routine. The first week."
"I woke up, and I immediately went to shower. Sometimes the shower would get super cold, sometimes it would get super hot. Never in between. It pissed me off."
"Then I had breakfast. I had to climb certain trees to pick fruit, as well as fruit that would go in your daily basket. Some of them were hard to discern between edible or not. And it pissed me off."
"Then I built your furniture and cleaned. Sometimes the windows had stains that were extra hard to get off. And it-"
"Pissed you off?"
"Yes it pissed me off!" I growled.
"It pissed me off. Everything on this island was a god damn inconvenience! But..."
"But what? Lucius?"
I stopped. The realization hitting me.
"I fixed it."
Nika nodded. "How so?"
"I fixed everything." I said, as the gears in my head began turning.
"When I was in the shower, the more pissed off I got, the more extreme the water temperatures were. When I was picking fruit, the more pissed off I got, the harder it was to tell the difference between the edible and inedible fruits. When I was cleaning your windows, the angrier I got, the harder the stains were to remove. But then...
I looked at my hands.
"When I calmed down... it went away. It became easier to manage."
Nika stroked my face.
"Do you remember what I told you on our first day? That I had to train you to manage your emotions? In a fight, the victor is often the one who is the most calm, and is able to think and act properly. Rage and emotions cloud your judgement. This was a mistake your progenitor made when he fought me. The Acadian Chimera believed he had the power to take me down, and was reckless. When I grazed him first with Rigor, although it was not a fatal wound, and he regenerated instantly, his emotions overwhelmed him. His pride was hurt. His ego was bruised. He began to attack senselessly, and leave dozens of openings for me to exploit."
Nika pointed at my chest.
"Do you remember what else I told you?"
"That... I had a means to wield Rigor. But I never understood why. I don't have the Power Force."
"But you do have an energy of Quinta. You are unique, Remnant Cassidy. Among your brothers and sister. You may be one of the rare cases where a Remnant had inherited his Paladin's connection to Queen Quinta's Energy Realms. And since this Paladin was Paladin Decen, you most likely have inherited the Restoration Force."
I took a step back.
"But why didn't you tell me?! I could have started channeling it right away if I knew!"
"And if you failed? No one can learn to master an Energy Realm on their first try. If you had tried with such expectations, you would pit yourself to failure. And your temper would have hindered its activation."
"What do I need for it to work?"
"I believe you already know the answer, Lucius Cassidy."
I put my hand on my chest.
"A calm mind."
Nika smiled. "The Restoration Force represented Queen Quinta's ability to outlast her enemies. But its activation, was emotion. It was love and controlled emotion. Rage. Hatred. Frustration. Dark thoughts are the opposite of Restoration. Of healing. Of health."
Nika brought me over to Rigor.
"Put your hand on the handle."
I placed my hand on the hilt, as I felt the sword negating me. I began to feel frustrated instantly.
"It's not letting me wield it."
"Because it is responding to your frustration."
"Well, maybe it should let me wield it before I get frustrated!"
"Remember. Lucius. No life is without light. Reach into the light. Remember your love."
I closed my eyes.
That one was easy. I thought about Sophia. How I first saved her from that bastard who abused her and treated her like a slave just because she was elven.
The blade began to reject me even more.
"What the hell? I thought about my fiancee! How did it not work?"
"Are you sure it was a warm memory?"
"Ahem." I coughed.
"Dig deeper, Lucius."
I thought about our adventures together. How she was always by my side. She was my emotional support. Always. I would always protect her no matter what. I would destroy anyone who would-
The blade began to reject me again.
"God dammit! It's not working. I can't. Look, maybe the whole love and warm fuzzy feeling isn't my style. I was never born to be this type of person. I was born a fighter. Someone who was always picking fights. That's just how I am. I was born like this and there isn't much I can do about it."
Nika approached the sword and lifted it up.
"Born like this. Born this way. Is this what you believe? To be raised and brought up a certain way, do you believe it can define you for the rest of your life?"
I watched Nika place the sword gently back into its sheathe.
"Would you like to hear a story, Remnant?"
Nika led me to the patio, as we watched the landscape.
"There once was an Acadian who thought she had a clear direction in her life. She believed that if she followed this path, and stayed true to it, that she would become one of the greatest Paladins in Acadia. Day by day, she would train herself, and fight vicious bloody battles to become more and more powerful. Not a day went by where her hands were not stained by the blood of at least one monster, warrior, god, beast, demon."
"She must have been one hell of a fighter." I remarked.
"Indeed. Her passion lay in the glory of battle. When she was finally made a Paladin of her choosing, she continued her path. And soon she accumulated so many stars that she became considered an A-Rank Paladin. An A-Rank Paladin is an incredible high ranking mercenary of Acadia. For reference, your progenitor, was a C-Rank."
"Decen was a C-Rank?! After everything he had done?!"
"He was a C-Rank Paladin and fought his way up to B-Rank. Prior to acquiring Paladin Icarus' power, he was just short of A-Rank, a B+ Ranking Paladin. So you can likely imagine, the amount of work this particular Paladin put in to become an A-Rank Paladin."
Nika leaned back on the patio chair.
"This Paladin would soon accept harder and harder contracts, until one day, she realized that she could not progress any further. She had to change. And soon, she realized that her path would never amount to anything. Because what she believed she stood for was not enough. She had fallen in love with a man. A warrior. A general. The general and his army had won a battle against a rival faction, but their god was enraged, and soon brought upon calamity to this general's land. The Paladin wanted to use her power to protect her precious general, but what she believed she stood for, was not one to protect. And to her devastation, the god destroyed the general and his people. Leaving the Paladin heartbroken.
"For years, this Paladin would train and become stronger. Her methods became more vicious and more brutal. Her contracts became more violent. All so she could avenge the man she wanted to marry. When the time came where the Paladin met the god again, she believed she was ready. Can you predict what happened in that encounter?"
"She lost. Didn't she." I said.
"The Paladin suffered a crushing defeat. Because she believed that what she stood for was crushing destruction. Annhilation. What she thought her violence represented, was strength."
My eyes widened.
"I believed that to be a Paladin of Strength and Resolve, meant to constantly kill. To constantly battle. To constantly fight. The more vicious, the more strength I bolstered. I fought that god with everything I had, with the sole purpose of vengeance. Anger overwhelmed me with every strike I threw, it was laced with recklessness. The god took advantage of this, and strategically defeated me."
Nika smiled at Rigor.
"My poor dear Paladin Nika. Could not avenge her precious general. And for the longest time, I cursed the Acadians. I cursed myself. I wondered why I could not defeat that god. And so, I visited a fellow Paladin. Paladin Hados. The Paladin of the Dead. To speak to the ghost of the general I fell in love with. I told him that I did my best, but I could not avenge him. I felt like a failure, undeserving to be his wife. But the general told me one thing, that changed who I was.
"Strength comes in many forms. If I truly was a Paladin of Strength, I must understand all aspects of it. And what I had been doing for so many years, was honing down on just one aspect of Strength. Neglected the others that were just as important. Emotional strength. Strength to let go. Strength to open up. And above all, strength to protect."
Nika picked up Rigor and threw it as the sword soared into the distance with hypersonic speed. Nika then turned around, and placed a pot of plants in front of her, then held out her hand.
I heard a sonic boom, as Rigor flew back from the other side of the planet, and flew to Nika's hand. But Nika's forearm muscles flexed as she caught the blade, suppressing the shockwave of the impact, absorbing the kinetic energy, as the potted plant lay unharmed.
"I learned to change myself. Not in a manner that it would compromise who I was, to be something I was not. But to be someone more. Lucius Cassidy. For the longest time, I was much like Paladin Decen. I believed the only way to acquire strength was through violence. But I recognized that I had the potential to be someone better. And I became pure. I created my own Remnant, my precious Arcadia, from my warm memories of my beloved general. And because of this, because of my changed perspective in my life as a Paladin of Strength and Resolve, Arcadia became a healer."
I glanced back at Rigor.
"Surely, you. Lucius Cassidy Junior. Have undergone change yourself."
"I did." I said, as I felt a new resolve in myself. I went up to Rigor.
I did change.
If it had not been Arman. For Merrow and Michael.
And for Sophia.
I would have been in that Underground Fighting Ring with Lucius for the longest time. I would have kept my name as Brickhouse and rejected the name Lucius Cassidy. I changed because I recognized that there was more to life than fighting.
Even if it seemed hopeless.
I put my hand on the hilt, as red energy began to flow around me. It wasn't the same energy as my spike clad. This energy...
It was boosting me. Uplifting warm energy. I felt a hundred times more revitalized.
Call to it, Lucius Cassidy. Call Pariah.
Arman believed I could wield the sword. Even though he was the original owner. And when that sword flew to my hand that day, I realized that me. Brickhouse Cassidy. The hardheaded meathead. Had the potential to become a leader.
I remembered that day, when I was watching the stars with Sophia.
"If, hypothetically speaking. I didn't die. Would you do it?"
"Do what, Luke?"
"Would you... marry me." I said, quietly.
"Yes." Sophia said, as she took my hand.
"Heh. Well, it was all hypothetical anyway. But I'm glad."
"I do. Lucius. Not hypothetical. Not if you didn't have to die. I would marry you. Even if you proposed to me right here. I would say yes."
That day I broke down crying. Because I had never met someone so important in my life. Sophia had told me she would marry me, knowing I didn't have long to live. She would always love me even in death. And she would always remember me and honour me for it.
"There's no one else but you, Luke. I won't ever love anyone the same way."
The red energy around me began to snake around my body with greater intensity as Rigor responded to my feelings.
And it wasn't just Arman and Sophia.
Merrow. Deacon. Thomas.
I thought back to my conversation with the Demon Lord Samael. I had told him he had family right here with us. I saved him from ending his own life.
So many people to go back to.
Years back then, I would never have imagined myself going back home and having Merrow greet me at the door. My brothers bickering over the silliest things. Thomas complaining about not finding a girlfriend. Sammy being Sammy.
"I will lead them. I will find them." I said, as Rigor began to lift from the ground.
Red arcane lines began to flow around my body as my Corrupted Arm began to crack, shattering away revealing my original arm.
"The Restoration Force has returned your arm to you."
The lines arced across my sword arm, flowing all the way up to my face, the streaks flowing up my forehead on one side, similar to Mason and Fraser whenever they used their powers.
Nika approached me as I lifted Rigor the Stoic from the ground.
"Arise. Remnant 9 of Paladin Decen. Lucius Brickhouse Cassidy Junior. You shall be the next inheritor of Rigor the Stoic. You may not be my Remnant, but you will become someone more.
"You are the Remnant of Decen, and the Champion of Nika. Your real training begins now."
"Lena!" I rushed forward and caught her as she stumbled, her face was delirious in shock.
"What the hell happened?! All the Cosmics. They're coming here in Millennium City!"
"He killed them." Lena gasped.
"Mogul. He Corrupted Teleiosaurus and she killed them all. She killed them, the heroes. The top heroes were ripped apart. I..."
Lena stared at her skin and clothes which were completely stained with blood.
"This isn't my blood, Fraser. It's Volth's... Oh god..."
"Volth's dead ain't he."
"I didn't even get a chance to tell him how grateful I was for all the things he did. Even if it was for his own gain. I was..."
"A dense bitch." I finished her thought.
Lena closed her eyes.
"Why do I keep messing up, Fraser? I keep messing up and people keep bailing me out. I don't want to be that person who always escapes. I can't. I want to be the one who sacrifices herself too. I can't live with the guilt anymore."
"Then do something about it." I said, as Lena stared at me.
"You want to quit being in this pathetic bubble of yours? Then help me rally everyone." I pointed at my ranks behind me, as Lens' eyes widened.
"I did it. Yeah. Number one Supervillain. I wish I could say it wasn't hard. But damn. It was tough. But here we are."
One of the Purple Gang members went up to me and saluted.
"We're here for you boss. Purple Gang's got your back! We'll murk anyone who messes with this city! This world is yours, boss!"
"Purple Gang... I thought you guys were destroyed!" Lena exclaimed.
"Nope. No way. Boss Fraser made sure of that. We'd join him, if it means saving this city and Westside. Cuz it's ours to rule."
"And it isn't just PG, Lena. I've got all of Therakiel's Heralds. Dogz. Trey Kings. Sovereign Sons. New Shadows. Hawke. PSI. Argent. DEMON. Everyone."
Lena walked to the edge, her eyes in disbelief as she looked at the massive army I had amassed. The numbers were filling up all of Millennium City.
"You... got everyone."
"I'll have to admit. Some of them are only here because they know what's at stake. I revealed Lucius Cassidy to em. I revealed everything. Mogul's power. Once this battle is over, they'll go back to normal and will try to take over the world for themselves. But it ain't that bad. It means I'll just go back to good ol' fashioned ass kicking with my minions."
"And it's not just them." Mason said, as he descended from the skies along with a woman.
"Mom!" Lena exclaimed.
Cybil landed on the ground with Mason as she stared at the distance.
"Make no mistake. I cannot accept this, Marcel. That day when you told me you were against me. It hurt a lot. But... now I know. That we have these two children together. Even if it was for the purpose of replacement. They're still our kids. And I can't live with myself knowing I let my son and daughter die and suffer because I lived by a selfish agenda. That would make me no different than my dad."
Cybil turned to Mason.
"I still wish, one day. We could return home together. Even if it has been many years. That day when you brought me to the back of that school. It was because you wanted to confess. Didn't you?"
"Yeah." Mason said, as he smiled.
"For the longest time, I loved you Cybil. I still do. We don't have to be heroes together. We don't have to be colleagues. But no matter what it is, to the end of time. I will always find a way to save you. From Mogul. And from yourself."
A small smile appeared on Cybil's face.
"And now here we are, fighting the Apparition who gave us our powers. Life is funny."
Cybil then turned to me.
"I'm not asking for your forgiveness. But... you must have been in pain for so long for what I had done to you in the future. And how I treated you now."
I looked away.
Cybil stepped closer to me and pulled my head to her chest, her hands on the back of my head felt warm as I felt like melting.
"I can't imagine what life must have felt like being neglected. But I do know what is like to be mistreated by a parent. My mother died because she believed there was nothing she could have done to keep my father from abusing me. From hurting me. Yet here I was hurting my own son. Doing what my father did. What I did was inexcusable. And for that, I'm so sorry, Fraser."
"I don't... I really don't..." I stammered, as something strange was welling up inside me.
I pulled away.
"For now. We gotta focus on crushing Mogul. We can always talk again later."
Mason nodded, as he pointed to the sky. More heroes began to fly in to meet us.
"Defender?!" Lens choked, as the Champions greeted us.
"Lens. Mason." Defender smiled.
"And Fraser Chase. Even if you and your subordinates deserve to be put behind bars..."
"Thanks." I muttered.
"We couldn't have had a fighting chance if you didn't come help us today. So thank you."
Defender raised a fist as a new army marched forward.
"HEROES. TODAY WE WILL FACE AN IMPOSSIBLE THREAT. BUT AS LONG AS WE DRAW BREATH, WE WILL NOT FALTER. WE WILL PROTECT THIS WORLD WITH EVERYTHING WE HAVE."
The heroes all shouted.
Lena pursed her lips.
"The top heroes are all dead. Every hero in this army isn't even fully geared. I just... hope we're going to be okay."
"We'll be fine." I said.
"I have bad news." Valerian hovered next to me.
"What bad news is there? There's no way you have bad news if you convinced Therakiel to help us."
"That's the thing..." Valerian muttered, as right on queue, a large rumble shook the city.
The heroes and villains all shifted as they muttered among themselves. Then a massive explosion appeared from the shoreline as screams erupted. We may have evacuated the citizens to a safe place, but I guess safe wasn't a good word to describe this threat.
I knew the top heroes were all gone. The heroes in our ranks, though eager, were not very powerful. We had villains here too... but...
From the portal, a man stepped forward. An Acolyte. He had goggles and was smirking as another Acolyte joined him.
And the goggles man was holding someone by the collar. He looked in critical condition. His armour was cracked and chunks of it were missing. His wings were torn off, as his helmet was riddled with bullet holes.
"What in the world-" I muttered.
"That Acolyte. He calls himself Ullr. Lord Therakiel challenged him to battle, and it didn't even last two minutes. Ullr annihilated him. I've never seen someone defeat my master with so much ease before. I know you have amassed an army, and so has the heroes. But... even with our numbers. I can't see us winning."
I clenched my teeth.
Therakiel was supposed to be our secret weapon. Our powerhouse. It took Valerian way too much time to convince him to join us.
And Ullr destroyed Therakiel.
Heroes and Villains. Coming together. What a beautiful sight to see. Ullr eyed us, his night vision goggles glowing with a green light.
If it is a battle that is fought to lose, I am a believer of fighting with everything you have. A one sided battle is ever so boring. Just like this Nephilim here. Disappointing. I can see why Lord Mogul would let Convex and I destroy this world, and he himself to step away. This is a waste of his time.
Ullr calmly lifted his hands, as hundreds of guns and firearms floated into the air behind him.
Heroes and Villains of Millennium City. My name is Ullr. The Norse God of Archery. I was created to oppose the Secondborn. Benjamin Fong, the Warchild, the smartest of the Remnants. I will make quick work with you all. Because if I can defeat the Warchild, I can destroy you all.
"To hell with that!" I shouted back, as I raised my hand.
"Teach him a lesson! Villains of Millennium City! Attack!"
Defender raised his fist.
"Indeed! Heroes and Champions of Millennium City! Our time is now. ADVANCE!"
A huge war cry erupted from our ranks as we charged.
Ullr crossed his arms as he flicked a finger, and the firearms began raining bullets our way.
"Shields! Tanks!" Defender shouted, as the tanks all covered the ranks, deflected the bullets. But then the bullets changed trajectory.
"What the hell?!" I yelped, as one bullet nearly grazed my head.
Some of our comrades were not so lucky, as many of them were pierced straight in their foreheads.
This Ullr guy was controlling the trajectory of his bullets!
Lens closed her fist.
"Let's do this!" She shouted, as she rushed forward, but suddenly, the other Acolyte appeared before her, Convex, and smiled.
"Heh. Don't get a big head there, hun. I was created to oppose you after all. Why do you think I'm called Convex, hm?"
Convex raised her arms, and a blinding wave of light blasted Lens away as she screamed in agony, smashing into the concrete and cracking it.
"Hey!" I shouted, as I, Mason, and Cybil rushed forward to fight Convex.
Convex raised her hand and fired a wide vibrational blast which sent us back, but I held out my arm and summoned a spacetime rift which absorbed the kinetic energy.
Cybil rained a massive storm of celestial blasts from the sky, as Convex disintegrated it with a wide beam of light, then changed her focus to Mason, incinerating him and slamming him into a building.
"I'm not done yet!" Lena gritted her teeth as she charged a full power Ebon Ruin. But the blast was dispersed into black particles the moment it made contact with Convex.
"Disappointing." Convex said, as she closed the distance and kneed Lena in the midsection. Lena coughed out blood as she fell to her knees, then received another blow to the head as she smashed into a column of concrete.
"Didn't Lord Mogul say to get stronger? What the hell is this?! HAHA, you're barely even considered a mid-tier hero here!"
I looked at our ranks. We were not doing so hot. How were the forces of Millennium City barely able to hold off a barrage from one Acolyte?! And not to mention all the Cosmics rampaging around in our land. We were already avoiding them and sacrificing the buildings that were being destroyed. Focusing all on Ullr, but we weren't even doing any attacks. We were all on the defensive, and barely hanging on as Ullr was grinning the entire time.
Lens got to her feet again, as a spurt of blood erupted from the side of her head, spilling down the side of her face and leaking all over the ground.
Lena began firing more Ebon Ruins, but the attacks just weren't landing. I charged Force Cascade after Force Cascade, but everything we were firing at Convex was just disintegrating into tiny little particles.
Cybil commanded her minions to attack Convex, but Convex flew into the air and spun, and before we knew it, all of Cybil's minions disintegrated into fine particles.
"Mother! I can call my minions!" I shouted.
"No, Fraser." Cybil replied.
"They will just get disintegrated by this Acolyte's wide range of attack. Use them to aid in our armies."
Lens suddenly began to glow green, as Mason had his hand outstretched, healing her.
"Take her on, Lena. I will keep you alive."
Lens smiled as she wiped the blood from her mouth.
Lena charged and fought Convex again, as Convex dealt some punishing blows on Lena, but Mason's healing was keeping her from going down.
"You too, Fraser." Cybil said, as she held out her hands, and began amplifying my body with celestial power.
"The heavens will make sure you do not fall today. Help your sister."
I clenched my fist.
"You're damn right. I still gotta show this city who the number one super villain really is!"
I charged, and created a field of spacetime to restrain Convex, but Convex just smirked at me, firing a bolt of power that disintegrated the restraints and caught me in the chest. I would have died if Cybil's healing didn't keep me alive.
Lens tried to attack again, but none of our strikes were doing anything. The only reason we were still on our feet were because of our parent's healing.
Convex blew us back as Lens and I were breathing heavily.
"You're... not looking too hot, huh. Mister Supervillain."
"Shut up, thighs. I'm not finished yet. I'm just getting warmed up."
Lens glared at Convex.
"Sometimes she's keeping herself open to tanking an attack. Sometimes she's avoiding them with a wide range attack. I think she has a weakness somewhere. Maybe you can distract her while I find it."
"Sounds like a plan."
"You two done over there?" Convex called out to us, as she charged. I blasted forward with a wave of force and began sending force eruptions her way. Convex walked through them as Lens popped up behind her, out of her invisibility.
But Convex simply turned around.
"I'm not falling for that, kid." Convex blasted Lena in the face as she flew backwards. Convex then sent blast after blast as Lena was ravaged by the crushing explosive damage dealt to her body as I used this opportunity to deal a force blast, but Convex kicked me in the stomach.
Another blast sent me hurtling back as I smashed into the wall.
"As for the healer keeping Little Miss Ebon Ruin alive over there."
To my horror, Convex went to Mason, who was still unable to stand from taking a point blank attack head on.
"Marcel!" Cybil shouted, as she stopped healing me and stood in front of the healer.
"Out of the way." Convex warned, but Cybil wrapped Convex with a chain and threw her into the air, shooting to the sky.
"No more games. I have a future I want to live. One free from all the pain and suffering. You are not part of it."
Cybil began to power up, as the skies began to hum with golden power. From the clouds, a massive sword the size of a skyscraper descended, pointing directly at Convex.
"Wait! Cybil, if you use that, you'll-"
"I know, Marcel." Cybil said, as she continued powering up the sword. Convex grinned hysterically as she laughed.
"Come! Let us see how powerful Cybil Chase, the Otherworlder who was blessed with the power of the heavens can do!"
"CYBIL! You can't! You used this before! You used it when-"
"When I killed the family that day." Cybil said, as her body began to smoke from overuse.
"I used it to set everyone free. But it instead created a rift between us. But now. I will use it to fix that rift. I can't forgive myself if I let you die, Marcel. Because...
"I loved you too."
Mason stared at Cybil in shock as Cybil shouted with all her might, bringing the sword down at Convex who simply stood with her chest out, taking the damage.
The sword began to sink into Convex's body, but just as it made contact, it began to disintegrate.
Little by little.
"No way..." Mason muttered.
"That's Cybil's strongest attack..."
From the distance, I noticed a blue streak. A streak of a young girl with a ball of darkness in front of her chest.
"Lena...?" I muttered, as I watched Lens shoot from the ground, her entire body was bloody. Her face was bruised and cut in a million places as blood leaked from the corner of her mouth, but she was gritting her teeth, her eyes wide with a determination I had never seen before.
"HER WEAKNESS. I SEE IT." Lena shouted, as I instantly realized what she was going to do.
"Old Man! Convex is wide open! Cybil made an opening for us! We need to go!"
Mason steeled himself as he got to his feet.
"Cybil..." He muttered, as we blasted to Lena's location, delivering our respective ultimates.
Cybil smiled at all of us from above, as her body started disintegrating.
"Marcel... Fraser... Lena... I never had a family. For once. I get to see the man I love with the children we made together. Even if they're not from our time. I don't mind having this as the last thing I see."
"DON'T SAY THAT, CYBIL!" Mason cried out, as he continued charging his poison blast.
"WE CAN STILL MAKE IT OUT OF THIS TOGETHER. WE CAN! DON'T GIVE UP!"
Cybil shook her hand, as her leg disintegrated into golden dust, along with her fingers and her arm.
"No. This is goodbye, my dear Marcel Soni. I'm sorry it took all this for me to reconcile with you. If I could have done it different, I would have done it a long time ago."
"I NEVER REGRETTED IT. I NEVER REGRETTED GIVING YOU THE CELESTIAL POWERS. I WOULD HAVE CHOSEN THIS POWER ANY DAY."
"I know." Cybil smiled, as her body began to glow gold.
"I love you, Marcel Soni."
"CYBIL!" Mason screamed, as Cybil exploded into a fine dust, her sword disintegrated as we unloaded our ultimates at Convex's exposed back.
Lens, Mason, and I stared in utter horror, as Convex turned to us.
"Did you really think Cybil's death was enough to give you a fighting chance? Hm?"
Convex concentrated, as wave of energy blasted us all back. Our ultimates dissolved before our very eyes along with Mother's essence as we smashed into the ground. I hit my head hard, and it was clear I broke something, even with my heightened constitution.
Mason and Lena.
They weren't even 8K HP.
Mason was knocked incapacitated, as he had his forearm over his eyes, sobbing.
"Cybil.... CYBIL!!!" Mason cried out loud, as Lena stared at the sky, her eyes brimming with tears.
I got to my feet, as I faced the Acolyte of Mogul all on my own.
"Still got fight in you, Fraser Soni?"
"You think you can get away with killing my Mother, you freak?" I growled.
"She ended her own life. By facing me like this, it looks like you have the same agenda." Convex shrugged.
"Like mother like son, I guess."
My blood boiled as I charged forward.
"I'm gonna kill you!"
A bolt of energy ripped right through my leg as I fell to one knee. My leg was disabled.
I raised my arm to fire a force blast with what little energy I had left, but another bolt of energy pierced my elbow, rendering my arm useless.
"You seriously don't get it. I guess the heroes here are all just retarded." Convex said, as she continued bombarding me with those piercing strikes, my body was screaming in pain as Lena had her hand outstretched to me.
"No.... Fraser!!!" Lena sobbed.
"Don't! Stay dow- AAAHH!" I growled in pain, as my entire body was immobile. I was on my knees, my arms limp as I stared at the sky.
Convex had her finger pointed at my forehead. The finishing move. Shit.
"I was created to oppose Lena Soni. Her name is Lens. Her power is to focus energy. Which is why she can focus the energy of the Ebon Realm and fire off her Ebon Ruins. As her opposite, my name is Convex. I specialize in breaking things apart. And because of that. I can destroy anything. I can disintegrate anything. So why would you keep spamming your attacks at me like an idiot?"
I was still breathing heavily, trying to stay awake from the ridiculous pain.
"But imagine the surprise. To know that Lena is this weak. Like, seriously? Even Deacon managed to fight toe to toe with Heracles. And Shun was able to fight toe to toe with Fu and Yi, even if he used that Japanese Demon. But this is just pathetic, Lena. Look. You're relying on your Mom to fight? You're relying on your brother and daddy? That's so sad."
"Don't listen to her, Lena!" I shouted.
"She's just trying to- AAAAH!"
Convex fired another beam at my abdomen. My kidney was gone for sure.
"Better do something, Lena. Or your brother is gonna die. Just like your Mom."
Lena's face went dark. Something was off.
"Then.. I will kill the man you looked up to the most."
"Don't." Lena muttered.
"And lastly... the man you love."
"Don't push me." Lena's voice became dangerously low.
"I will kill him. Lucius Cassidy. He will die by your hand!"
Convex brought her arms back and laughed at the sky hysterically.
"Okay. Fun's over. Time to die, Fraser. I've wasted enough time."
She pointed her finger at me, and fired, but suddenly, someone appeared in front of me.
She was glowing cyan. Her jacket was completely disintegrated, revealing her underclothes. But cyan arcane lines raced up her leg and her head as two horns appeared on her forehead. The tattoos on her arms were now glowing.
Lena turned to me, her pupils were gone, replaced with an arcane glow.
You have done enough. Fraser Soni. I must fulfill my purpose. By the Paladin Code of Acadia. This one must be eliminated.
"Oh?" Convex said, as she lowered her finger.
Lena walked to Convex, as Convex tried to disintegrate her, but her aura was keeping her from being ripped apart. All the wounds on her body, which were made obvious from all the skin she was now exposing from her transformation, were completely healed.
"Damn." Convex muttered. "She's rejoining herself every time I'm breaking her apart!"
"Okay. Screw this. Mason's next-"
Lena closed in with blinding speed and caught her finger, and crushed it, as Convex screamed in pain.
"What the hell?! You weren't like this before-"
Lena squeezed harder, as Convex fell to her knees.
"No. This isn't possible. What the hell are you."
I focused and checked her stats. She should still have...
Her stats made no sense.
They were in the billions.
Beyond Cosmic, or any being I had seen here before.
Beyond the Acolytes.
"Lena..." I muttered, as Lena glared at Convex, raising her hand. Darkness began to funnel into a single point all around, creating a giant ball of darkness. A giant Ebon Ruin the size of meteor. I had never seen someone do that before.
I will eliminate you.
"Wait. We can... we can talk it out, right? I mean, come on. We're both girls. Let's just-"
Suddenly, Lena's knees buckled, as her hair turned brown again. The horns on her head retracted back into her skull as her eyes lost their light. Her tattoos lost their glow as they turned black again as she lost her balance. The giant Ebon Ruin disintegrated before my very eyes as she collapsed right in front of Convex.
"Um. What just happened."
Lena fell to the ground, as she stared at me, her eyes were teary eyed.
"I'm not strong enough, Fraser. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." She sobbed, as her body refused to move. Convex began to laugh again.
"Oh my god. That's so rich. You were so close to unlocking something I had never seen in the Remnants before. Oh my god. And you fucked it up! That's so funny!"
"Fraser..." Lena muttered.
"I'm sorry. For stealing all of Mom's love. For making her neglect you. I'm sorry for always being unhappy with myself. For being ungrateful. I'm sorry for making the decision to save Cybil with the intention of erasing both myself and you from existence. I'm sorry for being so selfish. I should never have been born."
"Don't say that, Lena." I said.
"You... you deserve to live, Lena. You're not selfish. You were doing something so selfless to make Dad happy again. If anyone was selfish, it was me. For being petty. For being jealous. I never stopped to think about how you felt. I just kept hurting you more and more by being a villain. Heh. Can't believe it. I'd never imagine myself admitting stuff like this to your face."
"If I could do everything different, I would have. I would have made you Mom's favourite."
"Nah." I said, as Lena looked surprised.
"If we could go back in time, I would do nothing different. You're a kind soul, under it all. You deserved to be a hero. I don't want someone like you fall into villainy like I did. I want you to be happy."
"Cuz. You're my little sis."
"Okay. Well that sure was heartwarming. But this war is over. As we speak, your armies are being crushed by Ullr over there. And we haven't use any of our Cosmics yet. So this battle is over. Say bye bye to Millennium City, you three."
"Not on my watch, Acolyte."
A voice appeared from the corner.
I looked from the top of a building, and to my disbelief, a man was standing at the top. He had two swords strapped to his back. I had seen one of them before. But it looked bigger.
"Lucius...?" I muttered, as Lena's eyes widened in disbelief, as the man blasted away, materializing in front of Convex with blinding speed.
"How the- Oh no. Oh shit."
"Lucius?!" Lena exclaimed, but the man regarded the two of us.
"I am not Lucius. But I have arrived for a similar purpose." The man turned back to Convex, who stumbled back.
"N- No. Matter. I will defeat you too. I will-"
The man tilted his head, as a chain was unwound from his forearm, wrapping around Convex and hurtling her to the air.
"This is nothing! I will disintegrate-"
"You cannot destroy the Chains of Icarus." The man said, as he pulled the chain and slammed her to the ground. Convex coughed up blood as the man began to glow silver.
"The Blessing of Pollux will be enough." He said, as he zipped in with that same ridiculous, blinding, undetectable speed, slamming Convex's head against the wall, knocking her unconscious.
The man then threw her onto the ground, then looked at me and Mason.
He took out his sword that looked like Pariah and nicked his finger as some kind of golden energy exited it, entering the blade.
Then he pointed it at Mason and I as we instantly healed up.
"Tend to Lena Soni, healer." The man instructed Mason, as he healed Lena.
Lena shot to her feet and ran up to the man, but hesitated.
"You're not... Lucius. But... I feel something similar from you, and that sword..."
"Yes. This sword was once the incomplete half. The left half."
"The left half...?" I asked.
Lena's eyes widened.
"Lucius... had the right half! You're... no way..."
"That is correct, sister."
The man put the complete Pariah back into its holster.
"I am Centurion Arman Wan of Argen. The Phoenix. The Kingslayer. I am the Eldest Remnant, Firstborn of Paladin Decen.
Arman looked at the army.
"I have been sent to this world to recover you, Lena. After hearing of Lucius' disappearance. I will recover the both of you. But now I see what the circumstances are. I will destroy the Cosmic threats, and take down Ullr. I will ensure no more lives are lost today."
Aid in my battle, great Paladin of Light.
Phoenix Mode: Form 1
My body exploded into golden light as I assumed my first Phoenix Form. I hovered into the air as I drew Loz-Q and Pariah. The Phoenix energy greatly amplifying Loz-Q as a massive storm surrounded me along with my aura.
"The one called Fraser Soni, evacuate Mason and Lena."
"Uh. Yeah. Sure."
I ascended into the air as I eyed the Cosmics.
There were nine.
I blasted forward, making my way to the first Cosmic. A giant dinosaur, as I spun like a bladed wheel, cutting it in hundreds of places as the monster roared, falling to the ground in a shower of blood.
Another dinosaur chomped down at me, but I aimed Loz-Q and fired off an arc of frost which froze the dinosaur solid.
Then I held out my hand as the Chains of Icarus wrapped around the dinosaur and I hurled it at the ape, which slammed it so hard it smashed into several buildings.
I zoomed in with Pariah, blocking the ape's fire breath and absorbing it as I pressed Pariah against Loz-Q.
"Return to the earth. Phoenix Sylph's Wind"
A massive jet of wind pressure was unleashed as the ape disintegrated along with the dinosaur, leaving behind a massive crater.
You dare challenge us, mere mortal?
A gigantic being approached me and fired bolts of frost, but I absorbed them with Pariah, then closed the distance, slashing him in thousands of places with blinding speed.
I landed on the ground and faced the remaining Cosmics. A giant green monster with four arms. A skeletal giant. A massive being with what seemed to be comprised of over 800 bodies. A ginormous mechanical bear, and a mechanical robot. From above me was a shark.
If I wanted to protect these people from the Acolyte, I had to destroy these Cosmics as fast as I could.
Lend me more power, Paladin Icarus.
Phoenix Mode: Form 2
My aura exploded as it became even more aggressive with bioelectrical discharge. My hair became spikier as I flew to the air and cut the tattoo on my forearm, unleashing the Flames of War.
I regarded the giants from above as they prepared to attack me.
I held out Loz-Q and summoned a gargantuan snowstorm which froze all the Cosmics in place. Then I blasted in, cutting at a hypersonic speed as the threats were reduced to a pile of sections.
I could tell I was being watched. Not just from the Acolyte, but from Lena's allies.
I aimed my sword at the Acolyte.
"Identify yourself." My voice boomed.
"What the hell is that?!" One of the heroes shouted.
"I have no idea what is happening but I'm not complaining."
The being smiled at me.
I am the Norse God of Archery, Ullr. My sources tell me you were defeated by the Secondborn. I was created to defeat the Warchild. You are no match for me.
"We will not know unless I try, Ullr. I welcome the challenge. And to protect these people, I will put my life on the line."
I blasted to his position and landed on the ground.
Ullr shook his head.
This is a futile effort, Firstborn. You greatly overestimate yourself. There is a reason why I have been labelled as Lord Mogul's most dangerous Acolyte.
I lowered my head as I concentrated.
Ullr lifted his finger as hundreds of firearms began firing at me, but I acrobatically darted and zipped around the battlefield with hypersonic speed, evading all the bullets.
I flew in to slice at Ullr with Pariah, but suddenly, a grid of lasers intercepted me.
Nice try, Firstborn.
I flanked Ullr and launched arc after arc of Phoenix Energy, but Ullr evaded, responding with gunshots of his own from his numerous matrix of firearms. I found myself on the defensive again, unable to break through his defenses.
I brought Pariah up and used its armguard as a shield. Then I thrusted with Loz-Q, and sent a frost wave at Ullr, who flipped in the air and brought up two pistols of his own, spinning and firing at me.
I instinctively sliced them with Loz-Q, and that was my first error, as the bullets began to glow, unleashing explosions which caught me in the face.
You fell for the same trick again. How amateurish.
Ullr said as he took advantage of my disorientation, firing bullet after bullet at my chest and sending me back. I tried to regenerate, but nothing was happening.
My healing was depleted by his bullets, similar to Benjamin's.
I clutched my chest as the pain began to overwhelm me. But I kept my center and utilized Combat Intuition, evading his pressure and falling back.
I was at a severe disadvantage. Ullr focused on ranged abilities, and with his constant grid of firearms keeping his pressure on me, my abilities were limited. I had to eliminate them.
I gritted my teeth as I flipped in the air, spinning and cutting at his guns with a flurry of slashes. Explosions appeared all around me as I flipped forward, using Loz-Q as propulsion and zoomed towards Ullr, who blocked my strike with his pistols, but the force sent him flying back.
Ullr began firing at me, but Combat Intuition allowed me to easily evade his bullets. I intentionally kept myself from slicing them.
I opened my hand as the Chains of Icarus flew to Ullr's location, and Ullr began firing bullets to ward it off. I blasted to his location and closed my eyes, summoning the Blessing of Pollux as I felt my speed amplify greatly.
I began zipping all around, creating afterimages to confused Ullr and rushed in to slice at him, but Ullr spun around and caught my strike. I heard a bone crack from Ullr as he slid backwards. The strength of Phoenix II and Pollux enhancing my striking power.
But as Ullr slid back he smirked, and it was too late, as I turned around and realized the bullets I had dodged...
Were homing bullets.
I grunted in pain as the bullets hit their mark, damaging me in the back as I buckled.
You cannot defeat me traditionally. As I told you before. You have greatly overestimated your skill, Arman Wan.
Ullr aimed his gun at my chin as Combat Intuition fired in my head. But I was too injured to react as a massive burst caught me in the jaw, sending me flying as Ullr shot to my location and revealed a large rocket launcher, which fired, catching me in the chest and unleashing a large explosion which sent me shooting into the side of a skyscraper.
I smashed into the concrete as the shockwave shattered all the windows as I lay suspended in the buckled structure. My head was dizzy as I felt disoriented from all the siphoning properties of the bullets Ullr had implanted in me during our fight.
I had two choices. Either find a different strategy to fight Ullr, or transform into Phoenix Mode III. But going to the third stage would most likely drain my remaining stamina. I couldn't afford that.
I knew for a fact that True Phoenix would have been more than enough to defeat him with the form's sheer power and speed. But I had never attained that form willingly.
Ullr was right. He was too much for me. And I could see why he was one of Mogul's most powerful Acolytes.
Down to the very bone, Ullr was a tactician. Just like Benjamin Fong. But Ullr also had the ability to control his powers. Something that the Warchild lacked, as he relied solely on his weapons. There was no way I could defeat him on his terms.
Meaning I had to shift things on my terms.
I blasted out of the debris and flew to Ullr to fight him again, as Ullr strategically evaded my sword swings and chain lashes, while retaliating with bullets of his own. The bullets continued homing in on me as I used Combat Intuition nonstop to try to get out of the way.
With my healing removed, there was no way I could afford any more damage to my body.
I did a side flip as I narrowly dodged two bullets whizzing by my head and ribcage, as I performed a backflip to dodge another bullet, then table flipped back to my fighting stance and charged Ullr once more.
The bullets were homing. Meaning they used the air around them for movement.
I lifted Loz-Q and summoned a windstorm as the bullets suddenly stopped pursuing me.
Clever. But your plan is not well thought through.
Ullr said, as my eyes widened. I had created a wide opening by lifting Loz-Q into the air like that.
Ullr took aim and fired more anti-healing rounds at my stomach as I coughed out blood. Then Ullr flew into the air and took out a sniper rifle from thin air.
Goodnight, Remnant 1.
The sniper caught me in my abdomen and my shoulder, as the shoulder injury expanded from the weight of Pariah. I yelled in pain as I was sent hurtling into the ground, forcing a large crater and pushing everything out of the way.
My Phoenix Form dissipated as my hair returned to its black hue. I was breathing heavily, trying to regain consciousness, but it was not enough.
Ullr landed in front of me and turned to the heroes, who's faces were devastated.
Do you see this man. This man who killed your Cosmics with little to no difficulty. In your eyes, he may be a god. But to me, he is no god. For he is just a mortal. A mortal who was not enough to defeat me. All he has done was delay the inevitable. Once he has been dealt with, your reckoning will be at hand. In Sin. In Corruption.
For Lord Mogul.
I gasped for air, as Ullr took aim, when suddenly a dark shot appeared out of nowhere and blasted Ullr's firearm from his hand. Ullr raised an eyebrow as a young woman put distance between Ullr and I.
"No." I muttered.
"Soni. You cannot fight Ullr. You are as insignificant as a bug to this Acolyte. You must run!"
"I'm done running, Arman." Lena growled, as she charged another Ebon Ruin.
"I failed Lucius, your brother. Then I failed Volth, a man who had done so much for me. Then I failed Mom. I can't keep failing like this. I can't keep hiding and cowering anymore! I need to fight. I need to stand up and prove that I'm not worthless! If what everybody says is true, and I'm a Remnant, then now is the time to prove it!"
I struggled to my feet, as Fraser approached me.
"Listen to my lil sis, old guy."
Fraser turned to Ullr.
"We're all in this together. For better or for worse. Lena's a Remnant right? She's your sis? Well she's mine too. So we'll support her together. Just this time though."
Lena Soni. Your naivety has not served you well.
"Neither is overconfidence."
Ullr shook his head.
I have every right to be overconfident with a gnat like you. I can defeat you with words right here. Right now. What makes you believe you can defeat me?
The dark ball in front of Lena's chest began to tremble.
But Lena was silent.
You cannot respond, because it is true. I will tell you the truth. Not all mortals were created equal. That applies to man. To gods. To Acolytes. And certainly to Remnants. Perhaps you will always be inferior to your Remnant brethren. Just as you are inferior to these pathetic mortals you call heroes.
"Well, at least she's not an asshole like you!" Fraser shouted.
Ullr looked at Fraser.
You are in no place to talk either, son of Marcel. You don't even hold a candle to your sister by any means. She had everything, attention, heroism, a kind soul. And now she is a Remnant of Decen.
"That's old news, goggles."
And soon, she will also have a new life. With the Remnants. While yours ends here.
Fraser stumbled back.
"Wha. Haha. Nah. That's bull. I mean, we're still alive."
Cybil was destroyed by Convex, is that correct? What do you think will happen to the two of you once the timeline discovers that Lena Soni and Fraser Soni were never born because the mother died early?
"Lena already told me. We get erased from existence. But I've accepted it."
You accepted it because you knew Lena would die too. But she will not. Because she is a Remnant of Decen.
"Fraser, do not let up." I said, calmly, but Fraser glared at Ullr.
Lena's face turned pale.
"Wha- What? What do you mean I won't die? I'll be erased. Along with Fraser. That was the plan!"
Every Remnant of Decen possesses a special ability from their progenitor, since Decen was the Acadian Chimera. Lucius Cassidy's ability was the power to create spikes. Arman Wan's ability was the power to assess his surroundings, danger, and act accordingly. Can you guess what yours is, Twelfthborn?
Ullr's smile became even more sadistic.
Timeline Anchor. You cannot be erased from existence. For as long as you are remembered, you will never die from the timeline. And because of your heroics, you have gained fame in this world. Yes.
Fraser fell to his knees, devastated, as Lena reached out to say something, but she stopped, unable to speak a word.
Fraser Soni will die and Lena Soni will live. Isn't that unfair?
"Fraser..." Lena muttered. But to our surprise, Fraser got to his feet.
"Ah. Fuck it. I always knew I had bad luck. But... you know what?" Fraser powered up, as he created a spatial dome around us. Ullr raised an eyebrow as he glanced around him.
"I don't care anymore. This whole few months has been a wild ride. If I'm gonna die, I'll die. But I've already lived to become the Number One Supervillain. Doctor Destroyer was already defeated by the Acolytes. I've already gotten everything I wanted, minus the harem. The only thing I need now, is to know that I gave my lil sis a fighting chance."
Fraser looked at Lena.
"You better not disappoint us Soni's, Lena. Cuz I'm going all out. And you should too. I wanna see those fox ears and demon horns again. You hear me?"
Fraser charged Ullr, as I tried to move, but my body was unable to.
Lena gritted her teeth as she also charged Ullr, but within seconds the twins were overwhelmed. Ullr shot Lena in the thigh, and stomped Fraser in the head so hard that the ground cracked.
Unsightly. Perhaps I will do the timeline a favor and eliminate you first.
Ullr cocked the gun as Lena tried her hardest to get to her feet, but her thigh was bleeding so hard her leggings were soaked crimson.
"FRASER!" She yelled, when suddenly, her thigh began to glow red. The bleeding stopped as her wounds dissipated.
It wasn't just her, but my chest also began to feel lighter. The bullets dislodged from my body as my wounds began to heal with a red energy.
"Healing? Kanade?" I asked.
"Nah." A familiar voice appeared from the corner of my vision, and to my disbelief, standing at the top of the debris, was a man with close cropped hair. But his face. His magenta eyes. There was no denying it. In his hand was a large greatsword that I couldn't recognize, but I felt something strange coming from it. Something... ancient.
Lena stared at Lucius as he readied his sword and closed the distance between himself and Ullr. Ullr tried to fire his pistol at Lucius' head, but the bullet glanced off from his immense durability as Lucius grabbed the man by the throat.
"I guess I was away for too long. They had to send you, Arman. But I'm here now. No one is harming my family any more."
Ullr tried to shoot Lucius with his bullets, but nothing was working, as the same energy that had healed Lena and I snaked his body, regenerating his body tissue the moment it was being torn apart by the bullets.
The Restoration Force?! How is this possible! You are a Remnant.
"Tough luck, Acolyte. I also happened to have a new upgrade to my sword. Sorry I broke it Arman, but I found one better. I'm sure you know this blade."
Lucius swung, as Ullr dodged, but the shockwave of the slash caught him in the chest and sent him flying back.
Lucius aimed his sword at Ullr.
"This is Rigor the Stoic. I am no longer just a Remnant of Paladin Decen. I am a champion of Paladin Nika. You hurt Arman and Lens. Hurt Fraser and all these heroes. Time for an assbeating, buddy."
I assessed the situation. Arman was in bad shape. He must have had his healing temporarily disabled. Lens and Fraser had did their best, but realistically there was nothing they could do against the God of Archery.
I glanced over at Mason, who was still in emotional shock.
Meaning something terrible must have happened to Cybil.
"Arman. How fight ready are you?"
"I am not in a state to aid you just yet, brother."
I held out my hand, summoning the Restoration Force as it completed repairing Arman's body.
"I think Ullr's all that stands. Since you beat Convex and the Cosmics. Meaning we can go all out."
Arman pursed his lips.
"I cannot use True Phoenix voluntarily."
I held Rigor, as the blade brimmed with a red glow, as spike clad began covering my arm and half my face, as a horn growing from the centre of my forehead as red swirls of Restoration Force protected my body.
"We'll just make do with what we have. I can take his best shots as I am now. In terms of power, your Phoenix III is still superior to me now."
Arman nodded, as I tightened my grip.
"Let's do this."
I blasted forward, as Ullr pointed his guns at me and fired, but I bulldozed through his bullets and slashed at him. Ullr was smart and jumped into the air rather than backwards. I swung viciously upwards to catch him, but Ullr acrobatically dodged and fired more rounds at my body. The bullets glancing off.
Then Ullr reached into his pockets and fired a different bullet type. Explosive rounds, which did not break my armouring as I swung down at his position, creating a massive chasm where he stood.
Ullr then flipped in the air, but Arman closed in and slashed in his Phoenix Form. Ullr darted out of the way as Arman and I closed in, slashing with Rigor, Pariah, and Loz-Q respectively. Ullr fought back with his guns, dodging and firing.
Ullr flipped backwards and fired in the air, sending homing beacons around. I recognized the metal as Celestial Steel as they shattered my armour hide and grazed my face. But the Restoration Force healed my injuries instantly as Ullr scowled.
Such a bothersome ability.
Arman unleashed a windstorm which suspended the rest of the bullets and then slashed down with Pariah, missing narrowly as Ullr slid back.
"Don't let up, Arman!" I shouted, as I charged forward, but suddenly Ullr held out his hand, and several explosions ignited at my chest, sending me back.
The Restoration Force began to heal me, but I felt my stamina being drained. My healing slowed.
"Watch out! He has some kind of attack that drains stamina and healing!"
Arman and Ullr exchanged sword and gunshots, as Ullr cunningly threw indiscrete projectiles which latched onto Arman and blasted him backwards with the same explosions. Arman skidded back, clutching his side which was crimson from blood.
We needed to go all out. There wasn't much we could do if we were fighting him like this. I had watched Arman's fight with Ullr on my way to his location as Phoenix II. He was still outclassed. And now he was fighting as a Phoenix Form I with his healing basically negated.
At this rate, Ullr was going to kill the both of us. And once we were down, Lens and Fraser were done for.
"Fraser!" I shouted, as Fraser looked at me.
"Teleport us out of here." I pointed at Ullr.
"Just do it!"
Fraser gave Lens a hesitant look, but held out his hand regardless.
I glared at Ullr.
"You're a guy who loves a challenge, right? So you wouldn't mind us going all out to fight you."
Of all the Remnants, you may well be the only one I can see eye to eye. I can see why Lord Mogul has an interest in you, Ninthborn.
Arman and I ported to the Desert, as we faced off Ullr at a distance. Ullr's night vision goggles were no longer as bright from the blazing sun, but his scarf danced with the howl of the wind.
"We gotta go all out, Arman. Use your True Phoenix. I have a game changing move up my sleeve too."
Arman gritted his teeth.
"The True Phoenix only emerged when I was Corrupted, Lucius. I cannot call upon it willingly."
We didn't have a choice. We needed Arman's Ultimate.
Sorry. But I don't have all day.
Ullr charged forward, the barrel of his gun aimed at Arman's chin as he was caught off guard, but I slipped in and sliced, catching Ullr's scarf as he darted backwards, firing a round of bullets at me which were deflected by Rigor.
"Arman, we need it. Don't tell me all this time you were Samuel Mace didn't net you anything!"
Arman roared as he transformed into Phoenix II. The Blessing of Pollux enhancing his speed as the two of us charged Ullr once more. Red electricity erupted from my body as I joined the fray, slashing and dicing, none of our attacks were landing.
The style of the Argen Guard. You are so easy to read. It doesn't matter if you are faster than I. I will always know what your next step will be.
Another bullet grazed Arman's face as Ullr leapt into the air, and in his hands were two spear launchers. The projectiles came flying our way as we tried to dodge, but our bodies were pinned to the ground.
STAB. STAB. STAB. STAB.
My legs and left arm exploded in pain as I dropped Rigor. Arman was impaled too. The Restoration Force began making work on my wounds but at a reduced pace.
If even an Energy of Quinta was affected this greatly...
I turned to Arman, who was clearly in pain. His wounds were not regenerating as Ullr equipped a thruster gauntlet, and blasted in, grabbing Arman by the collar and launching a devastating punch which blew him away. I watched as Remnant 1 skidded several yards and crumpled to the ground.
Don't get distracted now, Cassidy.
Ullr grabbed my face and tried the same thing, but I slipped and launched a punch at his face, which he barely avoided. The shockwave caused a nearby mountain to crack as I picked up Rigor and tried to swing, but Ullr bent backwards and kicked me in the chin, then fired spear after spear into my body as I slammed into the ground and landed next to Arman.
"Damn these things." I growled, as Arman clutched his side, gritted his teeth.
"Listen to me Arman. You can do it. The Phoenix is inherent to Paladin Icarus. He chose you to hone in the power. There is no way he would choose wrong."
Arman slammed his fist on the ground.
"Yet I betrayed you all to live a life that was not mine. I am not worthy of the Phoenix, Lucius."
"Don't say that. You chose to leave us to get stronger. But that's where you made your mistake. I'm sure Lyra already told you. But Paladin Icarus stood for Light. You were, at the time, the only capable combat Remnant who was righteous. It was that righteousness that allowed you to channel that power. Use it again!"
Arman's eyes widened as the realization hit him. I continued.
"Right now. We need your ultimate." I said, as Ullr grinned and approached us, and hundreds of spear launchers appeared from thin air.
Arman's body began to smoke as a huge wave of force blasted Ullr away. His body began to glow an angelic gold white, as a gigantic avatar formed around him. I had to leap back as a huge phoenix head erupted from the ground, complete with a body and giant wings the size of a mountain. The Phoenix called out, an angelic voice as it screeched into the air.
Ullr's expression suddenly changed, as he became serious.
Interesting. He said.
"We're not done." I growled, as I slammed Rigor to the ground, spikes protruding from my body as the spikes became bigger and bigger. Taking on a form of a golem similar size to Arman's True Phoenix. The spikes continued until the golem was fully armored, red arcane lines flickering all over its body as electricity surrounded it. I opened the mouth as it breathed out red steam.
"Ultimate Form: SUPERIOR SPIKED TRUE GUARDIAN."
I called upon the Restoration Force as it added onto my giant as the spikes surrounded Rigor, generating a massive sword the size of a jumbo airline.
I nodded to Arman from within my golem, as Arman nodded back to me from within his ginormous Phoenix construct.
We rushed in, as I slammed the sword at Ullr, who dodged, but the shockwave blew him away as a formed a chasm even bigger than before. The land began to crack as it started to split in half, but Ullr remained composed as the Phoenix screeched, firing a massive flurry of energized feathers his way. Ullr dodged and zipped up to Arman as he held out a spear gun.
Going big, against a more agile and tactical opponent. Beyond foolish.
"You're the fool!" I roared, as my golem surged with electricity and slashed down. Even if I couldn't get him, the point of going full power like this was to catch him with the aftershocks of our attacks.
Ullr's eyes widened as he tried to block, but the force slammed him into the ground.
Ullr fired spears my way and tried to sap my healing, but the clad of the guardian was just far too durable as the spears bounced off harmlessly.
Arman screeched as a massive energy ball appeared at its mouth as it fired a large golden beam which smashed into Ullr, unleashing a huge explosion.
The smoke cleared as Arman and I breathed heavily.
Surely he must have been down.
Ullr shot to the air and opened the palm of his hand before we could do anything.
"Wha-" I stammered, as a woman appeared in front of Ullr, clutched by the throat.
Convex. You shall now serve your purpose.
"With pleasure, Lord Ullr." Convex smiled.
"What are you doing?" Arman shouted, as Ullr began to squeeze, Convex choking as her eyes went wide.
"HEY!" I yelled, but it was too late, as Ullr snapped her neck.
"What the hell was that for?! How could you kill your own comrade!"
I have had enough games. This will end it.
"What did you just-"
Ullr disappeared as I looked around, and I heard Arman gasp.
Ullr appeared in front of Arman, breaching his Phoenix construct as he grabbed Arman by the face.
For a time, I was overwhelmed. By the True Phoenix and the True Guardian. Unfortunate. But Convex is expendable. As her mere presence was to oppose Lena Soni. And Lena Soni is nothing. Any Acolyte can defeat her.
Ullr delivered a punch at Arman's stomach as he vomited blood. Then the God of Archery let go and launched a back kick which connected to Arman's head, knocking him out of his True Phoenix Form, as Remnant 1 fell several thousand feet from the sky, slamming into the ground, unconscious.
You're next, Ninthborn.
My face was full of surprise as Ullr appeared in front of me. His body was sparkling as I realized he had absorbed Convex's abilities. The air around him was turning into fine particles as he launched an onslaught of punches at me. I exited my Guardian form and countered, as we began a fist on fist exchange.
You have experience with fistfighting.
"Hell yeah I do." I growled, as I went low and delivered a combo which caught Ullr in the ribs and jaw, but Ullr simply smiled and cracked his neck, then launched a flurry of punches at a rapid pace, too fast for me to react as I was pummeled in hundreds of places.
Then Ullr launched an axe kick which smashed me into the ground next to Arman, as two spear guns appeared in front of us, impaling us to the ground and pinning us down.
I tried to move, but the spears were sapping my strength. The Restoration Force was doing its best to keep me alive, but there was no way I could close a wound if the projectile was still embedded in my body. I glanced at Arman and realized he was barely staying conscious.
This whole time, his healing was being negated.
It wasn't like the Restoration Force. It was just plain old Phoenix Regeneration. And these spears were making quick work with it.
This outcome was inevitable. Ullr said, as he stepped forward to finish us off, when suddenly his knees buckled.
"What...?" I muttered as Ullr, stumbled, clutching his head.
Consider yourselves... lucky. That... my transformation is not complete...
I get it now.
He was just like Mogul.
He couldn't fight for extended periods of time.
No wonder he was so powerful.
He wasn't conserving anything. He was going all out with intention to defeat us. I mean, he did. But still.
Ullr glared at the two of us.
The next time we meet, it shall be your end.
Ullr pulled out a gun and fired a portal as he stepped in.
For not just you two. But all of your brethren. The Remnants shall be destroyed. For Lord Mogul.
I gritted my teeth as Ullr left the two of us in the desert. Arman had gone unconscious, as I didn't even have the strength to push or break the spears out.
He wasn't mad.
Fraser was going to die.
And I was going to live.
Yet he wasn't upset.
The same Fraser Soni who would give me the stink eye whenever we walked by each other in Mom's mansion. The same Fraser Soni who would intentionally try to trip me when I was carrying my dinner to my room. The same Fraser Soni who made fun of my weight and my hips even though I told him a million times that I felt insecure about it.
He wasn't angry at me.
"Lena. Can you sense them?"
"What do you mean?"
Fraser's face looked grim.
"They lost, Lena. Arman and Lucius lost to Ullr."
The blood drained from my face.
"Wha- What? How is that possible?! They're the most powerful entities in this entire world!"
Fraser shook his head.
"I know because look at the sky."
Fraser pointed, as I saw the silhouette of a man flying to the sky. He was wearing goggles. He looked rather battered, and worn down, but he looked fine.
"That... that's impossible..." My voice trailed away.
"Look. We did our best. This whole place is fucked. Valerian is dead. Therakiel is dead. Doctor Destroyer is dead. Almost all of the gangs that I rounded up were shot dead by this Norse asshole. Almost all of the heroes are dead too. Very few made it out alive. I know for a fact that there's a chance Ullr is coming back to finish the job. Once that happens, we're toast."
I stared at the ground.
"What do we do..." My voice felt small.
"Like I said. Try to find them."
"I don't know what you're talking about, Fraser."
"That power you showed when we fought Convex. That crazy power where your horns came out like Mom's did whenever she used her demonic powers. Can you do it again?"
That power almost felt foreign to me. It even freaked me out. I had no idea what was going on. It happened like a flight or fight response. But the answer was obvious.
"I can't." My voice was pained.
I was such a failure.
I had a power that was dormant inside me, and I couldn't bring it out when it counted.
"God, Lena. You're such a wuss. Always so soft. What are you gonna do once I'm gone, huh?"
I looked at Fraser, and was about to snap at him, but there was no more energy in my body. Everything felt so hopeless. I lost Mom. Dad was hysterical. And Fraser was going to die.
"It should have been me. It should have been me Fraser. I should have been the one erased."
"My god, Lena. You still don't get it." Fraser walked up to me and put his hands on my shoulders.
"I'm only gonna say this once. You're more than you think you're worth. For the love of god. Value yourself more. Because if you can't even do that, then forget about making up for all the failures you've done. I'm not gonna live. But at least honour my name. Honour it by kicking ass and getting stronger."
"Fraser..." I muttered.
"For now, we gotta find those two lunatic Cosmic powerhouses. Since you're pretty much useless."
Fraser ignored me.
"Luckily, there is still one more guy left. I was gonna save him as a surprise for you. But whatever. Almost all of my subordinates are dead. Except for him. He's real good at tracking."
Fraser waved a hand, as a well built man approached us. He was wearing a grey combat outfit with a mask and a hood. Along his back was a complicated tech compound bow.
"This is Twilight Bolt. He's a hero. But I forced him to work under me."
Twilight clenched his fist.
"You didn't force me to do anything. I helped this city on my own accord."
"Yeah whatever. Can you track those two Cosmics or not? By the way, this is my sister, Lena Soni. She's got good child bearing hips so that's a bonus for you."
"Wha-, you- I'll kill you!" I screamed, as I rushed forward to attack Fraser, who caught my wrists.
"Better cherish it, Lena. This might be the last few times I can make fun of your weight."
I stopped thrashing at him, as I stared at my brother.
"Aw come on, Lena. Stop making it weird. Let's get to work."
Twilight found the two stranded in the desert.
"You sent them to the desert?!" I exclaimed.
"I sent them to a place where they could go all out." Fraser explained, as he held out his hand and pushed the spears away sticking from Arman and Lucius' bodies. Arman crumpled to the ground as he began to heal, and Lucius' wounds healed instantly.
Lucius went up to me and put his hand on my head as my heart began to beat faster.
"Hey Lens. I'm so sorry I couldn't make it in time. I'm sorry about Cybil. I'm glad you're safe."
"Th- thanks..." I muttered, as I looked away. I couldn't face him for some reason, and my face felt incredibly hot.
Lucius turned to Fraser, as he shouldered Arman.
"What's the status?"
"Dude. This entire city's gone to shit."
Lucius shook his head.
"We will need to be stronger for when they return. I will contact Merrow if I can extend my stay. I can help train you guys up."
"No." Fraser said, as we all looked at him in surprise.
"Did you just say no?" Twilight asked, incredulous.
Fraser looked at me.
"You gotta take Lena away, right? To do this Remnant of Decen thing? Let me handle this mess."
"But Fraser-" I said.
Fraser held out his hand, stopping me.
"I have the power to fix this. I can reverse time. Reverse it back to the way it was before. Before Mogul and all that came into the picture. All the heroes who've died will be revived."
"But you'll ruin the timeline even more! You'll end yourself even faster!" I shouted, but Fraser laughed.
"Lena. I'm already dying. Look." He showed me the palm of his hand, and to my horror there was a huge hole going through it. Cyan particles of light were exiting it as he was slowly dissipating.
"No! Fraser, don't. Please. Please don't go. Please..." My voice broke as I ran forward.
To the man who had made my life miserable.
To the man that I bickered with since we were little kids.
To the man who attacked me and beat me up even once we were teenagers.
I grabbed Fraser in an embrace and hugged him tightly as I broke down.
"Don't go..." I pleaded.
"You know it has to be this way." Fraser said, as he pulled away.
"Funny." He said, as he overlooked Millennium City from the distance.
"I would never. Not once in my life. Ever imagine myself sacrificing myself for a bunch of lame ass heroes." Fraser began to laugh, as he lifted his hands, cyan energy spreading all around him as the destroyed buildings began to seemingly repair itself.
To a point where everything was normal.
Fraser began to disintegrate more. His voice was fading.
"Sorry, Lena. That I couldn't be the bro you wanted. But even now. I would never ever wear spandex. Fuck that. But... you've got Twilight now. Twilight, your last orders from your master. Protect Lena with your life. You're now her sidekick. Remember what I said? You owe me? Now here's the favour."
Fraser turned to all of us as his face began crumbling away.
"See you around.
For the next few weeks, life returned to "normal". In other words, like nothing ever happened at all. There was no Mogul. There were no Acolytes. There was no Corruption. Every hero that had died during the war against Acolyte Ullr had their deaths undone.
In everybody's eyes, everything that happened in the past few days never happened.
Purple Gang returned to terrorize Westside. Occasionally messing with a top tier hero and getting beat up in the process. Therakiel was back planning the apocalypse along with his heralds. Doctor Destroyer was back in Destruga. And everybody was going about their business, fighting Cosmic threats. Helping other heroes.
It was all thanks Fraser Soni.
But no one will ever know.
Because the twins known as Fraser Chase and Lena "Lens" Soni did not exist.
I always had a phobia. That if I died, no one would care. My biggest fear was that no one would mourn for me if I ever died. But for some reason, I wasn't bothered by this at all.
My mere presence was completely forgotten and neglected.
Twilight and I stood at the top of the building, as we joined Lucius and Arman.
"So I'm guessing you're coming with us, Twilight?"
"My master's last wish was for me to serve Lena."
"Call me Lens." I said.
He was so fun to tease.
"Alright. Well, we'll be heading back to Skylar's Mansion soon. So be ready by sundown."
Arman put his hand on my shoulder.
"Our brothers are a powerful species. But just as powerful as we are, we each have the heart of a warrior. Righteousness. Integrity. Mora-"
"Speak for yourself." Lucius muttered.
"Some of our brothers are... well. We're a bit abnormal. None of us even knew a female Remnant of Decen was even possible. So avoid the one called Sammy Le. And Thomas King."
"But Thomas is a good soul."
"Yeah. But Thomas never even held hands with a girl before, Arman. He takes one look at Lens and he'll get a nosebleed. Just... stick with Skylar. And Merrow and Meena. Those girls will look after you."
"Um... okay?" I said.
"Yeah. Just wanted to get that out there." Lucius said, as he smiled at the horizon.
"Lens. I'm not gonna force you to come with us. But if you do, it will help us a lot. If you want to live your life here, by all means."
I shook my head.
"Fraser would have wanted me to go."
That afternoon, I sat on the edge of a building along with Twilight, who was now my self proclaimed sidekick. Overlooking Renaissance Centre.
"Nice view." Twilight said.
"Yeah. Do you mind me asking, what's your name?"
Twilight was silent.
"Carlton. Carlton Coleman."
"No. Carlton. Carlton Coleman."
Twilight laughed, as I joined him. It was strange. But being with him made me happy. Maybe it was because he was all I had left, technically. All I had left that was the closest to Fraser.
Suddenly, a voice appeared in the corner.
"Oh. Sorry. I guess this spot is taken."
I turned around, as my heart caught in my throat.
"M- Marcel..." I said, my voice trailing away, as my heart hurt immensely.
"Um... have we met before?"
"No." I said quietly.
"Then how did you get my name? You seem to be new here! Welcome to Millennium City, the City of Heroes!"
"Thanks. I... heard your name from stories."
"Yeah. From someone really close to me, I guess."
"Better cherish it, then. Always cherish your loved ones, and don't take them for granted like I did. Speaking of which, Cybil's up to no good again. Ugh."
So Mom and Dad were alive. But they didn't remember me. Because we never existed.
"What's your name, by the way?" Mason asked.
Mason shook my hand, as he smiled.
"I think Lena is a pretty name. Maybe if I ever have a kid I should name her that."
I choked back a sob.
"Hey, are you okay?"
"I am." I said, as I wiped my eyes.
"Just a bit of allergies."
Mason nodded. "I see. Well, take care of yourself then, Lena. I got some hero stuff to do. See you around!"
"See you." I waved Dad off, as he flew off to fight Mom's minions and save the day. Just as a hero should.
"You good, Lens?" Twilight asked.
"I... It just hurts." I admitted.
"My Dad. Mom. They're right in front of me. But they will never know. They will never know who I am. I feel like I have nothing left. My life just feels so dark right now."
"You still have those Remnants, right?"
"I guess so."
"Then start there. By the way, why?"
"Why the name Lens? You certainly aren't a power armour user. Your ability is darkness, which isn't what a lens is for. Was that name given to you? Or did you come up with it yourself?"
I managed a slight laugh.
"It was a name that Mom came up for me. Because she thought 'Lena' was too girly. The name Lena was given to me to honour Dad, who she still loved. She told me being too girly was a weakness. So that was why I put on eyeliner and wore chains and ripped punk clothes. I was raised to be that way."
"So you just kind of went along with it, huh."
"Yeah. The name doesn't have a particular meaning. I guess... it's kind of a curse. I've been meaning to change it, but I don't know what else to call myself. Dark Girl? Darkness Girl? Lady Night? It just all seems so corny. Lens just fits."
"Then don't change it."
I looked at Twilight.
"I said don't change it. If it hurts you that much, then instead of changing your name entirely, change what that name stands for."
"I don't understand."
"A lens focuses light, right?"
"Then if your life feels so dark, then a lens seems appropriate, doesn't it?"
"I'm not following."
Twilight sat down on the ground, as he gazed at the city from afar.
"When life feels dark. And you want to give up. Always remember that there is light. It's just up to you to focus it. Like a lens. And once that happens, life will open a path."
"That's just one way of interpreting it. Up to you if you wanna use it. I kind of just came up with it on the spot."
"No! That's... that's incredible! I will use it!"
I clenched my fist as I stood up.
"To focus on the light. I will stand for someone who is a beacon. Even in darkness. There will always be light. I will be a lens to guide those suffering to the light. Even if I am one filled with darkness myself. We will get through it. Together."
"Hey. You two done?" Lucius asked, as he and Arman were waiting at the portal.
"We're coming." I said, as we made our way to the portal for a new adventure.
For the longest time, I wanted to be a hero.
Just like Dad.
But there was no way that could ever happen.
Because he and I stood for different things. Dad was a healer. I was a damage dealer.
But even so.
I could still be a hero. My own way.
One who supports others. One who understands what it's like to go through the darkness. Instead of a hero where people looked up to like Dad, I would be a hero people would get through along with.
One who helps others focus on the light.
Just like a Lens.
I looked at Millennium City one last time.
"See you around.
"Mom and Dad."