Polymnia watched everyone in the room freeze as Gloom Glimmer’s statement sunk in. The Savage Six
“Brennus?”, asked Hecate, as all of the girls gathered around him and the Crimson Goblin he was still holding aloft.
<Are you alright?>, asked Polymnia.
“How is he supposed to be alright!?”, shouted Tyche. “This is a disaster! The Six are, like, the number two biggest assholes on the planet, right after Di-fuckin’-L!”
“Hey, don’t you–“, began Hecate, just to be cut off.
“Silence, please”, said Brennus. His voice had gone soft, softer than any of them had ever heard. Polymnia could almost believe that a different person was speaking.
Everyone still in the room looked at him, but he just turned to the Crimson Goblin. He put him down onto his feet, where he struggled to stay upright.
“Did they tell you why they are interested in me?”, he asked, calmer than she would have expected him to be.
Maybe he’s in shock?, she thought.
The Crimson Goblin looked at him as if he wasn’t going to tell him, but he reconsidered as he looked at Brennus.
“They are looking for someone, and apparently they thought that you might be that person”, he explained, hesitantly. “But Atrocity would not tell me who that person is or why – or for what – they want him. Not that I asked.”
Brennus nodded and turned around, walking towards the shattered windows while gathering his ravens around himself. He hadn’t sealed his suit, so Polymnia could hear him murmuring, though it was too faint to understand the exact words.
“Did they leave you any means to contact them?”, he asked.
<We prefer contacting people as opposed to being contacted>, spoke a voice with a cultured British accent.
Everyone in the room turned towards the door Brennus had entered through. A sphere, held aloft by three rotors and with a glowing red eye, flew in. It was about as large as a human head, with each rotor having twice the sphere’s diameter. The voice originated from that sphere.
Polymnia knew it from the television and the internet and she felt goosebumps on her arms and legs. Hemming, she thought. The leader of the Six. She slowly bent down to pick up one of the guns of the gang members she had knocked out. Just to have something to fight.
“Who are you?”, asked Gloom Glimmer, aiming her fist at the sphere. A pale red glow surrounded the closed fist.
<Hemming is my nom-de-guerre, my dear. I must say, I had hoped that I would have a chance to talk to you – though I fear we will have to postpone our talk, as I have other matters to attend to>, replied the voice. The sphere turned to look directly at Brennus. <We are looking for a very specific person. Some of us felt that you might be that person, so we decided to test you.>
“So? Am I the person you are looking for?”, Brennus asked. This time, Polymnia could actually hear a trembling in his voice.
<Personally, I didn’t think you were the one we were looking for to begin with, but then again, it would have been folly not to make sure. Unfortunately, it seems you are not the one we are looking for>, Hemming replied.
“Somehow, I have a feeling that that is very fortunate for me”, Brennus replied.
<Maybe, maybe not. Either way, there is one final test you have to pass>, he continued.
Polymnia suddenly picked up some strange noises – noises that originated from beneath her.
<A little something from our dear Atrocity. She so hopes that you are the right one. Barring that, she at least hopes for an entertaining death scene. Have fun.>
Polymnia opened her mouth to warn the others, while simultaneously jumping back from her position – but she was too late to warn her friends, only barely managing to evade the giant blade that shot out of the ground, breaking through the floor like it was paper tissue.
* * *
Brennus had barely time to react when two blades, each twice as wide as his own thigh, shot out of the ground.
One neatly cut through the stunned Crimson Goblin, tearing him in half from his groin to his neck.
Another aimed at his chest, hitting him and pushing him back and up into the nearest wall.
He slammed into it with enough force that he broke through and landed several meters outside the factory.
The blade had been unable to penetrate his armoring, but the impact had more than rattled his cage – though it was not on the same level as the blows he had suffered through when fighting the Spiteborn.
It took a few seconds for him to stand up again. All the while, he reviewed the camera feeds from his ravens, both going through the last few seconds and what was currently happening.
Polymnia had apparently seen – or, more likely, heard – the attack coming and evaded. Hecate had been watching Polymnia at that moment and had reacted instinctively, allowing her to evade as well. Tyche’s luck had proven true and the blade had exited the floor at an angle, pushing her aside instead of cutting her.
The sixth blade impaled Gloom Glimmer through sternum and belly, lifting her upwards as she let out a startled breath – only to vanish in a flash of light.
The blades all sat at the end of thick, reddish tentacles covered in growing and shrinking boils filled with some kind of reddish liquid, which were shortly followed by a large, blob-like body the size of a compact car.
From the body sprouted three arms, two of which were vestigial, and no less than five legs, although only three of them seemed functional.
The whole twitching body, along with the tentacles, arms and legs, was covered in goblin-faces that appeared and disappeared at random, always either screaming or laughing, adding up to an ear-rendering cacophony.
“Great. Just great”, said Brennus as he jumped back into the hall, pulling his humming blade out of his belt.
* * *
The first thing he did was set his ravens to attack the various eyes of the Goblin-Abomination, while he ran towards the girls.
Polymnia had opened fire with the submachine gun she had picked up, aiming at the center of the beast. For some reason, her aim was more than off and she was making a face as if she was in pain. Enhanced hearing does have its downsides. Between the screaming, the laughing and the submachine guns, she ought to be half deaf and completely disoriented, he thought.
Tyche was already leaping around the room with another submachine gun, firing blindly towards the body of the beast, never bothering to aim – but none of her shots hit his ravens and nearly all of them hit some of the rapidly growing and just as rapidly vanishing eyes – they appeared to be the only vulnerable parts of the monstrosity.
Hecate was keeping her distance, standing on the side of the hall opposite of Polymnia’s, pelting the beast with shot after shot of her ‘mystic fire’. Unfortunately, she had neither Polymnia’s rapid shots, nor Tyche’s luck to be very effective.
The beast at the center of the room kept lashing out at the girls while screaming and laughing and shifting, the faces on its body growing and withering in seconds. Its aim was worse than Polymnia
Why can we not just fight some nice, normal supervillains?, Brennus thought. Why the Lovecraftian abominations? I am not even a fan of Lovecraft!
One of the six tentacles lashed out at Brennus, but its movements were simple, predictable. He activated the humming blade, having carried it in its inactive state to conserve energy, and dropped onto his knees, sliding forward while striking at the tentacle with an overhead strike.
The humming blade cut into the tentacle right beneath the point where the blade (which, strangely, was made of steel, not bone) sprouted from the limb, shearing it clean off.
This actually drew the abomination’s (a word he had been forced to use much to often the last few days) attention to him and with a shriek, it pushed itself off the ground, jumping towards him while all five of its remaining bladed tentacles struck at him. At the same time, he noticed that the goblin was growing – it had grown to almost one and a half times its size from when he had first seen it, in less than half a minute. The realization that this thing was somehow creating more and more mass to grow made him stumble for a second.
He might not have managed to evade the attack, but a blueish blast hit him in the chest, throwing him backwards. The blades sunk into the floor, creating cracks in it that spread for several meters, so when the body of the goblin landed, it broke through, falling below with an ear-rending scream.
Brennus looked up. The blast had come from Hecate, who still had her staff aimed in his direction, while turning to the left (his right) with a look of horror in her eyes.
Following her gaze, he saw how Tyche just bounded down after the goblin, laughing like a madwoman.
“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING!?”, shouted Hecate after her.
Brennus, on the other hand, saw that the ground beneath Polymnia – who seemed to be quite stunned at the moment – was sagging downward.
“Polymnia! Jump back!”, he shouted, but she did not seem to hear him – the scream must have – at least temporarily – damaged her ears.
She staggered a bit forward, holding her hands to her ears as the goblin screamed louder than ever from below, and the ground broke away beneath her feet just as Hecate bounded down to the basement to help Tyche.
“No!”, he shouted, jumping forward. He fired off his grappling hook, latching it on to the ceiling. Swinging across the hall, he got close to the falling Polymnia.
To his horror, two new tentacles, each longer and thicker than the others before them, grew out of the ever-expanding mass of flesh below them. They were topped by irregular growths of steel, copper and other metals, all of them sharp and all of them aiming for the falling girl.
This is getting out of control. No creation of the Crimson Goblin’s level should be capable of making something that creates mass out of nowhere or mixes organic and inorganic compounds like this.
Those thoughts shot through his head, while his body reacted almost by itself, throwing his humming blade out and his mouth shouted: “Hecate! Aim for Polymnia!”
His blade was built to retain a charge large enough for a few seconds of vibration while seperated from his hand, so it was able to cut off the tentacle that was closest to Polymnia.
And Hecate reacted almost immediately, firing off another blueish shot that hit Polymnia right in the chest, throwing her higher. It was not enough to let her evade the tentacles by herself, but it brought her high enough for Brennus to grab her by the back of her pink top, swinging along with her out of the way of the attack.
Swinging in a wide circle he prepared to land below in the basement, when Hecate shouted: “BRENNUS! ITS MUTATIONS ARE COMPLETELY RANDOM!”
The meaning of her words sunk in immediately and he saw the chance she had seen – the chance to take it out with a single stroke.
“Tyche! Catch!”, he shouted, grabbing his four remaining grenades from his belt, throwing them towards Tyche.
She reacted perfectly, catching the blue grenades out of the air. Since he had instructed both Hecate and Tyche on how to use his weaponry, she knew how to prime and cook them.
Trusting her luck, she cooked them for random amounts of time, then threw them, one after the other.
The first one bounced off one of the tentacles, then off a vestigial leg and then fell into the mouth of a screaming face on the blob-like body just as it withered and faded, exploding and ripping a hole into the abominations side – a hole that began to close immediately.
The second grenade bounced off its hide, exploding and tearing off a vestigial arm and a functional leg.
The third was battered aside, flying into the darkness of the basement and exploding against a wall.
Finally, the fourth grenade bounced off several tentacles before falling right into a newly emerging face – and, judging by his long-distance camera, its throat actually extended deeper into the body, letting the grenade fall deep into the abomination before it exploded.
Now, most people did not realize that there was a large difference between an explosive going off outside a closed structure or inside one (like inside a body).
The result was as disgusting as it was awesome.
Fluids and shreds flew all the way up to Brennus and Polymnia, covering them in filth. If Polymnia could scream, she would have done so, he was sure.
And just like that, the fight was over.
* * *
Brennus abseiled down together with Polymnia. They landed on the blood-covered floor of the basement just as the flesh and the blood began to dissolve into raw biomass.
Polymnia refused to let go of him and walk barefoot on the carnage.
Hecate and Tyche walked over to him just as the drone floated down.
<Not bad>, commented Hemming.
“What. Did. You. Do?”, asked Brennus. “No way the Crimson Goblin made this thing.”
<Well, he did. In part. It was a little something Atrocity set up, actually>, explained the leader of the Six. <She installed a gadget, that attempted to manipulate the growing mega-goblin. And we all know how dangerous it is to mix Contrivances and Gadgets…>
“…” Brennus was speechless. This had been beyond reckless, even for the Savage Six. What if the abomination had become self-sustaining?
“You’re insane!”, shouted Hecate, supplying the obligatory comment.
<Thank you, I try. We all do.>
Brennus interjected himself. “So, did I pass your test? Am I the person you are looking for?” Please say no, please say no…
<Oh, you failed quite decisively. Though it was quite entertaining.>
He let a breath out he had not realized he had been holding.
<But, say, does the name ‘Macian’ ring any bells? Has anyone of you ever heard it?>
“No”, replied all of them (except Polymnia) in unison.
“So, is Macian the person you are looking for? Seeing how you believed I might be him, I guess he is a gadgeteer?”, replied Brennus. He wanted to get some kind of information he might be able to use to at least find and warn this Macian.
<Quite so. But I am afraid we had a wrong lead here. Don’t worry, we won’t come after you. You are officially no longer of interest to us – at least for now. Goodbye, children.>
And with that, the drone sparked and dropped to the ground. It heated up and began to melt into a molten sludge.
The four teenagers all relaxed in unison. The danger seemed to be over.
“Brennus?”, asked Tyche, who seemed to be quite tired out – jumping around like a gummy ball on speed had tired even her out.
“Yes?”, he asked wearily. Off all of them, he was the only non-Adonis and he had not been rejuvenated by Gloom Glimmer. Though Polymnia seemed to also have only been healed, not rejuvenated, as well.
There is probably a limit to how many times one can be rejuvenated within a certain amount of time, he theorized.
“Can you pull us all out of here?”, Tyche continued.
He was cut off by a flash of light. Above them, Gloom Glimmer had reappeared. The hole in her torso had closed along with the hole in her costume and cape. Though she was looking quite a bit more tired than he had ever seen her, even after the battle against the blossom.
She landed next to him and an invisible force pushed the clear fluid left behind by the contrived monstrosity away. Polymnia finally climbed down from his back and staggered over to her teammate, putting an arm over her shoulder to steady herself. Gloom Glimmer reached out and touched Polymnia’s ears one after another, a blue light playing around her fingers – fixing the damage to her ears.
The two of them looked at each other and somehow, Brennus was sure that they were conversing, probably through some kind of telepathy.
Then they turned both towards Brennus. Gloom Glimmer spoke first: “You saved her life.” It was a statement, not a question.
“We all worked together”, he replied.
Gloom Glimmer shook her head. “I saw how it played out in her head just now. You saved her. Saved my friend. So I owe you. If you ever want to call that favor in, just contact me”, she explained.
Brennus was about to reject the offer, but thought otherwise. He would have insisted on such himself, if their places had been reversed. Besides, a favor from Gloom Glimmer was just too big to pass up.
So he just nodded.
“Will you all be able to get out of here by yourself?”, asked Gloom Glimmer.
“Sure”, replied Brennus. The girls nodded, as well.
“Then we will depart”, said Gloom Glimmer and with another flash, the two of them vanished.
Brennus turned towards the girls. “Let us get to our lair. We need to get away from here before the police arrive. And I want to check up on Prisca.”
* * *
“That was… interesting”, commented Kraquok.
The inhuman supervillain stood next to her on a tree near the factory, only a few centimeters between them. He had never, in the time she had known him, shown any consideration for personal space.
Not that she had any right to throw stones, but she tried to respect such conventions at least in regards to her colleagues. But not Kraquok.
Mindstar looked at the right hand of The Dark without moving her body, instead using her ESP.
Kraquok was one of the textbook examples for an extreme Chimaera-type. His body was about twice as large, all in all, as a normal human. He was nearly three meters tall, but walked hunched over. His skin was black with an unnerving red shimmer, depending on the light, and it was extremely smooth and hot, almost burning to the touch. His two sets of arms were too long, as were his fingers, and if he had not clasped them behind his back at the moment, they would have hung down to the ground. The six-jointed fingers were tipped by vicious, blood-red claws. His feet were digitigrade, ending in vicious blood-red claws. He possessed a thin, sinewy tail twice as long as the rest of his body.
Most unnerving of all, however, was his head. It was formed like some kind of mix between Tiger and Crocodile. Large, blood-red orbs topped it, moving around independently from each other to take in their surroundings, reminding her of a chamaeleon. His mouth had a set of teeth on the outside of his cheeks, each tooth a long, red dagger. Beneath them, she knew, was a second, more human set of teeth – though they were still monstrous.
As if that was not enough, his snout was topped by another face – this one looked not only human, but also incredibly handsome. It, too, had blood-red eyes.
Those eyes now looked at her and she felt superemely uncomfortable. Of all the Five, Kraquok was the only one who well and truly scared her.
“I thought you were going to manipulate the situation to goad your brother into killing someone?”, he asked, speaking with two voices at once – one twisted and monstrous, the other almost seductive despite its matter-of-fact tone. He was speaking by only using those parts of his lips that were a part of his second, smaller face, since opening his mouth entirely did not allow him to talk properly.
She looked back into the factory, watching as Brennus lifted his teammates out of the basement and they left to get to safety. Her shoulders sagged. She debated, briefly, to lie, to give some kind of rational explanation for abandoning her plan. But Kraquok was a master at seeing through lies – perhaps even more so than The Dark. So she went with the truth.
“I couldn’t betray his trust like that. Even if I could have done it without entering his mind without his permission, I… I think I prefer having him on the opposing side than risking our relationship like this”, she explained.
Kraquok nodded, seemingly content with her answer.
“Are you going to go after the two that escaped?”, he asked.
His question drew her attention back to Redder and Switchbitch, who had fled from the scene of the fight the moment their boss had been cut in half by one of his own creations, and the unpowered members of their gang that were following them.
Just the thought of that bitch made Mindstar’s blood boil.
“Oh, yes. I am going to teach her a lesson…”
* * *
The remaining members of the Hemogoblins were running through the factory, trying to put as much distance between themselves and the battle as possible.
Switchbitch had regained consciousness just in time to see her boss, her master, be cut in half. She had immediately decided to get the hell away and Redder and the others had followed without a word, with Redder actually running on his hands.
Now, they entered a smaller room that might have been a break room some time in the past.
They had barely gotten halfway across it when suddenly, something lashed out, throwing all of the unpowered Hemogoblins into the lefthand wall.
The sound of their skulls and necks breaking was unmistakeable.
Switchbitch and Redder whirled around trying to find their attacker, only for Redder to be picked up by the same invisibile force and torn limb from limb in seconds.
The red-clad villainess screamed in horror as the bloody pieces were smashed against the righthand wall, leaving only red smears.
“Coward! Show yourself!”, she shouted, growing frantic.
Finally, the invisible power grabbed her as well, lifting her up and stretching her limbs so that her body formed an ‘x’. But she was not torn apart or broken like a doll filled with twigs.
Instead the door in front of her opened and in walked a woman clad in a skintight, black and purple costume.
Switchbitch opened her mouth to talk, but found that the same invisibile force that was keeping her aloft was keeping her mouth shut as well.
Breaking into sweat, she watched as Mindstar came to a halt in front of her, their faces now level, as the taller supervillain had lifted Switchbitch up high enough to look her in the eye.
Switchbitch only saw murderous, unquenchable hatred in Mindstars eyes – and a kind of primal, savage lust. She felt like wetting herself, her master’s modifications had made sure that that could not happen.
“Do you know why I’ve come for you?”, asked Mindstar as Switchbitch felt a sensation as if someone was touching her brain with countless half-liquid tendrils.
She couldn’t speak, but despite that, Mindstar seemed to know the answer. No, I have no idea.
“Maybe this will help”, said the member of the Five, pulling her mask back, revealing her albino face in its entirety.
And then she changed, turning into a far more normal, though no less beautiful, young woman.
When she saw the person standing before her, Switchbitch thought that she was not going to survive this.
“Can you guess now, Marie?”, she asked her.
The boy at the hospital, thought Switchbitch, growing more and more desperate. She didn’t want to die!
All the time, she felt as if the tendrils she had been feeling earlier were now burrowing into her brain.
“Yes, the boy. The boy you hurt.” With a sickening crunch, Marie’s left arm broke, twisting like a wet dish rag being wrung out. She would have screamed if she had been allowed to, but she could not produce a single sound. Instead, she almost fainted.
Mindstar continued: “The boy you wounded.” This time, her right arm was wrung like a rag. Again, she nearly fainted, but she felt as if something was keeping her from the merciful embrace of unconsciousness.
“The boy you could have killed, had you aimed further to the left!”, she screamed at her and pain unlike anything she had ever felt surged through her body. It wasn’t due to any (further) bodily harm inflicted on her. Instead, it was all in her head, her mind telling her that every cell, every atom in her body was being tortured simultaneously.
When the pain subsided, she almost fainted, again, but was kept awake by the tendrils in her mind, again.
Mindstar had levitated her switchrod into her hand. And was now inspecting it. “My little brother. You hurt my little brother…”, she whispered, her voice almost tender. Now, Marie was sure that she was going to die. Horribly.
Tears would have filled her eyes, but even that was being denied to her.
“I believe you said that you would shove this rod up his ass, didn’t you?”, Mindstar asked her as the invisible force began to rip her red suit off of her.
“One would think that that would be a good starting point for our little… discussion to really start, right?”, Mindstar continued as she began to strip out of her own costume.
* * *
Mindstar folded her costume neatly and levitated it to a clean corner of the room – no sense in sullying it – leaving her naked from head to toe. She shifted back into her albino form, just to be safe, and studied the little whore in front of her.
Her body was beautiful only in the way that a cartoon was beautiful – it was just too perfect, too garish. It just looked fake.
Reaching out, she squeezed one of her tits. Felt fake, too.
When she was sure that she had a tight grip on her victims (feeble) mind, she let her telekinetic hold on her vanish.
The doomed little Marie landed on her knees, looking up at Mindstar with pure horror in her eyes.
That look alone turned her on more than anything.
But she wasn’t here for that kind of satisfaction.
With a single backhand blow, she threw the woman to the floor.
“You will suffer.”
Switchbitch stood up, grabbing her weapon. She placed it on the ground so that it stood upright, then she sat on top of it. Unable to resist her hold – she hadn’t bothered to be delicate, Switchbitch wasn’t going to survive the next thirty minutes, so she had just forced her way into her mind while she was distracted and upset due to the revelation of her relationship with the boy she had thought to be just an insignificant bystander – she pushed herself down onto the rod until its tip had entered her ass.
“As thick as his leg, you said?”, Mindstar said, her voice seething with hatred. This little bitch had dared hurt Basil.
Having taken control of her mind, it was child’s play to make her use her power, expanding the rod to appropriate dimensions.
Even though only its tip was inserted, Switchbitch buckled, her body fighting her mind for a chance to get the object out of itself. But Mindstar did not allow her to scream.
She kicked her right in her fake tits, throwing her to the ground. Then, she grabbed the rod and pulled it up, so that all of her little toys body weight rested on her shoulders, her legs falling to both sides of her head.
“Let’s see how deep I can push this, shall we?”
* * *
It turned out that it could go quite deep.
Switchbitch lay on the ground, twitching and gagging in a futile attempt to move or at least scream in pain. Blood covered her ass and the ground beneath it, with less than a quarter of the rod, which had been nearly one meter and twenty centimeters long, still showing.
Mindstar took a few steps, making sure to step onto the shattered leg of the little whore, and then knelt down over her belly, straddling her.
Without a word, she grabbed one of her fake tits and ripped it clean off her body.
This time, she almost didn’t manage to keep the bitch from screaming and fainting. Instead, she buckled under her, throwing her head around as tears finally ran down her cheeks.
She didn’t see the punch coming that broke her nose. “You hurt him”, commented Mindstar as she landed another punch, this time right on her remaining breast.
“You hurt him!”, she shouted, stabbing her fingers into the open wound and twisting them.
“YOU HURT HIM!”, she screamed, spit now flying all over as pure rage filled her.
“YOU HURT HIM! YOU WORTHLESS LITTLE SLUT, HOW DARE YOU!“
Punch after punch landed on Switchbitch’s face and chest. One broke a few of her ribs.
“NO ONE DOES THAT, DO YOU HEAR ME! NO ONE HURTS HIM AND LIVES!“
She used the fingers of her left hand to gouge out her right eye, crushing it in her hand.
Then she stopped for a moment, while her thoughts raged on.
She hurt him.
She hurt Basil.
She wounded him.
She could have killed him.
This worthless waste of skin almost took him away from me! SHE COULD HAVE KILLED BASIL!!!
With an incoherent scream, Mindstar began to pound her defenseless victim’s head, her fists striking at her with wild, uncontrolled punches, while she screamed without words, her outrage at the mere chance of loosing her brother, the audacity of this insignificant whore attacking Basil.
* * *
Kraquok walked into the room where Mindstar was venting her rage. Even without his enhanced senses or his other abilities, finding her would not have been any problem. He only needed to followe the incoherent screams.
Inside the room, he found Mindstar naked, straddling the body of the villain… what had been her name again? He hadn’t bothered to even learn it in the first place.
Mindstar was giggling and moving her hips, grinding her sex on her victim while simultaneously pounding her fists into… well, into the floor, actually. There was only a mush of blood, splintered bones and brain matter left of the cartoonish womans head.
“Mindstar”, he said.
She only giggled louder, moving her hands to grab the womans shoulders, now grinding away for pleasure on earnest.
“Mindstar! The boss wants us all to gather at the HQ. Something has come up!”, he said.
This finally drew her attention to him. When she turned to look at him, her eyes were wide, her pupils so dilated that her irides were barely more than purple rings around them. A wave of pure, unrestrained lust washed over him just as her grinding intensified.
He sighed. “Great. She’s having one of her episodes again.”
The last time she’d had one of those, she’d fucked herself through a (largely) unwilling sorority, nearly killing half of her playmates and leaving them traumatized for life – those who didn’t enjoy the experience at least. And even some of those.
There was only one way to deal with this right now.
With blinding speed, he surged forward. Before she could react – he wasn’t even sure whether she could in this state – he delivered a single, almost tender blow to her neck and she collapsed into unconsciousness.
He picked her up as if she weighed nothing and threw her over one shoulder. Then he turned around. Behind him, four of his subordinates, three men and one very young woman, a new recruit, entered the room, surveying the carnage. The rookie was the only one visibly affected by it. All three of them were clad in form-fitting body armor coloured in red and black, modified to be easily and quickly donned and discarded.
“Alright”, he said. All four snapped to attention. “Unfortunately, I can’t stick around for your initiation, Denise. Something’s come up that I can’t ignore.”
The young woman looked crestfallen, but she nodded.
“Either way, that shouldn’t ruin this day. It’s your day. And since this is your first real outing with us, you get first choice on the food. What would you prefer?”
The young woman – she was barely twenty-two years old – looked at the corpses in the room. Then she looked at him. “I’m not sure, sir. What would you recommend?”, she asked.
It always brought him pleasure when they asked. “Well, I would recommend to stay away from the metahumans. I’ve taken a bite out of Redder in the past, he tastes awful. Not to mention that you wouldn’t be able to chew him properly. And God only knows what kind of messed up stuff the Crimson Goblin put into Switchbitch. Stick to the other gang members.”
He looked closer at them. “I’d recommend the woman over there. Young, athletic, fit. The insides of her thighs, her groin, her cheeks, her chest.”
Denise nodded, a hungry look in her eyes.
“However, please save me some of the tender bits. A breast and a piece of her thigh, I think”, he added. “I have a feeling that I am going to need a fresh snack after today’s meeting.” She nodded.
“Otherwise, just listen to your brothers. They already know the drill. But now I really have to go.” He picked up Mindstar’s costume and left the room while his subordinates began to strip out of their armor.
Today was a good day.
* * *
“You are sure?”, asked Atrocity. She was upset, her blades digging furrows into the floor.
“Quite so”, replied Hemming as he prepared to eat his meal – grilled ham with mashed potatoes and a rich, spicy salad. “I am 94% sure that Brennus is not Macian.” He paused for a moment. “Scratch that. I am absolutely sure he is not.”
“Why do you think that?”, asked Fire Burial, who was sitting opposite of him at the table. Her mechanical arm was tapping on the table.
“Because that ‘Switchbitch’ was able to hit him. Because it took him too long to take down the Crimson Goblin. Because he needed help to put down that mega-goblin”, he began to explain. “Because his technology does not add up. It is nowhere near as advanced as even the stuff Macian made when he was eight. If he was Macian, he would, by now, be on par with Sovereign, if not beyond him. We are talking about the boy who is, without a doubt, the highest rated Gadgeteer in history. The power levels just don’t add up. But, the main reason is the way he fought against Switchbitch, Redder and the Crimson Goblin.”
“What about it? It looked a lot like him, just attacking without hesitation”, commented Atrocity.
Hemming shook his head. “You of all people should know. Macian was never a berserker. Yes, he was angry. But he controlled his anger. He used it. He always looked like he was fighting like a berserker, but that was an act. Brennus, on the other hand, lets his anger use him. Macian would never do that, no matter the circumstance.”
Atrocity leaned back on her chair while her blades finally stopped moving around. “So we’re back to square one. No idea where he might be”, she replied.
“I’m afraid so.”