The Night The Lights Went Out
Hunter poked his head out of the street entrance to Bart’s apartment above his florist shop. He saw Dethmetl in a wide stance pose, head bowed and glaring through his hair that fell around his face. Cheryl followed behind Hunter and nudged him through the door onto the sidewalk. Hunter stumbled out and planted himself, arms folded, assessing his challenger. Dethmetl looked as Hunter had remembered, Deicide t-shirt and torn jeans. This time his Doc Martens were replaced by onerous looking boots with thick rubber soles giving a platform effect. Metal strips ran down the sides and into the soles. The cuffs of his jeans were stuffed into the tops. He raised his hands and they turned into long, keen blades. He swung them to his sides and leaned forward.
“Your time is gonna come, Psamurai,” Dethmetl said, “In like a few seconds.”
Hunter drew his blade.
“Is that the sword you made from my hand?”
“The same,” Hunter replied, “Good sturdy material. Holds an edge well.”
“You’re gonna die for that, asshole.”
Cheryl, Sophie, and Ian filed out of the door and stood behind Hunter.
“Back off, this doesn’t involve you,” Dethmetl barked, “This is between me and him.”
“You fuck with my team, it involves us,” Cheryl said.
“I said, ‘back off’”
Cheryl raised her hands, “May I?” asked Hunter.
“No skin off my back,” he replied.
She shot Dethmetl with a bolt of electricity. He caught it with his bladed arms and the energy channeled along his body and down into his boots dispelling into the ground.
“The professor warned me about you,” Dethmetl smirked, “Gave me these bitchin boots.”
“The professor,” Cheryl said, “Let me guess, about two feet tall and three feet wide? Dresses like John Houseman? Bald as a baby’s ass?”
“He got something very special in store for you. All of you.”
“Fucking, Englebert. Yeah, we met our very special somethings. I get the whole counter pick thing, I’ve watched my share of League streams, but they’re not that impressive once you mix and match.”
“Engelbert sent that seraph bounty hunter after me?” Sophie said, “Jerk.”
“And P-Funk for Ian and Sailor Moon for Carl, et cetera et cetera.”
“And that Van Helsing nut...hey, why do I get two?”
“I’m not here to talk to you Grandmas. I’m here to end Psamurai,” Dethmetl walked toward Hunter.
Sophie raised her bow. A wooden stake soared through the air toward her head. Hunter raised his katana to the side and the stake struck the blade, knocking to the ground inches from Sophie’s eye.Van Helsing appeared from around the corner and took another shot. Cheryl zapped the projectile in mid-flight, it’s glowing embers drifted to the pavement.
“Didn’t we run you off already,” Cheryl said to Van Helsing.
“I only wanted the Priestess, but now I’m going to kill all of you,” Van Helsing barked.
Dethmetl charged toward Van Helsing, “No way, dude, this is my fight. Back off.”
“I don’t take orders from a beta cuck.”
Dethmetl swung his blades at Van Helsing and he ducked and spun to his side, striking Dethmetl in the ribs. His fist was met with solid steel. Van Helsing winced and howled, shaking his injured hand. A claw gripped him by the collar of his long, leather duster and lifted him off the ground.
“Are you trying to beat me out of a contract, little human,” said Devana lifting him up, eye to eye.
A meaty human hand, clad in shiny, gold lame snatched Van Helsing by the neck, from Devana’s grip. Van Helsing found himself staring into the eyes of a falcon. From under the falcon’s head, a pair of eye stared him down, peering out from either side of the beak.
“Run along, little man, lest you get hurt,” Horus growled.
“This is my quarry,” Van Helsing gasped, punching at Horus’s arm.
“I respect his tenacity,” Devana laughed.
“You’re standing between me and getting paid, son. I can’t have that,” Horus said.
Horus opened his mouth and a low-frequency drone came forth. Van Helsing’s eyes widened and he looked down, distressed. His face turned red as a patch of liquid spread over his pants.
“You have an accident?” Horus chuckled and sniffed, “Whew, both ends. Don’t you fret, young buck, that sound gets everybody,” he lowered Van Helsing to his feet, “You got balls, little man, I respect that, but this is money we’re talking about. If you weren’t between me and it, I might even work with you.”
“I’d never work with your kind,” Van Helsing scowled at Horus and Devanna, assessing them.
“It’s like that, is it?” Horus frowned and folded his arms.
Devana sighed and lifted Van Helsing by the collar and threw him against the side of Bart’s shop. His head swung back and hit the brick wall and he slid to the ground, like a ragdoll.
“I was hoping that weird son of a bitch would surprise us and win,” Hunter said.
“I’m starting to feel bad for that guy,” Sophie said.
“Well he shouldn’t make play like he’s a supervillain,” Cheryl said.
“Especially when the real deal is looking ready for a showdown,” Hunter said, cigarette bouncing at the corner of his mouth.
The basement doors swung open and Carl emerged, “Is this happening, Cher?”
“Look like it. A lot sooner than I’d hoped. I think we’re just waiting on Engelbert and Gogo Yubari.”
“Are you referring to Ichiko?” said a voice over a speaker.
A robot descended carrying a smiling Ichiko, waving at them. The robot landed and Ichiko rolled to her feet.
“I should have known you wouldn’t have been making a personal appearance,” Cheryl said.
Devana grunted and sighed.
“She gets it,” Cheryl said, “Why are you working for this slug?”
“Bounty. Hunter,” Devana over-enunciated.
“How much is he paying you?” Sophie said.
“Are you going to do the ‘I’ll double it’ thing?”
“No. I’m just curious how much he thinks I’m worth.”
“A lot,” Devana nodded.
“At least he’s not being insulting about it.”
“No, he’s insulting me,” Cheryl said, “This is about getting to me.”
“Making it about you again.”
“Dude, it’s Engelbert, of course this is about me.”
“Your sister is quite right, Miss Fischer,” Engelbert said, “When you’re suffering up to your dying breath, think about who’s responsible. Think about how your sister brought this all upon you.”
“I won’t make you suffer,” Devana stage-whispered to Sophie, “Real quick.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Sophie said, “My sister pissed you off, whatever happens after that is you.”
“It was worth a try,” Engelbert said, “I just want to make your sister suffer and you’re collateral damage.”
“Expensive collateral damage,” Devana whispered again to Sophie and rubbed her fingers together.
“So how does this start?” Cheryl asked, “To we just run at each other Challenge of the Superfriends style?”
“Let me break the ice,” Devana fired a shot at Sophie.
Hunter blocked the shot with his sword and Dethmetl smacked his blade down with metal hands. He took a swing at Hunter, but he rolled out of the way and jabbed Dethmetl in the ribs with his sword to no effect.
Ian approach the fray swinging his flutes, that droned out small melodies. Horus swept his hands before him and the sound redirected back toward the gang. They fought to retain consciousness, shaking their heads. Cheryl jammed her fingers in her ears, wincing.
“It’s worse than usual,” she said.
Carl charged at Engelbot and Ichiko knocked him back.
“Guys. Stop fighting your mirrorverse counterparts.”
“I was trying to get the robot,” Carl said.
“We’ve been rehearsing for this night, Miss Ellers,” Engelbot said.
“They’ve been rehearsing,” Devana said.
“What have you been doing?” Engelbot continued, “Chasing petty criminals? Arguing?”
“We don’t argue,” Cheryl protested.
“Of course you do. You’re involved. I’m everything devolves into an argument...Oh, listen to me being generous. I’m sure everything starts as an argument.”
“He’s got you pegged,” Hunter said.
Cheryl glared at him.
“Exactly,” Engelbot said, “Now, Miss Ellers, if you don’t mind, I’d like to extend my…”
“Enough, bullshit,” Devana said and threw a smoke grenade onto the ground.
Of the chaos that followed, Cheryl remembered being stuck, then blackness. She remembered scenes fading in and out as if she was slowly blinking. In one scene Devana had a blade to Sophie’s throat. In another Hunter was in the gutter, bloodied. Carl’s ass was sticking out of the a brand new hole in the wall in Bart’s shop. Ian was screaming as Horus shouted in his ear. Then she remembered Engelbot, standing face to face. And Engelbert’s voice coming over the speaker, gloating and taunting. She saw her hands touching the surface of Engelbot’s chassis. An eternal blink later and Engelbot was smoking on the ground at her feet. Her hands were too bright to look at and left dancing blue spirals in her vision. Another blink and she was surrounded by a bubble of rippling energy. Devana fled via grappling hook off onto the rooftops. Ichiko and Horus were knocked backward. They scrambled to their feet and fled.
“How am I doing this?” Cheryl thought, “To make something like this I’d need some sort of conductor…Dethmetl”
She looked down at her feet and Dethmetl was on his knees, shrieking in agony as electricity coursed through him and arced to the nearby power sources, in thick, dazzling bolts. She saw his eyes pleading with her. She jerked away in horror. The energy stopped. Dethmetl fainted into a smoking pile, groaning. She looked around and took an inventory of her friends.
She remembers lifting up off the ground. Pulling power from the power lines above. She could look down and see the city street racing along, several feet below her. She was straddling the buildings on electrical legs, suspended between them. The rest of the gang were in little force fields and the end of electric tentacles.
She woke to find herself in Carl’s garage. She shot up with a gasp.
“We can’t stay here,” she said, “They know where this is. They’ll know we’re here.”
Sophie put her hand on Cheryl's shoulder and eased her back down.
“I don’t think they’ll want to,” she said, “Not until they regroup. Hopefully, they won’t.”
“Engelbert isn’t going to quit,” Cheryl tried to sit back up.
“I need you to calm down and get some rest. Do you remember anything?”
“You got us out of there.”
“I have no idea what happened.”
“It was frightening.”
“It was still scary,” Sophie said.
“Well, scary saved your life,” Cheryl said.
“I don’t like that you blacked out.”
“I didn’t black out, it was more like I was a passive observer. I’m glad I had at least, the presence of mind to get everybody out of there.”
“How did you get all of us out of there?”
“I basically climbed over the rooftops like an electric octopus, dragging your half-dead asses behind me,” Cheryl squinted at Sophie, “You have a shiner.”
“And a bruised collarbone and a nice cut across my neck.”
“The cut’s not that bad. Could have been a lot worse.”
“How’s everybody else?”
“Minor broken bones, bruises, stitches, and apart from possible hearing loss, nothing they can’t recover from. Bart’s taking care of it. But...everyone’s worried about you.”
“Well, stop. I’m fine. In fact, I feel energized.”
“Okay, I feel rested.”
“They’ll go back. It’s normal.”
“What the heck are you talking about, normal. Someone’s eyes turning black isn’t normal.”
“It’s just how the shit works, I guess.”
“You guess? How does what work? How does whatever it is work?”
“Exactly. You don’t even know it’s happening anymore.”
“I was there. I was...in and out.”
“In and out? What happens when it’s more out than in? Who are you when you’re ‘out’? Can we trust you?”
“Well I saved your ass, while I was ‘out’, so at least I’m on the same team.”
Sophie shook her head.
“Okay, begone, Fischer, you’re bothering me.”
“It’s nice to that my concern for your well being is annoying.”
“What happened out there?” Devana said.
“I didn’t expect that. Next time we’ll be prepared,” Engelbert said.
“You were toying with them. All of you were. A job is get in, get the kill and get out. It’s not for getting your rocks off. Now, look. My per hour rate is plummeting. I go after the High Priestess alone. I don’t need you wasting more of my time.”
“Make haste, Mage Hunter,” Engelbert smirked, “It looks like you have a rival for the contract.”
“That larval human?”
“You mean that dude dressed like a pilgrim?” Horus asked, “Didn’t you kill him? Splatted him against the wall like a fly.”
Van Helsing was shirtless and sweating as he struck a staff against a dummy, in a repeated, methodical fashion. The back of his head was caked with blood and smashed flesh.
“My will is my own. It is strong and through its force, I shall achieve,” he chanted, his eyes dead and staring.
Dethmetl stood next to him, imitating him. Punching a dummy of his own in the same rhythm and tempo.