Heroes Legion: "Year One": The Manhattan Project
Chapter 24: Showdown
Capt. Jose' Clarion (Captain of the HMS Cardona): "General Arcane? Sir…the wall…it's gone."
Lt. Hardcastle: "Captain, Lt. Hardcastle here. General Arcane isn't here right now. I'm in command till he returns; did you say the wall of water had vanished?"
Capt. Jose's Clarion: "Lieutenant we have confirmation that the wall of water surrounding Manhattan has just dissipated, we are also picking up on our scopes what looks like two….wait, correction…one tomahawk cruise missile heading for New York."
Lt. Hardcastle: "That is a rogue missile captain, you're orders are to shoot it down. Scramble your fighters!"
Sgt. Crisp: "General Arcane, come in sir!"
Lt. Hardcastle: "Sgt. Crisp? So you really are alive."
Sgt. Crisp: "Not just us, the Heroes Legion too."
Lt. Hardcastle: "What?"
Sgt. Crisp: "All enemy forces have been dealt with, and the MGA is toast. The island is secure; you can come in and re-establish order."
Lt. Hardcastle: "Sargent we have a problem. A mole, the very same one that tried to kill you and your team just launched a special tomahawk missile at the city."
Sgt. Crisp: "What!? We'll self-destruct the damn thing!"
Lt. Hardcastle: "We can't. The mole took out the override AND the self-destruct functions."
Sgt. Crisp: "Shit. How far away is the missile?"
Lt. Hardcastle: "Seven miles away and closing."
South Manhattan: July 12th, 2014: 5:53 AM
"Heroes Legion, come in Heroes Legion! We have a serious problem!" Sgt. Crisp's voice shouted through the communicators.
"We're here. What's wrong?" Robo-Warrior answered.
"Some idiots, the same idiots that tried to kill us when we were being air inserted into Manhattan just launched a special tomahawk. It's about seven miles away from the city and closing. It's been rigged to not be able to be destroyed by a missile kill code or by any of the safeguards we have for nuclear weapons!" Sgt. Crisp answered.
"But no one crossed the bridge, we destroyed the MGA!" Raven Ducard exclaimed.
"The co-conspirators…" Shadow Knight said in realization, "They didn't care if we fought back and won the battle. They already had what they needed to give them the excuse to destroy to not only wipe out Meta-Master and his army…but also to destroy the city to hide any evidence of there being foul play…like these weapons and tanks…and get their false flag operation the green flag of success in the process!"
"If we hurry, we can intercept it before it gets here" Silicon said climbing back into the landed Night Hawk with the others while Shadow Knight returned to The Mirage and activated its flight mode.
The two flying machines took off and soared away from the city at Mach-1 towards the oncoming nuclear tomahawk cruise missile heading for New York City.
They were over Trenton, New Jersey when they finally saw the missile.
They also saw that there was something attached to the approaching missile.
Before they even got within firing distance, the missile suddenly changed course and began heading out into the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
For a brief moment they got a better look at what was clinging to and possibly also changing the course of the rogue missile.
"Who the hell is that?" Shadow Knight said in unrecognition to seeing the sight of a goblin masked individual in a WWII flight jacket and using some kind of rocket glider to steer the missile away from the city.
"It can't be…" Atlanta said in recognition, "It's Gremlin!"
"Who?" Shadow Knight asked.
"He's one of the Secret Seven, the secret team of international heroes we teamed up with when we went back in time to WWII. What's he doing?" Murdoch explained.
"He's steering the missile away from the city" Cyber-29 answered, "But if I know my weapons, he's not going to have time to direct it to a safe location out at sea and bail out."
"He's going to sacrifice himself" Raven Ducard said in realization, "We have to catch up to him and retrieve him before the nuke goes off!"
But it was too late.
Off in the distance from where the Night Hawk and The Mirage hovered hundreds of feet above the ground, maybe over 300 miles away from shore.
An explosion had occurred from underwater, blowing away the clouds in the area the explosion occurred in.
A massive plume of water exploded from the Atlantic Ocean, creating a massive tower of displaced water that slowly crashed down into the area of the underwater blast.
The nuke had detonated underwater, reducing the damage it would have caused if the resulting firestorm from the explosion had occurred if it had detonated in the air.
A shockwave rippled through the air, and the Heroes Legion felt it strike their air vehicles.
They all looked on in stunned horrified dismay at what they had just seen.
The Gremlin…whoever he was, had just sacrificed himself to save an entire city.
"He pulled a Bucky…" Velocity said sadly, referencing the "Sacrifice" of Captain America's side kick James Buchanan 'Bucky' Barnes, "He pulled a Bucky..."
"He died a hero…" Shadow Knight said solemnly, touched by the act of bravery this stranger had just done "Though I never met him, I can tell from your words and his action that he was one of us. Let's give him a moment of silence. He deserves that."
They did just that.
The sad moment was interrupted when suddenly Sgt. Crisp's voice came in over the airwaves of the communicator, "Heroes Legion, if you've handled the nuke you better get back here right now. SLEET's forces are engaging Meta-Master. Both he and M-Leader just crashed down in the middle of Central Park. We're heading there now to back them up."
Central Park: July 12th, 2014: 6:23 AM
In the middle of the impact crater they had created when they crashed into Central Park, M-Leader had the power overloading Meta-Master pinned to the ground as he slugged his supervillain transformed father…over and over again.
All the while, he was tearing Meta-Master a new one telepathically.
"Monster, Tyrant, BASTARD!" M-Leader shouted telepathically, "You brainwashed my adopted son, you kept me imprisoned in that chamber and damn near starved and dehydrated me to death, forced me to watch as you tore Manhattan apart…I should have done this the first time I saw what you had become when I met you in Las Vegas. I should have understood like I do now, that my father is dead. He died when my goddamn invention exploded. You're just the monster left over wearing his skin! Hundreds of people would still be alive; this never would have happened… you won't hurt another soul from this point on EVER again!"
M-Leader charged up his fist into a finishing blow.
But to his consternation, found he couldn't deliver the killing blow.
Bruised, and bloody, and crackling with pure psionic energy due to the loss of his regulating armor.
Meta-Master chuckled and spat blood, "You can't do it can you son? Despite what I've done, what I've become because of YOU…I am still your father. You don't have it in you to kill your own father. You're a military scientist…but you were never a killer."
M-Leader was suddenly blasted backwards into an adjacent tree by a blast of psionic energy that burst from Meta-Master.
Already winded from the battle the two of them had had up in the storm clouds as the Heroes Legion chased after the MGA.
M-Leader struggled to move, but found himself too weak and worn out from his fight with his father to get back up and continue to fight.
Meta-Master casually walked up to his son, shaking his head.
"You should have taken initiative son; you could have prevented ALL of this if you had. But it was never in you to be able to, your current state proves it. Look at you, you're weak and pathetic! It's time to put you out of both of our miseries!"
Before he could kill M-Leader, a hail of miasmic bullets and missiles fired upon him from somewhere above.
Barely even making a dent in his psychic barrier shield, which of course was now had been amplified a few levels up in its usual strength level by the loss of the regulator armor.
Meta-Master paused and looked up at where the attack was coming from, and saw some kind of strange flying vehicle was firing on him and dive bombing straight at him.
Meta-Master activated his powers and caught the vehicle with his mind, and slammed it into the ground away from where he stood.
Its pilot ejected from it before it crashed into the ground, and landed dramatically with shadow guns in both hands before Meta-Master.
Shadow Knight turned around and faced Meta-Master, his eyes glowing bright red behind that metal mask of his.
He was in his living shadow form to defend himself against Meta-Master's telepathy, and was focusing his powers on Meta-Master's brain.
Once again, like when he had tried earlier and accidentally sent the power regulating armor of Meta-Master away into the shadow realm…he couldn't lock onto the darkness inside Meta-Master's skull in order to end his threat and insanity once and for all.
Meta-Master must have felt his powers futilely poking around inside his head or something, because he started to laugh.
"Still trying to shadow walk my brain out of my skull Shadow Knight?" Meta-Master scoffed, "You haven't figured it out yet have you? That trick won't work on me any more than it would my son over there. Our brains are the source of our powers…they emit a strong psionic energy field. As an added bonus it protects us both from outside energy attacks of different nature than psionic energy attacks. So you can't get in here….It's such a shame you became my enemy. You would have been a more worthy member of my Dark Elite than Black Knight ever could have been or ever was. If I had only gotten to you before my son did…I would have convinced you to join. I'm sure of it."
"You couldn't control my mind if you wanted to" Shadow Knight admitted, "I'm immune. Plus there's the little bit of me loathing people like you. That would have also soured the recruitment meeting."
"Well you will get another chance to join" Meta-Master shrugged apathetically, "all the metahuman members of the Heroes Legion will…once the world changes for the better in…three, two…one!"
When nothing happened, Meta-Master was confused.
Then the confusion was replaced with boiling rage as he turned to look at Shadow Knight, "What….WHAT HAVE YOU ALL DONE!?"
"My team and I have taken your empire's foundation stone…and smashed it to pieces with the hammer of karma and justice." Shadow Knight answered, letting out a triumphant laugh.
"ARGGGGHHH!" Meta-Master screamed, "YOU!"
Meta-Master shot his hands out at Shadow Knight, sending deadly bolts of pure psionic energy at the Dark Avenger.
Before they hit, a magical barrier shield of dark magic energy erected itself between the hero and the arch villain, blocking the attack.
Meta-Master watched as one by one, the full might of the Heroes Legion Resistance and the LRS appeared before him behind the standing tall and defiant Shadow Knight.
Before anything more could happen, Velocity activated his Hypertime power and brought the entirety of the team with him so they could have a team meeting.
"Guys we have a problem" Cyber-29 said as the world passed by outside about 1000 times slower than a snail's pace, "I managed to do a biometric reading of Meta-Master's vital signs. Without the power regulator armor his powers are going into overload. At this rate he'll burn himself out in a half an hour."
"Good." Atlanta said with emphasis, "That will be that then."
"And all the energy and stored up energy inside him that's raging out of control will take out a large chunk of the island of Manhattan in the process." Cyber-29 explained.
"Aw man…" Velocity said in dismay, "Just when we get TWO bomb situations defused…another one shows up. The only difference is that THIS bomb can kill us before it goes off!"
"Not if we work together." Shadow Knight pointed out, "It took six of us to take him down the first time, we have a greater advantage in numbers as well as strengths and skills we've learned or picked up together over the course of the entire year…let's put it to good use."
"The way I see it, you can fight him and you might win" Sgt. Crisp said interjecting, "But that doesn't defuse the exploding Meta-Master problem. If you guys can distract him long enough this time…maybe we can get him one last time with the Prometheus cannon."
"One last time?" Silicon asked concerned upon hearing that from Sgt. Crisp.
"Those idiot pencil necks in Washington, when they used it on the Metahuman Army they almost overloaded it to the point of detonation." Lt. Murphy explained, "thanks to Lt. Hardcastle overriding the safety system as she told us she had done so before we headed down here to assist M-Leader, we can use it…but only one more time. Once it's used, it will blow up."
"I'm sensing a theme here…" Velocity said deadpan.
"Well then, we have one last shot to defeat Meta-Master and avert disaster" Shadow Knight said looking back at the "frozen" Meta-Master, "Okay…we'll hit him with everything we've got. Sgt. Crisp…you and your crew take point somewhere nearby and laser target him when you see an opening. When you're ready to fire the Prometheus…Fire this flare gun…"
Shadow Knight handed Sgt. Crisp a flare gun from the Mirage's inventory.
"Understood, we'll be ready!" Sgt. Crisp said with determination.
"Here we go…" Raven Ducard said getting ready with her Dark Raven form's magic as the world around them started to speed up as Velocity's Hypertime ability started to wear off on their bodies and the area around them.
Remembering what happened the last time they fought Meta-Master, the Heroes Legion attacked not just with everything they had…but they also tried to lower Meta-Master's guard by forcing him to deal with them all at once in his enraged state of mind.
Velocity zoomed forward, having previously downed another one of those Atlantean power pellets to keep his powers fuelled and ready to go.
He delivered some high speed slugs to Meta-Master's face, before zooming around the battle field and kicking him in his back, bringing him to his knees.
Meta-Master returned this effort in kind by focusing his powers…on the ground in front of Velocity's path as he came straight in for another attack.
The ground surrounding Meta-Master upheaved and formed itself into a makeshift ramp, and velocity already at full speed accidentally ran into it…and was launched 100 feet into the air.
Despite what you read in comic books or see on TV, when a person with super speed is sent up into the air.
They cannot use their speed to zoom away to safety like sonic the hedgehog, open air is open air.
No traction, no solid ground, no super speed.
Velocity fell down to the ground like a sack of potatoes into the canopy of a nearby tree on the edge of the open air field where the battle was happening.
He grimaced in agony as the impact of the fall had caused him to fracture a few bones in his body, including compound fracturing one of his legs.
Atlanta tried to stab Meta-Master in the neck with her Atlantean Taser spike, but he grabbed her telekinetically and tossed her away, but not before crushing her Atlantean breastplate in a manner that the water it contained inside it emptied out and spilled all over the ground.
Atlanta slammed into a tree, and was knocked out cold and fell beside Velocity who was trying to get up and back into the fight.
Without exposure to salt water, Atlanta transformed back into her default human form.
Techne blasted streams of electromagnetic energy at Meta-Master, trying to microwave his thoughts and boil his brain…she didn't last long either before she was pulled face first into the ground by an invisible force coming from Meta-Master's thoughts.
Shadow Knight fired his miasmic bullets with the safety off, causing explosive shell like blasts to hit Meta-Master.
Robo-Warrior backed him up with his heavy weapons, like the railgun and the gauntlet ballistic missile launcher.
They were soon after floored by a wave of psionic energy that Meta-Master sent out after them.
Silicon attempted to attack him in his liquid metal form, Meta-Master casually blocked his liquid metal attacks and blasted him into puddles of liquid metal all over the open field.
It would take him twenty minutes to reconstitute himself into full form, by then it would be too late to do anything.
Murdoch and Maya Thunderhawk tried to attack him with their bear and demonic cat forms animalistic prowess; they got pinned to the ground and buried up to their necks in psionically shifted dirt which hardened itself like steel around them under Meta-Master's will.
John Thunderhawk came in in his hawk super form and dropped a bus he had been carrying in his talons on top of Meta-Master…he grabbed it telekinetically before it hit his head and threw it right at John Thunderhawk.
It hit him dead on, causing him to tailspin out of control and land not too far away from Atlanta and Velocity, his left wing badly broken…forcing him to turn back into his default human form as a result.
Roulette threw his best and remaining cards at Meta-Master, causing strange things like an iceberg forming around Meta-Master and a giant house of pancakes falling on him to occur.
Like the others before him, Meta-Master weathered through the attacks and floored the metahuman hero, slamming both him and Sheila together and trapping them both in the ground like he had done to Maya Thunderhawk and Murdoch.
Atlas managed to get close enough to engage with Meta-Master physically, pushing back against his strength with his own…until Meta-Master's superior power and strength won out and the metallic strength in his arm broke down.
Atlas was then blown backwards, landing right next to Shelia and Roulette, barley missing landing on them as they lay there trapped and nearly buried up to their necks.
Meta-Master then shot a blast of psionic energy at the remaining foe he had left to take down, Raven Ducard in her Dark Raven form as she floated there above the battle-field.
Raven Ducard countered with a blast of magical energy of her own.
The two beams met in the middle and a beam struggle began between the two.
First it started to go in Meta-Master's favor, and then Dark Raven's attack ultimately pushed back and Meta-Master was sent reeling backwards by a few feet by the kickback of losing the beam struggle.
Dark Raven then summoned a lightning spell, and she hit Meta-Master with everything she had.
A massive lightning bolt shot down from the diminishing storm above, and struck Meta-Master dead on.
Those who could still fight took advantage of this.
Shadow Knight began firing his shadow gun's on Meta-Master, Robo-Warrior blasted his Plasma Disrupter beam from his suits chest region.
The three powerful attacks from three fronts seemed to be wearing Meta-Master down as his psionic shield started to falter and shrink; he then let loose a defiant howl.
There was a blinding flash as a massive explosion of energy erupted out from meta-Master, blowing his attackers away.
The three heroes legion members still standing where knocked to the edge of the impact crater…Raven had transformed back into her normal self, having spent all her strength and dark magic into that attack.
It would take her hours to transform into Dark Raven again, and she was weakened by the effort and the resulting attack so much she could barely breathe let along coherently speak the words for her normal spells.
Still standing in the middle of the crater, Meta-Master stood.
He was a little winded either due to the attack or the fact he was starting to burn out due to his powers being on overload, and the attack had damaged his psionic shield ability to keep his protective shield up.
This ability was barely working perfectly at protecting him from any attacks anymore.
Not after having been reduced to a mere fraction of its full power by the combined energy attack of Shadow Knight, Robo-Warrior and Raven Ducard.
It was barely even forming around Meta-Master, leaving Swiss cheese holes visible over his exposed skin.
Now would be the perfect time to use the Prometheus, especially since signs of approaching burnout detonation were starting to show on Meta-Master.
Certain areas were starting to glow, like…a radioactive kind of glow.
"Is that the best you can do?" Meta-Master asked to the Heroes Legion arrogantly, "A magic show with some special effects?"
That was when Meta-Master noticed the glow that was starting to spread across his body as the crackling psionic energy emanating from his body started to increase in violent outburst.
Shadow Knight who was shaking off the effects of the blast suddenly heard Sgt. Crisp contact him on his communicator, "We're ready Shadow Knight. Get everyone out of there!"
"Father…" M-Leader said, struggling to get to his feet "don't you see…you're overloading. Without your suit of armor regulating your damaged self and your abilities, every time you use your powers, you get closer and closer to exploding. You keep this up and you'll only end up destroying yourself. You won't live to see your metahuman empire rise again. Who will lead your masses if you are gone? No one…and you can't allow that to happen can you? Stand down and you will live to fight another day, continue…and you'll destroy us, but you'll destroy yourself AND your dark future for the world in the process."
Meta-Master seemed to be at an impasse on what to do.
Then his look of uncertainty changed to murderous zeal, "All messiahs' die so they can be martyred, why should I look so different in my follower's eyes? It doesn't matter if I die; the seeds have already been planted. Humans hate and fear our kind now, and Metahumans will hate and fear them in return when they try to eliminate or control us to defend themselves. My remaining followers will see you lot as the cause of my death and strive to finish my work, as will others. The damage has already been done. I may perish, but before I go…I'm taking the lot of you with me!"
Suddenly Meta-Master concentrated on his powers, and all around the area the Heroes Legion members including M-Leader began screaming in pain as Meta-Master started squeezing their minds and their brains with his powers like a grape.
As a result, Meta-Master's condition started to increase in deterioration.
Shadow Knight managed to turn into living shadow form before that, his dark sense ability warning him to the danger.
He thought about what he was about to do.
Sgt. Crisp had confirmed the Prometheus was getting ready to fire.
Meta-Master may be stopped by the Prometheus before he exploded into ludicrous gibs and took out half of Manhattan like a human bomb, but he would have killed the others before then.
The moment he saw the blood leaking from Raven's ears and nose from where he was, he decided there was no other choice for him to take.
He couldn't shadow walk or kill Meta-Master… but that didn't mean he was powerless against him.
With his living shadow form, Shadow Knight without hesitation threw himself at the kamikaze Meta-Master.
Shadow Knight vanished in a flash of light and a plume of purple smoke, before suddenly reappearing right above him from a shadow portal that opened above the arch villain from out of the dim darkness of the failing night as dawn fast approached.
Flattening his form into a flat form and stretched wide enough until his living shadow form looked like a wide blanket.
He dropped onto Meta-Master and wound himself around him like a blanket, binding him and more importantly, distracting him from killing his friends.
He winced in pain as Meta-Master's attacks from within his shadow form's blanket like state of being hurt him, seeing as his living shadow form was living dark matter energy and only energy based attacks like the ones Meta-Master was using to break free could hurt him in that form.
But Shadow Knight wouldn't let go or relinquish his mental concentration on keeping his grip and his living shadow form's current state of shape around Meta-Master.
Raven Ducard was the first to recover enough from nearly having her brain squeezed to mush to see what was happening…and also see the laser pointer that had once been on Meta-Master was now also being shone on Shadow Knight who was holding their archenemy still in his living shadow forms embrace.
Raven Ducard's eyes flashed open in horrified realization about what was going to happen, "SHADOW KNIGHT! GET OUT OF THE WAY!" she shouted.
For a brief moment Shadow Knight looked at her directly in the eye, he didn't say anything, but she knew what he was thinking.
"There's no other way."
That was when a bright blue light shone from above, lighting up the cloudy sky with its brightness.
A beam of blue energy shot down from the clouds…the force of the beam parting them away.
The beam struck both Meta-Master and Shadow Knight directly.
There were screams from both of them, the concussive blast of the single beam blast sent Raven Ducard and the others flying through the air out of the impact crater.
Meanwhile up in space, the Prometheus cannon exploded into a fantastic display of light as the M-Ray crystal inside the device exploded from overload.
The excess M-Radiation contained in the overloaded M-Ray crystal was in turn unleashed in an M-Ray explosion, but nowhere near any active or dormant M-Genes…and it was also in a place where it wouldn't affect anyone on the planet bellow.
It was vented out into space, and was carried away by solar winds.
Eventually it was gone, as if it was never there.
Back on the ground, Raven Ducard shook her head to shake off the dust and debris that she had been covered in when the Prometheus beam struck.
She then looked back at the crater, and once the dust cleared she saw both Shadow Knight and Meta-Master lying on the ground in the center.
"Shadow Knight!" she declared, coming close to almost calling him by his real name in her rush to come to his aid.
While some of them checked on wounded and worked on freeing the rest of the Heroes Legion, others like Robo-Warrior and Atlas made their way to the center of the impact crater.
M-Leader attempted to get up to check on his student and his father, but felt a female's hand put him back down.
"Don't move Marcus…" Stephanie Walker said firmly, "you just recovered and you can't over exert yourself any farther than you already had. I'm going to charge you if I have to continue to nurse maid you."
"Steph? What are you doing here? I told you to stay at the mansion." M-Leader said in disbelief at seeing his street reporter girlfriend here.
She must have used her own slipstream device she always used before to get here.
"I never was good at listening, besides…" She showed him a small cellphone in her hand, "I'm still a reporter woman, and it's my job to get the facts and the footage on whatever story is going down. I'm not going to let anyone on the outside, OR Beatrice Fuller twist the facts to support paranoia or xenophobia. The world deserves to know how much has happened here and who they have to thank for saving the city."
"We may have saved the city and defeated the Dark Elite…" M-Leader said sadly, thinking about the damage his father had done, the untold brainwashed innocent victims of the Battle of New York and looking in the direction of the crater "But at what price? What price was paid to do so?"
Down in the crater, Raven Ducard was trying to rouse Shadow Knight while Robo-Warrior and Atlas looked on.
When his eyes finally opened, they were no longer glowing red.
"Shadow Knight! Oh thank the Goddess!" Raven Ducard exclaimed, wrapping her arms around him as he lay there on the ground.
She was glad that he was all right.
"Shadow Knight?" Robo-Warrior asked concerned, "Are you all right buddy?"
"Is…everyone still alive?" Shadow Knight asked in a different voice than the rest of the Heroes Legion was used to, and for some strange reason that voice sounded familiar to Robo-Warrior.
"Yes they are" Raven Ducard assured him, "You saved us. You saved us all."
"Good." Shadow Knight said, "That's all that matters, it was worth the price."
"Price?" Robo-Warrior asked concerned, "What are you talking about?"
"I can't feel the darkness, the energy of the shadow realm anymore. It's gone…" Shadow Knight answered sadly, "My power…it's gone."