"The Sensational Night Shadow in… A Hoedown In The Old West"

Chapter 8

Created by The Spectacular SpiderDom


Realizing he wasn't dead; Night Shadow opened his red eyes and saw something he didn't expect to see. The other elemental heroes had the same reaction. Gavroche awakened from his small slumber before he realized what was happening. Darla, who helped Atticus on his feet, gasped at what she saw. Nagini rolled her eyes and rubbed her forehead, looking at the source that rescued Night Shadow.

"What the?" Alonzo inquired. "What… is that?"

Standing in front of Night Shadow was a slender, female figure that stood around his exact height. Her skin was a darkish green (almost turquoise) color, and she wore a dark purple dress with white outlines on her shoulders and waist.

She wore a pink belt with a silver H on the front of it. Her gloves matched the same colors as her outlines, and she had a purple hairband with splotches of pink. Her eyes were emerald green with gold pupils and her hair was as blue as the sky. Speaking of which, she had white spots all over it. Lastly, she wore purple slippers with pink tips on it.

Her entire body was metallic and shiny, and she held the bullet in her hands.

Crushing it with ease, she dropped it on the ground and glared at Alonzo, unaware everyone else looked at her as if she was an alien from outer space.

Alonzo raised both of his eyebrows, as he heard the figure speak.

"Edwin Alonzo," she spoke in a robotic voice with a British accent. "You will no longer hurt Dr. Van Cyrus and his friends. Leave this place… or I will make you."

Night Shadow recognized the voice. "H-Hannah?"

"Hello, Night Shadow," the figure turned around and smiled. "I apologize for the abrupt introduction, but Dr. Van Cyrus took a while to complete me. He figured having you guys fight Alonzo would provide the perfect distraction."

"Ha! I knew you wanted to show off your fancy moves!" Night Shadow chuckled.

"Indeed she did," Bertram Van Cyrus shouted from behind Alonzo. He stood on a platform and waved to his creation. "And so did I!"

"What the hell is this, Cyrus?" Alonzo scowled.

"Edwin Alonzo, meet my newest creation, Hannah," Bertram introduced. "She's something I've been working on for a while now and I was just about to finish her before you rudely showed up and trapped me inside the Cyber Realm. As soon as I got out and met up with Shadow, Monsoon, Pyro, and Frosty, I noticed that you foolishly left some of your technology behind, which provided the perfect materials needed to complete Hannah."

"So, you've stolen my technology just to finish your little toy?" Alonzo chuckled evilly.

"It's not stealing, it's reinventing. You used to have the desire to use your technology to change the future, but after you became obsessed with what the Void League offered you, you decided to use your technology for evil!"

"Need I remind you that you did the same thing back then, Cyrus."

"Yes, I did… but I learned from my mistakes… unlike you."

Alonzo turned to face Monsoon Gal and Frosty Beetle, who held Alvin and Sarah in their arms. He briefly looked back at Bertram before he drew his shotgun. "You made a poor decision joining alongside these fools, but it doesn't matter…."

"NO!" Bertram screamed at the top of his lungs, quickly rushing over to protect his friends. Alonzo pulled the trigger and Frosty Beetle extended her palm, forming an ice shield. But before the bullet reached the shield…

…it went inside Bertram's stomach.

"BERTRAM!" Night Shadow and Hannah hollered.

The injured scientist fell onto the ground and clenched his wounded chest, which slowly drained blood onto his hands. Monsoon Gal and Frosty Beetle gasped and placed the children down. They turned Bertram on his back, seeing blood pour down the side of his chest. They removed his bloody paw from his hands and Monsoon Gal formed a small pool of water, covering the wound.

"I-I'm sorry," Bertram coughed, shedding a small tear. "I-I'm… I'm so sorry."

"Shh," Monsoon Gal said gently. "It's going to be okay."

Night Shadow, Pyro Lad, and Hannah quickly rushed towards their allies and leaned down on their knees. Hannah cupped her hands over her mouth, as Pyro Lad removed his scarf.

He placed it onto Bertram's wound, but at the last second, Monsoon Gal told him she's got it. Night Shadow huffed and puffed, horrified that a friend of his was shot in the chest.

Bertram, with his vision hazy and short of breath, reached his right paw up and asked Night Shadow to give him his hand. Night Shadow wrapped both of his hands around his paw and continued worrying about his fate. Gavroche quickly leaped over the railing and held Bertram's head in his arms.

"Stay with me, Bertram," Gavroche told him. "Come on, stay with me."

"N-Night Shadow?" the scientist inquired.

The black/blue hero was all ears.

"I-I'm sorry," Bertram said, attempting to smile. "I'm sorry I made you keep this a secret from your friends. I didn't want them to be mad at you… I shouldn't have asked you to keep my identity a secret in the first place."

"No, no, stop talking, Doc," Night Shadow said. "You just weren't ready to tell them yet."

"T-that's no excuse. I may have had a difficult past with you guys, but the past is in the past. One should not rely on it but move forward. If only I had told all of you earlier... maybe it wouldn't have come this far. All I can say now... is that I'm deeply sorry. For everything. And I hope... that all of you... can forgive me... someday..."

After his last word, Bertram glanced at all of the superheroes one last time before he slowly closed his eyes and leaned his head backward. The heroes widened their eyes and so did Gavroche, as Bertram's hand lost its grip on Night Shadow's glove.

The bear paw fell against the ground.

Hannah cupped her hands together.

Night Shadow clenched both of his fists and shouted into the air. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

After a moment of silence, the devastated hero heard laughter coming from behind. Utterly disdainful laughter. Night Shadow turned around and saw Alonzo, with his eyes closed, laughing. He slapped his kneecap and wiped his eyes.

"You're joking," the cowboy chuckled. "You really think he's dead? He may be losing a lot of blood, but he's far from dead… for now."

"I've just about had enough," Night Shadow stretched his neck and gripped his Sai. "I've joked around long enough. Edwin, I know that somewhere underneath that robotic shell you're hiding behind lies the same human I've met nine years ago. Do you want to know what that means? It means I'm going to dig into that shell and make you bleed, you greedy bastard!"

"Hold it, Night Shadow," Hannah stopped the superhero from marching forward. "Allow me."

"What?"

"He's right on one thing. Dr. Van Cyrus isn't dead, but he won't last long until we get him to a hospital."

"Let me take him there," Gavroche suggested. "I have a motorcycle parked outside. Even though I need to talk to Alonzo, saving Bertram comes first. Take care of Alonzo for me… I'll be back soon."

Gavroche grabbed Bertram's arm and wrapped it over his shoulder, walking towards the exit. "Finish this fight, everyone… give him hell."

As soon as the vigilante rushed out of the building, the heroes prepared for their real final fight.

"All of you think you can defeat me?" Alonzo snickered. "Let's see what you-"

Before he could finish his cliché villain comeback, Hannah cracked her knuckles and teleported in front of him. She formed a massive screwdriver made out of cyan blue energy and slashed Alonzo's chest, knocking him against the glass window.

The cowboy looked up and smirked, opening fire with his shotgun.

Hannah closed her eyes and nonchalantly walked forward, blocking all of the bullets in an instant.

She finally extended both of her palms and large green, red, and blue wires coming out of her hands. They went inside of a few arcade machines and turned them on. Bright blue screens appeared on the machines, as they suddenly grew mechanical arms and legs. They glared at Alonzo before they attacked him, punching, and kicking him around like a ragdoll.

Hannah watched as one machine slammed Alonzo against the ground and the other one kicked him across the face.

But Alonzo easily broke free of their control as soon as he sliced them half with blades of darkness. This gave Hannah a chance to move in for the kill; she lunged forward and threw multiple jabs across her opponent's face, making sure he felt every ounce of her wrath. After one roundhouse kick, she grabbed his ears and slammed his face against her knee. Alonzo felt an immense amount of pain in his nose, as he shot a wave of fire at Hannah, who shielded herself with a cyan square. With her free hand, she formed a sword and swiftly hacked and slashed both sides of Alonzo's body.

"Urgh…" Alonzo rubbed his head. "This is impossible."

He looked up and scanned Hannah's biodata, hoping to mimic some of her tricks, but he was met with this message.

Unidentified Life Form: Biodata Failed To Copy

"If you're trying to scan for my biodata, it's not going to work," Hannah snarled. "Like you, I'm a cyborg. Cyborgs cannot mimic the abilities of other cyborgs."

"But they can be ripped apart!"

Alonzo jumped forward and sliced Hannah's right arm off in a single hit. It landed on the ground and he kicked her in the chest, sending her flying against a table and two chairs. After she rolled across the floor, Hannah jumped up on her knees and held out her stubby shoulder.

In the blink of an eye, the arm that was on the ground disappeared and reappeared where it was originally.

"Oh, that's cool!" Frosty Beetle smiled. "Disgusting… but cool!"

"Regenerative parts?" Alonzo inquired, stroking his chin. "Interesting, but that won't stop-"

SLAM!

Nagini cut his sentence off by slamming a table into her face. She ripped it in half and bashed him from all sides. She finally threw the table pieces away and wrapped her tail around his neck. "Ssstop… TALKING!"

The serpent spun him around and chucked him across the laboratory, but Alonzo used Umbraportation to reappear behind his ex-wife, who blocked his attack and landed a good hit with her tail, impacting his chest.

Hannah attempted to attack Alonzo, but she was shooed away by Nagini.

"Out of my way, you meddlesome machine!" Nagini snarled. "He'sss mine!"

The serpent launched herself on top of her former husband and landed multiple punches. Alonzo splashed her with water and shot her chest with a ball of ice, drawing his sword and running towards her.

As the two Alonzos squared off, the other heroes found some cover behind a few arcade machines. Alvin and Sarah watched the fight and were amazed by how quick and discrete Nagini's fighting style was. Frosty Beetle held them right, as Turbine met up with his brother and the others.

"I'm surprised you came back, Billy," Pyro Lad said, hearing gunfire from his right. "I thought you would have left."

"I'm here to kill Nagini and Alonzo," Turbine replied. But then, he paused for a few seconds before he spoke softly. "But… I mainly came here to rescue Alvin and Sarah. I know how much they mean to you, Lyra."

Frosty Beetle, Monsoon Gal, and Night Shadow shockingly looked at their former ally.

"How did you know they were captured?" Pyro Lad inquired.

"I was locked in another lab with Gavroche, the two cops, and Nagini. Gavroche's partner watched Alonzo kidnap Alvin and Sarah and told us where he was going."

"Gavroche has a partner?"

"He has multiple partners, I think, but none of that matters now. How are we going to defeat Alonzo if all he does it copy our moves?"

Monsoon Gal stroked her chin. "I have one suggestion… overwhelm him. In the Cyber Realm, there were moments where all of us attacked all at once and he wasn't able to copy our moves. If we attack all at once and not give him any room to maneuver, we'll have a shot at defeating him."

"Ah, just like they do in the comic books, nice," Night Shadow winked.

"But all five of us will need to work as one," Monsoon Gal said, turning to the air bender. "Turbine, even though you've lost my respect, I'm willing to put aside our differences for this one time. Work with us and we can stop Alonzo together."

Turbine wanted to say something about killing Alonzo when the match was over; however, he thought arguing with his former ally was pointless. Glancing at Aella, who happily smiled, he nodded and clapped his knuckles together. "Let's do it to it."

The five heroes shared one more glance before they looked over their cover spots.

Hannah and Nagini took turns thrashing upon Alonzo while Darla and Atticus took over and aimed their rifles forward, shooting blasts of red energy at him. Alonzo was hit by a few projectiles before he shielded himself with a force field of fire. He used this fire to shoot a tsunami at Darla and Atticus, who rolled to the side and hid somewhere else.

Hannah and Nagini were blasted in their chests by a wave of darkness.

Alonzo got down on his knees, panting and feeling his heart pounding. He didn't think this fight would last this long.

But a certain team was ready to end it all.

"Howdy, partner," Night Shadow pretended to tip a cowboy hat. Alonzo turned to his left and saw the hero standing on top of an arcade machine.

"You're… not finished yet?" Alonzo asked, his voice shook because of how tired he was.

"The night's still young, Eddie," Night Shadow leaped down and twirled his Sai. He spun them faster and faster until they suddenly sparked with a flash of darkness. Soon enough, his Sai were completely wrapped in shadows and he kept spinning them around. "And everyone's had enough of your shit."

VABOOM!

Clapping his weapons together, Night Shadow shot a shadowy projectile and blasted Alonzo in the chest, sending him flying across the laboratory. Attempting to use Umbraportation or Pyroportation, Alonzo was suddenly caught by both Adara brothers and slammed against another table. They pulled him up and took turns delivering many blows. Turbine rolled over his brother's back and landed a double-booted kick, as his brother mirrored the same move, but he jumped upward and slammed the ground, shooting a wave of fire at Alonzo.

Alonzo tumbled backward and landed on his knees, grabbing his twin pistols and opening fire.

Pyro Lad clapped his hands together and every inch of his fire became nothing but fire, a move he liked to call Pyro Mimicry. When the bullets touched his body, they burned in an instant. However, Pyro Lad used the melted magma made from the bullets to form fireballs, shooting them forward and attacking Alonzo head-on.

Turbine leaped over his brother and quickly slashed Alonzo with his Bashosen five times.

Pyro Lad landed the final blow with one quick, as Turbine trapped him inside of a tornado.

The robotic cowboy swirled around until he nearly reached the top of the ceiling. Free falling to the ground, he was quickly tackled by a flying Monsoon Gal. She flew around with a slide of water underneath her feet, throwing multiple punches and uppercuts on her enemy.

As soon as she slammed his face against the wall, both of them landed on top of the go-kart track somewhere in the room. Monsoon Gal landed on her feet and spun her staff, smacking it left, right, up, and down. Forming a hammer of water, she slammed it against Alonzo's face and jabbed his chest with a baseball bat made of her powers.

Alonzo clenched his chest and coughed up a small drop of blood.

"So… you do bleed," Monsoon Gal snarled. "Good lord, I think I just referenced Batman v. Superman."

"You may be one of the strongest elementals, Monsoon Gal," Alonzo grunted. "But even the strongest beings have their weaknesses."

"Coming through!" Frosty Beetle drove around the corner, steering a royal blue go-kart around the track. Monsoon Gal waved Alonzo goodbye before she leaped onto a nearby platform. The cowboy turned around and…

WHAM!

…was hit into the air.

"Whooooo hoooo!" Alvin cheered, as he sat in the front of the car on his aunt's lap. "Take that, you robotic jerk!"

"Beep, beep!" Sarah honked the horn. She sat next to her brother. "Don't text and drive!"

Alonzo flew through the air until he landed on top of a birthday party themed table.

He slowly jumped up and rubbed his forehead, as he glanced at his final opponent: The Sensational Night Shadow.

"Just you and me, bitch," the superhero got down into a battle pose.

"Finally," Alonzo grinned, clenching his fist.

Before the one on one confrontation began, the other elemental heroes landed near their ally with their weapons wielded. Alonzo scanned for their biodata but received a screen full of static with large words popping up. They were written in a big black font.

System Error. System Error. Elemental Data Failed To Load.

Alonzo reached his arm outward, hoping to shoot fire at his enemies, but nothing came out of his hands.

"What?"

He reached his hand out again, shooting a small puddle of water onto the ground.

"N-no!"

One more time, he tried to freeze them in a block of ice, but nothing happened.

"How is this possible?"

"Feeling overwhelmed yet, Alonzo?" Night Shadow folded his arms.

"I cannot be fatigued!" Alonzo shouted angrily. "I'm a supreme being! I am perfect! I cannot be defeated by a bunch of renegades like yourselves! I will paint this city with your blood! I will have your heads! I will be victorious!"

"You were victorious when you had a wife and a good career," Night Shadow said. "But you selfishly threw it all away! BUBBA SHIKKA!"

Just like that, all five Elementals charged all at once.

Monsoon Gal smacked him with her staff.

Frosty Beetle landed two punches with her tonfa.

Pyro Lad and Turbine blasted him with their superpowers.

And Night Shadow delivered the finishing kick.

Alonzo fell onto the ground, as Pyro Lad and Frosty Beetle grabbed his arms and held him back. Night Shadow swung forward and wrapped a dark whip around his left leg while Monsoon Gal took the right. Turbine jumped on top of his head and covered his eyes.

"Peek-a-boo, I see you!" he joked.

Darla walked forward with an EMP grenade in her hands. "Time to face justice, Alonzo!"

She chucked the grenade forward and it landed on top of Alonzo's shoulder. The superheroes saw it and immediately moved away. Once they got to a nearby safe zone, the EMP grenade went off and shot out a pulse of energy that sent shockwaves down through Alonzo's systems. Loud beeping noises were heard, which camouflaged with his bloodcurdling screams. He got down on his knees and noticed his vision became hazy. The last thing he saw was Nagini slithering forward, she wrapped her fingers around his neck and extended her claws. But before she could do anything else, she sneered towards his face and said.

"Happy anniversssary."

BOOM!

Nagini delivered the final blow by shoving her tail against his chest.

Alonzo slowly moved through the air and landed on his back, his eyes went dark and his body laid motionless.

Edwin Alonzo was finally defeated.

But Nagini wasn't finished. When she said she was going to kill her ex-husband, she meant it. Slithering forward, she wrapped his body with her tail and opened her mouth. Before she took a bite, she was shot in the back by three taser wires that sent eight-thousand volts of electricity down her back. Screaming in pain, the taser wires were quickly removed and she fell right on top of Alonzo's chest.

Her eyes closed and she became unconscious.

Night Shadow, Monsoon Gal, Pyro Lad, and Frosty Beetle looked to their right and saw that Darla Prescott, who had an electrically charged weapon in her hands, was the culprit for that.

"Was that really necessary?" Night Shadow inquired.

"She's just as bad as he is, she needed to be put down," Darla snarled.

"What she means to say is," Atticus chimed in. "Nagini's a criminal and so is Alonzo. Both of them need to be brought in."

"Fair enough," Monsoon Gal took a deep breath, holding the side of her chest. "I'm okay… I just… does anyone have any orange slices?"

Darla and Atticus approached the wounded cops that were on the floor and woke them up by gently shaking them awake. As soon as they regained consciousness, they approached the two Alonzos and placed them in handcuffs. They quickly took them outside, as Night Shadow, Monsoon Gal, and Frosty Beetle leaped down from a platform and approached the two captains.

Pyro Lad turned around, ready to thank his brother for the assist, but he quickly realized that Billy was nowhere to be seen.

No footprints.

No pieces of his costume left behind.

Nothing.

Turbine vanished in the blink of an eye.

"Hmph… I figured you'd leave again," Pyro Lad mumbled under his breath, as he followed his friends to the cops.

"So, you can say we made a damn good team, eh, Officer Prescott?" Night Shadow smiled, offering a handshake.

"We kind of do," Darla replied with a smile. "But I could have taken Alonzo by myself; however… the four of you did a decent job."

"Decent?... decent!?" Frosty Beetle exclaimed. "Are you kidding me!? We were nearly crushed by a moving canyon, we navigated through a train moving faster than eighty-eight miles per hour, we blow up said train and get out of the Cyber Realm, we kick Alonzo's ass and you have the balls to say that we did a decent job? What the hell is wrong with you?"

"My trust isn't easily won, especially when it comes to costumed vigilantes. I do not arrest you because you do some good for the city, but I know there will be a day where I will be forced to arrest you, and I expect the four of you to come quietly."

Darla refused Night Shadow's handshake by turning his back to him and walking out the front door.

Atticus approached the superhero and shook his hand for her. "I apologize for… her."

The four heroes were silent.

"Thanks for the help as always, you guys. Seattle's lucky to have people like you around."

The heroes smiled and nodded at Atticus, as he followed his wife out the door. When he left, the four of them sat against a set of chairs and shared breaths of exhaustion. Alvin and Sarah sat on Frosty Beetle's lab, hugging her tight.

"We missed you, Aunt Lyra," Sarah smiled. "You were amazing! Don't listen to what that mean lady says. You were amazing!"

"You rock, Aunt Lyra!" Alvin mirrored his sister's expression.

"Thanks, guys," Frosty Beetle hugged her kids tight. "I'm relieved you're okay… Night Shadow, I want to apologize for giving you such a hard time about Bertram. I didn't mean to rub my anger in your face and accuse you of trusting him more than me. I didn't expect him to do what he did… you made a smart choice in trusting him."

"Granted, this doesn't mean we trust him 100%," Pyro Lad added. "But he does have potential."

"Speaking of which," Monsoon Gal chimed in. "Should we go visit him at the hospital? I'm not sure if Gavroche got him there on time."

"He did," Hannah replied, walking towards the heroes. "I was able to hack into his cell phone and locate him at the McFadden Brunet Hospital down the University District. Gavroche checked him in safe and sound. I've attempted to contact Gavroche, but he didn't respond."

"Typical Gavroche," Night Shadow rubbed his eyes. "Always disappearing before the big celebration." He stood up on his feet and stretched his arms. "I'm going to visit Bertram at the hospital. If you guys want to come, you can, but if not, I'll see you all tomorrow… or maybe not. It depends on whether I choose to sleep in or not."

"Now that you mention it," Monsoon Gal yawned. "I'm feeling tired too. What time is it?"

"8:01," Pyro Lad checked his watch.

"Jesus Christ," Monsoon Gal moaned. "There's no way in hell it's eight o'clock. I wanna crawl into bed and go to sleep."

"Likewise," Frosty Beetle shared a laugh with her roommate. "I'm going to drop off Alvin and Sarah, then I'll meet you at the hospital, NS."

"Same here," Monsoon Gal nodded. "I might as well thank him for all that he did for us."

"And I'm… going to head home for the night," Pyro Lad stretched his right arm and flexed his bicep. "I have an early morning class to teach tomorrow. They better have written the stuff I assigned to them last week. If not, Alonzo won't be the only one suffering my wrath."

The other heroes laughed at Pyro Lad's joke, as he walked out the door and flew off the ground, gliding across the city streets.

As Monsoon Gal and Frosty Beetle exited the building holding hands with Alvin and Sarah, Night Shadow turned over his shoulder and approached Hannah.

"Hey, Hannah," he kindly asked. "When we get back from the hospital, can you do something for me?"

"Of course, Night Shadow," Hannah smiled. "I am programmed to help you with anything you need. What can I do for you?"

Night Shadow stroked his chin, taking a deep breath. "Before I went inside the Cyber Realm, Alonzo attacked and killed my partner, Nelson Pines. Granted, Nelson is a robot so he can be fixed, but I'm worried about him. Do you think you can help me fix him up?"

"Certainly."

"Thank you… shall we get going?"

"Yes,"

"Hop on my shoulders, I'll give you a ride."

"No need," Hannah shook her head, as she suddenly evaporated into pink and cyan pixels. She flew inside of Night Shadow's handheld computer and a holographic image of her face popped up on the screen. "I can project myself into your computer handheld, so you won't need to worry about carrying me around."

Night Shadow chuckled. "Thank you for everything, Hannah. You've done so much for us in one night, thank you… ha-ha, here's to hoping we don't have to reenact Age of Ultron any time soon."

Hannah was confused. "Age of Ultron? Is he a new threat?"

"No, no, it's a superhero movie. Well, a movie based on a comic book."

"Hmm?"

Night Shadow sighed. "Okay, not only do I have to teach you about human slang, but I have to teach you about one of the greatest film franchises of all time. I could show you some of the Justice League movies, but I don't want to give you cancer."

"I cannot get any human diseases."

"It was just a joke, Hannah, it was just a joke."


Moments later…

Bertram Van Cyrus sat inside of a light blue room with a tile floor. He wore a white robe and had bandages that covered his wound. Leaning against a tower of pillows, he sat in bed reading a comic book titled The Real-Life Tales of The Harlem Knight: New York's Finest Hero. Bertram skinned through the book and saw a superhero wearing pink spandex with green pants and yellow sleeves. His gloves were black and so were his boots. He had a black cape with hints of red shading, and he had a black face mask and a black visor with yellow eyes over his face. His hair was a small afro and he was seen hacking into a computer system on the twelfth page.

He simply whipped out a small computer tablet and plugged a wire into a machine, bypassing through the enemy security with ease.

Bertram shook his head and closed the book. "Comic books always get hacking wrong."

Placing the comic on the shelf next to him, he heard three gentle knocks on the door.

Night Shadow, Monsoon Gal, and Frosty Beetle entered the room and greeted their comrade. Hannah was right behind them and she approached her master, offering him her hand.

"Dr. Bertram Van Cyrus, it is good to see you," Hannah smiled, shaking her creator's hand.

"Hannah, you don't need to call me by my full name," Bertram chuckled softly. "But it's good to see you four. I assume Pyro Lad didn't want to come by."

"He was busy with other things," Monsoon Gal folded her arms. "Though, I think it's because he doesn't trust you yet."

"Reasonable," Bertram nodded, rubbing his face. "I'm sure you and Frosty Beetle feel the same way, which is fine. I know I don't deserve all of your trust at the moment, but I hope that'll change in the future."

"Given what you did tonight," Frosty Beetle patted the scientist's shoulder. "I can guarantee you that it will happen."

Bertram smiled and patted the cryokinetic's hands.

"So, Gavroche left?" Night Shadow asked.

"Indeed he did," Bertram answered. "Once he dropped me off, he told me he was going to locate Alonzo and get information on someone called the Goldsmith. I overheard him talking to his partner about someone named Bridget. Not sure who she is, but Gavroche sounded concerned for her. Maybe she's his girlfriend or something."

"He's dating someone? F*ck," Frosty Beetle snapped her fingers.

Night Shadow, Monsoon Gal, Hannah, and Bertram awkwardly looked at her.

"What?" she shrugged.

"Anyways…" Night Shadow cleared his throat. "It's good to see you're okay, Bertram."

"Thanks, Night Shadow. Again, I apologize for forcing you to keep me a secret. It was selfish of me to do that."

"No worries. I'm just glad my friends are starting to trust you, that's all that matters. And I'm glad you were able to finish Hannah. He moped the floor with Alonzo tonight. Speaking of which, do you mind if I borrow her for a bit? A robotic partner of mine got hurt before we went inside the Cyber Realm and I need her to help me fix him."

"Oh, that reminds me," Bertram leaned up against his bed. "Keep the handhelds."

The three heroes' eyes lit up. "Really?"

"Yup. I have to remember to make other handhelds for Frosty Beetle and Pyro Lad, but you guys can keep them. Hannah will be there wherever and whenever you need her the most. Just don't use her for anything weird, please. Like don't use her to buy you a beer, don't use her to rent inappropriate moves, and definitely don't use her for parties."

"Why?"

"…just don't."

The three heroes decided to have that question unanswered.

A dark-skinned nurse suddenly knocked on the door. "Excuse me, but visiting hours are almost up. I'm going to have to ask you all to leave."

"But we just got here?" Frosty Beetle inquired.

"Yeah, and I just got word that my retirement plan is f*cked up, so get out."

There was a moment of silence.

"Welp, that's our cue," Night Shadow nodded. He fist-bumped Bertram and waved him goodbye. "See you later, Bertram."

"See you later," Frosty Beetle waved.

Both superheroes and the nurse walked out of the room, but the only one who stayed behind was Monsoon Gal. She pulled up a chair and sat down next to the scientist.

"Hey, Bertram?"

"Yes?"

"I was wondering… does Hannah have the ability to communicate with people in other countries?"

"Of course, she just needs to tap into their cell phone networks and she'll be able to speak with them. I will admit, it is creepy, but it's the only way she can do it. Why do you ask?"

"I'm putting together a superhero team that will combat against bigger threats like Nagini and Alonzo. I want to contact a Canadian team of vigilantes called The Dope Squad. Originally, I wanted to go to Canada to visit them, but I think contacting them through Hannah would be easier. Would you mind helping me out?"

Bertram thought about it before he gave his answer. "Of course. Once I get out of here, I'll have Hannah contact them as soon as possible. And hey, I know this is saying a lot, but if there's anything I can do to help this team of yours, let me know. I'd be more than happy to lend a hand."

Monsoon Gal smiled when she heard that. "I'll keep that in mind. Thank you so much, Bertram."

"No problem."

The hydrokinetic waved the scientist goodbye before she left the room.

As she walked down the hallway, Aqua popped out of her shoulders and spoke with her through sign language.

"Do you really think Bertram Van Cyrus can be trusted?" she inquired, making little dolphin noises. "He's done a lot of bad things in the past."

"I know that, Aqua," her master replied, as she gently stroked her head. "But people can change. Bertram nearly sacrificed himself for Night Shadow, villains wouldn't be so quick to do that. I have a feeling he's going to be a valuable asset to this team… but I am keeping an eye on him."


Inside the Seattle Police Department, Edwin Alonzo was fully awakened and trapped in a set of indestructible handcuffs. He sat on top of a wooden bench with his head hung low, planning how he was going to get out of prison. Suddenly, a pair of footsteps arrived in front of his cell and he looked upward.

It was Darla Prescott.

"You're going to be staying in here for a long time, Edwin," she said with a smirk. "There are some prisoners in here who would love to have a chat with you."

"I don't see how that's possible," Alonzo replied. "Do I really have a lot of enemies?"

"Well, a lot of these prisoners are people you fired, people you've threatened to fire, and people who have had very 'constructive' critiques about the Cyber Realm. By the way, I hope you're happy. My husband tells me that everywhere he looks, he sees nothing but cowboys and aliens."

"A common criticism of the Cyber Realm VR Set is that if you spend too long inside the system, you will start to see things that aren't actually there. But in my defense, that is not a fault of the system itself as much as it is the customers that buy it in the first place. Speaking of which, if you really want to arrest someone with similar tech, you should go out and find Sparrow Huffleklaw. That guy came out with his own VR system that plagiarizes mine."

"I wouldn't say plagiarize… more like, make it better," Darla chuckled, shrugging her shoulders. "You will be locked up in the interrogation room soon. Wait here. Oh, what am I saying? That's the only thing you could do at the moment."

"Heh, if only Mason could see how you treat others around you. He'd be so disappointed."

Darla stopped walking back to her office when she heard that remark. She glared at the cowboy and stomped towards the cell. "What… did you just say?"

"I'm just saying you're doing a really good job at being a progressive step-parent," Alonzo said sarcastically. "Failing to fill in the shoes of his deceased mother. She died a war hero, I believe. Sacrificed herself for her family. Makes me wonder if you'll do anything like that for your family."

"You know nothing about me."

"I know a lot more than you think, Darla. And if I were you, I'd watch your back… you'll never know if I might find something to use against you."

Darla was about to open the cell and give Alonzo the beating he deserved, but someone patted her shoulders and wrapped her in a hug. It was Atticus Moonstone, who wore his normal police uniform.

"As a guy who's seen a lot of action movies, I can safely say that's not going to work on my wife, Edwin," Atticus quipped. "I know Darla and I know she loves and cares for Mason and I. She'll do anything to keep us safe… so, do me a favor… put a sock in it."

Atticus kissed his wife and the two of them walked away, leaving the cowboy alone.

The android himself took a deep breath and leaned back against the brick wall. Sitting there for a few moments, he suddenly laughed. "Come to finally get your revenge?"

Looking at the ceiling, Nagini the Viper was there, shaking the rattle on her tail.

"You've impressed me today, Astryd," Alonzo continued. "I didn't think a freak like yourself could put up a fight. But you should know that once I break out of here… I won't be coming after you. Surprised? As I said in the Cyber Realm, all five Elementals, Bertram Van Cyrus, and the Void League are my top priorities. But if you wish to die alongside them, then I won't hesitate to-"

Nagini suddenly leaped down from the ceiling and bestowed a kiss upon her former husband's face. She gently stroked his metallic cheeks and wrapped her tail around his body. Alonzo couldn't help but kiss her back, as he closed her eyes, and softly mumbled under his breath.

The serpent quickly broke away from his face and hissed.

Then, she crawled up the ceiling, ripped out the barred window, crawled out into the open, and placed the window back. She jumped off of the building and crawled down the side, hoping to face Night Shadow and the others another day.

Alonzo stood up and looked out the window, watching her leave in the blink of an eye.

Shaking his head, he said one last thing before he sat back down. "…women."