Heroes Legion: Year Two: "Clash of The Titans"
Chapter 6: The Tournament Begins
In his room at the Hotel the Heroes Legion were staying in for the night, Chameleon was still awake.
He was lying on the bed, looking up at the ceiling.
Sure, he could sleep like everyone else if he wanted…but thanks to inheriting his father's sleep cycle, he only needed two hours of sleep and he also could go without sleep for three days before falling into a two-hour coma to recharge.
He was thinking about the future, he was always thinking about the future.
He knew that while Shadow Knight now silently knew he was his son from an alternate future, he knew that he also suspected that he wasn't telling them all the entire truth about the future he came from, or why he desperately needed to win that Destiny Stone of power tomorrow.
Even M-Leader had tried and failed to read his mind to find out any answers, especially regarding the fate of Jessie Masters.
He felt it during the entire conversation.
Poor fool...that version of his sister had been erased by the disruption in the timestream caused by the shattering of the alternate future version of the stone that had been wrecked by STRIPE trying to use it as a weapon in New York after the fall of Dr. Ryker.
That future no longer existed...although the danger of a version of it coming to pass still loomed.
Swept away to the side tracks of time, like the world Chameleon himself had come from...the original timeline.
The man known as M-Leader was probably curious about the world that Chameleon had originally came from, understandable, he was a scientist after all and this time travel stuff was indeed a scientific curiosity.
But he could look for answers all he wanted in Chameleon's mind, Chameleon had no answers for him that he would like...and for his sake, he was not telling him anything about the alternate timeline he had originally come from.
Especially not with Meta-Master roaming around now.
Meta-Master...yeah, now THERE was a curious puzzle!
He hadn't expected to see HIM again, and yet, for some odd reason...he was here.
He had thought he had seen the last of him back in THANATOS's secret time research lab in that hidden shielded underground bunker he and Jessie had found in the future at the end of World War III after Techne destroyed all technology on earth.
The guy who was going around calling himself 'Meta-Master' that was menacing the Heroes Legion of the past sounded the same, but behind the mask he didn't look the same as the Meta-Master he was familiar with back home at all.
In fact, the guy known as 'Meta-Master' here was called something else and was someone else entirely back in Chameleon's native timeline.
In his timeline, he was Commander Vincent Master's, leader of the remnants of SLEET, part of the Heroes Resistance against THANATOS's forces during the five month skirmishes of WW III.
What was going on with that?
Maybe...maybe it had everything to do with what happened in THANATOS's time transporter, and the resulting alternate timeline Chameleon now found himself trapped in?
He thought about the current situation, the Battle Island Tournament, the Battle for New York, the early takeover of the USA by STRIPE and other quantum temporal anomaly's that had occurred that didn't even happen in the original timeline.
THANATOS's incursion into the past that had also drawn Chameleon back here originally had caused an entirely new blank slate in the flow of the timestream, a new set of events that couldn't be predicted by way of knowing how history had gone originally.
As a result, he didn't know how tomorrow would play out.
He only knew of a possible future where Meta-Master won and gained possession of those two stones of cosmic power.
Nothing was ever set in stone, time was fluid and the future always in flux based on actions that had or had not yet been taken by living beings in the present.
Who would win tomorrow, the Legion or the Dark Elite?
This might be a battle that couldn't be won, it was a possibility.
But ultimately, did it really matter if he knew what tomorrow would bring him and the others.
What mattered most besides winning the stone back was the mission…his mission to change the future for the better.
Because even if Meta-Master DID win, THANATOS, the one from his version of the timeline...it was still out there somewhere, somewhen.
Thanks to the shattering of alternate version of the Destiny stone of time backlashing against his personal timeline AND alternate timelines he now had never lived before ending up on this Island, restoring his memories of his own native timeline... he was well aware of what was in store for this timeline if Meta-Master won that stone tomorrow.
There were now two possible futures he couldn't afford to let occur, The Dark Elite winning that stone in tomorrow's tournament in this timeline…and the HUNTER controlled future which unbeknownst to the others still hovered in the realm of possibility before the flow of time.
Especially the timeline that he came from, if he had any chance of saving his world, his family even from Death at the hands of STRIPE and THANATOS respectively, he needed that stone back!
He remembered his world, his old life…back when he was known as Max Kishi.
The only son of Gwen Deering/The Spectress and Kagae Kishi/Shadow Knight who had met up once again with one another during the STRIPE wars, defending evacuee's from assault by STRIPE's forces and their HUNTER's.
The eventually fell in love, married, and had him.
That was his life before, now, he was a time traveling lone crusader.
The last of the Heroes Resistance of that timeline...the last of the metahuman part of the human race in fact.
It felt like a lifetime ago thanks to those other alternate lives he had lived before being pulled into the here and now of the Battle Island Tournament, yet it was also from his current perspective only a day's time that had passed since his accidental displacement into the past.
Time Travel was very tricky stuff.
He realized that in theory this might not save HIS family, nothing he did here could affect his future, it was inaccessible and immutable, an echo of what had once been...he would never see his family or his wife Jessie again.
If he did, it would only be a different version of them.
He was an exile, an exile in time.
He could never go home.
But at least he'd be able to save them in another life...and make that monster and the shadow cabinet of anti-metahuman bastards who created him pay.
It might work, it might not.
But he owed it to his world, his family, to try and change their fate and also avenge it.
He then decided to get to bed, he would need his strength and his mind to be fresh for tomorrow's fights.
If he had been awake for a while longer, he would have noticed the cloaked figure looking in on his bedroom from outside his hotel room window.
This figure then made his way across the side of the building like some kind of creature of the night until it found the window to the room where Techne was sleeping peacefully.
Taking a strange glass vial with the words 'ATMOS' on the side, with a strange glowing blue liquid concoction inside.
The figure suddenly turned invisible, and opened the widow to Techne's bedroom, and then this invisible cloaked figure entered the room with the vial of strange blue liquid in hand.
A few minute's later, from within the bedroom, there was the sounds of Techne's voice giving off exclamations of surprise, pain and discomfort...while a flurry of lightning bolts shot out from within the room and out through the window.
Then all was silent.
The figure exited the room through the window, but not before pausing to look at the unconscious Techne as she lay in her bed unconscious...amongst electrical burned bed sheets and bedroom walls.
Thanks to the nature of Battle Island, these damages were being repaired by an unknown force.
Techne would awake unaware that anything strange had happened, and come tomorrow in the tournament, she would be surprised to find something had happened to her.
"Sorry Techne..." the figure said genuinely sorry, holding up a strange green glowing hourglass shaped crystal object in his right hand "but it had to be done...because it was done in the first place."
The green hourglass crystal suddenly began to glow bright.
Then the figure vanished in a flash of green and light.
Nothing else strange happened that night.
Beach Town Arena: Battle Island Tournament Day 2: 9:00 AM
After enduring a hardy breakfast at the hotel, the Heroes Legion, the new teammate Chameleon, and Stephanie Walker followed the directions of the Battle-Counter wrist guard devices that the team was wearing towards the location of the Beach Town arena.
They found it sure enough when they got to the beachside area of the town.
It wasn't exactly hard to miss.
It was a massive colosseum structure, floating at the edge of the shallows before the drop-off, connected to the town via a long pier walkway.
Unfortunately, they weren't the only ones to have found their way to the arena.
"Uh oh, jerk alert!" Velocity said, quoting "Mouth" from "The Goonies".
The Dark Elite was standing there a yard's length away from where the Heroes Legion were standing.
"Well, did you all get a good night's rest children? I hope you did" Meta-Master asked in a patronizing tone, "Because this may be the last day you will all ever live to see."
"Did you spend all morning thinking that one up Meta-Master?" Atlanta asked, unfazed and unimpressed by the arch-villains threat.
That was when Stephanie Walker did something neither side could have anticipated.
She walked right up to Meta-Master and punched him in the jaw with her fist.
Both the Dark Elite and Heroes Legion were stunned with surprise at this.
"That was for Manhattan!" Stephanie Walker said strongly, and then before Meta-Master could recover, she punched him again, this time across the right side of his face, "and THAT was for what you did to Marcus!"
She then turned around and calmly walked back unafraid to where the Heroes Legion was standing.
Meta-Master looked furious at first towards this attack upon his person by a human, but then his scowl turned into a devious grin.
"Ah…" Meta-Master said in realization and recognition, "The reporter girlfriend. You talk brave now, but would you be so brave to strike the strongest metahuman on earth if my powers weren't negated right now for this trivial contest of power?"
"I wouldn't be afraid of you even if your superpower was controlling bunny rabbits!" Stephanie Walker responded curtly, not even turning around to look at him.
Once she was back with the Heroes, they enclosed around her, just in case Meta-Master did or tried to do anything.
Though a few of them couldn't help but voice their admiration towards her act.
"You go girl" Shadow Knight said under his breath.
"About time someone did that, I'm just sorry it wasn't me," Atlanta said, patting her friend on the back.
Meta-Master scowled at Stephanie Walker, but then he smirked in amusement "I like her son. She's got spirit and guts. She'd have made a fine metahuman. Such a shame she's not…"
M-Leader scowled at his father, and put a protective hand on Stephanie Walker's shoulder "She's fine just the way she is, and if you try anything to her like what you did with Sarah, I'll kill you."
"Oooh…" Black Knight said in amusement, "Son is dating what daddy hates? It's like one of those soap operas on TV..."
He then drew his rapier sword, aiming it at Stephanie Walker "I hate soap operas; I prefer a good old comedy or a tragedy! I may not have powers, but I can still ram this through you bitch!""
Reacting quickly, Shadow Knight drew his gun and aimed it right at Black Knight's head, "you shoot her, and this goes through your head!"
"You got an actual bullet in there too, Wyatt Earp?" Black Knight asked non-pulsed by Shadow Knight's threat.
"I always have one real bullet loaded for emergencies…" Shadow Knight answered with cold eyes staring daggers at Black Knight, "I'm looking foreword to putting an end to this rivalry of ours once and for all."
"Me too…" Black Knight sneered.
The two of them wanted to shoot or stab the other… but found out that they couldn't.
The rules of the tournament seemed to not only restrict their powers but also inhibit them from being able to pull the trigger.
"When we finally fight again boy, I will make it so the air in your head will be properly regulated from now on" Black Knight threatened, gritting his yellow teeth in hatred.
"Likewise," Shadow Knight said in determination.
"We ALL will enjoy fighting you kids in the arena" Brawl said with gusto.
"I can't wait to finally peel Robo-Warrior open like a tin can!" Dominatrix said eagerly.
"Boy…" Velocity said in dry sarcasm, "Do THESE people need a hobby."
"I also will look forward to fighting YOU two when the time comes..." Meta-Master said towards both Chameleon and M-Leader.
"I look forward to beating you too, 'Glinda the good'…" Judas Black said to Raven Ducard, "I owe you for what you did when we last fought in New Orleans."
"In your dreams…" Raven Ducard said with a scowl, "I have learned a few new tricks since the last time we fought."
"When my side wins, I'm gonna enjoy taking you back to Atlantis to watch the royal family and every other Omni-Aquatic like you in the kingdom die, and see me take my rightful place as leader of the true people of Atlantis!" Depth Charge threatened towards Atlanta.
"Not before I peel you open like the can of worms you really are and feed you to the birds for your crimes against Atlantis's people and the surface world, Depth Charge!" Atlanta hissed.
"Wow...colorful" Velocity said in disgust.
"Enough of this wasteful talking…it's time for action!" Meta-Master ordered, "Let's go settle these grudge matches in the arena and see who deserves to claim the prize of ultimate power at the end."
"Indeed…" M-Leader agreed, glaring at his father "after all words of wisdom and compassion can't deal with, reason or even reach you and your crew of psychopaths. If we must fight to keep you from obtaining ultimate power, then we will fight. We will fight and we will win!"
"Oh? And what if you lose and we win?" Meta-Master inquired.
"Then we'll continue to fight you till the end" Murdoch answered, "to the last Legionnaire!"
"Fighting the good fight, eh? A lot of good that's done you…" Meta-Master scoffed, "I may have been fated to be de-powered and imprisoned, but now my destiny has been altered, By your foolish heroic actions no doubt. Yes, that's right. I'm not ignorant of what has been going on since my deposition. I had a glimpse into the eye of destiny upon being brought here. I know what awaits you when this is all over. What your future holds for you. You're being hunted and hated by the people you protect, your home and country are under the control of the very same group that aided in my takeover of Manhattan, and now look where you are…about to die in a tournament where I will win and then resume what I started with the MGA. You thought you stopped me in New York? You merely delayed the inevitable. All you kids have ever done is delay the inevitable, metahumans WILL one day replace or subjugate humanity. It's a law of nature for the strong to dominate the weak and also for people to fear and hate what is different. You can't change this fact, so, therefore, it's a fight you can't win, so why fight at all? Why fight against me? My vision of an empire where Metahumans and other god like beings equal to us can take their rightful place as gods over these miserable humans, it's going to inevitably happen. Why not join my side instead of continuing to fight for the weak and the ungrateful?"
"Because it's right, and it's who we are. You should have understood that back in New York a few months ago. We won't take things like that sitting down…believe it or not; we're not the only ones. There are others like us. Not just Metahumans, people as well. Good people who won't stand for any of that shit you pulled in New York" Robo-Warrior answered, "Now maybe you do win the prize and restart what you started in Manhattan and go on a world tour, but it won't ever be an easy victory. Because if we fail to stop you, the others out there, the ones suffering from a mess YOU caused who have been helping us fight this war you started will take up the cause and finish what we started. You might defeat, or even destroy us…but you can't destroy what we are and what we stand for. Because just as there are always gonna be bad guys like you wrecking the world, set it on fire to build a throne for themselves, there will always be people like us that will rise to put out the fires and avenge it!"
"Exactly…" Techne added emphatically, "We're the Heroes Legion; we don't sit around and let guys like you do whatever they want to the world and the people living in it. Not without a fight. It's why we're heroes."
"In short, 'Screw you, and your groupies' Meta-Master!" Velocity added while blowing a raspberry at the Arch-Villain.
"Fools…so you choose death. Very well, come and meet it then in the arena!" Meta-Master scoffed in disgust, and lead his team towards the Arena, with the Heroes Legion following soon behind.
The Heroes Legion and the Dark Elite (while giving one another a wide berth) made their way down the pier to the floating arena.
Once they had entered it, they found that just like Beach Town, the arena was empty.
"Is anyone else is thinking it weird that we are playing this game without an audience?" Ravager asked, "Don't tournaments usually come with spectators?"
"No stranger than ghost towns and Never-ending jungles with vine monsters" Robo-Warrior pointed out.
Once they were standing in the middle of the arena, this was when a massive hologram of the Grandmaster appeared before them.
He looked down at them, with a smirk "Welcome…" he said, "We have been waiting for this moment for a thousand years."
"A thousand years?" M-Leader asked in surprise.
That was when suddenly a series of flashing lights erupted around the empty seats of the arena.
Once they had ceased, the seats that were once empty were now filled by a bunch of cheering humanoid creatures that looked like a cross between a cat and a human being.
"What the hell?" Meta-Master said upon seeing these otherworldly creatures that were now cheering in the arena, having appeared out of nowhere, no doubt through some kind of teleportation.
"Aliens?!" Stephanie Walker asked aloud in surprise.
"Ancient interdimensional Precursor Beings actually..." The Grandmaster responded, "We have been here since the dawn of the universe, the creation of the multiverse, and we were there on earth long before humanity was born upon it by the Overseer."
"Who are you, Grandmaster? Really?" Shadow Knight demanded.
The human visage of the Grandmaster then melted away, to reveal a similar appearance to the creatures in the audience.
"I am one of my people…sorry for the deception, but knowing your planet's history with encountering that which is different, I thought having my appearance be familiar would help smooth things over and get you to trust me when I went over the rules of the qualifying round." The Grandmaster's hologram said to the two teams.
"I knew it…" Meta-Master said, "no way a human could be behind all of this."
"Indeed not" The Grandmaster nodded, "over the eons we have been called many names, 'the first race', 'the world makers', the 'Destiny people', a long list of titles... however, you can call us the Xeno."
"The Xeno?" M-Leader said in response, "But…that's an earth term. It's another name for 'The other'."
"An appropriate name, wouldn't you say?" The Grandmaster asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Well, we've checked off the list of strange things you find in comic books now haven't we? We've seen superpowers, Time Travel, Giant Monsters, government conspiracies, and now aliens. What's next?" Velocity said in exasperation.
"Why are we here? Why are we even really fighting this tournament? Is it for your amusement?" Judas Black asked.
"We are intrigued and entertained by your struggles, yes, but that is not the purpose of the tournament. You are not fighting for our entertainment, you're fighting to decide the fate of your world, to see if your world's status quo deserves to live or be destroyed. What destiny shall be decided for your world following this tournament. Whether it will be ruled by those who are heroes who will defend it from the worst of humanity, or those who believe they are the gods of the ancient times in modern-day who will make things a living hell for those who have no power. Which is stronger? Which deserves to rule? Good or Evil? Heroes or Villains?" the Grandmaster answered, "We've been here in the past before, and held this tournament before…it's been a thousand years since the last tournament to be exact."
"What?" M-Leader said in response, "But that would mean…"
"Indeed, this is a tournament that Heroes and Gods of your planets myth have fought in," The Grandmaster said proudly, "A tournament that many worlds in the universe's gods and heroes have fought in. Now it's time for the descendants of those super beings of myth to have a turn. Whoever wins gets the key to obtaining the power to rule their world via the most powerful objects in their world as the prize."
"Holy Mortal Kombat, Batman!" Velocity declared.
"You said it" Silicon agreed.
"So…" Meta-Master said with a smug grin behind his new mask, "That would mean…Meta-Humans are descendants of the Heroes and Gods of Myth? They were not a myth, but in fact, they were Metahumans? I knew it, this proves metahuman kinds superiority over Humans!"
"Big deal…" Black Knight said annoyed, this whole exposition speech was boring him "Let's get this party started. I want to play 'pin the bullet' on Shadow Knight's head!"
"Patience deluded one…" The Grandmaster scolded, "You'll get your chance for combat soon."
"We're not fighting in this tournament until you answer this question…" Atlanta stepped in, "What happens to the losers?"
"Oh calm down Princess…" The Grandmaster said to her, "Nothing happened to the other contestants of the tournament who failed the qualifying round. I simply sent them back to the new state of destiny created by the shattered Destiny Stone of Time's temporal double in the territory you call the United States of America…which isn't so united these days. Trust me; I have no intention of this being lethal combat. My people don't believe in such things as your childlike planet does. Combat doesn't have to be lethal when it isn't necessary. This is a contest, not a war. Losers will be automatically ejected to the waiting room to watch the outcome of the coming battles or to the infirmary if they are injured. There will be no fatalities allowed."
"Well THAT takes the fun out of it," Dominatrix said disappointed, "I was hoping we'd get a chance to finally wipe out the Zeroes Legion."
"We will…" Brawl assured her, "If they're our competition, that power stone is as good as ours, we'll wipe them out when it's all over."
"Now…" The Grandmaster continued, "The teams are here, however, one side has more members than the other which hardly seems fair. That is why; I have decided that matches of the Tournament will be random roster single-elimination matches."
"What!?" the Heroes Legion and the Dark Elite declared in response, before they all vanished in a flash of light, leaving Stephanie Walker behind.
"Where are they? What did you do!?" Stephanie Walker demanded of the alien being before her.
"Dont worry they are fine." The Grandmaster assured her, and then the hologram waved his hand.
That was when Stephanie Walker felt herself moving rapidly to somewhere far from where she stood, it was the same sensation she felt whenever Shadow Knight teleported anyone through one of his shadow portals.
One minute she was standing in the middle of the arena, alone, and the next, she was standing in what seemed to be the open-air executive box of this strange alien arena.
There was a buffet table of food, and it was Earth-style in appearance.
She wasn't sure if it was earth food or it just looked like earth food…but it sure did smell like earth food.
All thoughts of the Pulitzer Prize material this whole adventure potentially had was in the back of her mind, as concern for Marcus and his students' safety was on her mind.
That was when the Grandmaster himself, in the flesh appeared before her in the corner, looking out the window at the arena bellow.
"Come…" he beckoned her to come to the window with his voice, "The first round of battles of the Tournament is about to begin. It's the best seat in the arena. I believe you'll want this…"
He then waved his hand and to Stephanie Walker's surprise, a floating sphere-shaped object appeared out of nowhere and flew over to her, she backed away from it apprehensively "What is that?"
"It's a camera, you're a reporter, I assumed that you would want to get this all on camera, was I wrong?" The Grandmaster said to her.
"You'd allow the world to know what's going on here, about your existence, about Aliens being real," Stephanie Walker asked in disbelief, "I'm a reporter, and we report the facts to help convey the truth. Why would you let me tell the world about this? Don't you have like a…Prime Directive of non-interference or something?"
The Grandmaster laughed in amusement, "No. It doesn't matter if the people of your earth know aliens and multiple dimensions are real or not. We move and live between dimensions. We've been there and back on earth before, studying, watching your little planet and they've not been able to do anything, or even know what to make of us. Any of the times we've visited. You called us Gods, demons, now you call us "aliens"...and has your civilization changed, or been altered? No. Because unless they are given our technology there's nothing they can do about it, or even learn from it at this stage in their development so what's the harm? You're still a juvenile world, immature children with a great deal to learn if you will when compared to us and the rest of the developed galaxy."
"I think we're a lot more developed and mature than you think," Stephanie Walker said in defense of mankind.
"Your people my dear think we and the other civilizations out there like come to earth to abduct earthlings to examine their rectum with probes: case closed." The Grandmaster countered, scoffing in amusement.
Stephanie Walker reluctantly had to admit, he had a point there.
The Grand-master looked out at the arena.
"Your kind right now is barely able to understand the essential nature of variety or the wondrous things it does to the universe we live in, they don't like anything that goes against what they deem as "normal", they fear and hate their own flesh and blood over petty things like race, color, county, politics...or superpowers. I doubt they would be able to handle much of learning about anything that goes beyond their 'understanding' of the universe and what's out there and not react with fear, disgust and hatred. Besides, It'll be thousands of years before your civilization even leaves for the stars, trust me, we aren't afraid of your planet knowing about us or the worlds outside. So It might as well know about the battles that decided its people's fate from this day forward, don't you think?"
Stephanie Walker, deciding to make the best out of this situation seeing as there was nothing else she could do, turned from the Grandmaster, and faced the camera sphere floating beside her.
He then vanished again, leaving her alone in the executive box.
Seeing that the camera sphere, like an earth camera, now had a red light blinking meaning it was recording.
Stephanie Walker then began reporting on the Battle-Island tournament.
"This is Stephanie Walker, reporting live from Battle-Island. A mysterious remote Island somewhere on a unknown planet in an alternate dimension where an alien…yes, you heard that right, an Alien being known as 'The Grandmaster' has spirited the Heroes Legion and the Dark Elite here to this arena to battle it out for the ultimate prize: two gems of great power that will make the winner invincible. Whoever wins, decides the fate of our world. The Tournament is about to begin. I will be here, bringing you the footage of this potential world-changing story..."
The Grandmaster's hologram appeared above the arena again.
Stephanie Walker then directed the camera sphere to record the proceedings, while also wondering what she should name her new 'cameraman' as it were.
The arena came alive with cheering before the Grandmaster gave the command for silence with a gesture of his hand.
"First Battle…" The Grandmaster's hologram declared, "Raven Ducard vs Techne!"