Chapter 9

The Heroes along with the Ultimate Freshman now known as Ashley had begun their trek through the city starting with an area known as the Coliseum. It was mostly a residential area with shops and stores dotted along the straight and uniform streets. It was however home to the Gladiators one of the "big three" a trio of gangs that dominated the city. A cool breeze cut through the night air as the heroes plus one walked down the street lamp lined path. There was an unusual silence to the area usually the sounds of music and laughter could be heard accompanied by the squeal of tires and rumble of engines with occasional gunshot whistling through the air. This night however was silent and it made the trio walking down the street uneasy. Something Ray commented on. "I don't mean to sound cliché but it's quite too quite." "I know what you mean there's something off. There are no dealers on the corners, the bums are nowhere to be found and Lorenzo's not selling his illegal meats. I hope Lorenzo's not gone, where else am I going to get five dollar T-Bone Steaks?" Said X wistfully.

Ray smiled even if the night seemed off he could always count on X being a bottomless that thought with his gut. Which left Ray to his other companion her story was a bit off things did not add up. If she really was from the Skyscraper district why would she come to the Coliseum buy comics? Ray wanted to ask but decided to let the night play out. Meanwhile X was having similar thoughts Ultimate Freshmen (He just couldn't see her as an Ashley.) was a sarcastic take no crap kind of girl with a serious attitude problem. She didn't care about hurt feelings or at least not about his yet X still felt like she was hiding something. X shivered she reminded him of his mom.

The heroes didn't get a lot of time to ponder Ashley's a much more pressing scene was unraveling. First they noticed the heavy footsteps that seemed to emanate from everywhere at once. Then they saw it, an army of gladiators was marching right at them. "Damn" was the really the only word X could say. Ray and Ashley nodded in agreement. Ray simply said "To the roof tops?" X replied with "To the roof tops." And as an afterthought said. "I'll take Ultimate Freshmen" Speaking of the Ultimate Freshmen. She was more than annoyed at being left out of what appeared to be an important decision. Plus the whole marching army had her a little freaked out. "Okay uh what the hell are you two talking about? Because I'm not sure if you noticed but there's a God damn army marching toward us!" X gave her a smile and said. "Chill Ultimate Freshmen X has got your back." The level of profanity that Ashley was about to release would have got this story an M rating. Fortunately she never got the chance. Just as she was about to release her rating altering expletives X wrapped her in his arms (Careful not to crush her with his super strength, even though she still felt crushed.) and jumped to of the nearest building. For him it was a smooth ride. Ashley felt like she was just shot of a cannon while being wrapped in straight jacket that only got tighter. As soon as the ride was over X placed her gently on the rooftop. She sat there taking in as much air as her lungs would allow. Ray back flipped onto roof from a street light and landed without a sound. X gave his friend his best glare and said. "Showoff." Ray smiled and said. "Hey I'm a ninja it what we do." X sighed and said. "You do realize that if it was not for guys like me ninjas wouldn't even be cool right?"

Ray completely ignored his friend's valid point and pointed at the street. The Gladiators had got an upgrade. They looked like actual roman soldiers. They marched in formation and moved as one unit. They once had iron sword and helmets with the occasional shield. Now every single member had golden armor and weapons. X and Ray didn't even have to look at each other to come to the same conclusion. They were not getting involved this one.

That plan was thrown out window when the Ultimate Freshman stumbled up to the side of roof and vomited all over the shiny new Gladiators. X looked down at them and said "Well that's a Kodak moment." Ray couldn't even bring himself to deliver a smack. He just asked. "Why X why?" X lowered his head in shame and said. " I'm sorry I just could not resist."

Ashley really wanted strangle X but she was the one who threw up so it was kind of her fault too. At the moment though she seemed to be the only one who was focused with present situation. The gladiators were desperately trying to get to the roof luckily they weren't that fast or agile with all their new armor on. "Hey idiots we need a plan now!" Ashley screamed. Ray looked at his friend the look in his eye made it clear. Time for an X plan.

X loved moments like these it was crunch time and X would not be denied. The Gladiators would probably be heading up the stairs. Which meant the only escape routes would be to jump down or over to another rooftop. There were still soldiers on the ground so jumping down was out. Jumping over to another roof seemed like the only option but the Gladiators would get to the top eventually and X was pretty sure he saw bows and arrows. He knew he'd be fine his friends not so much. What they needed was a distraction.

Ray watched his friend while he was deep in thought he knew his plan would work they always did. He just hated how stupid they were. Ray turned his gaze to Ashley she was obviously scared out of her mind but, she was wearing a brave face so Ray did not comment on the situation. Just when he was about tell X hurry up with the plan, he called his name. "Ray fastball special!" Ray was confused he was use to his friend yelling nonsense but never at times like this. Ray was about deliver a trademark smack but then X surprised them all. It was one of those moments when someone shows you just who they really are and the only word Ray could use to describe what he saw was, stupid. X grabbed Ashley and Ray and threw them. There really wasn't a whole lot of finesse about it either and as they soared through the air just the feeling of the wind whipping past them a thought occurred to him. He wasn't the only one flying and he had to make a safe landing because the ground was coming up fast. Ray knew what needed to be done he let the cool sensation overtake him again and released a blizzard from his palms and pointed down at the oncoming asphalt. The snow cushioned their fall but Ray still felt a sharp pain shooting up his arm from the landing.

He couldn't really think about his own pain because Ashley might have been hurt. As Ray crawled to his feet he realized that X deserved to get his ass kicked, he'd handle that later. The pain in his arm made him stager his way to Ashley. She was conscious and unhurt but she looked terrified. Her eyes darted around fearfully and she was shivering uncontrollably, yep definitely terrified. Ray couldn't blame her he was afraid to. His large idiot friend hadn't followed them and he saw no signs of him. Now wasn't the time to worry though. X could take care of himself.

-OOO-

As X stared down the army of Gladiators on the rooftop he realized he could use some backup. Numbers were most definitely not on his side, he had no weapons and running did not look like an option. Yeah it was safe to say he was screwed. X figured he could talk his way out of it. "Sup guys. Love the new minus the vomit golden armor, got any in my size?" The Gladiators were a little surprised to hear X speak so casually but the surprise quickly turned to annoyance as X kept talking. "Hey quick question, why do you guys call yourselves the Gladiators if you went with the whole Roman Centurion motif? I mean admittedly Gladiators sounds cooler and denotes this sense of you guys being ruthless blood thirsty marauders. I respect that but false advertising is not cool guys. Anyway this has been a wonderful discussion but, I really must be goi-" X was cut off as one of the Gladiators stepped forward pointed a sword at his throat. He seemed to be leader of the group all the other Gladiators stood behind him and didn't pull out their weapons till he did. The guy was average height and weight but he had certain fierceness to his eyes. It looked like he knew how to use his weapons. Plus the fact that he had a sweet billowing red cape attached to his back made it obvious X gently pushed the sword away from his neck with his index finger before the leader began to speak. "I am General Tullius you have disgraced my soldiers with your internal bile what do you say for yourself? Be warned any disrespect to the 3rd Gladiatorial legion will have you cut down like the dog you are. Now speak!" X was in shock this guy was freaking cool. "Oh my sweet apple pie. You are awesome! At first I was kind of nervous because I thought I was about to get stabbed. But then you sir with your Roman Centurion Swag turned up to maximum stepped forward, sword primed and ready to cut my throat out I applaud you sir. X began clapping and thunderous claps they were. The Gladiators soon began holding their ears in protest.

General Tullius however didn't even look fazed he simply took his sword proceeded to attack. The first attack was straight jab to X's gut. The blade tore through clothing but stopped at the skin. X was in shock it dawned on him that if not for his powers he would have just died. Tullius on the other hand didn't have time for shock. He pulled his sword from X and in one motion spun on his heel to bring the blade back around in one sweeping arc to decapitate X. The blade stopped at X's skin once again. X decided that this fight needed to end now. He brought his fist which had been sitting idly while Tullius attacked and came up for a devastating uppercut. Tullius nimbly back stepped away from the punch and with both hands brought down his sword in X's thigh this time it didn't stop at the skin it went through. The wound wasn't very deep but it made all present look twice. As X watched his very essence pool and overflow staining his jeans a deep burgundy he realized three things he could be hurt, being a superhero was no game, and he was not just outmanned he was outmatched.

At that moment X remembered the words of his old boxing trainer. "When you start bleeding the enemy starts feeling good. When you're hurt the enemy becomes unstoppable. Do whatever ya gotta do to stop the pain trash talk'em or talk stupid we both know your real good at that. Let'em sees ya bleed but don't let'em sees ya hurt." Well it was safe to say X was hurt but, good ole adrenaline would not let it show. X did what he did best he started running his mouth. "Well well well General I tip my hat to you. You made me bleed. I have not seen my own blood in a very long time. Can you smell it? Rich in Iron isn't it? Well it only seems right that return the favor. Tell me where do want to bleed from? I can rip off one of your arms and beat you with it, I could also pluck your eyes out and keep them as souvenirs, or if you want me to get really creative I could slowly peel back your skin piece one layer at a time and then take that pretty armor of yours and gift wrap it and send it to your boss Spartacus I bet he would love that."

The original visage of calm serenity was gone from the face of Tullius replaced a look of challenge. Tullius to his credit still had his sword raised and ready. X knew that if he was going to make a move now was the time to move X ran toward Tullius as fast as he could ignoring the pain in his leg as he closed the gap Tullius was poised and ready the other Gladiators watched with bated breath. Less than two feet away from Tullius X gave a roar of triumph and quickly pivoted to the left and ran straight through the crowd of Gladiators, knocking over any in his path. As X came to edge of the rooftop he jumped with all his might and in his best Macho Man voice screamed, "OH YEAH! DEMOLITION MAN JUST DOMINATED YOU MENTALLY" as he sailed through the air.

-OOO-

Ray paused as he and Ashley made their way to the bridge that separated the Warehouse District from the Arena. He turned to Ashley and asked her, "Did you just hear Macho Man Randy Savage scream oh yeah?" Ashley gave him a curious look and said "Who the hell is Randy Savage and why is he a Macho Man?" Ray merely sighed and mumbled under his breath "Kids". As they continued walking across the bridge they kept hearing a loud series of booms. The booms kept getting louder until they looked up and saw a large figure moving through the air, Ray quickly realizing who it was shot an ice beam into the sky as a signal. It didn't take long for X to reach them and he spoke quickly.

"Sup Ray and Ulti I'm gonna call you Ulti now because Ultimate Freshman is too long. Hey guess what I just had the first boss battle you guys I'll tell you all about it later because I need to pass out from blood loss bye bye." X proceeded to do collapse right on top of the newly christened Ulti.

AN: Sup guy been a while right? Anyway thanks for reading and two people deserve a shout out. First Person Baby BlueJay for the never ending encouragement. Second Just an Average Guy for keeping it real and having a man to man talk with me. So in short I would like to say this story is not the greatest I get that people don't like to review its cool. Point to anyone who enjoyed this story but felt left hanging for the past five months I'm sorry won't happen again. Average Guy helped me realize something I'm writing for me and if you don't like that (excuse my language) you can suck it because this story is a tale of friendship and badassery no more being a review whore from this point on. Thank you