Sanctuary Vol. II: Earth's Protectors

Sanctuary is a globally known superhero team composed of currently, eight superheroes, who reside in New York City.

Arcman / Nathan Thorn– Formerly an archaeologist who discovered the Ring of the Ancients, granting him superpowers. He joined Sanctuary in order to protect the city he grew up in, and to gain the affection of his wife to be, Emma Ramos. He is currently the leader of the Sanctuary team. His powers include super strength, super speed, durability, and flight.

Alpha – A blue skinned, alien-human hybrid created using the DNA of a former Sanctuary member. He manages the Sanctuary Tower as the CEO of Ganacorp, the company that Sanctuary doubles as and is funded by. His superpowers are telepathic in nature, capable of entering others' minds and creating psychic barriers.

Zadkiel – One of the original Sanctuary members. He was an angel sent to Earth to help humanity and had stayed to help Sanctuary. He was in a relationship with Darren Chen until he lost his memories after saving the Earth from an attack by demonic gods. He has super strength and is capable of flight, healing. He owns two angelic swords, Katana and Excalibur that he uses in combat.

White Witch / Emma Thorn – The magical being of the group, and also a founding member. She and Nathan are currently married with two children, Billy (age 4) and Veronica (6 months). She works mostly in the tower as an public relations advisor. She lost her original powers but currently has a magical sphere that is fueled purely by her own magic.

Sunstar / Skye Streiber – Although he is only 1 year old, this teenage hero is the powerhouse of the team. He was given to Earth by the spirit of the sun as a gift to cleanse it of evil. Sanctuary found and adopted him, although his caretaker was originally another solar based superhero. His superpowers allow him to use his body as a solar body (which he must recharge inside the sun periodically) and release solar energy in combat.

Amazon / Sara Fenonron-Wong – An amazon of the Ostiem Tribe, Sara opted to fight evil with the team, meeting her fiancé Zaethis Fenonron, a founding member of Sanctuary. She lost him in a space fight between Earth and the Nethoans, an alien race that sought power on Earth. She also found out that one of her fellow Sanctuary members is also her son, who is capable of traveling through time. She has been training new heroes. Her powers grant her strength, speed, and immunities to many combat threats.

Anomaly / Darren Chen– Also known as Darren Wong, he is the son of Sara and Zaethis. He was formerly in a relationship with Zadkiel, who lost his memories. His powers are deific as he is able to manipulate time and space with absolution at the cost of his soul and sanity. When he was born, his powers jumped him through time, turning him into an orphan, and leaving Sara childless. Only recently did the both of them find out that they are related to one another.

Tattoo / Willie Collins – One of the Sanctuary members who saved the world and died, Willie was revived to combat an highly dangerous supervillain, but he was introduced to a world that had changed completely since his death. He currently works with Sara to train new heroes at Sanctuary Tower. He is a mutant who is able to create tattoos and animate them, albeit his powers have been severely diminished since his return.

Arc 12: Darkness In The Skies

Issue 1: Back To Normalcy (1)

September 20, 2012 – 10:27 AM

High above Times Square, Emma Thorn looked down from her window at the thousands of people going about their day. They were like little ants to her, uniformly and perfunctorily waking up each morning to rush off to work. Some would drop off their children at school before grabbing a quick breakfast while several businessmen would hollowly wish well to their spouses. She was no different save for the fact that she was a superheroine. Had she not been, then she would be another mother in the crowd below, taking her toddlers by the hand while crossing the street to go to school. Billy had been in Pre-K for two weeks already and Emma's maternal instincts mixed with her hormones had her on edge. While still worrying about her son, she had her hands full with a six-month old Veronica. Somehow over the last decade, Emma had transformed from a youthful heroine into an ordinary housewife. The miracle of it all was that her determination kept her in the fight even through all the drastic changes from marriage to motherhood. She had even sacrificed her career so that she could devote more time to what mattered to her.

Three months had passed since the Nethoan invasion, and it was the anniversary of Krater's revival. Mayor Earline Bacino had taken it into her hands to reconstruct the damaged parts of the city. Following in the footsteps of Mayor Raukoff, she openly accepted the aid of Sanctuary. As a result, the boroughs had returned to the former peaceful state that it had been in a year ago. Emma sighed at the thought that a whole year had passed since there was peace. First Krater, then Killzone, and finally the Nethoans! Sanctuary had not lived up to its name, and now the only thing left to do was to rectify their shortcomings by assisting the city with their superhuman powers.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

The blaring of the alarms didn't startle Emma anymore. She had been desensitized to the daily announcement of another villain on the loose. The utopia below her in the city was all a façade. There was a lot more fighting left to be done. When the Nethoans had attacked, Grandmaster took advantage of the opportunity and deactivated a great number of the suppressor collars on the "guests" of Riker's Island Special Convicts Penitentiary. The result came to the everyday sounding of the tower's emergency system.

"Emma, we're waiting," came Sara's irritated voice after a few minutes. Emma groaned and unhappily picked up her earpiece.

"I'll be down in a second," Emma notified her teammate. She quickly brushed her brunette hair and picked up her orb from her desk and walked out of her room. She gave one more look out the window at the open sky and blinked away a tear. She wouldn't be flying anytime soon.

When she arrived at the conference room, Emma noticed that she was the only one who hadn't suited up. She let loose the orange sphere in her hand and it hovered in the air and lit up bright, cloaking its owner in the same warm glow. When the light subsided, White Witch stood elegantly in place of her civilian identity. She walked over to the conference table and sat down in her seat in between Anomaly and Alpha. The alien hybrid was focused as ever, letting no emotion through. He still intimidated White Witch a little bit.

"Thanks for joining us, White Witch," began Arcman. He looked at his wife for a few seconds before typing away at the keyboard in front of him. The table's holographic projector turned on and displayed a man in blue tights. There were two shades of cyan running in stripes across his outfit and thick goggles that masked his eyes. His hair was a golden mess and he had a wild grin on his face.

"This is Dr. Larry Rodriguez, aka Hermes," continued Arcman. White Witch recalled the villain and how it had impacted Arcman when they had first confronted him. She looked through the hologram and saw a set of twins in bright blue and red tights sitting at the table, aloft and relaxed.

"What are the Hart brothers doing here?" she whispered to Anomaly on her left.

"Sara's training them this week. They just flew in from Mckimmy last night."

"He's was savant researcher working with the United Developmental Research Organization until his reputation was besmirched five years ago. He had been working on renewable energy sources when his mutation was jumpstarted by testing one of his inventions on an active volcano in the Atlantic. His device had been sabotaged by one of his associates and he was out to get him in New York. We stopped Rodriguez with much difficulty the first time around, but hopefully we're better prepared today. This is a detainment mission. Leopoldo, do you have his location?"

A burly black man in a white lab suit wearing a red armband that had been sitting at the end of the table raised his head and grunted, "Call me Leo, and yeah, he's been zigzagging around one spot in Rego Park. Looks like a school."

"You think he might turn this into a hostage situation?" piped up Tattoo. White Witch almost expected him to be the one to ask such a question. But she herself would've asked. After all, her maternal instincts were still high. Albeit the children in the school had no relation to her, they were still children after all. At the very least, she could relate to the parents.

Arcman shot White Witch a quick look before answering, "We don't want to take any risks but he's just loitering around, we really have no idea what he's thinking."

"Then perhaps I should assist?" asked Alpha calmly.

"Of course," agreed Arcman. "Anomaly, White Witch, Gemini. You're all on the mission."

"What about the rest of us?" grumbled Tattoo. He was itching for a fight.

"In case you've forgotten, Sunstar's coming back in less than two hours and you have to go pick him up! The rest of the team's on standby. Dismissed."

There was a lot of shuffling going about at the meeting's abrupt end. Anomaly was already preparing himself to teleport the team to the coordinates that the Sanctuary agent had provided. The active team was all pumped and anticipating a fight; the twin brothers had already begun charging up fire and ice and ostentatiously spouting flames and snow into the room. White Witch quickly moved out of Anomaly's reach to get a quick word in with her husband before she could be whisked away.

"You seem worried," noted Arcman as his wife came up in front of him.

"Aren't you? I still don't know if it was the right choice having Billy and Veronica come back to the city. And we have lunatics like Hermes running free. I have a bad feeling about this."

"You're just on edge right now. Billy's safe at school downtown, there's no way Hermes is going to race down there–"

"Excuse me? This is coming from the man who was outrun several times by this villain."

"That's why I'm sending Darren in. Besides, Hermes doesn't even know we have children."

"The principle's still the same, that our children are not safe here."

"Billy is a superhero to be and so is Veronica–"

"But they aren't yet!" hissed White Witch, just barely keeping her voice down. She saw Anomaly out of the corner of her eye. He was impatiently tapping his foot waiting for her to move. "We need to take the safety of our children as paramount priority. Don't ignore that."

Before Arcman could continue, White Witch whirled away and walked over to Anomaly. As soon as she was within range, the room lit up in flaming orange and the active team was gone.

"I think she makes a fine point," mused Leopoldo, typing away at the keyboard in front of him.

"I didn't know you were a father," said Arcman.

"I'm not, but I plan to be. I gotta say though, I wouldn't wanna be raisin' my kid in this city with the way this team and the mayor are running the show."

"Thanks for your input," sighed Arcman sarcastically.

"Always happy to share my thoughts."

The active team arrived on scene in a blaze of orange and quickly set off to work. They had come to the side of the middle school. It was the middle of the day and the students were still in class. The local residents hadn't noticed the arrival of the superheroes nor of the fact that there was a blur of blue flowing across the street. When Hermes saw the superheroes, he immediately halted.

"And I thought I would meet my maker today," said Hermes. He sounded rather bored and upset at the same time. "I know you, White Witch. Looks like Sanctuary's been revamped. But that's okay–"

Hermes' voice slowed down as Anomaly waved his hand out in front of him, disrupting the flow of time. The twin heroes prepared to rejoice over their quick victory but before they could, Hermes had already sped himself up to account for the delay in time and had swiftly ran out of range. He wasn't a quantum physicist but having acquainted himself with his personal superpowers, he had learned a great deal about how quickly to move so that his sense of perception would never become an issue. Although his original intentions were to get revenge on Arcman for capturing him the first time, he decided that all of Sanctuary could pay as well.

Gemini Hot and Cold chased after their target and ran into the basketball courts behind the school. It was rather large and nobody was inside of the fenced field. Taking advantage of their space, the two brothers buckled down and started to fume and freeze. Hot took the lead and let loose a blaze of fire that lit up the sky. The lightshow was enough for the various locals and students to look out their window. What they saw was a conflagration tearing up the sky, condensing into the shape of a vicious, sharp beaked bird. The flaming bird let loose a screech as it spread its wings wide. Cold's eyes widened in awe and jealousy. Wanting to outdo his brother, he thrust out his arms and let loose a flurry of pure fleece snow and glossy ice that coalesced into the vitrified structure of a golem. It took life and slammed its fists together while roaring its battle cry. The two creatures targeted Hermes, who was running straight at the elementals. They came in full contact creating a devastating shower of hail and fire. The brothers looked at their shattered creatures which had been drilled through by the incredible speed of their tenacious enemy.

The fight was just beginning through. There were several streaks of blue that flashed through the street crashing into the two men who were thrown against the fence of the playground. Anomaly prepared to send another temporal disruption wave at the speedster but there was an obvious difference in speed. The blur zoomed around his fallen prey before zipping into the school building, realizing White Witch's fears.

"Alpha, did you get anything off of him?" asked Anomaly.

"I really have no idea what he's thinking!" admitted Alpha exasperated. He clenched his teeth together and rubbed his blue forehead in pain.

"You can't get a lock on him?" suggested White Witch. She helped the two boys up and laid her hands on their chests to hasten their convalescence with magic.

Alpha shook his head. "The case is not that I can't read his mind but rather that he thinks as fast as he moves. There's nothing I can do here. I apologize."

"We ain't gonna give up that easily! Right bro?" cheered Gemini Hot.

"Yeah, let's go get that creep!" agreed Gemini Cold. The three heroes looked at the twins and they cracked up. It was good to have such young spirit and hope with them.

"Very well, we shall go inside," Alpha declared. "The two of you stay out here as guards. Create a fortress lest he gives us the slip and we can't detain him from inside. I hope it doesn't come to it."

White Witch, Anomaly and Alpha dashed into the school building after Hermes. As soon as they reached the doorway, they could see that Hermes had already taken it too far. The principal of the school didn't know whether or not to evacuate the building. She had decided it best that the students remain and that Sanctuary would resolve the issue. However, Hermes had made the first move and taken three students and pinned them up by their collar onto the ceiling lights. One seventh grader was in his arms. She was a petite little twelve year old and her neck was being strangled by the villain's arms.

"Why don't you call Arcman over so I can settle the score with him once and for all?"

"Easy Larry," began Anomaly as he put up his arms.

"Don't even think about it! Hands on your head or I'll crush this maggot's pretty little throat," threatened Hermes.

The three heroes began to comply as each of them cautiously moved their hands upwards. White Witch's orb died down dropped to the floor uselessly. She looked at the scared little girl who was whimpering but not quite crying.

"It'll be alright sweetie. We're not going to let him hurt you, okay?" called out White Witch clearly. "Arcman is going to come here and save you."

Her voice was clear enough to be heard across the comms system, and already back at the tower, the team was prepping for action. White Witch wasn't so sure about how the situation was going to resolve itself. She was just as afraid as the little schoolgirl was because Hermes was extremely dangerous. The point had not been raised perhaps because Arcman was still ashamed but the entire team had been defeated and the only reason Hermes was able to be detained was an accident. If luck and fate had not intervened, then he would still be free and on the loose, evading all traps set by Sanctuary. The memory had stuck plain and clear as a reminder that everyone has weaknesses and nobody is insuperable. Here stood the prime example.

An inevitable clash of speed was about to occur and all bets were off. Not having faced him in half a decade, Arcman was flying blind towards Hermes. They were gods of the wind perhaps with a disparity between their capacities to utilize their given abilities. While he streaked across the sky towards his nemesis, he finally put his wife's words into perspective. The worst-case hostage scenario had occurred. Perhaps there could be an even worse situation or perhaps the molehill could escalate into a mountain, but in spirit of thinking positively, Arcman prayed that Hermes was already at his limit.

He landed in a white flash in front of Russell Sage Junior High School. All around was a wall of ice and fire, intertwining without ever touching. They encompassed the perimeter of the school and was steadily thickening, Panic hadn't a chance to spread and as far as the denizens of Rego Park were concerned, Sanctuary was going to ensure the people's safety. Their confidence in the superheroes was a double-edged sword in the new era; there was only so much the superheroes could do. Arcman shook these thoughts out of his head and concentrated. He had a school full of young students to save. He walked towards the building calmly and entered to see his active team at the end of the dank hallway. But right in front of him was Hermes.

"You a smart one, Arcman," laughed Hermes.

"I'm here, Hermes. Just like you asked. Now let go of the kid," commanded Arcman.

"We're in no rush," taunted Hermes, gripping onto the petite girl even tighter. "If I let her go, then I have no leverage. Nothing to stop you from tearing me to bits."

Seeing that he was complying, Hermes continued. "I never got my revenge thanks to you. I probably won't get another chance. So in exchange, m'boy…I think I'll splatter your guts!"

In a quick frenzy, he threw the girl up into the air and ran head on at Arcman. In the blink of an eye, both men had vanished. They were moving at speeds matching each other's yet unable to be followed by anyone else. It was safe to say that they were the two fastest men alive at the moment and neither of them was letting up as they began a fierce fight. At the rate they were fighting, it had only been several minutes before Arcman was knocked out. Although a strong and sedulous fighter, he was still no match for the millions of blows that were sent at him in the fraction of a millisecond. He couldn't even land a single blow on his opponent.

"Good try, but I hope you know that you were never a match," Hermes commented mockingly. "I was always the faster, and the superior."

"But I doubt you have many allies," said a voice from behind him. Whirling around, he was confronted by the face of Alpha, nose to nose. Anomaly had used the split second opening given when Hermes attacked Arcman to engulf the both of them in a warped sphere of time and space where the ambit only extended to the region around the two men in the hallway and in which they moved in slow motion. Alpha had taken the time to clutch Hermes's head. If they couldn't attack him head on physically, then they'd attack him head on psychically.

Both of the two men entered a trance. In order to keep him subdued, it was imperative that Alpha kept his focus. That unfortunately meant that he was just as paralyzed as his subject was. White Witch had taken the time to comfort the twelve-year-old girl. She beside herself with fear, quaking in her shoes, a natural reaction. White Witch's motherly instincts kicked in and she held the girl in her arms, patting her on the head and reassuring her that all would be well. She was uncertain that she herself believed it, but it was more important that the scared child did. Anomaly called the Gemini brothers indoors and held up Arcman on his shoulders. With the team congregated in one spot, he let his powers extend and teleported the team back to the tower.

Anomaly had landed with his piggyback riders on the fifty-second floor, the detainment unit. Several staff members quickly rushed over to Hermes and wrapped a suppressor collar around their newest guest. Alpha's unfocused eyes blinked and he was once again aware of his surroundings. Seeing that the goal had been accomplished, he quietly sulked off towards the elevator, forgoing any praise. He felt that it was undeserved for his miniscule actions. White Witch watched as Hermes was thrown into a cell. Assured that the criminal would be secured properly until his trial, she gave him a quick glare as turned her back. She moved towards her husband but felt a tug on her arm. Looking down, she realized that the little girl was shivering by her side.

"Gemini, find her mother and make sure she gets back home safe," ordered White Witch. After a moment, she added, "Discreetly. Hopefully PR and city security can keep this matter hush-hush."

She gently pulled the girl's petite hands off and guided her towards the twins. She moved to Arcman and lifted him off Anomaly's shoulders. She gave a nod in appreciation before walking towards one of the elevators.

"Want me to teleport you to the infirmary?" called out Anomaly.

White Witch shook her head and pressed the up button. She went up to their room. The day had just barely begun and she was dead tired. Entering the spacious bedroom, she tore off her mask and helped her husband over to the bed where they both collapsed in exhaustion.

"Something we need to discuss?" yawned Nathan. He was half-expecting an answer.

"We need a break," said Emma.

Nathan's eyes flicked open. "I really hope that you aren't proposing a divorce."

Emma stretched her arms and smacked her husband squarely on the face. "No, you dumbass. I think our family needs to go on vacation."

"Billy just started school!"

"His teachers will understand. Or we'll make them."

After a few moments, the both of them burst out laughing.

"We'll leave after they get out of school. Anywhere in mind?" asked Emma.

"I've always wanted to go to Cancun…"

"It's settled then."

September 30, 2012 – 4:39 PM

"Out of my way, out of my way, out of my way!" screamed Sunstar as he plummeted towards the ground. The pedestrians on the streets below scattered in every which way as the fireball crashed landed into the rough pavement. The superhero bolted up immediately and reinitiated his doused flames.

"Sunstar! What in blazing tarnation are you doing?!" scolded Tattoo from above. Feeling slightly sheepish, Sunstar's flames flared up and he ascended into the ocean sky in valor.

"Don't get so bent out of shape! I got this!" assured Sunstar as he flew around his caretaker. From his arms shot out two long infernos, condensed into a pair of whips. He closed in on his target with the two streams undulating in the air. As he approached, he felt his hair tingle. Not wanting a repeat of what had foregone, he wildly threw his flames into the field ahead. It had barely even approached the target when static filled the air and repelled both the attack and the attacker. Aware that civilians were watching, Sunstar attempted to reorient himself midair lest he crashed again.

His partner watched on, completely and utterly abashed that he couldn't even scratch the target. Not to mention their target wasn't particularly formidable. Tattoo gave a smirk and pumped up his shoulders, allowing two metal poles to extend from them. His face contorted in what seemed to be pain as the device solidified. At the ends of the two conductors were a pair of metal spheres, shining gray to match. It had torn through the hero's back leather jacket but it didn't bother Tattoo so long as it would serve its purpose.

Flying in a straight path, Tattoo closed his eyes in case his plan failed and he was zapped. Flying blind, he pulled in his feathery wings and shot forward headfirst. The air around him was electrical. He heard a crackle tearing through the atmosphere, inevitably headed towards him. It didn't connect. Hesitantly, Tattoo opened his eyes. He patted himself and cried out laughing in glee.

With conviction and intrepidness, Tattoo flew even faster, building up momentum for a daring final blow. His arm was quickly painted in a dark shade before it transformed into a giant plastic club. He smiled knowing that there was no escape for the enemy. And as he was about to connect with his head-butt, he gaped.

It had all happened so quickly that he'd almost missed it. Several streams of fire seared through the clearing the sky. They weren't aimed but rather shot madly into the air from below. Sunstar cheered because one of his fire jets made contact with the enemy, knocking him off kilter. Unfortunately, that had caused Tattoo to continue forward in his linear flight path and he was hit by the fires. Like a meteor, he flew across the sky.

"Oops," whispered Sunstar, completely mortified.

"What just happened there?!" buzzed a strict voice on the com link.

"Nothing, nothing! I've got everything under control!"

"Then care to explain to me why Tattoo has just been tossed across the sky like a Ken doll?"

"No time to talk, Ezra, villains to fight!" said Sunstar as he turned off his headset.

"It's Miss Vanbecelaere to you!" screamed Ezra back at the Sanctuary Tower. "Sunstar? Sunstar?!"

She gave a sigh of exasperation. Tilting her head back from the surveillance monitors, she bumped into hard flesh. Ezra quickly stood up straight and faced Zadkiel.

"Zadkiel, sir. I didn't know you were watching."

"There is no need to address me with such formality," the angel said softly. His droopy gaze moved onto the monitor, displaying the fight between Sir Shocking and the two heroes.

"Do they require my assistance?" he asked monotonously.

"Uh. No. I mean, yes!" Ezra said vehemently. She punched herself mentally; could she have been more stupid in front of one of her bosses? She was probably the youngest worker in Sanctuary at the age of twenty-one, but she had only obtained the position because of her remarkable resume and the best she could respond with was "no" and "yes."

"Then I shall depart," announced Zadkiel dully. As he turned towards the elevator, he waved lightly at Ezra. "Blessings to you, my child."

At the elevator stood Darren, who had just teleported into the room to check up on the active team. He was slightly taken aback by the angel's presence, who walked right past him without reservation. The angel walked into the open elevator door and turned around to face Darren momentarily before the doors closed. Darren didn't turn around.

"Vanbecelaere, progress update," snapped Darren.

"Uh, right!" responded Ezra, who had been watching the two former lovers. She turned back to the monitors. "Primary active team is still engaging enemy target. Vitals are stable. Property damage at twenty-three thousand."

"I honestly don't know which one of those two is the bigger idiot."

"Sir?"

Darren ignored her and went to go put on a headset of his own. "Tattoo, Sunstar. Take it heart to be a bit more sensitive towards your surroundings. Sanctuary can't keep picking up your tab."

"Don't reprimand me, Sunstar's the one creating craters in the middle of the street," informed Tattoo. He had regained his balance and was flapping towards the fight. He could see bolts of fire and lightning clashing in the air, with each strike exploding as they connecting. Unable to form any coherent battle plans in his head, Sunstar had decided to fight with sheer power alone and was now circling the target slapping at regular intervals with his fire whips. But it was impossible that his power levels were being matched so easily by Sir Shocking. After all, he'd spent an entire month revitalizing his power core. There was more at work, and he had to know what.

He reactivated his com link and asked, "Ezra, I need you to run a bio-analysis on Sir Shocking. Something seems off about this dude."

"It's Vanbecelaere!" screamed Ezra.

"Just do it, Ezra!" retorted Sunstar.

Grouchily, Ezra pulled her chair up to another monitor and started running a full body scan on the enemy using the com link as a mediator. After a few minutes, she glanced at the screen to see how the fight was progressing. She noticed that Darren was fixated by the fight, most probably because Zadkiel had arrived on scene and was being electrocuted as badly as the other two. Her own monitor flashed and she directed her attention on the bio-analysis report. She blinked.

"This is strange," buzzed Ezra. "I can't get an analysis on him."

"What do you mean you can't get an analysis on him?"

"The readings come back with no bio-activity."

"You mean it says he's dead," said Sunstar.

"No, I mean I can't get one on him."

"Try again," Sunstar pressed on.

"I've run the scan several times, I can't get an analysis on him."

"I've got a theory," Darren chimed in. "Vanbecelaere, pull up Sir Shocking's bio-analysis from our first encounter with him and compare it with the ones you just analyzed."

Ezra followed his suggestion and became further perplexed. "I'm guessing you know what's going on."

"Sunstar, Tattoo, neither of you have fought Sir Shocking before. And Zadkiel, I guess you just don't remember. Sir Shocking doesn't necessarily need to be alive in order for him to be alive. Technically, he is. His bodily functions are just resetting so quickly that our bio-analyzer read him as dead. As you know, his meta-powers are propagated by the absorption and dispersion of electricity. I believe he's further enhancing his powers by accumulating his internal electrical energy with his external source. The three of you are going to have to take a lethal shot if you want any chance of winning this fight."

"That's rather grim," said Tattoo sinisterly. Immediately, he drew himself two matching guns and aimed them right at Sir Shocking's face.

"What are you doing?!" cried out Sunstar.

"A hero's gotta do what a hero's gotta do," replied Tattoo unwaveringly. He shot.

Two streams of fire wavered in front of Tattoo and the bullets were incinerated midair. Tattoo turned his head and glared at Sunstar. They both turned to Sir Shocking, who had stopped charging the air with his impulses. Zadkiel was directly behind him with his two swords on his neck, ready to slice.

The com link was silent. There were no words for what just happened. Ezra broke the ice. "Primary active team, target has been apprehended. Return to Sanctuary Tower for detainment and debriefing."

When the three heroes returned, Skye refused to look Willie in the eye. They had regrouped with Ezra, Zadkiel and Darren in the private conference room. With Nathan out on vacation, Alpha was in charge. Nobody in the room was particularly happy that a supervillain had just been captured.

"I'm going to cut to the chase," said Alpha. "What the hell were you thinking?"

The question was clearly addressed to Willie, but he only glared at Skye as if expecting him to answer for his own unrequited actions.

"Honestly, Alpha. I don't believe I have anything to answer for. I'd like to add that for whatever you muster up for this argument, I do have precedence and seniority to attribute to the justifications of my actions today."

"That's not what here to discuss. I read the report and as far as I am concerned, you stepped outside of regulation inappositely."

"You're blowing this out of proportion," scoffed Willie. "You said you read the report. I don't think Darren was exaggerating the least bit on what necessary actions were to be taken."

"Sir Shocking is small fries! It was completely inane to use lethal force. Yes, Darren did explicitly say that it would take a 'lethal shot' but it was with the intent of intimidating Shocking into letting up his guard. Furthermore, I do believe this is the third time you've attempted lethal force on an enemy target of such feeble power."

"Your point being?"

Alpha's blue face started to turn purple slightly. He was clearly overwhelmed and infuriated by Willie's pigheadedness. "My point being that you need to address this issue."

October 7, 2012 – 5:58 PM

Skye, Darren and Ezra stood at the gate of the terminal impatiently. They had been at JFK for nearly three hours, which was approximately how long the flight they were waiting for had been delayed. The flight from Cancun had finally arrived but now the airport security was slowly scanning each and every person meticulously as they passed through several metal detectors.

"Estas loco?" cried a familiar voice. Darren turned his attention to an overly tanned Emma, who had also taken the liberty to cut her hair above shoulder length. She continued to yell at a security guard in front of her, "Sabes cuanto vale este?! Mas que tu sueldo!"

After a few moments, the security guard returned the contents of the luggage they were inspecting back into their proper places and handed the suitcase back to Emma, who urged her two kids along. Nathan blushingly apologized to the guard on behalf of his wife before running after her. They had both promptly noticed their teammates in their frivolous attire. Especially Skye, who seemed to have only bright red in his closet.

Emma approached them and held Darren's hands while blowing air kisses onto his cheeks. "Darren, how are you? Had a wonderful vacation."

"You seem especially flamboyant today. More than me…"

"And you must be Ezra," continued Emma, ignoring his comment. She held the woman's hand and looked her over. Ezra was rather an attractive young lady but with her brunette hair tied up in a bun and sharp lenses on her eyes, she looked almost like a stern librarian. Nonetheless, Emma persisted with her comments. "Skye has told me so much about you. You must be the youngest person to work at Sanctuary Tower. Next to Darren and Skye of course."

She gave a jovial laugh before hugging Skye and greeting him with the same air kisses.

"Okay, we are famished! The airline food was atrocious and Veronica here refused to eat, so come on, let's get a move on before one of us dies from hunger."

"What's up with her?" whispered Darren to Nathan.

"She found out the rest of the world doesn't think much of Sanctuary. And also the airline service was pretty bad. Tell me again why you had us buy last minute tickets instead of teleporting us back?"

"Berserk gunman. Lots of random shootings this week. Today he decided to show up in a theater. We went to detain him and it took a bit longer than expected."

"Always nice to hear how safe it is in the city. Anything else happen while we were away?"

"We'll talk over dinner. Emma seems to be having another hissy fit with the bus driver," commented Darren. "Come on Emma…We'll teleport to Masa for sushi…"

The group sat down uniformly in a line at the sushi bar when they arrived. Ezra had quickly bribed the manager into ushering several customers off to different corners of the restaurant, as if a group of celebrities had just entered. Once seated, she began ordering a variety of dishes while speaking in Japanese. Flawlessly and effortlessly, she astounded the chefs behind the bar with her choice of seafood. Nathan, who was sitting next to Skye, applauded with a wink. Slightly abashed, he turned away and caught sight of Ezra's eyes. She was playing with the children and only gave a little laugh before looking away.

"You need an update of what happened over the last few weeks?" asked Skye.

"Wouldn't hurt," responded Nathan.

"Might upset you though," Skye pressed on. Nathan gestured for him to continue. "We've recaptured a few more escapees from Riker, but aside from Hermes and Sir Shocking, we haven't caught any of our villains. Leopoldo's got a few more leads on Grandmaster, but for now, he seems to have fled the country. Sara's been working with the Hart brothers, but the rest of the Beta Team is still undecided about making the tower their base of operations."

"How's Zadkiel's progress?"

Skye turned to look at Darren, engaged in a deep conversation with Emma. He still held a proud face but pain could be seen piercing through his soul and out of his eyes. Skye shook his head. "That's something you'd want to ask Darren yourself."

At the same time, Emma was interrogating Darren about the events of the last few weeks.

"I got a text from Alpha last week telling me that Willie's gone out of control. What was that all about?"

"I'm not going to disagree with him," confessed Darren. "Willie attempted to kill Sir Shocking and when Alpha confronted him about it, he just…brushed it off like it was nothing."

"Oh my god," muttered Emma, pressing her temples. "Is he seeing the shrink?"

"Believe you me, we tried to send him. But if refuses to go, I can't force him. I'm sorry Emma, but I'm just not as well acquainted with him as you guys are. Not to mention I can't even begin to imagine how it is to return from the dead, see that everyone you cared about is gone and then having to be the hero you once were…I can only imagine how it must be on Skye. He's practically Willie's son."

Emma sighed. "He kept so much from us. I can't fathom why he won't open up, even to me."

She stayed quiet for a moment in pensive thought and then it clicked in her. Following through at the same pace, she segued in her next question. "How's everyone else doing? I know it's difficult to talk things out sometimes, but I'm here and I'm all ears."

"You want to know about Zadkiel," Darren stated bluntly. "I don't mind talking about it. I think everyone can see past my little façade. Not that difficult, but I can't break down right and give up now, just when everything is settling down."

"Trust me, Darren. I know exactly how you feel. Losing Nathan made me lose my own faith. You absolutely cannot deter from your fight for Zadkiel. He sacrificed everything hoping to see you smile. Whatever higher power is up there, it will not separate you two."

"I just don't know why it has to be so difficult. I figure in exchange for saving the world, fate could at least compensate me in the form of love."

As tears began to well up in his eyes, Emma moved over and placed her hands around his, squeezing them in comfort.

October 16, 2012 – 1:22 AM

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

Sara's eyes flicked open, not in surprise but in anticipation. Despite the fact that she was completely pumped and ready for a fight, it was still the middle of the night. She sat upright slowly to keep her groggily body from falling right back into bed. The sirens rang on for a good three minutes before finally quieting down. The three minutes had been enough to wake up all the residents of the tower. The Sanctuary team filed into the ninety-first floor conference room, all dressed up with somewhere to go. They hadn't bothered to put on their masks and the bags under their eyes sagged.

"Leo, report," commanded Nathan.

"This one's a nasty bugger y'all never brought in," warned Leopoldo. Nathan raised an eyebrow interested. He continued. "It's Amalgamation. Think ya may have encountered her about a year and a half ago. According to the records though, she was captured twice but both times not by Sanctuary."

"We'll give her a peace of our mind!" shouted Adam. His brother, Peter, cheered him on. The noise was too much for Sara and she rubbed her temples.

"Her meta-powers allow her to bond with any inorganic substance that she's in contact with," informed Leopoldo. "She's able to bond with a few organic molecules but not the extent that she'll be able to cause significant damage to them."

Willie looked on at Sara, who was pulling her hair back and rubbing the tips of it with her fingers. He was on the other side of the holographic projector. Slowly, he inched his way stealthily next to her and nudged her on the shoulders. Irritated, she turned and looked up at him in annoyance. As the projector displayed Amalgamation destroying a statue in a local city in Florida, the two of them whispered at each other.

Are you two not up for this? Alpha asked, his voice popping into their heads. They both looked over at him with disapproval, and he returned by glaring back through the ambience of the room. The three turned their attention back to Leopoldo.

"Looks like you ain't getting' any sleep, Darren," said Leopoldo.

"Darren, Sara, Alpha, Gemini, we're going on a trip," said Arcman. "The rest of the team's on standby. Dismissed."

The five members gathered around the ninja-suited hero and were enveloped in a soft glow of orange. Emma got up from her seat and walked up next to Willie, who was shifting uncomfortably, waiting for the rest of the team to be dismissed. They headed down to the active monitor room while the remainder of the main team departed for their bedrooms.

"What's wrong with her?" asked Emma.

"She wants me to take the next trainee," Willie answered bluntly. The elevator hummed and the doors opened for them as they exited into the monitor floor. He hesitated and continued, "The Beta Team is going to replace the entire system that we have here now. If Alpha can make ends meet, then we'll have enough funding for them. That's what we're hoping for. But these superheroes aren't used to fighting day in and day out for the greater cause. That's why we train them. But to work with an entire team. Even I don't think I would be able to do that."

The active team arrived in a wave of energy in the middle of a construction site. The city that surrounded them was overly warm and dry for the season. The midnight air was thin but breathable, and it added to the mood of the chase that was presented before the heroes. Arcman dispersed the group to search for their enemy. Their comms would relay any necessary information from the tower as well as each other. In teams of two, they headed out towards the public plaza that Amalgamation was at, and they separated to surround her. Alpha took the opportunity to run with Amazon and trailed after her before anybody else could seize the chance.

Is there something you would like to say to me? asked Alpha.

Yeah, get out of my head, Amazon thought. She quickened up her pace but was followed immediately by Alpha, who was running in determination to keep up with her.

"You're never actually going to talk to me are you?" pressed Alpha.

"Nope," Amazon answered simply.

"Regardless of how you may have delineated me in the past, I believe it's more important that we work as a tight knit team to combat our enemies. If only for the both of us to put aside our differences–"

"Shut up, Alpha," snapped Amazon. "You sound like Zadkiel on steroids."

He didn't. "First it was Zaethis, then me, then Darren. You do enjoy suffering so, don't you."

She ignored him but knew in mind and body that it was completely true. All the heavy emotions pent up in her were an indirect result of her familial attachments to those close to her. These strengthened feelings couldn't be forcibly swallowed though. They were an intrinsic part of both her soul and her relationships. Her deceased husband had been the replacement family for her when she left her dear tribe in the wilderness, and the solo act that became the love of her life. His sacrifice for the human race was his life. To bring back such an intense, vivid memory in flesh, it had been an overwhelming and sudden pain for Sara. She would wake up and see the face of her husband, scarred. She knew that it wasn't him, yet would still have memories of him, even after two years. Every day they would flash from Alpha's face. The only solace she had to quell her tears was her son, whom she had almost lost. Now reunited, she had vowed to create a durable and sturdy relationship with him.

Still, the times were difficult on her, and the reason were the fights. She had dealt with her internal struggles in the past, but now she was fighting all around her not to save just humanity, but to protect even those that she had been given the task of teaching. She enjoyed to a great extent the time she had to give to the Hart brothers in order to inundate them with knowledge. Yet the true goal was to give them the will to work the job as a superhero. The burden she recognized was in giving another person the task of being a guardian angel. And she was one on her own to protect them while still struggling internally to manage her own problems.

The duo arrived at the top of a hill that looked down over a small market square, still brightly lit and full of life in what should have been the dead of night. People were buzzing over a local band's performance. They were singing a cover, "Payphone" by Maroon 5 and they weren't doing a bad job. The crowd was completely oblivious that they were surrounded by superheroes that were ready to attack. Amalgamation could be easily spotted in the crowd. She had always been a lean woman, and being put away in a dank cell without five star foods not only infuriated but also thinned her out until she was skin and bones. She tried to conceal it with an overcoat, but it only made her stand out even more as the locals wore loose clothing to compensate for the warm draft running through the coast.

"Now," buzzed Arcman. The active team had already been in place and were waiting. With the one word, they sprang into action. The Gemini brothers were the first out of the scene. They both shot elements from themselves and propelled themselves into the open night air, crashing down into the musical performers and their stage. Their arrival caused an uproar through the crowd, which ran amok. They were at an outdoor mall that was circularity shaped with only one exit. All the shoppers flooded towards the funnel that would lead to their escape. The twins attempted to calm the civilians down in vain. Watching from afar, Amazon buried her face in embarrassment.

The rest of the team jumped into action. Anomaly waved his hands in front of him and sent the team falling slowly into the center of the plaza, where Amalgamation tore off her overcoat to reveal her sleek black suit. She immediately melded into the ground and then erupted from the rough pavement. Earth trailed behind her as she jetted in a linear trajectory for the twin heroes. They responded by blasting their respective elements at her, which were quickly consumed by the innate force of her abilities. As she was about to make contact, a flash of white raced across her and the twins vanished from her line of sight. She guided herself back underground and emerged from a street lamp, her body mixed with steel. Two spikes protruded from both her arms and the structure behind her. The emergence of the metallic spikes caused the streetlight to collapse. Electricity crackled in the air and suddenly Amalgamation was in the shadows.

Before long, Amazon was already spinning with her blades outstretched. Her twister made contact with its victim, who combatted each hit with precision and speed. Alpha took the opportunity to go forward and shot several psychic waves through the heated battle. Arcman raced back in after moving the twins to the side. He followed in suit with Amazon and began spinning like a top. The psychic blasts hit their target. Amalgamation could no longer sustain herself as she grasped her head in pain. Every slice cut at her exterior and every hit pummeled dents into her metal body. She surrendered to the pain and let the metals flow from her body right before she sunk into the ground, mixing with it.

"Hot, light up the ground!" yelled Arcman. From the side, Gemini Hot snickered at his brother, unable to be useful. He pound his fists together and then lit up two infernos that spiraled into the plaza below, casting ablaze the ground. The continuing heat finally hit its mark, sending Amalgamation spouting out of the ground. Midair, a stream of ice collected in a bridge, catching her.

"Gotcha!" Cold cried out in triumph. Arcman flew over to her and grabbed her arms, allowing Cold to create handcuffs of ice. She was left dangling midair above her destruction. The plaza now seemed like a dilapidated construction site.

"Want to tell us what you're doing here?" asked Arcman, hovering in front of her. She turned her bony face up, lineated clearly from having lost so much weight. She spat at his face and laughed cruelly. "You're not getting anything out of me, you filthy mutt."

"No, how about me?" snarled Alpha, walking across the ice. He sat down cross-legged on the bridge and placed his hands around Amalgamation, struggling to escape. His eyes lit up blue as they both entered a trance. They sat for a few minutes, both paralyzed, one struggling against power, while one pressed with extreme force. The rest of the team lowered them down to the ground, careful to keep Amalgamation elevated enough to prevent her from utilizing her powers. When he finished interrogating her, Alpha's eyes lost their effulgence and he rolled off the ice, falling to the ground, caught just in time by Arcman.

"What happened?" asked Arcman.

"She's…she blocked me," wheezed Alpha. "I don't know how, but I can't get anything off her."

"Doesn't matter, we can try again later," Arcman growled at Amalgamation. "Cold, ice her up. We can't take any chances with her until she gets a suppressor collar. Anomaly, I think it's time that you take us back home."