Heroes Legion: Clash of the Titans: Part Two
Chapter 3: The First Round Ends
Shadow Knight and Roulette appeared on the battle podium, both were surprised to see that they were fighting one another.
Well…Roulette was more annoyed than surprised.
"Oh man…" he moaned in dismay, "I might as well forfeit. No way I can take you on mon ami! My cards are no match for your powers."
"Now where is the fun in that?" Shadow Knight smirked, "Come on Roulette, I thought you liked games."
"Fighting you is hardly a game" Roulette, "A game implies that both players have a fair chance of winning. This contest here between us is in your favor."
"Then let's make it fair" Shadow Knight said to his teammate, tossing him one of his loaded shadow guns.
Roulette caught it and looked up at Shadow Knight in question, what was he up to?
Shadow Knight then focused on his powers and created eight shadow clones of himself before turning into living shadow form and 'melting' into the shimmering shadowy crowd behind him.
"This is how the game works Roullete…" Shadow Knight's shadow clones said in unison, "all of us share the weakness of being affected by energy, but only ONE of us will revert to flesh and blood form when being struck. That gun is charged and loaded with six miasmic energy bullets. So you have six chances to figure out which one is the real me. If you have not found me by the time you fire the last bullet. Well, …you get the idea."
"A shell game is it?" Roulette asked, then he flashed an eager smile "now that sounds like something fun and up my alley. But do you suppose that the Grandmaster would go for it?"
As if on cue, The Grandmaster hologram appeared before the two heroes.
"I never said that this tournament was decided by just fists" The Grandmaster confirmed, "Combatants can fight their opponents any way they want providing they defeat their opponent."
"Well in that case…" Roulette said in passing, waving the shadow gun at the clones before aiming at one of the shadow Knight shadow clones "eni, meeni, mini, mo!"
The shadow clone dissipated instead of returning to flesh and blood form.
"That's one, five more chances left…" the shadow clones said in unison.
"Hmmm…." Roulette wondered, "five chances left, and only seven left, one of them is the real Shadow Knight. Just which one?"
He thought about Shadow Knight's shadow clone ability.
Even though the clones looked similar to the hero's living shadow form, there had to be something, some little clue that would give them and the real Shadow Knight away to someone who wasn't fighting him in combat who would notice if given enough time he wagered.
He thought he saw one of the clones get nervous and he shot that clone….but it dissipated into energy.
He just blew one of his chances on a shadow clone, now he had four chances left.
"Nice try…" one Shadow Knight shadow clone said to him.
Realizing this Shadow Knight shadow clone had spoken to him instead of speaking the hive mind speech that the rest of them had been spouting a moment ago, Roulette figured that this was the real Shadow Knight and shot at that clone.
It dissipated as well, it had been a fake as well.
Shadow Knight must have spoken THROUGH that shadow clone to make him waste a bullet.
Devious, but even Roullette had to admit it was a good strategy.
Getting the opponent to waste their shots through deception, he was good at deception that was for sure.
With only three bullets left, Roullette took his time to try and choose the right Shadow Knight shadow clone.
There were only five clones left, Roullette eyed each one of them.
One of them seemed to be distracted, but the one next to him seemed to be focused.
He wondered about Shadow Knight's powers and figured he would probably have to put in a lot of concentration to maintain such an ability, like flexing a muscle.
Figuring that the focused Shadow Knight shadow clone was the real McCoy, he fired at it, striking it in the chest.
It dissipated to Roulette's disbelief.
He had been so certain that it was the focused looking Shadow Knight shadow clone.
Now he had two shots left and four shadow Knight shadow clones left to choose from.
The crowd of Xeno watched in anticipation, as even THEY were confused as to which one was the real Shadow Knight.
The remaining shadow Knight shadow clones were showing characteristics of boredom, distractedness, smugness, and annoyance.
Figuring that at this point Shadow Knight probably was certain of his victory, and also annoyed at the whole event taking this long, Roullette took his last two chances and shot the two Shadow Knight clones who looked smug and annoyed.
They two disappeared.
Realizing he had lost the game, Roullette braced himself…as the distracted looking Shadow Knight clone suddenly got its head out of the clouds, became flesh and blood, and in a swift motion equal to the gunslingers of the wild west…drew his loaded shadow gun and fired.
Roulette felt something slam into his chest, knocking the wind out of him as well as knocking him off his feet.
By the time he had realized what had happened, he found himself lying on the floor, encased in that familiar glowing purple resin Shadow Knight called his miasmic bind.
"Nicely played Knight," Roullette said to his teammate, acknowledging that he played the game well and fair before he vanished from the platform in a flash of light.
"Shadow Knight wins!" The Grandmaster's voice declared.
The crowd cheered, having been amazed and entertained by the strange match between the two metahuman heroes.
Shadow Knight simply tipped his hat to the crowd, before he vanished in a flash of blue light.
"Next match…" The Grandmaster declared, "M-Leader vs Brawl!"
"Finally!" Silicon exclaimed in relief in the Heroes Legion exhibition box upon hearing that, "some good news."
As before, the combatants appeared in the fighting ring via the teleportation flashes.
M-Leader saw that his opponent was the super mercenary known as Brawl, and grinned.
He had heard his deranged fathers boast not long ago that so far the Heroes Legion were losing and his side was winning by way of the Heroes Legion squaring off against each other, thinning out their ranks instead of his own on the Villains team.
He was confident that the Dark Elite had this Tournament won already due to this fact.
Now he had a chance to remedy that statement…by taking out one of their strongest and biggest guns.
"Well…" Brawl smirked, the veins in his arms glowing like hot coals "Looks like I get to take on the strongest of the Zeroes Legion… This must be my lucky day!"
"You don't have a hope in hell," M-Leader said to his opponent.
"Oh…" Brawl said smugly, "I think I do, see I learned my lesson from when I tried to kill Meta-Master in Manhattan."
"Meta-Master MUST have brainwashed you like he did Techne and most of his army. Only a fool would willingly rejoin him" M-Leader scoffed at the absurdity of Brawl and Dominatrix both still working for Meta-Master after he had betrayed them both during the Siege of Manhattan months ago.
"Oh, this 'Dark Elite Reborn' stint is only temporary, until my chrome tank top honey and I get off this Island" Brawl said passively to M-Leader, "if helmet head thinks he has any say over me and Dominatrix anymore after what he pulled, he has another thing coming."
"I am his son, and we were both empowered by the full blast of an M-Ray explosion from a ruptured M-Ray crystal" M-Leader pointed out the flaw in Brawl's logic, "You were only empowered by two M-50 crystals. What makes you think you can take me on?"
"I know you're not as strong as him, so you won't be able to stop…" Brawl sneered, putting one of his hands to his back pants pocket to reach for something.
That was when the gong sounded.
"…THIS!" Brawl shouted, and after grabbing what he was reaching for, drawing a throwing knife, he then tossed it right at M-Leader with such strength and ferocity that it streaked across the divide between him and M-Leader as if it had been Velocity who had thrown it.
M-Leader didn't even flinch or move to avoid the attack.
He just focused on his telekinetic powers, and the throwing knife came to a stop…just inches from his right golden eye.
At first glance, this would seem like a stupid and pointless move on Brawl's part, what good was throwing a knife at someone who could stop it with their mind?
As M-Leader and the Xeno crowd spectating in the background soon found out, Brawl had been counting on that.
Because telekinesis or not, M-Leader and Meta-Master both had to focus on what they wanted their powers to do to properly defend themselves or attack their foes with it.
Any deviation or weakened resolve of that focus would cause their powers to lose their grip, and if they were focused on one thing, it left them vulnerable to an attack by anyone with the strength or speed to take advantage of this moment of vulnerability.
Brawl had taken notice of this weakness by silently observing Meta-Master all the times he had flaunted his powers, this was one of the reasons why during the Battle of New York he had charged at Meta-Master like a rampaging rhino.
He had hoped that the bastard had been so distracted with telekinetically directing his army towards killing the Heroes Legion on the GW Bridge that night, that he wouldn't be able to notice him coming for him until Brawl had his hands around his neck!
The plan didn't work, and Brawl had almost drowned in the ocean after Meta-Master tossed him out of the city.
This time it would work, he would kill M-Leader…and then he'd try again on Meta-Master when the opportunity presented itself.
Just as Brawl was about to deliver a killing blow to the distracted M-Leader, he suddenly did something unexpected…M-Leader dodged his deadly fist like it was nothing, and placed his right leg in front of Brawl's left leg.
This plus Brawl's bulk and momentum caused the super mercenary to trip, and roll himself right out of the ring, vanishing in a flash of light soon afterward.
M-Leader had just LITERALLY beaten Brawl without lifting a finger.
"Same old Brawl…" M-Leader said, closing his eyes and shaking his head in dismay, "always thinking charging like a bull is a sure path to victory, or that everything can be solved by a fist."
"M-Leader wins!" The Grandmaster declared.
"That's one father!" M-Leader called telepathically out to the arena, knowing the insane villain that had once been his father could hear, "The first of many, evil may win sometimes…but as Manhattan and this battle proves, it never wins for long."
"We shall see Marcus." M-Leader heard his father's voice call to him in his head before he vanished from the arena ring.
"For the final match of round one of the Battle Island Tournament…" The Grandmaster declared, "Murdoch vs Atlas!"
Murdoch and Atlas both appeared in the combat ring to the sound of a cheering crowd of alien spectators.
"You notice how they cheer every time one of us comes into the arena and wins, whether they are good or evil? Who are these aliens rooting for to win anyway?" Atlas asked his teammate.
"They are neutral" Murdoch explained, "It's not THEIR world's fate that is being fought for. They have no reason to root for just one team. They are just here for the entertainment of watching the strongest heroes and villains on Earth fight to the top of the bracket."
"I remember when RJ was still alive…" Atlas said solemnly, "He used to joke about a time when metahumans would be in a professional sports show: Meta-Brawl! A fighting show and about what kind of crazy things would come from such a sport. He always wanted to make a show no one had ever seen before…He'd be both tickled pink and green with envy by this tournament."
"Indeed, I may not have known him long. But I trust from your words he would have liked to have been here and seen this, still…" Murdoch agreed, and then he got himself ready, transforming from his normal black cat form into his demonic Gaurdemon were-cat form, "I have to wonder, did you and RJ ever dream up a scenario like this?"
"A man of steel vs a demon cat?" Atlas asked in thought, and then he smiled, and got ready to fight "You bet!"
The gong sounded, and the match began.
Atlas came after Murdoch, who dodged his attempts to grab him and put him in a choke lock to retaliate with a powerful punch to the side that to Atlas's surprise knocked the wind out of him.
Murdoch was stronger than he looked.
He slashed at Atlas with his claws, the same claws he had seen him eviscerate his foes with during the Battle of New York.
Sparks flew, but Atlas's diatitanium-Esque skin withstood what would have grievously injured someone without impervious metal skin.
Atlas returned with a punch of his own, it seemed to leave Murdoch surprised but not enough to daze him…in spite of that punch being enough to punch a hole in a wall normally.
Murdoch reached for Atlas, Atlas reached for Murdoch, the both of them ended up trying to push back against the other in a hand lock.
"Looks like we're evenly matched in the strength department," Murdoch said through gritted teeth.
"Yeah, but I used to be the wrestling team before I was taken away by Meta-Master for his army" Atlas countered, "I could do this for hours!"
"Maybe…" Murdoch responded, "But I have one thing you don't have my friend."
"What's that?" Atlas asked.
"ARS ARCANUS IMMOBILUS!" Murdoch declared.
Through his feline humanoid paws, magical energy flowed out from within Murdoch's hands and into Atlas through Atlas's own hands.
Atlas suddenly found he couldn't move anything, not even his eyes.
Murdoch had cast a spell on him, a paralyzing spell.
Letting go of his opponent's hands, Murdoch stood there triumphantly before the frozen Atlas, "I am a magical creature, with the magical knowledge and prowess to complement my natural strength. Don't worry; it won't last long…just long enough for me to do this and win. ARCANUM SHOVIS!"
Murdoch shot out his right claw, and from the center of his paw, a magically summoned blast of concussive force shot out and struck Atlas.
The blast sent Atlas flying backward, where his petrified form rolled across the floor like a rolling stone until he crossed the edge of the arena's fighting ring and vanished in a blue flash of light.
"Murdoch wins!" The Grandmaster declared.
This time, Murdoch didn't vanish.
Instead, a series of flashes erupted all around the triumphant Gaurdemon.
From within these lights emerged the entire Heroes Legion team and the Dark Elite team.
The hologram of the Grandmaster appeared before the two teams again, "Congratulations to those who have won the first round of the Battle Island tournament. We salute you for your victory. To those who have been defeated, we commend you on your bravery and strength. Though there can only be one victor in this contest of power, remember that you are all truly the best superhuman fighters your world can offer. To fight and fail in the arena is an honor, not a punishment."
"Skip it alien" Meta-Master snapped, "let's get on to the next round, I want my prize…that stone you claim is so powerful, and the planet earth!"
"You will have a chance to claim such a prize this afternoon, and so will your opponents," The Grandmaster said, not fazed at all by Meta-Master's rudeness, "for now, all of you, go and rest up in Beach Town. When the horns sound, the tournament will resume."
With a wave of his hand, the teams vanished from the stadium…Sent right back to Beach Town.
The Grandmaster hologram then looked out in the direction of Beach Town, and muttered "So far…so good. They are doing well. But I can't help but wonder…will they be enough…to face what is coming? Things are going to be worse than the first time…a LOT worse."