The world learns quickly that something big just happened. Even if they don’t live in one of the 25 major cities hit, people learn about the attack of the Empire of Shadows within minutes.

The words of the Empress are endlessly repeated, together with the same message over and over: reports of massive explosions, hundreds if not thousands of people killed or injured, pure chaos.

Kari Zel is the only one present in all the cities under siege, all at once. As a native Myridian, the purple-haired girl has hundreds of duplicates living everywhere. And she’s on the first line of defense, ready to fight in her Legion costume.

“They went straight to the civilian targets. This is a terrorist attack” Kari understands while punching a Centurion in Buenos Aires.

“These things aren’t humans. They’re genetic constructs” another Kari realizes when breaking her opponent’s arm in Madrid.

“At least they can’t duplicate weapons” thinks yet another Kari, disarming a Centurion in London.

Kari’s Legion put up a good fight, but the Centurions don’t just fight: they explode just by thinking about it. And even as a Myridian, Kari can’t help but feel outnumbered.

 

The original Kari is still in New York, waking up with the sound of a sword deflecting bullets.

She takes a couple of seconds to get her bearings. Torn is in front of her, protecting her from the a Centurion assault; at the same time, two of her own duplicates are carrying her to safety.

-What happened? – she asks, feeling a sharp pain in her chest. Probably a broken rib.

-You fainted. SMALL EQUALIZER!!! – Torn suddenly shouts; each and every gun is ripped to shreds by a barrage of sharp energy daggers.

-I don’t faint!!! Someone blew up in my face!!!

-Same thing. Now what?

The Centurions can’t duplicate weapons, but they’re far from disarmed. One after another, they grow new material from their arms, forging a complete sword in a matter of seconds.

-What else? We fight – the original Kari answers, creating a dozen duplicates with just a thought.

When they appear, there’s an energy sword for each of them. Torn gets ready as well: not only he’s holding a sword in each hand, but four others float around him.

-Try to keep up – he boasts, killing six Centurions with the first hit.

 

Plasma reactor plant construction site, Ukraine

After crashing through a couple walls, Vesta shakes her head to clear the rubble from her hair.

The thing that punched her takes down the rest of the wall with his bare hands, and it’s clearly far from human: he looks like a very muscular man with grey skin, and he doesn’t have a mouth.

-I don’t want to fight you – Vesta says gently.

The man answers by hitting Vesta again; despite her rolling with the punch, the man proves to be much stronger than she thought, throwing her completely out of the plant.

She doesn’t land in Russia just because she can fly and is able to stop in mid-air.

“Okay. That’s definitely not a human punch” she thinks, massaging her chin: she actually felt it.

She flies back inside, hoping to catch the man by surprise; instead she’s hit on the head by a steel beam that he’s casually using as an oversized baseball bat.

-Stop it – Vesta says, right before another punch. This time she’s ready, and she grabs his wrist.

No matter how much the man struggles, he can’t get free.

-Give it up, you can’t hurt me. Who sent you?

The man with no mouth doesn’t answer. Instead he punches the beam that supports the upper floor.

-What are you doing!? You’ll bring down the entire-

Vesta doesn’t get to finish the sentence: the plant is collapsing.

 

Washington, D.C.

The city is clearly the main target: hundreds of Centurions are converging towards the Capitol.

They seem to come from all directions, engaging both the police and the military; with the Centurions being able to take an insane amount of damage and still function perfectly, pretty soon it starts to look like a losing battle.

Quantum retakes human form in a safe spot, catching his breath: continuously transforming from one energy kind to another is really taking its toll.

-Excuse me, sir? General Anderson would like to speak with you – a soldier tells him, pointing at the Humvee that just arrived.

Two people step out of it: a stout white man in his early sixties with very few hair left, and a slim black woman in some kind of SWAT uniform, her face completely covered by a mask.

-Care to tell me what’s going on, son? – the General asks.

-These things are like the Many: you shoot one and it just creates a copy of itself. There seems to be a limit to how many times it can replicate, and they’ve run out of bullets pretty fast, but these guys are tough. And they can explode any time they want, so it’s dangerous to get too close.

-Where are they coming from?

-I don’t know. They’re receiving some kind of radio signal but I can’t trace its origin.

-Have you tried shutting it down? Create some kind of interference? – the woman asks.

-Yeah, but as soon as I turn into something else, the signal comes back. And if you haven’t noticed, I’m pretty busy fighting a whole army.

-Good thing you have backup now. This is Blue Star – the General introduces the woman; only now Quantum notices the blue star on her uniform.

-The army has its own superhero now? Don’t you guys know that never works!?

“Max, come in, this is Null” someone says in his mind.

-Nori, is that you? – Quantum says out loud, forgetting that only he can hear the Neural Transmitter.

-Null, there’s a barrier outside, can you get us in? – Blue Star intervenes.

-Wait, you can hear what she says!? – Quantum comments.

“Who is this? How are you on this channel!?” – Null adds.

-You’re not the only one who can hear and generate radio waves – Blue Star answers, smiling under the mask.

“Stay there, I’m sending help. Null, signing off” – Noriko concludes.

-What did she say? – General Anderson asks, completely cut off from the Neural Transmitter.

-Sir, I think Null is – Blue Star starts to answer, interrupted by the roaring sound of a revved up engine. The Phoenix NX-1 approaches rapidly, expertly maneuvering through the streets until the high tech bike comes to a screeching halt a few inches before hitting Quantum.

-Oh yeah! This thing’s wicked cool!!! – Quantum exclaims, wasting no time at all before jumping on the bike. Blue Star is a little less thrilled.

-How is a bike supposed to help us? – she wonders.

-Vanguard presence detected. Battle mode authorized – the bike says.

Two secret panels on its sides retract, releasing two oversized Genius Guns.

-Oh. That’s how.

 

Cheyenne Mountain nuclear bunker

What looks like Major Juliana Vazquez approaches an elevator closely guarded by two armed soldiers. They’ve known her for months, and can’t possibly know that isn’t really the Major but just her body controlled by Beautiful Cancer.

-Hey guys. The General was really in a hurry to get outside, wasn’t he?

-I’m sorry Major, you’re not supposed to be in this room without authorization.

-Yes, we’re all sorry about something, aren’t we? I’m sorry I don’t really like to possess guys.

Major Juliana Vazquez opens her mouth, spewing a dark cloud that quickly envelops the soldier’s body. The second soldier shoots her in the leg, but is immediately shot in the head by his comrade.

-What a mess. I love it – the soldier comments, shooting himself and spraying his brains all over the elevator door. The dark cloud leaves his body and crawls inside Major Vazquez again.

She stands up despite the injury, spilling blood all over the floor. Anywhere else all this gunfire would’ve attracted a lot of attention…but there’s a Sound Nullifier™ installed on every corner.

-I really am your biggest fan, Noriko Null. Now…Project Silver, here I come – Beautiful Cancer comments, stealing a badge from a corpse and stepping into the elevator.

 

Inside the Capitol

A Centurion restrains Noriko, while their field leader approaches her.

-One of my boys picked up radio interference. You’re not trying to contact anyone, aren’t you? – he asks, mussing her hair as if she were a child. Noriko bites his hand as hard as she can.

-You fu##in’ bi##h!!! – he exclaims; she managed to draw some blood. As soon as he realizes it, he reacts by hitting her on the face with the butt of his gun.

-Hey! Leave her alone! – Todd protests. Surprisingly, Senator Keen also has something to say:

-What a soldier. Hitting a girl like that, you must be really proud.

-Shut up, old man, the camera’s off. You’re not gaining any votes right now. As for you – the leader adds, hitting Noriko again and pining her against the wall, right next to the Senator.

-The Empress wants you alive, so I won’t kill you. But another smart move like that and you’ll be living without a limb or two, are we clear!?

Noriko’s only answer is a glow in her silver eyes, before she reluctantly sits down.

-This is all your fault – the Senator says to her, as soon as the leader’s gone.

-Yes. I’m sorry I bruised his gun with my face – Noriko jokes, wiping the blood off her nose.

-You can’t be serious, Senator – Todd objects.

-These terrorists are using her technology, aren’t they?

-I don’t even know who they are. They aren’t using anything I invented recently; they must’ve stolen the designs when Null Technologies was controlled by Scion Corporation.

-Yes, during your very convenient absence. Of which we have your word and little else.

-What is your deal, Keen? You can’t possibly believe this crap. Who are you working for?

-The American people.

-Oh, gimme a break.

-Shouldn’t we argue less and think about an escape plan more? – Todd asks.

-Way ahead of you – Noriko smiles, right before something smashes the wall.

 

Quantum and Blue Star arrive riding on the Phonix, which is able to blast through the wall with ease. The bike drives itself right in front of the hostages, and the bullets ricochet against its force field. Meanwhile, now that he’s on the other side of the anti-neutrino field, Quantum is finally able to turn into energy once again.

Blue Star is also doing her part, shooting energy beams from her hands. She’s fighting back to back with Quantum, her heart pounding from the excitement of the battle.

-This is way cooler than I thought!!! – she admits.

-Yeah, it’s pretty awesome, isn’t it?

She wonders if Quantum recognized her. It’s been months since she last saw her brother. She used to think the secret identity was a pretty stupid idea, but he doesn’t seem to have picked up the fact that Kayla Black is right next to him.

 

Plasma reactor plant construction site, Ukraine

Vesta emerges from the rubble without a single scratch. There are alarms and sirens screaming from every side; the police and the army are surrounding the place. Something moves beneath her.

“There may be survivors trapped inside” she thinks, when everything starts shaking.

A grey arm emerges from the ruins: it’s as tall as her. The grey man rises slowly: undamaged, and now as big as a building. And looking angry.

-It’s days like this I wonder why I bothered stepping off Olympus – Vesta complains.

The grey giant answers by stepping on her.



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