"It was Captain Light that forced my hand," Regent said, swatting John Q. Public halfway across the room with a casually dismissive gesture. He got back up--John had a knack for rolling with punches, and an absolute refusal to give up--but he was wobbly. A bipedal vulpine creature with red fur loped across the room in a single vicious lunge to take advantage of his momentary weakness.
"Before Captain Light, the heroes were merely...firefighters," he continued. "You ran around, you stopped villains where they arose and made threats of themselves, and you never thought that there might be someone who planned instead of simply rampaging." I raced in and aimed a rapid-fire punch at his mid-section, but my fist skidded off of an invisible energy field and slid off to the side, its momentum harmlessly dissipated.
In my peripheral vision, I saw Saavij backed into a corner by a humanoid robot wielding twin khopeshes. (I played lots of D&D, okay? I can tell you the names of lots of different medieval weapons.) Her long swords clashed in a blur against its wickedly-hooked ones, but reinforcements were already coming to the robot's aid. "But Captain Light...he had a vision. An idea. Under Captain Light, you became a movement. And movements are dangerous things."
"A movement, an idea...these spread from person to person. They unite them under a banner. Inevitably, you would learn of my existence, and you would oppose me. And this I could not bear." Goth Grrl's shadow had already enveloped her, transforming her body into a monstrous creature of living shadow, but she was duking it out with a raven-haired woman with glowing red eyes who was flinging around shadow bolts of her own. And an androgynous woman in a tuxedo who was flinging multi-colored blasts of burning smoke, and an armored man wielding a sword of pure flame...yeah, we were outnumbered pretty badly. At least two to one, now that most of our team was unconscious and suicidal.
"It has been said, of course, that you cannot kill an idea." As he spoke, Regent was punching back at me. I dodged--I was still a lot faster than him--but his misses shattered concrete where they landed. He only had to get lucky once. "The people who say that lack ambition and planning, though. The trick in killing an idea is catching it before it has time to breed."
Shining Dragon Fist's hands glowed bright with her inner qi, but the woman she fought had fists that seemed to absorb that light. The eyes that woman had...I couldn't let myself get distracted, but I'd seen eyes like that before. They were like Zombie Samurai's eyes. Dead eyes. "And so I planned," Regent said, drawing my attention back to the fight. "I knew that I was dealing with heroes, and heroes have weaknesses. Loyalty, integrity, decency...these are levers, for a man who knows how to move them."
Zombie Samurai was advancing on a ten-year old girl, his sword drawn. This would have bothered me a lot more if the little girl hadn't been holding a sophisticated rifle, taking chunks out of his dead flesh with each shot. One of them ricocheted off his steel-reinforced skull with a loud 'clang', and he staggered...but kept going. That was, until a squat, toad-like humanoid of indeterminate gender tackled him into the wall.
"And so I created a threat." Regent's fist whizzed past me, so hard I felt the breeze of its passage. "One that you would have to battle, because it was evil. One that attacked your friends, so that you would have to help them. One that stirred the anger and hatred you try so hard to resist, causing you to react without thinking. 'Mister Meme' was my Trojan Horse, softening you up for the kill."
Gunmetal Grey's steel fists clashed against an axe blade as he dueled a silver statue whose eyes blazed with an inhuman fury. His perpetually-morphing metal skin healed each nick and cut, but I could tell that it happened slower each time. "And now we move into endgame. You were already defeated before I even entered the field of battle, and your every action merely postpones the inevitable. Should you yield and swear fealty, even at this late hour, you will find me merciful...but I cannot allow you to oppose me."
I tried to focus on my own battle, as I kicked and thrust and swung punch after useless, ineffectual punch against the force field, but I couldn't ignore the others. Saavij was now matching her two swords against four enemy blades, desperately whirling them to block the twin daggers of another little girl. This one had a cold, terrifying smile and the gleam of madness in her eyes. John Q. Public had his bat shoved into the jaws of the fox-woman, which left him open to punch after spike-knuckled punch from a cyborg woman with a mohawk. Her fists were coming away bloody now, but he refused to cry out. All around me, everyone was fighting their hardest...and they were losing. We were losing--I caught a glancing blow to my shoulder that spun me around so hard I tumbled to the ground.
"Yield or die," Regent said. He'd never even raised his voice. "You are fighting a general who has won a thousand battles before your grandfathers were born. This moment was destined to happen. I have planned for every eventuality. Your only choice is whether to suffer in futility, or bow to a superior...force...?"
His voice trailed off as he heard the growing hum from the center of the room. The battles slowed, then stopped as we all looked up towards the wind that came from nowhere and went to nowhere. We all watched as the light grew from a glimmer so faint it was almost imaginary to an almost blinding radiance.
And then it faded, leaving a woman floating in the center of the room. Her skin was a rich, royal blue, contrasting vividly with her blonde hair. She wore a dress made out of some kind of slick plastic, and there was some kind of strange device on her wrist. She looked at us with a faintly confused smile on her face.
"Hi," she said. "I'm here to watch the first battle between Captain Light and Regent." She looked around at the semi-conscious heroes, the desperate grimaces of pain, the horde of villains. "Um...am I late?"
TO BE CONTINUED...