The sword sliced the steel like cotton threads and as the last cable snapped, Archangel climbed out of her net. She was still in shock after what she just saw; Michael was a walking weapon and Maze was alive – and still standing next to her. At least that shadow morpher retreated once Michael flew away. She tried to remember every detail about him so she could enlist Net’s help to find him in the JTF criminal database.
“Are you okay, Archangel?” Maze asked like a father to his daughter that scraped her knee. She could not see his face underneath the cloak but his eyes were from a man who sincerely cared about her answer.
She nodded her head. “I’m fine. I can’t believe it,” she said looking at the body parts on the ground. “He killed all these men like nothing and just flew away.”
“Yes, Mr. Larson has some abilities that none of us believed possible, but, we’ve just witnessed them with out own eyes. However, what we do with that information is up to each one of us.”
“Are you saying I shouldn’t tell anyone that he might be the most powerful Enhanced since Atomic Power?”
“No, my dear, I’m not telling you to do anything, our decisions must be our own. I think you will understand that I don’t plan on sticking around to give the JTF my report of the events.”
Archangel looked hard at Maze. He was nothing like she imagined from Orbital Strike’s criticism or Valkyrie’s praise. He was just a man who believed he was right and would not submit to anyone, including the government. She admired that, even if she would thought that path hurt the Enhanced cause more than helped.
“You look just like her, you know that?” Maze said with a cheerful tone.
“Valkyrie. Your aunt was one of the most beautiful women I ever had the pleasure of meeting. She was also a loyal and caring friend. We lost a great hero when she left the business.”
Archangel smiled. Many people had told her that she closely resembled her aunt Amanda but it only strained the relationship with her mother further. When her father suggested she join the JTF, her mother opposed. She just did not understand that her blood demanded it.
“But you are also a lot like your father,” Maze added as he sheathed his sword.
“I’m nothing like Orbital Strike,” she said angrier than she intended.
“Yes, you are,” Maze countered. “He was also an idealist. He thought we could work with the bureaucracy too, but just like you, he was wrong. The police, the courts, the government, have rule after rule on protecting criminals from us, but they leave out the innocent people who are terrorized by these bastards every day. You have no idea what most of these criminals have done and will do, if they are not stopped.”
Archangel put her hands on her hips in defiance. “And you do? Who made you the judge, jury, and executioner?”
Maze exhaled sharply and tapped his head. “Yes, my dear, I do. That is my power. I know the guilty intimately and paid their price.”
Archangel looked down. No one, even The Old Guard, knew much about Maze, but he had told Orbital Strike once that he had a family before his life as a hero, but they were stolen from him. Now, he had no ties, no family connections, for criminals to use against him.
“I’m sorry,” Archangel said. “I know The Old Guard has done more for the people in this country than can ever be repaid. We’re always told that we have rules for this, rules for that, and without them, we are no better than savages.”
“Yet, the very freedoms the mundanes enjoy and deny us came from breaking those rules and casting off their chains. I would say the government hardly fears the people anymore. My goal is to change that.”
“What can I do to help?” Archangel said without no hesitation. She knew her choice put her opposed to the JTF, but Maze and Valkyrie were right, and her dad was wrong. It was time the people found their heroes and voice again. They were the inspirations to next generation and the future only looked bleaker without them.
“You must be strong and patient. There are many dark threads out there intertwined and weaving their own paths. Once they do, the mundanes will need their heroes again if they have any chance of surviving.”
“I won’t let anyone hurt them as long as I breathe,” Archangel said nodding.
“And you must leave, the JTF will be here in a few minutes. They will arrest you with Mr. Larson if they see us together.”
“Wait. What? They are going to arrest Michael?”
“Yes, they know he killed that mundane.”
Archangel looked around, trying to remember which direction Michael flew. “We have to help him, save him! You can get him out of the city before they get here.”
“No, we do not. Your father did not trust me in Detroit and we lost the entire city and our future. I’m asking you to not make the same mistake and to trust me now. Michael must face his future without interference if we are going to save him.”
* * *
On a building overlooking the street, two men in black, one with white hair hanging wildly down, watched Maze and Archangel decide Michael’s future. They turned around briefly as screams from the Southside gang continued to echo between the buildings. The powered humans were hunted down one by one by Michael Larson.
“Do we attack?” Dagger asked.
“No,” Cloak answered as he continued to watch. He was too far to read their minds, but from their body postures, he guessed what was happening – Maze was recruiting for The Old Guard and Archangel just signed up. This was not a good sign, the rivalries of the past were dangerous – it was bad for business and bad for the Guild. “I do not like our odds against him and the girl. She would be difficult to bring down. Do not forget her lineage.”
“I’ve always hated flyers.”
Cloak smiled. “There are other issues, brother. Did you recognize the blade that Maze carries?”
“No,” Dagger said thinking back to the encounter. “but he’s very good with it. I could have killed him if Justice did not steal my other knife.”
“Be thankful you did not try, Maze would have killed you. He has the Nanoblade, specifically designed to eliminate a certain category five hero years ago.”
Dagger nodded his understanding. “Perhaps Metall wants it to tame this science experiment he created.”
“Yes, but he cannot have what we steal first.” Cloak looked up as the sounds of sirens grew louder and more numerous. “Come, brother. We must not be here when the JTF arrives. We will inform the Guild and then decide our course of action. Herr Metall does not act without considering every option. Let him make the next move.”
“As always, I defer to your wisdom, brother.”
“As you should, my friend.” Cloak smiled. If his mental implant worked, the JTF would eliminate Michael Larson for them. Then they would kill Maze and deal with Herr Metall and his mentalist whore. “We have a plane to catch home.”