Time to unwrap my present.
I called on my gift, let it carry me across the world.
Back in the day this used to make me nervous. When I used my gift to teleport I was trusting it completely. My body was gone. If something messed up I’d die in an instant. I was flinging my soul across a big empty space, trusting that my body would be waiting for me.
Those doubts were long gone. I’d lost count of how many times I had transported myself. If something bad was going to happen to me because of constantly making my body over then it would just have to happen.
I popped into the sky over Redo, and instantly started falling.
I always went for a random, almost anonymous patch of sky whenever I warped myself to somewhere Snitcher was watching. Too easy to warp into something if I did it on the ground. But up in the air I could see everything that was close by, make sure that nothing would get in my way.
Now that I was here, of course, I didn’t need to see.
My secret gift, the one that I’ve never told the world about, let me know everything that was going on around me for miles. It wasn’t sight. It didn’t get blocked by distance or things. It wasn’t smell or sound, which gave delayed information. It was total knowledge. I knew instantly, constantly, what was where and what that meant.
The city was on fire, and the fire was one of my new Fist. His fires were just a little different from the real kind. There was a bit of a something to them, a sort of *crook* where his soul was caught on them. I couldn’t tell you the science name for it but my gift let me know what it was and where it was.
Dale, the cute one, was being held up by Thor. Dale was most of the reason I’d made this Fist. People didn’t lift like that anymore, and I’d kind of missed the type. Big dumb guys with big muscles were mostly extinct.
Dale’s body was dead, but the hooks for his soul were still in use. I’d done the reading on him, and he would come back if his body hit the ground.
Haunter and Preventer were climbing up out of a pit, using Preventer’s gifts to cut wedges away. I had no idea how they’d gotten buried so deep. Fisher was down there too, sobbing over her wound. She was healing, but it wouldn’t finish up in time for this fight.
Thor had about 30 Ultras with him, so Fourth Fist had clearly been busy.
I had actually regretted giving them this job a bit after they left. They were just going to die and I’d have to go through the whole thing again. Twenty Ultras each was way more than they could take care of, especially since if they lost one we couldn’t do the Link.
I’d asked Snitcher to ring me when the fighting broke out, but I’d been busy talking with Subtracter for the first part of it. When he finally got up the nerve to interrupt us I warped straight over.
I traveled again, no fear this time. My sense told me where to put myself so that nothing was already there. I detonated my old form, shaking the sky with a big loud boom to let everyone know that I was on the scene.
I put myself right in front of Thor, about ten feet away.
When people see me come for them, they do a lot of things. Many of them have some kind of a plan for it, some sort of “this is what I’ll do if Prevailer appears in front of me” that they’ve talked themselves through a bunch. But I generally group them into fight, run and talk.
Thor was a talker.
“False God!” he boomed out, waving Dale at me.
I just stood there a second. None of his followers shot at me, which was a bit weird. A few of them had what felt kind of like zapping powers, but none of them made any motion to attack. They mostly just kind of twitched. One of them started pissing herself.
“You have made a dreadful mistake!”
Behind the tough talk I could feel his heart beat speeding up. He started to use his gift on a ring that he wore, making it denser and denser even as he worked it loose. It would have been impossible to see because he was holding on Indulger in a way that blocked that hand from my view.
“You are Thor, right?” I asked.
I didn’t have to raise my voice all that much. Behind me Condemner was pulling in all of the fire and building a human body again, and the Pantheon goons behind Thor had gone frozen. Freezing up was a fourth common reaction to me warping in, actually. Lots of people froze up.
He dropped Indulger, took up a fighting stance. That involved pulling out a baseball in one hand, while the other concealed the ring he’d slipped off. By this time the ring was at about the limit of what he could hold in his hand without making it obvious. He’d throw it soon.
“That’s right, abomination! Thor is the man who will finally kill you.”
11 of his Ultras started to back off, heading away. From how they were acting they were a blend of people who just didn’t want to die, and those who he’d told to get away if I ever came after them. I couldn’t tell what people were thinking, but I had a lot of practice guessing it from how their hearts and brains worked.
I transported myself again, warping in front of the lead runner. I let my old body pop without much of a bang. Thor wouldn’t get off that easy.
The woman I had landed in front of had Ultra strength and Ultra toughness. She threw a haymaker the instant that I appeared before her, on reflex. I could tell that it wouldn’t kill me much so I just punched back and let her connect.
Her punch knocked my head back, made it ring. She’d been strong enough to harm me, maybe kill me in time. She hit first, and it took most of the speed out of my swing, but I still connected, punching through her chest.
The women behind her split again, a few springing at me and the rest ping ponging off in a different direction. I warped to block.
This time I let the body that I traveled out of blow up, taking out the ones that had been converging on where I killed the lead runner. I tuned the strength of the blast to go mostly up, taking out the Ultras without hurting those beyond it.
That was all that the rest of them could take. Everyone started to scatter, running every which way.
It wasn’t exactly that they were out of their minds with fear. I mean, I didn’t think it was. But I’d seen this before. There was a huge difference between ‘deciding’ not to run, and ‘not being able to run’, and crossing over that line seemed to freak people out.
Something about demonstrating that nobody was getting away made everyone want to try. I’d seen it before. It was a pain.
I bounced from place to place, catching Ultras as they shot down alleys, through walls, or in one case took to the air. I sensed everything for miles, so they weren’t going to get away. I warped in front of each of them, just a little too near to avoid, and threw a simple punch.
I knew how fast each one could move, how quick they could react to me appearing. I could tell that from my sense. I made sure that none of the runners got a good fight. Just popped in and hit them somewhere, splattered them off walls and stuff. It took a few minutes but I cleaned them all up.
Thor hadn’t moved. He was rooted, right where I left him. I warped back in front of him.
I was actually pretty surprised that he hadn’t flown off. He must have known it wouldn’t do him any good, of course, but it still must have been hard to stand here and listen to his followers get pasted. Another *boom* every few seconds, another rumble, and another one of his hangers on was gone forever. And he’d stood still.
He had to. Moving around would have made it obvious how much weight he was carrying in his off hand. He had stood there, endured every second of listening to me killing all his girls, just so that he could try his best to take me out. It was a cool moment. I appreciated that kind of thing.
He asked it like his heart wasn’t even trying to break out of his chest. There were tears trying to get into his eyes, but he hadn’t noticed yet. His arm was trembling a bit from holding up the building weighted ring, but he’d tied it into a sort of shudder motion, which was mostly about drawing attention to his other hand, where he had the baseball ready to throw.
He hadn’t even used his power on the baseball. The balls on this guy were amazing.
“Yeah, I guess. Mostly. Still gotta do you, right?”
I kept my delivery short and sweet. Little sentences, matter of fact. I wasn’t in a fighting stance, just kind of standing there. The whole point was to look like I was looking like I wasn’t paying attention, so that he would think that I was paying attention, so that he’d think that he was tricking me. It was complicated, but tricking people who thought that they are tricking me was one of my favorite things.
My Fist still hadn’t rolled up on this area. They were hunkered down a little ways away, having an argument about whether or not they should come and help me. I could tell from their hearts and stuff that they weren’t going to, and I was ok with that. Thor was a treat that I’d been saving.
“Gotta. Strange thing for someone who thinks that they rule the world to say.”
That was a pretty good point.
“All right, wanna then. I’m kind of allergic to bitches calling themselves gods’ names. God isn’t real, and people who think that he is a thing kind of piss me off.”
“Oh, we are very real! Soon, to your eternal regret, you will discover just how real the Pantheon is.”
‘To your eternal regret’, who talks like that? This guy must have rehearsed this speech in front of a mirror or something. I was eating it up.
“Come off it, man. You know you aren’t going to beat me. Why does everyone lie to themselves before they fight me?”
I was actually curious, but I doubted that he knew either. It probably helped people be brave if they thought that they might win.
“The only one lying will be you!” he yelled, and then threw the baseball. Puns and murder. I loved it.
He whipped it at me, cross body like a pitcher. I obligingly teleported out of the way, reappearing to his right, ‘just’ in the middle of his field of view.
It was super tempting to just stand there and catch the ball, maybe toss it back to him, but I had a rule that I never acted in a way that might reveal my sensing power. I didn’t know of any way around it, but that didn’t mean that there wasn’t one. If the people who came to kill me knew just what they were up against they’d either be more likely to succeed or stop trying, and either one would annoy me.
He turned and cursed as he air punched at me. It was supposed to look like a gesture of frustration. Sort of spazzy, but still the kind of thing that an Ultra who was used to getting his own way might do after he got thwarted. But in the middle of the punch he opened his hand and let the ring go.
I felt the first stirrings of disappointment as I realized that he had missed. Such an anticlimax. I didn’t react as the ring flew by me, acted like I hadn’t even seen it.
If I thought that he’d been excited before it was nothing to this. As the ring had flown at me he’d been intensely focused, totally concentrated, every nerve dragging at every available bit of his body. As he’d realized that it wouldn’t hit me his face had started to bend into a ferocious grimace.
I wasn’t far into my first step, he was just realizing that the throw he’d bet his life on had been wide, when the ring touched stone behind me and a whole building came down. Shrapnel whistled out as the old apartment collapsed about the walls that had been dragged and smashed in by the Ultra dense ring. I teleported just before it reached me.
This time I just warped to right behind Thor.
He was fast, flying forward for a microsecond and turning at the waist. He moved faster than I could, that’s for sure. Probably Ultra speed one. Whatever it was let him get out of my grasp for a second.
He regained his footing, reached down and grabbed for rocks, anything. He wanted something else to make dense and throw. That was a pretty boring way to fight, and I was about to end things, when I felt the first change ripple through the stone.
It came from where Dale was laying. He was conscious again, and reaching out with his power. I checked my attack, took a step back.
“Bitch!” screamed Thor, as he charged up some stones he’d scooped up. Ultra dudes always called me that, without fail. Ladies used a lot of different insults, but the fellows usually went straight to ‘Bitch”, right before the end. I wondered why that was.
“Hey, why do you think that-“ I started to ask, but cut off as Dale struck.
The stones beneath Thor’s feat rose up and locked them into the ground, fastening them there with a firm grasp. His gaze shot over to where Dale was just rising from the earth where he’d been dropped.
I felt Thor finally start to panic. He hurled both stones, straight for Dale.
Even as they struck home, hammering Dale down into the ground that was sustaining him, I closed on Thor, grabbing him by his upper body.
“Good try, man.” I told him, gripping him firmly.
He looked away from Dale then, focusing his full attention on me. Strangely enough, right on the edge of death, his body seemed to be trying to return him to chill. His heart slowed, moving towards its resting rhythm. His breathing slowed as well.
“Prevailer, one day we will get you,” he said. Those seemed like pretty cool last words.
I tore him into two halves. I didn’t stretch it out, just pulled him apart. No need for torture. He’d fought his hardest. Thor had done his part.
Now to see whether my new Fist had done theirs.