Tommy Preston’s mind was roaring as his brain desperately attempted to process the input his bloodshot eyes were delivering.
The tendons in his neck were strained to their limits as he pushed against the telekinetic hold William Nemesis continued to exert against him. He had been pinned to one of the Empire Diner’s aged, cracked walls, one without a direct line of sight to the counter and kitchen where all the action had shifted to. What began as a misunderstanding between two superpowered warriors had become a shocking revelation for one of them, as the real reason the source of Golden Lad’s annoyance and rage had come to this world stood revealed.
As for Nemesis, he was far too preoccupied with backing in his own glory to pay the least bit of attention to the golden age mystery man who was screaming for his blood only moments before.
“I knew you couldn’t resist,” the words escaped his lips through a grin that would have made that cat from Wonderland positively Hulk-like with envy. “All I had to do was get Golden Boy here angry enough to speak Their name for the first time in years and I knew you’d be like flies on the foulest waste ever defecated. What is it with your kind anyway? Why does hearing anyone speak The Dark’s name compel you to break character every… single… time?”
“DON’T YOU DARE!” the waitress formerly known as Flo screamed/spit the warning
(which was far, far too late)
with righteous venom. “YOUR PUTRID LIPS AREN’T FIT TO UTTER THEIR DIVINE DESGINATION!” Gone was her shabby uniform, replaced with an airtight, leather catsuit. Of course, the catsuit wouldn’t have drawn your attention. No, all you would have been drawn to was the rippling, coal-black membrane that had replaced her aged features. It pulsated across her deep-set eyes and full lips. Even her once-lifeless hair pulsated.
As the kids say, it was creepy AF.
Having seen sights even more ghoulish in his lifetime, Nemesis wasn’t thrown by Flo’s true form. And so, his snappy comeback was immediate.
“The Dark! The Dark! The Dark! And oh yeah… The Dark! How do you like them apples, you decrepit, soulless thrall?”
Flo wailed like an animal with a limb caught in a trap that was slowly cutting into its flesh. It was quite unnerving, truth be told.
“ENOUGH! Our calling has been disrupted by this… inconsequential… whelp,” the cosmic slave in black leather – with a visage to match – masquerading as a diner manager the residents of this New York knew as Melvin
(think about it)
shouted. He struggled to even indirectly address Nemesis, so great was his revulsion for the dimension-hopping hero. But he carried on, nevertheless. “Now he must be seized, and his extraordinary capacity merged with that of the others for harvesting.”
The pronouncement was matter-of-fact and direct. Nemesis was nothing more than a fly in their ointment
(but with any luck, he was one that would prove to be useful to their agenda)
one that Flo and Melvin were now dead set on removing – with extreme prejudice.
Their bubbling facial disguises appeared even more grotesque as they smirked while simultaneously leaping over the restaurant’s counter and its hastily abandoned meals, landing six feet away from their prey.
“Nimble little minxes, aren’t you?” was Nemesis’ unimpressed reaction as his new friends began to flank him.
“LET ME GO, MAN!” Tommy Preston pleaded from his perch. “ONLY I REALLY UNDERSTAND JUST WHAT YOU’RE DEALING WITH HERE!”
“No offense, Tommy, but even after all these years you still have no idea what the hell’s going on,” was his counter. “But if you stop all the screaming, we can still team up, okay?”
“You’re about to spend an eternity shrieking, stripling. You can leave the man-child where he is… he serves a greater purpose,” was Melvin’s edict.
Fortunately, Nemesis was fully prepared for that statement. “Not anymore, you indentured servant. In fact, this little lunchtime skirmish is the swan song for all of you.”
And with that prediction, Golden Lad found himself extricated from his parapsychological bondage and free to indulge his inconceivable fury.
Superhuman warfare on an unbelievable scale. Casualties in the millions. The corruption of trusted allies, The defilement and murder of his beloved Golden Girl.
All of these events and more could be traced back to the cryptic figures known as The Dark, beings no one on this world had seen for a decade.
Ten years of waiting to truly avenge his lost love. The memory of each of those individual days burned in what remained of Tommy Preston’s soul.
Now, finally, he was in a position to strike back at these demons through their supernatural vassals – and he wasn’t about to waste it.
Ignoring his convenient partner’s plea, Preston howled an incoherent battle cry as he flew at Faux Flo
(I couldn’t resist)
with a bloodlust that had been percolating for 3,652 days. His psyche was a frenzied maelstrom, but a single overwhelming thought penetrated that storm for a nanosecond, setting Tommy on a direct path there would be no turning back from.
He ensnared his adversary in an aerial bearhug. Her onyx covered feet left the linoleum floor as the Lad whisked her out of the Empire Diner and outside into the skies of this variant Big Apple.
“Looks like you’ve got an opening for a server, Mel,” Nemesis remarked as he wiped away a stream of blood from his nose and primed himself for what was sure to be one helluva onslaught.