“The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man.”- Euripides
Both Tommy Preston (Golden Lad) and William Nemesis
(with a last name like “Nemesis” who needs a superhero moniker?)
subscribed to Euripides’ philosophy, each in their own style, of course. Nemesis was one of the very few beings left on his world who actually acknowledged the great powers left around him – and how unimaginably evil they were. And while Golden Lad was always aware of the great powers that resided in his own consciousness, until this fateful day he refused to actually listen to them. Enlightenment had brought a decisive victory against one of the jailers that had kept him in a sort of fugue state as everything he knew was defiled, but there was a helluva Catch-22: the Lad won the battle but was sidelined for whatever remained of the war.
That left Nemesis to tangle with the surviving indentured servant of The Dark, a hostile party with the most chilling, spine-tingling sobriquet imaginable… Melvin.
“I can’t believe you don’t have Alice in this reality but you douchebags still went undercover as restaurant workers named Flo and Mel,” Nemesis proclaimed as he brought the full might of his telekinesis to bear against the aforementioned servant of malevolence.
Against all odds, the mental snare held fast, much to the bewilderment of The Dark’s watchman.
“How… in Their… blessed name… are… you doing this?” Melvin questioned as he strained to wrap his wicked hands around the young hero’s neck in order to squeeze the sentience from this meat sack. (A brain-dead prize was more ideal for The Dark’s purposes.)
“What can I say?” Nemesis declared with all the bravado he could muster. “My people are like a certain television police lieutenant in a rumpled raincoat that you’ve probably never heard of either… bad guys always underestimate us to their peril.”
“We have Columbo on this world, you flea!”
A stupefied William only had one response. “Seriously?”
The comparison of multiversal fictional characters came to a grinding halt as Melvin was shook with a telepathic revelation: His partner, his mate, his crony, had been terminated. A quiver echoed through his soul
(or the reasonable equivalent)
and a thundering wave of fury overtook him. So intimate was the connection between the two entities that Melvin experienced exactly what Flo did when Golden Lad unleashed the full force of his “high voltage vision”
(“x-ray vision” was already taken)
mixed with the collective essence of a thousand martyred Aztecs and reduced her to less than ash in seconds. He could feel Flo struggle to maintain the stability of her demonic protoplasm, only to fail before being able to even send out an arcane SOS across the planes of reality to their masters’ base of operations. They had been blessed with a holy task; one they had carried out smoothly without impediment.
But that had all changed over the course of a single lunchtime rush.
Capturing this rogue hero was no longer Melvin’s primary objective. No, for his part in this atrocity, this would-be conquering hero had to die – slowly and painfully over the course of a millennia.
“¥ØỮ ĐƗĐ ŦĦƗŞ! ŦĦƗŞ ƤŁΔĆ€ ŴΔŞ ØỮŘŞ… ØỮŘŞ ŦØ ØV€ŘŞ€€… ŦĦ€Ň ¥ØỮ ĆΔΜ€ ΔŇĐ ₣ŘΔĆŦỮŘ€Đ ŦĦƗŞ Ƥ€Ř₣€ĆŦ ĆØŇŞŦŘỮĆŦ!” Melvin’s speech was no longer recognizable as human. The facade was gone, leaving only the malignant spirit to avenge its mate. “ƤŘƗΜƗŦƗV€Ş! ŞĦ€ ŴΔŞ Đ€ŞŦŘØ¥€Đ β¥ ŦĦ€ ĐƗŞ€ΔŞ€Đ ƤØŴ€Ř Ø₣ ƤŘƗΜƗŦƗV€Ş. ŦĦƗŞ… ĆΔŇŇØŦ… ŞŦΔŇĐ!” He screeched like a barbarian of a bygone age
(but not one you’d like to go drinking with like Conan)
as the tk mousetrap that had held him shattered sixty seconds later.
Blinding pain spasmed through Nemesis’ brain box. He crumpled to the Empire Diner’s debris covered floor – though only momentarily. His supernatural adversary grabbed him by his gangly neck and flung him through one of the Empire’s other front bay windows. The horde of gawkers had retreated further down the street, trampling one another as Melvin’s howls echoed across this variant Gotham and so there was no one to hear William’s continuing commentary.
“It doesn’t matter the reality, it doesn’t matter the nature of the fight, there’s one Multiversal constant you can rely on,” he continued to no one in particular as he rose to his trembling feet. “A Nemesis is always going to get thrown out of a restaurant… by way of a window.” William examined his shredded leather jacket and t-shirt and couldn’t help but wish he had encountered a mystic capable of putting a protection whammy on clothing like some of his brothers. Though it left him as heartbroken as heartbroken as Hugh Jackman at the Tony Awards, he discarded his mangled Aviator sunglasses before heading back into the fray.
At least, that was the plan.
Melvin booted the diner’s front door off its hinges and bounded at his prey. Nemesis did his best Spectacular Spidey impersonation and leapt over The Dark’s murderous point man.
(Just because you can take a lot of punishment doesn’t mean you have to.)
“I’m not Rocky, Erebus,” Nemesis taunted as he bolted back into the Empire via its now doorless entrance. “My ring’s inside.”
“How do you know that name?” Melvin howled; Nemesis’ jab having struck whatever passed for a nerve in his manufactured body. But the hunter’s game had already retreated, and so in a reversal of the Man in Black and the Gunslinger, the villain followed the hero, desperate to make him suffer before snuffing out his light forever.
“¥ØỮ β€ŁƗ€V€ ¥ØỮ ΔŘ€ ƤŘØŦ€ĆŦƗŇǤ ŦĦ€Ş€ ĆØŴ€ŘƗŇǤ ĆΔŦŦŁ€ β¥ ŞĦƗ€ŁĐƗŇǤ ŦĦ€Μ ₣ŘØΜ βΔŦŦŁ€, ¥ØỮ ΜØŘŦΔŁ Ƥ€ΔŞΔŇŦ?” Melvin questioned as he raced back inside. “ΔŇ¥ VƗĆŦØŘ¥ ΔĆĦƗ€V€Đ Ħ€Ř€ ŴØỮŁĐ ØŇŁ¥ ŇỮŁŁƗ₣¥ ŦĦ€ƗŘ ĆỮŘŞ€Đ €ЖƗŞŦ€ŇĆ€… ŦĦØỮǤĦ ŦĦ€ ĦØŴ ΔŇĐ ŴĦ¥ ŴØỮŁĐ ØŇŁ¥ β€ β€¥ØŇĐ ¥ØỮŘ ₣€€βŁ€ ƤØŴ€ŘŞ Ø₣ ĆØΜƤŘ€Ħ€ŇŞƗØŇ Ŵ€Ř€ Ɨ ŦØ ŴΔŞŦ€ ŦĦ€ ₣ƗŇΔŁ ΜØΜ€ŇŦŞ Ø₣ ¥ØỮŘ ŴŘ€ŦĆĦ€Đ ŁƗ₣€ €ĐỮĆΔŦƗŇǤ ¥ØỮ!”
“Trust me, pal,” Nemesis countered. “I understand exactly what I’m doing! This peasant has traversed the Multiverse under his own steam!”
“ĦΔ! ŦĦΔŦ’Ş ¥ØỮŘ βØΔŞŦ? ƤŘƗΜΔŦ€Ş ĦΔV€ ŦŘΔV€ŁŁ€Đ ŦĦ€ ΜỮŁŦƗV€ŘŞ€!” Melvin bellowed as he dispatched a seemingly endless stream of miniature obsidian daggers from his boney fingertips.
No Wall Crawler role-playing this time for Nemesis; he telekinetically pulled every bit of furniture, silverware and even the Empire Diner’s floor to his position to form a makeshift barricade. The slapdash shield did its job and protected him from the coal black projectiles – for about thirty seconds. The pint-sized weapons struck the buffer and instantaneously reformed to become a legion of arachnids. The ebony spiders scaled Nemesis’ defenses in seconds and leapt onto his body. He was covered in the blink of an eye and bowled over before you could say, “Holy Kingdom of the Spiders, Batman!”
“ΔŇĐ ŞØ, ¥€Ŧ ΔŇØŦĦ€Ř…. Ħ€ŘØ…
(speaking the word always left a vile taste upon Melvin’s fabricated lips that would linger for months)
₣ΔŁŁŞ β€₣ØŘ€ ŦĦ€ ỮŇŞŦØƤƤΔβŁ€ ΜƗǤĦŦ Ø₣ ŦĦ€ƗŘ ĐƗVƗŇ€ Ş€ŘVΔŇŦ!” Melvin pronounced as he trod over the collapsed remnants of his foe’s defenses to inspect his handiwork. The counterfeit spiders had united to form an onyx coffin around their victim. Melvin gestured with his simulated hands and an aperture opened, revealing Nemesis face. His expression evoked a foreign sensation in Melvin, one he had never experienced when encountering a human, especially a costumed crusader.
He was curious.