Fear The Dawn: Chapter 22

I'm sorry...”
The words echoed through his mind as he ran back towards the ship. There was something familiar about them, but he didn't have time to worry about it now. He finally spotted the ship in a river, and he leapt into the water, regaining his original form as his body hit the water. He quickly circled around the ship as the jungle faded away behind him, but the waters were perfectly calm, there was no sign that anyone might have fallen overboard. He climbed the ladder to the deck, but the ship was also totally quiet, and against his better judgement he went to look for her.
Alright Banshee, this isn't funny, you can come out now”, he called, but there was no answer. It was almost pitch black below deck, but he could see in the dark well enough. Most of the rooms were covered in a thick layer of dust, as if they had been undisturbed for a long time, which was not surprising, he rarely had any reason to come down here. He finally reached the last room, the place where he had laid Banshee the night before. He walked up to the couch, but all that remained were a few white hairs to prove she had once been there.

She must not be back yet”, he thought, so he climbed up onto the sail and waited. The evening went by, and it gradually dawned on him that she wasn't coming back.
So that's it then?”, he asked, hopping down from the sail. “I try to help you, and you just disappear, like Line? Bah! Who needs you? You never did anything but get in my way, I'm better off on my own.”
His declaration floated out on the wind and faded away, reaching no one. There were none left who could hear it.
I'll prove it”, he said, climbing down the ladder. He closed his eyes and dipped his tail in the water. “Show me where they are”.
At first there was nothing. He shut his eyes harder and tried to shut everything out of his mind. Unwittingly, his thoughts kept returning to Line and Banshee. “This isn't about them”, he told himself, “this is about me, just the way it's always been.”
Finally, he started to feel something. At first he thought his tail was going numb, but there was no mistaking it, there was a faint rhythmic throbbing in his tail. It started off weak, but it began to grow stronger, pulling on the tip of his tail. There were several different sources, he realized, but one of them was stronger than the others. That was the one.
She was telling the truth”, he thought, finally removing himself from the water. “So Line really is gone”. He walked to the helm of the ship, and turned hard to starboard. “An idiot until the very end. He did give me an idea, though”, he grinned cruelly, “I won't just beat them, I'll humiliate the lot of them, so they'll realize I was right all along”. He hopped up onto the sail, keeping watch for any ships on the horizon. “I can hardly wait”, he thought, sharpening his claws.
The sun was already starting to rise in the sky by the time the ship with black sails closed in on its prey.


The first thing the hunter felt was the familiar sensation of the wind blowing through his hair, and he thought he might still be at sea, but he couldn't feel anything beneath his feet. He opened his eyes and looked down to see a harbour far below. For a moment he was overcome with a sense of panic, but he didn't feel himself falling, and the harbour wasn't getting any closer. Gingerly he lifted his head back up and looked around, but there was nothing under his feet, and nothing holding him up. He had not become a ghost, nor did he possess wings, by all accounts he seemed to be an ordinary stranger, floating high in the air. After becoming convinced that he wasn't simply going to fall, he dared to wiggle his leg a little, and he felt himself gliding in that direction. After a few moments he learned to control himself, deftly circling over the world below. The harbour looked so tiny from up here, the people were mere specks of colour set against the ground, and the ships, large as they might be, were scarcely the size of his palm. He reached out towards one, his hand wrapped in an elaborate black gauntlet, to see how small it truly was. It fit completely within his fingers, such a tiny thing, it would be such a simple matter to crush it within his palm. He clenched his fist, and there was a great rumbling down below. He watched wide-eyed as a wall of water rose up around the vessel and then closed in, sinking the ship in an instant. As the mist cleared, the ship was on its side, and people were screaming down below.

He held up his hand in disbelief, staring at it for a moment. Then he reached towards another ship, and the water swallowed it up as well. The people down below were so well and truly panicked that there was little he could do but laugh. “This is more like it!”, he beamed, “without those fools to tie me down, I am powerful!”. He made a scooping motion towards the water and created a giant wave, sinking several boats at once. He sank another and another, his stress melting away as he capsized their stupid ships. Eventually he got tired of all the people screaming, so he washed them all away with a giant wave. He was running out of boats to sink, so he turned his attention to the harbour itself. He pointed his palm towards a brick building that stood near the docks, and squeezed, and it collapsed in on its foundation as he watched with glee. He was just about to level a whole block when he was interrupted.

Stop, evildoer!” a deep voice boomed. “Fantastic Flames, the hero of justice, has come to put a stop to your wicked ways!”
A man clad in a bright red suit from head to foot was floating in the air nearby. The only part of his body not covered by the suit was his face and his bright orange hair. The man stared at him with an expression of intense determination. “This is your only warning, stop your rampage or I will have to use force!”
I am the Destroyer!”, he proclaimed, “none can stop me!”. He reached out towards the man and tried to crush him with his fingers, but it didn't seem to have any effect on him.
Very well then, you leave me no choice!”. The man in red brought his wrists together with his palms stretched apart, and a stream of fire shot out from his hands. The Destroyer quickly dodged to the side and the burst of fire dissipated into the sky. He looked back to see the man's body was now completely encased in flames.
Let's see how you like this!”, he scowled, reaching out towards a building behind the man and pulling it towards him. It exploded into a shower of bricks, which sprayed Fantastic Flames like a machine gun. He darted through the air towards the Destroyer, avoiding most of the onslaught as the bricks crashed back to the ground, cutting the docks below to pieces. The man in red threw a flaming punch, but he dodged to the side and countered with a knee to the stomach. Fantastic Flames barely flinched, socking him hard in the side of the face with his other hand. It pushed him back slightly, but he was not seriously hurt, and they laid into each other with all they had. The fight was evenly matched, with neither side showing any signs of tiring.
The fool means to delay me”, he realized, swaying away from a punch aimed for his head. “From this range my powers are useless.” He quickly feinted back through the air, and Fantastic Flames lunged at him, but he saw it coming and caught his fist in his gauntlet. “Now I've got you!”, he declared, throwing the man all the way to the ground. He landed hard, leaving a crater in the pavement, but he was right back up, ready to fight again. He raised his palms to fire again, but it was too late. The Destroyer gestured with his hand, and a massive tidal wave swept over the harbour, burying the man in red. When the water washed away, he was lying face down on the ground, his flames extinguished. He floated down towards his defeated foe.
You're all washed up, Fantastic Flames”, he declared, smiling to himself. Line would have enjoyed that.
He expected the harbour to just fade away, but what remained of the harbour persisted silently, the people having long since fled. The stranger must have been somewhere else.
So, you're one of the ones from the other ship”, he said, picking up the defeated man. “When will you fools learn to stay out of my way?!” He flung the man into the ocean and rose into the sky.

There wasn't much to see from up here. The harbour was surrounded by ocean on three sides that went on as far as the eye could see. Beyond the harbour the land turned to largely featureless hills. Atop one of the expanses of green he spotted a large building with a red roof that stood out from all the others. “There”, he declared, flying towards it. “That's where the stranger will be.”
He could have simply crushed the place in his hand, but that would be too easy. What was the point of having these powers if not to lord them over others? He would make the stranger beg for mercy first, then crush the life out of him. He landed on the ground, shattered the door with his palm, and walked inside, his black cape billowing powerfully behind him.

The giant building opened into an extremely tall room with a staircase on either side and an elaborate stone fountain in the middle. That would be the first thing to go. He floated up into the air and crushed the fountain, which crumbled into stone powder, spraying water everywhere. “Show yourself, coward!”, he boomed.
A man stepped out from one of the doors, but it was not the stranger, it was the same man in the red suit from before. He threw his arms out to the side and ignited his body. “Fantastic Flames is here!”, he declared.
Fool, I have beaten you before, and I can do so again.”
Don't count on it”, said a second voice, and a woman dropped in from above, landing near the first man. She had long black hair and carried a large sword, which she pointed towards him. “I, Lady Samurai, shall be the one to stop you!”
Make way for THE THINK TANK!”, a mighty voice bellowed. A muscular giant of a man landed on the ground fist-first, smashing a dent in the ground and sending a shockwave through the entire room. Ridiculously, he was wearing glasses and a tie to go with his ripped shirt and pants.
There was a tremendous swoosh of wind, blowing all the doors in the building open, and another figure was standing by the others. He was the smallest of the lot, and was dressed in a colourful costume with a red cape. “And don't forget Kid Comet, the world's fastest boy!”
It doesn't matter how many of you fools there are!”, he growled, spreading his hands apart and bringing them together. “I'll crush the lot of you together!”
The walls beside them exploded inward, and they all dashed out of the way. “Spread apart!”, Fantastic Flames yelled, and they all split off in different directions. He was the first one to attack, launching a stream of flames towards the Destroyer, but he raised the water from the fountain to create a shield, then blasted him with a jet of water using his other hand, knocking him back into the wall. The Think Tank was next, he grabbed a giant stone pot and threw it towards him, but the Destroyer shattered it and sent the pieces back at the Think Tank, tearing his clothes even futher. Lady Samurai threw several daggers towards him, but he dodged them easily and collapsed the ground underneath her. Kid Comet flew up the stairs and toward the railing to leap at him, but he broke the railing under him, causing him to fall harmlessly to the ground below.
Your pathetic powers are no match for mine!”, he boasted.
Think Tank, launch me!” Lady Samurai yelled, and he picked her up and threw her towards him. She drew more daggers from within her cloak and threw them towards him, drawing her sword as she prepared to strike. He tore out a section of the roof and flew out of the building to evade, then slammed that piece down on top of her to crush her into the floor. However, Kid Comet pulled her out of the way just before the tiles broke unceremoniously upon the floor.
We can't fight him alone!”, the Think Tank told the others, “we have to combine our powers!”
The only thing that will be combined are your graves!”, the Destroyer declared, tearing out more ceiling tiles and firing them at Kid Comet, but he was too fast to be hit. He swirled around the room at incredible speed, and soon it seemed like the air itself was turning with him.
It's my turn!”, said Fantastic Flames, launching his steam of fire towards him. The Destroyer raised the water to shield himself, but both water and fire were caught up by the wind, swirling around him like a vortex. He tried to pull out more ceiling tiles, but he couldn't see well enough, the smoke was blinding him and the heat was starting to make him feel weak. He scowled menacingly and tried to focus on controlling the water again.
He never even saw Lady Samurai coming. She flew through the flames, sword drawn, ready to strike. By the time he spotted her and moved to block it was too late. He was falling to the ground, the flames were dissipating, and everything was going dark.

He opened his eyes again to find himself in a cell. He immediately tried to reach forward with his hands, but he could not, they were bound in shackles above his head, and he couldn't squeeze his fist together.
Your reign of destruction comes to an end at last, Destroyer”, Lady Samurai told him.
It's not possible”, he said, in disbelief, “I'm by far the most powerful!”
You are strong, yes”, Fantastic Flames said, “but we have something you don't Teamwork.”
That's right”, the Think Tank added. “Our abilities compliment each other perfectly, as long as we fight together, we can never lose. But I wouldn't expect a villain like you to understand that.”
That's nonsense!”, he spat, angrily. “Other people are unreliable! It's much better to have those powers yourself!”
You poor, poor man”, Lady Samurai said, shaking her head and walking away. The Think Tank joined her.
The stranger walked up to his cell, looking right into his eyes. The Destroyer scowled.
Destroyer... you stink!”, he declared.
You said it, Kid Comet”, Fantastic Flames laughed. “Let's go home.”
They left, turning out the lights in the hallway. He pulled as hard as he could at his restraints, but they just wouldn't budge. “Arrrgh!!”, he yelled in frustration. “Curse you all!”. He yanked hard again on his restraints, wondering if he was going to be stuck here forever. He didn't have to wait long to find out, he felt the grips on his wrists loosening, and the next moment he slipped out of the shackles and fell straight down into the ocean. He forced his head above water and the cell and everything else was gone. He was back to his old self, too, powerless, wet, and alone. He growled viciously and swam towards his ship, which was quite some distance away, getting angrier and angrier with each stroke.

Damn it all!”, he shouted when he finally hauled himself back on deck, dripping wet, freezing cold, and seething with rage. “How DARE they do this to me?!”. He tore the rope ladder off its fixing and threw it into the water. “I am the hunter!”, he declared, kicking the sailpost hard with his foot. It hurt, but he didn't care, he was too mad. He stumbled down into the lower deck, breaking several rungs of the ladder as he did so. “Line!”, he yelled, knocking over a chair in one of the rooms. “You worthless piece of shit! You brought me nothing but trouble!”. He grabbed a table and threw it against a wall. “All of your ideas were stupid! I should have just thrown you overboard and saved us all a lot of fucking time!” He lurched toward the next room, raking the walls with his claws as he went. “And Banshee!”, he yelled hoarsely, kicking the door down, “You've been nothing but a burden since the beginning! 'Look at me! I can't talk because I'm too FUCKING USELESS!'”. He smashed another chair against the ground and flung it's splintered remains into the hall. “You always just got in my way, so good riddance! I'm better off without you!!”
His voice was completely worn out now. He threw open another door and came to the couch where Banshee had been lying after he brought her back that night. Thinking back on it made him mad, so he barred his claws and savagely tore into the couch, spraying stuffing and fabric everywhere. As he ripped the couch apart, a cloud of white hair floated up from under the cushions. It blew around the room for a moment before scattering among the broken furniture, one last memento of her.
The Destroyer fell down to his knees, completely deflated. “Why?”, he asked, barely able to speak. “Why did you make me care about you?”. A tear rolled down his cheek. He was supposed to be strong, strong enough that the strangers would never hurt anyone again, but they were never coming back, and it was all his fault. He collapsed onto the floor with the rest of the destroyed ship and thought of the big panther, bleeding to death while he could only watch.


He could have just laid there forever, his ship drifting off into the night, never to be seen again, but somehow the sun still found him. He was alerted that morning had come again by a soft, persistent sound echoing through the room. He opened his eyes and picked himself up. He was in a plainly furnished room with a couch and a wooden door, not unlike the one he had just left. He heard the noise again, someone was crying. For a moment he had the ridiculous thought that it might be Banshee, but he quickly came upon the source. A woman was crying her eyes out in the next room, so completely caught up in her grief that she didn't even notice him. He could easily sneak up on her and put her out of her misery, like that stranger had done to Banshee, but he had no appetite for it right now. Instead, he did something he had never even contemplated before:
What's wrong?”, he asked, sitting down beside her.
Initially she was so shocked that he was there that she reeled back and stopped crying, and for a moment he thought she was going to attack him, but she quickly resumed her sobbing as he looked on inquisitively. “Everyone hates me”, she finally replied.
Because I exist.”
I'm sure no one hates you for that”, he said, realizing that he would have hated her for existing just a few nights ago.
Yes they do”, she said, sniffling, “I have no friends, and everyone's mean to me.”
I don't have any friends either. The only two people who ever cared about me are gone now.”
My parents hate me, too. They split up because of me, and things got so bad that I can't see them anymore. Now I have no one.”
You have me”, he said, siding up close to her.
She shook her head. “You'll go away too.”
No I won't”, he said, “I don't have anyone, either.”
She stopped sniffling for a moment. “Who are you, anyway?”
I'm the Destroyer”, he said. ”Now I'm trying to put something back together.”
Maybe this is karma”, she said, not crying anymore. He laid his head down in her lap and she stroked his face with her hand. “You're soft for a destroyer”.
I'm not that person anymore”, he said, “and I never will be again.”
She leaned in and touched her forehead to his. He felt his ship calling to him, but there was nothing back there for him now. He held on tightly to her as everything began to fade away. First the room disappeared into white, then the woman, and finally the Destroyer was no more.

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