In the lobby of Portland’s branch of the Faucheuse Foundation, the squad I’ve put together confronts the hooded bastard who has been attempting to implicate me in his many crimes.
We surround him. He’s not leaving without a fight.
And we evacuated the building, too. We evacuated the entire surrounding area, just in case.
“I’ll give you one chance. Take off that hood or I’m pulling it off.”
He doesn’t say anything.
“Did you hear me? Or are you deaf? I wouldn’t be surprised, after finding out that the Nose is blind.”
He still doesn’t say anything.
“Fine. Then we do this the hard way!”
As I march up to him, he flies up.
Right through the ceiling.
“Oh goddamnit. After him!”
Everyone takes off.
Except Valerie, Victor, and Scarface, who can’t fly.
Valerie would have to take Alfred off to put a flight pack on.
And Victor has too many weapons strapped to him to put one on.
Meanwhile, in the Abuse Syndicate’s meeting room, the rest of the Syndicate watches the ChaotiX chase Erick into the skies, via several screens on the walls.
Vanessa is looking rather smug.
“My dear Bertrand wasn’t the only one who can make nanoscopic drones.”
Dr. Eierkopf, on the other hand, looks concerned.
“Do you think Erick can win this one, Vanessa?”
“He’s more powerful than all of them put together.”
Konba mutters to himself.
“He’d better not kill Korkea before I get a swing at Korkea.”
Vanessa reassures Konba.
“Erick wants Korkea alive. He didn’t tell me why. So don’t worry, you’ll get a chance to prove your worth.”
Garm is confused, though.
“How did they even know he was going to Portland? He was picking branches at random!”
“I think my ex-husband and my daughter have something to do with it.”
She points at one screen, showing Valerie, Victor and Scarface looking up through the hole in the ceiling.
“Look at the little idiot. Forgot she can’t fly. I’m ashamed to call her my daughter. I’d trade her life for Bertrand’s in a heartbeat.”
Vanessa sighs sadly.
“Of course, I’ll never see my son again. Not even on the Other Side. And Korkea took him away from me.”
Then she smiles a vicious, vengeful smile.
“So in exchange… we’ll take everything from Korkea. His friends, his family, his fans, and of course…”
She chuckles sinisterly.
“…the shitrats he and my husband adore oh so much. We’ll drown them and their hugboxing freak friends in the blood of those shitrats.”
The Nose shrugs dismissively.
“Hey, what you do in your free time isn’t my business. As long as you pay me. I’m here to kill people and get paid. That’s it.”
“Honestly, I just wanna be able to eat shitrats without anyone bitching about it.”
Dr. Eierkopf nods.
“And I want to be able to experiment on shitrats without anyone complaining. But I have to agree with Vanessa…”
The mustached scientist smiles.
“…revenge on Korkea and his little friends will be nice too.”
Ivan looks at Dr. Eierkopf with confusion on his face.
“So what did they do to you, Ivo?”
“It’s a long story. I’ll tell it later. For now…”
He turns to one of the screens, showing Calvin’s squad catching up with Erick.
“…how about we just enjoy the show?”
“Alright. Kinda wish we had some popcorn, though.”
My squad catches up with the hooded bastard in the skies above Portland.
“Stop running from us.”
He turns to me.
Still not saying anything.
“What’s wrong, Hood Boy? Fluffy got your tongue?”
I wreathe myself in white flames.
This used to take a lot out of me, but I overcame that problem a long time ago.
Of course, it came back with a vengeance when I unlocked my golden flames.
“Let’s see if that cloak’s fireproof!”
So I blast him with white-hot fire.
Unfortunately, the cloak is fireproof.
He slouches in midair, and while I can’t see his face, he’s obviously projecting an air of extreme smugness.
“Fuck it. PILE ON!!!”
My squad and I attack as one.
Down in the lobby, Valerie and Victor keep looking up through the hole.
“Damn it. We shoulda brought flight packs, Val.”
“Neither of us could wear one right now, Uncle Victor.”
Scarface, on the other hand, has noticed something on the floor.
“Hey, Souw Bwuddah! Come take a wook at dis!”
Victor picks up the blipper.
“Who’s blipper is this? One of ours?”
Valerie holds her hand out.
“Let me take a look at it. Every blipper is registered, the owner’s name should be in there.”
As the Abuse Syndicate watches Erick fight Calvin’s squad, Erick now tanking white fire, hellfire, holy fire, magical fire, dragon fire, electricity and golden energy blasts, Vanessa watches her daughter analyse the blipper.
Vanessa isn’t looking so smug anymore.
“Erick, that had better not be your teleporter!”
My squad unloads everything we have on the bastard.
Well, except me. Not yet.
And somehow, the bastard is tanking all of it.
“HOW POWAH-FUWW AM DIS FUKKEW?!?”
“I DON’T KNOW, MAR!!!”
“MEBBEH IT AM TIME FOW DA TWUMP CAWD, DADDEH!!!”
“I THINK YOU’RE RIGHT!!! ALRIGHT, HOOD BOY…”
“…LET’S SEE YOU TANK THIS!!!”
I don’t think the bastard knew about my golden flames.
Down in the lobby, Valerie successfully accesses the blipper’s registry.
When she sees the data on her COMP’s screen, she frowns.
“I don’t think this is one of ours, Uncle Victor.”
“Are you sure?”
“Well… do we have a team member by the name of…”
She looks at the registered name.
“…Erick Van Loka?”
Vanessa now looks very upset indeed.
“DAMN IT! DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT!!! THEY WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO LEARN THAT YET!!!”
Ivan turns to Vanessa.
“So that’s his last name? I don’t get what the big deal is.”
Vanessa manages to compose herself.
“Do you not see it, Ivan?”
“See what, Vanessa?”
“If I have to spell it out for you…”
She scribbles down Erick’s full name on a piece of paper.
Like her ex-husband, Vanessa always has a pen on her.
Then she scribbles a second name under the first one, and slides the paper across the table to Ivan.
He reads it.
And then his jaw drops.
“Oh. But how is that possible?”
As I charge up a massive blast of golden fire, my squad gets the fuck out of the way.
Everything is shaking. That’s how much power I’m tapping into. That’s how powerful the golden flames are.
“I DON’T CARE HOW FIREPROOF THAT CLOAK IS, IT CAN’T STOP THIS FIRE!!! AND I DON’T CARE HOW FIREPROOF YOU ARE, EITHER!!!”
The hooded bastard beckons me with a gloved hand, obviously challenging me.
Joke’s on him.
“FINE!!! THEN LET’S SEE IF YOU CAN TANK THIS AT POINT-BLANK RANGE!!! BODYSLIDE BY ONE!!!”
I blip right in front of him. That seems to surprise him.
And then, screaming at the top of my lungs…
I let it rip.
Down in the Foundation’s lobby, Valerie, Victor and Scarface watch the massive golden fireball explode up in the sky.
Valerie and Victor are holding onto the desk, due to the fact that the explosion is shaking the entire place even more. Alfred is holding on too, Scarface securely wrapped in one of his tendrils.
Then Victor realizes something.
“VAL!!! I THINK I KNOW WHO THAT GUY REALLY IS!!!”
They have to shout to be heard above the explosion.
“YOU MEAN ERICK VAN LOKA ISN’T HIS REAL NAME, UNCLE VICTOR?!?”
“COME ON, YOU’RE SMARTER THAN THAT!!! DON’T YOU SEE IT?!?”
“SEE WUT, VICTOW?!?”
“IT’S AN ANAGRAM!!!”
“AN ANAGRAM OF WHAT-- NO!!! IT CAN’T BE!!!”
“CAL NEEDS TO KNOW THIS!!!”
I look at the gigantic fucking smoke cloud created by the explosion, panting heavily.
I extinguish my flames.
“I haff don’t care if that haff killed him.”
Prometheus, gleaming golden thanks to the set of Omega Drives currently installed in his body, flies up to me.
"Cal. I just received word from Madam Valerie. Hood Boy dropped his blipper, and according to Madam Valerie, it’s registered to one Erick Van Loka. It has to be HIS name. We don’t know anyone else by that name."
“Erick Van Loka? Odd name. Is he Dutch or something?”
"I don’t think so. You aren’t going to like this, Cal…"
“Just tell me, Prommy.”
"Alright. See, Victor thinks that the name is an alias. He thinks it’s an anagram of…"
We all turn to the smoke, which is clearing.
And we see “Erick Van Loka”, his hooded cloak finally burned off, his appearance finally revealed.
He looks like me. Long messy brown hair in a ponytail. A battle suit identical to my own.
While the cloak burned off, he himself isn’t even singed.
And we see that those glowing round yellow eyes are actually the eyes of a mask. Now we see the hellish green pupils the mask’s eyes have.
It’s a purple and red heart-shaped mask.
With yellow spikes. Two on top, four on either side. So ten in total. The lowest two spikes are tipped with blue, the two above them with green, and the two above those with red.
And then I remember that I’ve seen a mask like that before.
In a world that was an hour away from its destruction.
I realize who I’m actually looking at.
And I silently curse myself for not making sure he died with that world.
He slouches in midair again, and giggles at me, in my voice.
And then he finally speaks.
“You shouldn’t have done that. But I did say that I’d see you later, didn’t I? So… do you get it yet?”