The Return of Nevermore part 3

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Joselyn stared intently at the shimmering barrier that was only five feet away from her. It was purple, slightly transparent, and radiated a sense of malevolent power that sent chills running down her spine.

“Don’t touch it,” Joselyn’s dad warned as he came up behind her.

She glanced at her dad, who was wearing his White Knight uniform. As his codename suggested, his uniform was predominantly white, with a modified domino mask and a white cape. In addition, he had gold metal wrist bracers, a belt, and broaches for a cape. Then, on his chest, he had the symbol of a knight helmet.

Of course, Joselyn was wearing her costume as well. Hers was black and pink, with a black belt that included a pink buckle with the family logo in the center of it, the same knight’s helmet that her father wore on his chest. To finish her costume, she had a black domino mask that covered her eyes, though she thought it was probably a bit unnecessary. After all, with her long pink hair, it wouldn’t do much to hide her identity.

“I wasn’t going to,” Joselyn said, looking back at the barrier that completely not only surrounded Baltimore, but also a large area of the surrounding land.

After a moment, Joselyn turned to look around, seeing the growing gathering of heroes that had formed just on the outside of the barrier. Many of them had already tried to break through the barrier, without any luck, so they were trying to figure out a plan of action. Someone had already set up a command tent, while others were briefing the newcomers as they arrived.

Then, as Joselyn watched, a portal opened in the air and a man stepped out of it. He wore a long blue coat, a blue fedora, and a gold metal mask that covered his entire face. The Face was some kind of magic user, and he could create portals through space, which was why he’d been given the task of playing taxi for all the other heroes.

Right behind the Face, six more heroes appeared from the portal. Though Joselyn had never met any of these heroes, she recognized them as the Slackers. They definitely weren’t a big name team, and the only reason that Joselyn had recognized them at all, was that after she’d developed her own powers, she’d made an effort at researching all of the active hero groups, so she could at least be familiar with who the other players were.

“All that research is finally coming in handy,” Joselyn joked to herself.

Then as she looked at the other heroes, her eyes went to a gorgeous blonde woman, who wore a red and gold spandex outfit. Joselyn immediately recognized Ms. Miracle, as well as her team, the Miracle Men. At that moment, they were deep in conversation with several members of Faction Zero. For a moment, Joselyn was tempted to go over and talk with Ms. Miracle, but then she noticed that the Face was coming in her direction.

“You managed to bring quite an army,” Joselyn’s dad told the other hero.

“I brought as many heroes as I could locate,” the Face answered. “Unfortunately, the Protectorate is busy dealing with the Quakemaster in California, and the Lightning Force is caught up with a Lendali incursion in Florida.”

“Are you sure they aren’t just down there on vacation?” Joselyn asked wryly.

“This is my daughter,” Joselyn’s dad introduced her with a smile. “She’s called the Lady Knight.”

“Not the Pink Knight?” the Face asked. Joselyn was pretty sure he was teasing her, but it was hard to tell when that mask hid all of his expressions.

Joselyn shook her head, feeling self-conscious at the reminder of her original codename…Pink. At the time, she couldn’t think of anything else. “No. I decided to skip the color coding part of my family tradition.”

“A wise move,” the Face responded with a chuckle. Then he gestured towards a teenage girl a short distance away, indicating that she should come over. “And this is my daughter, Witch Girl.”

Witch Girl looked to be about the same age as Joselyn, with long violet hair and a sexy blue witch costume with a violet sash around the waist. The whole outfit was topped off with a blue witch hat, with a violet sash around the base.

Joselyn stared at Witch Girl for several seconds, feeling a little nervous and excited at the same time. She’d seen Witch Girl before…in her dreams. From what she’d seen of these brief glimpses of the future, she and Witch Girl were going to end up on the same team at some point, and were apparently going to be friends as well. After all, she’d seen Witch Girl…or an older version of her…as one of the bridesmaids in her own wedding.

“Hi,” Joselyn said to the other girl, deciding to keep quiet about her visions of the future, at least for now. She didn’t want to scare the girl away or make her think that Joselyn was some sort of creepy stalker. “I’m Lady Knight.”

“Witch Girl,” she responded, holding out her hand, which Joselyn shook.

“I didn’t know you had any children,” Joselyn’s dad said, giving the Face a curious look.

“He didn’t either,” Witch Girl commented wryly. Then at Joselyn’s curious look, she quickly explained, “My mom kept me as a surprise.”

“Your mother was Ms. Witch Joselyn’s dad said, though whether it was a statement or a question, Joselyn couldn’t quite tell. “You wear a version of her costume.”

“Yeah,” Witch Girl responded, suddenly looking a little depressed. “Mom…”

“Her mother passed away rather unexpectedly,” the Face said. The tone of his voice was pretty rough, so Joselyn guessed that there was a good story behind that. After a few seconds, he quickly changed the subject. “I thought you were going to keep your children out of the business until they were older.”

Joselyn’s dad gave her a wry look, then told the Face, “That was my intention, and still is. This is…an exception.”

“A very dangerous time to make an exception,” the Face pointed out.

“I know,” Joselyn’s dad responded grimly. “But my daughter insisted that she had to be here, and as much as I dislike her involvement, I trust her intuition far too much to leave her behind.”

Witch Girl gave Joselyn a curious look, and it was all she could do to keep from smirking. Sometimes, being a psychic could be a pain in her butt, but it was useful. The fact that her father actually listened to her…and trusted her…made her feel proud of her abilities and determined not to let him down.

“Are you psychic or something?” Witch Girl asked her.

“Yes,” Joselyn answered with a faint smile. “And I can do this…” A dagger made of glowing pink energy appeared in her hand, and the other girl looked impressed.

“I’m a magic user,” Witch Girl announced proudly. Then she gestured to the shimmering barrier a short distance away and added, “And this is definitely a magic problem.”

Joselyn just gave her a wry smile and pointed out, “Maybe, but it’s going to take more than hocus pocus to fix it.”

While they were talking, Joselyn’s dad walked off with the Face, to talk to Icarus, Ms. Miracle, and a couple of the other people in charge, leaving her behind with Witch Girl. She glanced at the other girl, who was slowly looking around at the gathered heroes, probably trying to guess who everyone was. After all, that was what Joselyn had been doing herself.

“Maybe I should call my boyfriend,” Joselyn said with a sigh. “With everything that’s going on, this might be the last time I can talk to him…”

Witch Girl gave her a curious look. “Does he know you’re developed?”

“Yeah,” Joselyn responded with a chuckle. “He knows all about that. I just don’t think he realizes he’s my boyfriend yet…”

Witch Girl started to chuckle at that. “I imagine it might be amusing to watch him figure it out.”

“Well, his sister certainly agrees with that,” Joselyn added with a grin. “Damn. I wish Vickie and Chris were here…” She gave a nervous look towards the shimmering barrier and gulped. “But I’m kind of glad they aren’t too…”

A short time later, all the heroes were asked to gather together in front of the command tent. Several large computer monitors had been set up, while the Face, the White Knight, and Icarus stood in front of them. To Joselyn’s surprise, her father was the one who seemed to be taking the lead on this briefing.

“Everyone,” Joselyn’s dad announced loudly. “You are all aware of the barrier that is keeping everyone out of Baltimore.” He gestured to the nearby barrier. Several heads nodded agreement. “Many of us have tried to break through, without any success at all.”

“The barrier is magical in nature,” the Face added in a grim tone. “It appears to be a bubble, so all attempts to fly over or pass beneath have failed. All attempts to force our way through or physically penetrate, have been in vain. All attempts to teleport through have failed. So far, it also blocks all forms of attempted communication, and nearly every attempt to learn more of what is on the other side.”

“You said nearly,” someone pointed out. Joselyn looked at the speaker, a tall and thin young man, with a blue and grey costume that had some gold metallic trim. She recognized him as Surge of the Miracle Men.

“Correct,” the White Knight announced. “Between satellite images and communications immediately before the barrier appeared, as well as magical and psychic detection…” He glanced to his daughter at that. “We have been able to learn a number of things, which I am about to share.”

“Like how we’re gonna get past this damn thing?” someone else grumbled. This time, the speaker was a black haired young woman with red and gray costume, with gold shoulder pads and belt.

“Patience, Kaboom,” a green haired girl told her. This one wore a black and white spandex costume, with green metallic shoulder pads and bracers, as well as a pair of crossed green belts at her waist. Joselyn recognized this one as Counterweight, one of the Miracle Men. Or part time member. She wasn’t certain.

“As I was saying,” Joselyn’s father continued grimly. “At approximately midnight, five villains appeared in Baltimore and began causing havoc, then went in separate directions. Video footage and phone recordings show that two of them eventually stopped and placed some type of black stone on the ground. Shortly after, the stones grew into large black obelisks…”

A picture of a black stone obelisk appeared on one of the monitors, though it was poorly taken. Joselyn suspected that it had been taken from someone’s phone, and probably posted to Facebook right before the barrier came up.

The White Knight continued, “We have good reason to believe that the other three villains placed similar obelisks.”

“And,” the Face interjected, “that these obelisks are responsible for sustaining the barrier. If we are somehow able to remove the obelisks, the barrier should fall. Of course, this is a catch-22 as we are unable to reach the obelisks until we can remove or bypass the barrier.”

“As for the villains who placed these obelisks,” the White Knight announced with a deep scowl, “and who we believe remain to guard them…”

A new picture appeared on the monitor, of a powerful looking man floating in front of one of these obelisks. There were gasps from the gathered crowd as nearly everyone present recognized him. However, it a woman who vehemently spat out his name. “FORCE.”

Joselyn looked at the woman, who had pure white skin and hair. Her costume was a green spandex outfit, and over that she wore a darker green cloak. Joselyn had never met Lady Hexx before, but she knew who the woman was. From the way that many of the gathered heroes glared at her, it was obvious that they knew who she was as well.

Lady Hexx was a former villain who’d gained notoriety after attacking Force in public. Afterwards, she ‘reformed’ and joined a superhero group in California, while Force became a wanted fugitive and villain. Many in the hero community blamed her for Force’s downfall, suggesting that she’d framed him or had done something to mess with his mind. However, Joselyn knew that this was complete and utter rubbish. Force was a lunatic, and Lady Hexx had only been declared a villain because she’d attacked him when everyone else thought he was a hero.

“Force is no villain,” someone exclaimed, though Joselyn didn’t see who.

Her father scowled as he responded, “Make no mistake. Force is no longer a hero. Months ago, he kidnapped my family…my children…and he attempted to murder them. Somehow, he escaped from Mount Prometheus, and hasn’t been seen again until now.”

“Force is powerful,” Lady Hexx agreed. “And dangerous. Even when he was still pretending to be a hero, he was enormously reckless…endangering civilians and causing massive collateral damage… If he’s decided to drop the act entirely, then there’s no telling how much damage he could cause.”

“Agreed,” the White Knight said, before gesturing to the monitor, which changed to show a picture of a robotic woman.

“Circuit Monger,” Witch Girl snarled from beside Joselyn.

“Faction Zero has a history with Circuit Monger,” Icarus pointed out grimly.

“I thought we destroyed that metal bitch,” a woman exclaimed. She had red hair with golden highlights, and wore a red and gray costume with a white sash around her waist. Joselyn didn’t know who this woman was, but she remembered seeing a glimpse of her in one of her dreams of the future.

“Way too many people here,” Joselyn muttered, wondering how she could possibly remember them all. As it was, the sheer number of people was throwing her sixth sense into a tizzy, or at least, creating way too much noise for her to pick up anything useful.

“Invincible Woman,” the White Knight said, naming the woman. Then he glanced to the teenage boy who stood beside her. He was dressed in a black spandex outfit, with white boots and a white hooded jacket. “Ghost Boy. Your experience with Circuit Monger should be invaluable, once we are able to get through the barrier.”

Joselyn looked at the monitor again, scowling as she tried to remember everything she’d heard about Circuit Monger. For one thing, she looked like the evil twin of Circuit, a former member of Faction Zero who’d been killed in action. In truth, Circuit Monger had originally been a villain named Trojan, who somehow transferred his mind into a robotic body that was an exact duplicate of Circuit’s, and then he pretended to be her in order to infiltrate Faction Zero. Joselyn wasn’t sure of exactly what Circuit Monger had done to Faction Zero, beyond impersonating their dead friend, but it obviously left some bad feelings.

“Circuit Monger,” Joselyn’s father continued, “when last seen, had been severely damaged and in custody. And like Force, she mysteriously escaped and hasn’t been seen again until now.”

The next picture appeared on the monitor, of a young man with black hair and a red and gold costume. Joselyn had never met Loki personally, much to her relief, but she immediately recognized who he was. Her father stiffened, and most of the other people present wouldn’t have noticed just how tense he was.

“LOKI,” a woman’s voice spat out.

Joselyn stared at Legacy, a woman who wore a tight black costume with a flowing white cloak. She was one of only two surviving members of the Seven, a group of heroes who had been brutally slaughtered by Loki. Only one other person had survived Loki’s attack on them, and both of them had been left with horrible scars, both physical and mental. Then Joselyn looked to her dad, who had once been a member of that very group. Those heroes who Loki had killed, had been his friends and former teammates.

“Loki may not seem it,” the White Knight announced, his voice trembling with barely controlled rage, “but he is extremely dangerous. And unpredictable. His magic can do almost anything, but even he has little true control over it. Again, Loki had been in custody and mysteriously escaped…”

“That seems to be a trend,” Joselyn pointed out grimly.

“Indeed it does,” the Face agreed. “And not a very good one for us.”

Another picture appeared on the monitors, one of a black haired woman in a slinky black catsuit, with a long red overcoat on top of it. Though Joselyn didn’t recognize the woman, her costume did look a little familiar. It took Joselyn a moment to realize that she resembled the Sinner, a villain that she had the displeasure of meeting. Fortunately, the Sinner was dead. She’d seen it herself when her uncle Edward put several bullets through him.

“That’s the Sinner,” Invincible Woman exclaimed in surprise, while Ghost Boy nodded agreement. “We fought her too…”

“The original Sinner could manipulate other people’s emotions,” the White Knight explained, “creating riots and orgies with equal ease. And though the original Sinner has been confirmed dead, this new Sinner seems to share his powers.”

“I thought that bitch was in prison,” Invincible Woman said.

“Let me guess,” Ghost Boy added a moment later. “She’s another one who mysteriously escaped from prison.”

“Correct,” Joselyn’s father said with a deep scowl.

“My guess is, the Key is freeing them,” another woman commented thoughtfully. She was beautiful, with black hair and a violet and gold costume that included a violet cape. In her right hand, she held a golden staff with several gems set in the head. Joselyn vaguely remembered reading one of her dad’s files on her. She was called Mystik, and was some kind of magic user. Mystik continued, “The Key specializes in breaking people out of the clink, so this is definitely his style…”

The Face nodded at that. “That was our first assumption as well, though I have reason to believe that this is not the case.”

Another picture appeared on the monitor, of the fifth villain, a woman in red and white armor. Joselyn had absolutely no idea who she was, though Mystik immediately stated, “She’s wearing Scepter’s armor.”

“I noticed that as well,” Icarus responded.

“She even has a scepter,” Mystik mused, gesturing towards the monitor. “The same as he did. I saw Scepter killed with my own eyes, so I don’t know who this one is…”

Icarus nodded. “So, we have four known villains, and two who appear to be new incarnations of known villains…”

“Scepter led the Black Guild,” Shiver pointed out. “Could this be a new version of the Black Guild?”

The Face shook his head. “Possible, but extremely unlikely.”

“I don’t know much about this new Scepter,” the White Knight stated, “but all four of the others are extremely dangerous…and have few interests in common. The fact that they are working together is troublesome.”

“As is the fact that none of them possesses the power to create this barrier,” the Face added. “Someone else is behind this barrier…and is likely the one who freed them from prison and united them. I have a strong suspicion as to who this is, though I hope I am wrong…”

“Nevermore,” Glamour Girl stated, which made nearly everyone turn to look at her. “Nevermore is behind this.”

Channel looked at the White Knight and said, “Glamour Girl has been warning us that Nevermore is back, and I think she’s right…”

“As do I,” the Face admitted, which earned gasps from around the crowed.

Suddenly, Joselyn’s attention was drawn to Ms. Miracle, who was glowing with a golden light. Her eyes were burning with not only this golden light, but with a look of pure fury. “Baron Nevermore,” the blonde hero exclaimed, practically shaking in anger. “I thought he was dead…that he was gone for good…”

Joselyn gulped at Ms. Miracle’s reaction, remembering that years ago, Baron Nevermore had murdered her. Ms. Miracle had been dead for years, before abruptly turning up alive again. Of course, Joselyn was pretty sure that this woman wasn’t the original Ms. Miracle, though she was certainly taking the thing with Baron Nevermore personally.

Rumor, a black haired young woman in a black and white costume, put her hand on Ms. Miracle’s shoulders to comfort her. “We stopped him once,” Rumor told Ms. Miracle. “We’ll stop him again.”

“And this time,” Quartz, another of the Miracle Men, added, “we’ll take him down even harder.”

Ms. Miracle was still clearly upset, but she stopped glowing and nodded to the White Knight and the Face. “You were saying.”

Joselyn’s father nodded. “We don’t know what their endgame is yet, but….” He gestured to Joselyn. “My daughter, Lady Knight, has precognitive visions, and has foreseen that this is a threat to the entire world.”

“I’ve been warned of the same thing,” Glamour Girl said, drawing Joselyn’s attention again.

Glamour Girl looked to be about the same age as Joselyn, but she had a strong feeling that the blonde girl was a lot older than she appeared, just as she did with Ghost Boy. On the other hand, she was equally sure that Invincible Woman was actually younger than she seemed.

The White Knight slowly looked around the group, his expression grim. “We asked many of you here to help, precisely because you have experience with one or more of the villains involved. You already know how to deal with these enemies. And as soon as we find a way past this barrier, we will have to hit them as hard and fast as we can. The world depends on it.”

With that, the briefing ended and everyone burst into conversation over what they’d just learned. Joselyn watched her dad walk off to talk with the Face, Icarus, and several others, knowing that they were still trying to figure out how to get through the barrier. She stared at the shimmering wall, hoping that they found it soon, because she was pretty sure that if they weren’t able to do so in time, the world would be plunged into an eternal nightmare.

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