It had barely been two hours and the damn sky was already getting dark. The, now winter, season had pulled down the sun far faster than suspected, making traversal of the long alleyways vastly more difficult for the group, a light frost clinging to the sides of the brick buildings that towered over them.
Though reaching their destination was far from impossible; flash lights and knowledge of street signs were something any Super gang that navigated the seedier the of this city learned to use. When they heard screaming while walking up the final path, Francis signaled for the rest to stop while he inched closer and took a look around the corner.
What he saw were three shoddily dressed figures perfectly fidgeting in place. The three individuals with looks of terror seemingly stuck on their faces were repeating the exact same movement over and over as a man in a thick hoody walked between them.
“The hell do you want, Francis?” The loan man that was moving between the figures yelled as soon as he caught sight of the taller, tattooed man peaking at him. His voice was surprisingly gruff despite his lean form and overall sleek look.
Before Francis could even attempt to speak the man turned on his heel, slid a crowbar from inside his coat, and with one swift motion brought it down hard on the back of the neck of one of the stuck individuals. The sickening cracking sound reverberated throughout the back alley… before a sickening, wet crunching sound began as the person, now corpse, continued to move repeatedly. “We can talk while I take care of business.” The man said before turning back and bringing down his crowbar onto another one of the figures. His blows were quick, precise, and brutal; starting at the neck before working his way down to either the back, legs, or arms.
“Uh, no need to be so distant, Stopper. Just came to offer you a job.” Francis said as he readied his own power, prepared to take flight at the slightest hint of aggression.
The man, Stopper, let out an annoyed sigh before snapping his fingers, causing the three standing corpses to ripple before stopping suddenly and collapsing. Stopper than turned fully towards Francis, his completely silver eyes boring into the taller man as ran a hand through his dark hair. “Listen, Francis, I know we go way back and I’m willing to do some freelance work. But this new gang you’re with is a little much, even for me.”
This was the problem with Stopper. He was utter Hell in a fight when properly motivated. But the man wasn’t what anyone would call dedicated or “loyal to a fault”. Not that Francis could fault him too much for the attitude, such Nobel inclinations would have gotten him killed in their line of work. And besides, other than money, Francis could promise one of the few things that would make Stopper do almost anything.
“There’s some cash in it for you, but just in case that isn’t enough motivation, I’ll also give you a chance to hurt Spectrum.” Francis said, standing a bit taller.
And with that he’d gotten him. The short Super might protest a bit when he heard the exact details, but the look in his eye betrayed his decision already.
Stopper’s eyes went wide with fury and excitement at the famous Hero’s moniker before saying. “Alright… you’ve got my attention; How can you help me hurt that sack of shit?”
* * *
“So, why take the name ‘Styx’?”
This question came after Styx had explained, in a rather convincing way he thought, about how aside from one other person in his class he was the most careful in the use force when fighting. And his mentioning that said other person had an ability far more powerful than his had served its purpose of diverting everyone else’s attention.
Styx hadn’t majored in Subtlety, but his grandfather had done his best to make sure that he knew how to handle the media. Aside from villains, it was the greatest threat any Hero would face.
The glint in Neal’s eye did worry him a bit though.
“It’s from Greek mythology and is the name of a dark river that runs through the underworld. Seemed to fit my powerset pretty well.” Styx said before making a quick gesture with is hand and causing an inky black tendril to rise out of his own shadow. The manifestation was dismissed quickly afterwards, but not before eliciting excited murmurs from the crowd.
“Oh? No other reason?” Neal intoned. “Like, say, because it connects mythologically to Charon?”
Styx stopped short at that. How had this man known about why he picked his name? Sure, anyone with a rudimentary understanding of the mythology could see the connection between the names, but that was a pretty thin connection to try and capitalize on live television and tons of Heroes had names derived from that particular belief system.
Then it hit him, the kind of proof that would cause someone to assume there was a connection between the Heroes Charon and Styx.
Noticing, and sending up silent thanks that, the crowd and Neal were hesitating with his reaction because his helmet hid his expression. He quickly took the initiative while he could. “I’m guessing you noticed the famous duality of our abilities?” It was best to not outright confirm things just yet.
“U- um, well, yes.” Neal started off before quickly regaining his composure after unexpectedly having his decisive question met with a calm question. “Captain Starlight was the first and most famous superhero after all. And naturally his powers were the most heavily theorized about, both in the private and public eye. Two Heroes appearing within a relatively short time of each other, one with his light and another wielding his darkness powers wasn’t hard for clever individuals to piece together and make the logical leap that you three are related.”
Spectrum looked nervous yet resigned and trusting. Styx felt the respect he had for his mentor go up a few notches at the realization and decided to go forward from here.
“Those individuals would be right. Though I can’t get into specifics for obvious reasons; I can confirm that I am a distant relative of Captain Starlight.” Well, as distant as a grandparent and grandchild are.
“And that brings me to my next point.” Neal said, his voice nearly cracking with excitement. “Is your senior’s, Captain Starlight, legacy the reason why you’ve been going so ruthlessly after the new gang that’s popped up in our city? It’s become fairly common knowledge that some of the… regalia they’ve started to associate themselves with would greatly offend the old Captain considering the era he grew up in.”
Before Styx’s brain could properly catch up to his mouth he blurted out the most dangerous thing he could have said during this entire event. The truth; motivated by pride and indignation at the accusation.
“Oh no, it has nothing to with proving myself; I just really hate Nazis.”
The young Hero realized what he’d blurted out just in time to catch the gob-smacked look on Spectrum’s masked face before the crowd erupted with noise.