Ever Vigilant, Part Three

RECAP:  After returning from a mission in the wilds of space, the superhero Extraordinary Man learns that something strange had happened to his friend and colleague The Vigilante.  After disappearing for three weeks, The Vigilante returned suddenly without an explanation.  On his return, The Vigilante had become a far more violent and vicious crime-fighter.  The Extraordinary Man, also known by his real name Nathan to those closest to him, rushed to find his friend to learn what had caused his transformation into a savage executioner.  Nathan quickly discovered that the man behind the mask of The Vigilante was not his friend Kurt, but was actually The Cad, murderous arch-nemesis of The Vigilante.  Nathan forced The Cad to explain what he had done to Kurt, and The Cad was elated to tell the tale of how he had defeated his despised nemesis.

“It was brilliant,” The Cad beamed, throwing his hands towards the sky in a gesture of victory.  “My finest hour!  I planned, and I planned, and I was so certain that he would beat me yet again, as he had so many times.  But this time…..This time, he did not beat me!”

The Cad let out a devilish laugh that sent a chill down Nathan’s spine.  Nathan clenched his fists, suppressing the urge to beat The Cad senseless.

“This time,” The Cad continued, chuckling enthusiastically.  “This time I beat him!  Can you believe that?  After all these years, I, humble little ol’ me, finally defeated my one true adversary.  In a moment that will live on in my mind until the day I die, I beat The Vigilante!  Oh, and I also recorded my entire genius plan digitally as well.  Would you like to watch it?  It is quite entertaining.”

“You psychopath,” Nathan spat.

“Right again Mister Extra Ordinary Man,” The Cad laughed.  “Does that mean you don’t want to watch the video?”

“Where is he,” Nathan growled.  “What did you do with him?  Where are you holding him?”

“Holding him,” The Cad asked, letting out a long sigh.  “Now, I thought you were smarter than that.  I guess extra ordinary really does apply to you, doesn’t it?  At least as far as your mind goes.”

“Cad,” Nathan barked, grabbing the villain by his chest-plate.  “Where is The Vigilante?”

“Don’t you get it,” The Cad replied abruptly, chuckling dementedly.  “I created an elaborate scheme that pushed him to his limits and beyond.  I used those closest to him as bait, and he skipped right into my trap like the hero he is.  Or was, I should say.  He had no clue that I knew his secret identity, so it was pathetically easy to use that against him.  I’ve known his true face for years, but I always kept that from him because I didn’t want to ruin the game.  But this time, I had become frustrated from him beating me time and time again, so I finally decided to use his secret identity against him.  And, you know what, it worked!   I wore him down physically and mentally until he reached his breaking point, and then I broke him!  It was my finest moment  I broke The Vigilante!  And then, after I broke him, I cut off his mask, looked him right in the eyes, those cold, calculating eyes, and stabbed him in the throat!  I stabbed him, I stabbed him, and I stabbed him again and again!  And then, just for an extra measure, I slit his throat and washed my face with his blood as I watched him bleed to death.  Just picturing it in my mind now makes my heart swell with pride and joy.  And, just to make his last moments pure Hell, I told him how I was going to kill his loved ones that I had captured.  I tell you, it is a story that will will be passed on from generation to generation for centuries to come!”

Nathan shook his head slowly, his jaw hanging open in a mixture of shock and disbelief.  His mind suddenly flooded with a host of thoughts and images that rendered Nathan completely speechless.

“No comment,” The Cad asked, sounding disappointed.  “Nothing to say at all about my greatest moment?”

“You animal,” Nathan spat, his eyes narrowing angrily.

“Well, yes, we are all animals now, aren’t we,” The Cad asked nonchalantly.  “Some of us are just a bit more animalistic than others.”

Letting his anger take control, Nathan lifted The Cad into the air, and began ripping the armor of The Vigilante off of his gnarled body.

“What are you doing,” The Cad howled.  “You can’t do this to my armor!  This is unprofessional!”

“It isn’t your armor,” Nathan shouted.  “It belongs to The Vigilante, and I won’t let you desecrate it!”

“I am Vigilante,” The Cad roared.

“You are a murderer, and I am taking you to justice!”

As Nathan continued ripping pieces of armor off of The Cad, a green cloud of gas began to emit from underneath the pieces.  A moment later, Nathan began to feel weak as he inhaled the gas.  Before long, Nathan no longer had the strength to hold onto The Cad, and his grip on the villain loosed.  Nathan began coughing violently as he dropped to his knees, grasping his chest tightly.

“I am The Viglante,” The Cad stated coldly, glaring down at Nathan.  “Kurt is gone, and I have picked up the mantle in his place.  It’s a new world now Nathan, a violent world full of violent criminals.  Kurt was too weak to fight all that violence, and he was swallowed up by it.  But now, there is a new Vigilante in town, and he is up to the task of scouring the criminal element off of the streets of this city.  Permanently.”

“No,” Nathan wheezed, choking as he spoke.  “You can’t do this.”

“Can’t do it,” The Cad scoffed.  “Look at me Nathan.  Take a good, long look.  I’ve already done it.  And who is going to stop me?  You?  Look at yourself.  On your knees, choking and gasping for air.  You can’t stop me.”

Nathan’s heart filled with dread as he listened to the sickening sound of The Cad’s fiendish laughter ringing in his ears.

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