Ever Vigilant, Part Four

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 and killed his greatest nemesis.  Nathan, filled with rage at the news of his friend’s death, attacked The Cad and began tearing the armor of the Vigilante off of the villain.  The Cad released a cloud of toxic green gas that instantly weakened The Extraordinary Man, leaving him weakened on his knees with The Cad standing over him, his wicked laugh ringing in Nathan’s ears.

“What have you done to me,” Nathan asked, wheezing as he spoke.

“Oh, Nathan,” The Cad replied with mock sympathy.  “You will love this one.  Absolutely love it.  You see, when I took over the mantle of The Vigilante, I discovered all of his secrets.  And boy, did he have secrets.  For example, did you know that your good friend Kurt had studied each and every one of you heroes, and had created plans for defeating you all?  You know, just in case he needed to.  Isn’t that funny?  I thought it was pretty funny.  And his plan for defeating you revolved around a certain element that is your greatest weakness.  I had no idea that such a thing existed.  An element that strips you of your powers and turns you into a weak little shell of a man.  And so, your friend, your closest comrade, took that element and turned it into a gas which he then used to fill several vials with back at his HQ.  Those vials are locked away in his vault, ready to be used at a moments notice.  A moment like, let’s say, you decide to attack The Vigilante and begin ripping off his armor.  At that moment, said gas will deploy and incapacitate you.  I hate to admit it, but that is a pure stroke of genius on our old friend Kurt’s part.  Real genius.  And paranoia too I think.  It really shows that deep down, ol’ Kurt didn’t even trust you, his best friend.”

“I gave that element to Kurt,” Nathan said, coughing as he spoke.  “I told him to keep it in case something happened to me and I needed to be stopped.”

“Oh my,” The Cad responded, laughing again.  “That’s even better!  I bet that when you gave it to him, you had no idea that it would end up in my hands, did you?”

“Is that your game-plan then,” Nathan asked, wiping blood from his mouth.  “You lure me in by taking on the guise of The Vigilante, and then you kill me with a weapon that I gave him?”

The Cad let out long sigh, shaking his head in disappointment.  “Oh Nathan.  It looks like you have an extra ordinary ego if nothing else.  You know, the universe does not revolve around you, despite what you might think.  This isn’t about me killing you.  I don’t want to kill you.  Not any more at least.  Believe it or not, this does not actually have anything to do with you at all.  You just happened to interrupt me while I was out on patrol.  The gas was just me being prepared for any contingency, that’s all.  Just like Kurt would be prepared.”

“Then why,” Nathan asked desperately.  “What is this?  What are you planning?  What is your scheme?”

The Cad tilted his head in a gesture of pity towards Nathan, and let out another long sigh.  “No plan Nathan.  No scheme, no game, no evil plot.  That’s not me any more.  I’ve turned over a new leaf.  I’m a good guy now Nathan.  Just like you.  This city needs The Vigilante, and since Kurt has passed on to fight crime in the afterlife, the torch must be passed on to someone who can keep the legacy going.  This city needs me, and I am going to be there for her.  I am The Vigilante now, and I will keep this city safe from the dregs and psychos that plague her streets!”

“This is a sick joke,” Nathan hissed.  “And I will stop you!  I will not let you do this!”

The Cad leaned  closer to Nathan, and sprayed another cloud of toxic gas directly in Nathan’s face, causing The Extraordinary Man to slump over in pain, coughing violently.

“This is happening Nathan,” The Cad said coldly.  “I am The Vigilante now, and I will bring order and justice to this city.  I do not want to fight you, I want to work with you just as Kurt did.  We can be allies if you just accept me.  But, make no mistake, if you try to stand in my way, I will kill you.  I will kill any of you that try to stand in my way.  Just as I will kill any criminal that dares to sully my city with their presence.”

The Cad backed away from Nathan, leaving him writhing in agony, picked up the pieces of his Vigilante armor, and moved to the edge of the rooftop he and Nathan had been conversing on.

“Spread the word Nathan,” The Cad called out, turning to face The Extraordinary Man.  “Tell your friends, tell your colleagues, The Vigilante is back in town, refocused on his mission for justice.  Tell them all to stay out of my way Nathan.  Tell them all that I know all of their weaknesses.  When next we meet, let us hope it will be under more pleasant circumstances, shall we?  Say, do you guys some kind of monthly club meeting, or something like that?  I’m looking forward to that.  I will be waiting patiently for my invitation.”

Nathan could only let out a pathetic whimper as he watched The Cad fall backwards off of the rooftop, and then swing away on a grappling hook, laughing hysterically as he disappeared into the night.

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