Kristofor Hellmeister is a Canadian born, Georgia bred, New England Patriots loving middle school teacher and author. He lives near Atlanta, Georgia with his wife Kristie and son Maddox. Kristofor enjoys baseball, football, fishing, writing, reading, watching a good movie, and teaching.
Master of None
Something had gone wrong. The Susperium, a V Class Interstellar Ship, was rocking back and forth as if space were a violent ocean. Outside the viewport, the wormhole raged all around them, deteriorating and broken in many places. It was as if a memory had been formed, but pieces of it had been forgotten and filled with holes. “Captain! The drives are overheating! We can’t hold it much longer!” Shouted the deck commander. The Captain stared numbly into space, computations feverishly roaming through his mind. As soon as they had entered the wormhole set for a distant solar system, he knew something was amiss. The wormhole wasn’t fully formed as if the drives weren’t strong enough to create the bridge. Now, the ship was falling apart. The wormhole was breaking. If he didn’t get his ship and his people out of the hole, their ship would be destroyed. Fear gripped him as the ship bucked suddenly. Those who didn’t have their magnetized boots activated went careening end over end. Vomit and blood flew across the flight deck. “Sir! We have a breach in Sectors 7 and 8!” The ship was shaking itself apart. They were going to die. The Captain had to do something, and fast. He was about to lose his ship and his crew—a thousand plus colonists in search of a new start, a new home. He unmoored himself from the ground and moved to the command display. An image of the entire ship, with all its systems, illuminated his view. He alone had the power to override each department. The ship was reeling, end over end, and the drives were only operating on half power. Without the drives, they would not be able to exit the wormhole. If this happened, they’d either be lost to time in the space between molecules, or they’d be crushed by the collapsing wormhole. The first thing he had to do is stop Susperium’s roll. The lurching nature of the ship meant they had no direction. Quickly, his hands worked over the display. He activated boosters and thrusters to get the ship under control. Eventually, the ship settled as it smoothed out its course. The Captain turned his attention to the drives. They were cooling down, and he needed to get them warm again. But, the wormhole was still closing in around the ship. There wasn’t enough time. His mind went to the people on board. He had to save them. “Get to the lifeboats,” he instructed solemnly. Immediately, everyone ran to their escape. The Captain gave them time. The problem was the size of the Susperium. The drives would not be warm enough in order to push the whole ship out of the wormhole. But, it would be able to get half. The Captain took a deep breath. The drives were at optimum temperature. He could see the edges of the wormhole just outside the command deck. It was now or never. The Captain grabbed the joystick to his right and drew it back rapidly. The Susperium lurched upward as if about to flip over backwards. The sudden change of position whipped the tail end around. Just as it was about to reach the apex of its forward movement, the Captain detached the latter half of the ship. The detached half with the drives included shot forward from the dramatic change in weight. Before the rest of the ship got out of range, the Captain used the thrusters to align the detached half so that it was pointed away from his portion of the ship. The signal was beginning to fade as the distance between each half grew greater. Swiftly, the Captain turned the drives on full power. In a blink, they ignited and he could see from the command display an exit appear just ahead the other half of the Susperium. The half with the survivors inside slipped out of the wormhole. The rest of the ship continued to turn, slowly, as if a pendulum. The ship came to a rest facing away from the exit. The Captain watched as the wormhole continued to collapse around him. His thoughts flew to his family, to his budding career, and to the pain of losing so much. He couldn’t help but imagine the horror and pain which lay ahead of him. In a flash of light, the Susperium exploded in the wormhole.
Maestro stirred. His hands, placed gracefully across his chest, twitched to life. His eyes, emblazoned with gold and silver, slid open. Maestro slowly sat up, the slumber still thick upon his mind and body. His purple cape fell over the side of the bed chamber he had been resting within—an eternal rest. One which had been granted to him for the past millennia as a reward for his services to humanity. But, something had woken him. Maestro knew only one thing could wake him from his sleep—pain and suffering. He inclined his head to listen. Earth was open to him as every sound found its way to him like a symphony. He heard children laughing, mother’s scolding, babies slurping, and father’s huffing over traffic. He heard every heart beat—the young, the old, the sick, the healthy. But, he did not hear a scream. This was the only thing which could wake him. It was agony which would have brought him out of his reverie. Had his old nemesis returned to Earth? Was there a fire to extinguished, a war to be ended, a villain to fight? All he heard was joy. It was as he had left Earth so long ago. It was still at peace, at rest, not weighed down by pain and suffering. He had been their successful hero for generations. Under his hand, justice was restored. Under his power, darkness fled. Under his wisdom, technology prevented destruction and suffering. Under his strength, love and peace flourished over the land. But, something had woken him. Maestro stretched his attention beyond Earth. He was immediately surprised to see humanity had pushed its presence beyond the Moon, beyond Mars, and even a few settlements in the asteroid belt. Maestro was proud of their accomplishments. His mind drifted to the personal lives in the universe as he sifted through families and friends, triumphs and achievements, time and space. A scream. Maestro jerked his head in the direction of the faint disparity. It was a whisper, but it was there. He floated out of the stone sepulcher, engraved with his accomplishments and decked with precious jewels, and lighted on the ground at the mouth of his shallow cave. No one knew where he was and none had come looking. He was always available, if needed, but Earth was a garden, now. It was prosperous and free. But, someone needed to be saved. Maestro searched the cosmos, following the scream back to its origin. It bounced off multiple spectral bodies—stars and planets. At one point it was almost lost in a black hole, but he was able to find its wave drifting through space. He followed it back to a planet in a distant solar system. Immediately, he was overwhelmed with a rush of suffering. It pierced him like daggers—as if feedback from a microphone was amplified to a deafening degree. Maestro recoiled his consciousness. For a moment, he was contemplative. His breath returned to normal as the pain washed away in the tide. The decision, though, was already made. Earth did not need him, but humanity, though off in the distance and separated by time and space, needed him. Maestro rose off of the ground. He placed his helmet over his glossy hair. His cape billowed behind him. The early morning sun spread shafts of iridescent light through the entrance of the cave. The rays bounced off his golden skin-tight armor, spreading a showering display of reflected light throughout the cavern. Before time could blink, Maestro burst through air molecules in a torrent of power and speed.
As soon as Maestro departed Earth’s solar system, he increased his speed until he was going fast enough to rupture a wormhole. Silently, he slipped inside, wrapped in the echoes of time. Though much of the information was from the past, all of his history was swirling around him—like a scratchy record he couldn’t turn off. He saw images of horrific wars. He saw babies being born. He saw forests giving way to deserts. He saw waves crashing soothingly upon the shore. He saw politicians. He saw the people he could not help. Every one of his experiences was displayed in this wormhole as he used it, which was why he did not often use it to travel—especially not on Earth where the energy would rip the planet apart. This was why he waited until he was out of the solar system to open the hole. Despite its dangers, it was an exceedingly quick way to travel on an intergalactic scale. Maestro exited the wormhole just outside the solar system of his destination. As soon as his senses could register, they were overwhelmed by a great, torrential darkness. The solar system was wrapped in a terrible pain. It hung in the space between molecules. It was as black as dark matter, coating everything on a quantum level. It even carried an odor, like death. Maestro grew angry and sped towards its origin. Such a corruption had to be destroyed. The planet came into view—just over ten thousand miles away. So many screams erupted from the planet. They swirled together in a toxic cocktail. Maestro focused on one and pushed his speed to its maximum without risking opening another wormhole. The edges around him turned white. He could see the victim in his mind. She was on the edge of a tall building, her foot hanging off the edge with her hands clasped on the railing. She let go. Fear tumbled from her lips. She was falling, falling, falling. Maestro grunted as he increased his speed. Twenty feet from the ground. Time began to slow down as it sought to catch up to him. He had to save her! Ten feet from the ground. The woman’s face turned to the heavens, full of fear and regret. The atmosphere wrapped around him like a smothering blanket, but he burst through with a crackle. The building loomed in front of him. Five feet. Maestro swung underneath the woman, his feet scraping against the concrete as he caught her. A sigh of relief burst in his chest. He looked down at the woman in his arms expecting to see the look of gratitude he typically received. He saw terror. The woman began to thrash about, screaming and sputtering. She punched him and clawed at his arms. Bewildered, but not hurt by the woman, Maestro headed back to solid ground. He landed softly and released the woman who was in a full, wild rage. “Ma’me, I am Maestro. I am here to save you!” “No! No! No! Why didn’t you let me die!?” She asked with spittle flying from her lips. As Maestro worked through his confusion, the woman’s gaze looked past him. Her terror turned to peace. Maestro, so wrapped in pondering, did not hear the wind rush up to his back. A blur struck him from behind and sent him into the side of a car. His armor groaned as the car caved inward around him. His assailant held the woman by the throat. His black armor absorbed all the light from around him. The woman wasn’t resisting, though. She wasn’t even afraid. “Do you want to die?” A gruff voice asked. The woman nodded her head vigorously. Without hesitation, the black gloved hand tightened around her throat and lifted her off the ground. Maestro looked on in horror as he sought to get to his feet. The black clad attacker lifted his other hand with his palm facing Maestro. Before he could rise completely, a blast of energy struck Maestro and rocketed him backwards into the car. The energy felt like an elephant sitting on top of him. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t push it away. It was like being stuck in an undertow. He was drowning. The woman’s breath came in gurgled gasps. The hand tightened ever more. Her eyes bulged out her head. Desperation and terror shown on her face. Her lips started to turn blue as life ebbed from her like an exhale. Maestro screamed as he rose on one knee. The woman was dying and he could feel her pain. “Look at me, ma’me!” He yelled over the energy. “Just look at me! I’m going to save you. I promise! Just hang on!” The woman turned to face him. Her eyes, murky and bloodshot, held joy. A resounding crack echoed as her neck snapped in half. The woman’s head hung limp as distance entered her eyes. Without empathy, the man in black threw the body away like a rag doll. Anger burst from Maestro’s throat as the enemy turned his gaze. His second hand burst forth with another wave of energy, and Maestro was slammed backwards into darkness.
Maestro woke with a groan. His body felt heavy and sore and his head pounded with each beat of his heart. All around him was thick darkness. “You’re awake,” spoke a voice casually. At the sound of the voice, Maestro’s fists balled into clubs. He rose out of his bed and struck a defensive pose. His mind gathered millions of details whether they were sounds, smells, tastes, or images. Though he could not see through the gloom, he was able to piece together a blueprint of the room by listening to how sound resounded off the walls. But, where was his enemy? “Whoa, Tiger. Let’s calm down.” Maestro jerked around in the direction of the voice. Even with all of his data, it was as if the darkness was doing the talking. He scrutinized the silence. There! A heart beating in the blackness. Maestro balled up his fist and prepared to enter the darkness. “You’re new around here, aren’t you?” Spoke the voice with a chuckle. “Let me introduce myself.” From the shadows, a man emerged. Maestro was taken back and prepared to defend himself. Never had his enemy so brazenly approached him. He flinched when the man, who had his helmet tucked under his arm, extended a hand. “My name’s Buck. Buck Jones.” The hand was still held out. Maestro was flabbergasted. He was ready, though, for any form of deception this man was about to throw at him. Did he have poison on his palm? Was he about to paralyze him with his grip? Was he about to radiate his body with the same energy he had hit him with earlier? Every scenario he had ever seen moved through his head. “A handshake’s a safe thing, son. I promise,” he said with a goodhearted chuckle. His grizzled chin curled into a jovial grin. Flecks of gray were collected at his temples. There were no scars. No abnormalities. Nothing to convey his villainy. Maestro shook his hand. It was firm, calloused, but the grip was friendly and inviting. Nothing about the man, except his most recent actions, conveyed malicious intent. Who was Buck Jones? Their hands dropped and the man turned to the darkness. His armor blended in with the lightless room. His hand found the wall, though, and lights flickered to life. Maestro watched him as he sat down at a workbench. The man’s lair was simple and unadorned. His workbench had a large magnifying glass and it appeared he had been working on some of his tech. Maestro couldn’t take it anymore. “You killed that woman,” he said with as much conviction as possible. “Yeah, I did. They usually go quicker, though. A shame she took so long,” he responded nonchalantly. Rage boiled in Maestro’s veins. He wanted to strike the man, but he restrained himself. “You’re a murderer,” Maestro accused. He wanted the man to feel the weight of his debauchery. “Yeah, you definitely aren’t from around here,” he responded. “I was doing that woman a great service. I set her free. Trust me, it was for her own good.” “Spoken like a true villain. Your conscience is so corrupted, you don’t understand any ounce of compassion. You will pay for what you did!” The man’s countenance darkened. “Listen here, sonny. Things don’t work like that around here. This ain’t Earth.” Righteous fury raged inside Maestro. “Justice is the same no matter what corner of the universe. And I will not let you abuse justice any longer. I will stop you every time.” The man scoffed. “You don’t get it. These people don’t want to be helped. They have two choices: suffering or an end to suffering. Plagues, earthquakes, wars, kidnapping, floods, fire—I’ve had to be creative over the centuries—I am their end.” Maestro was confused, but decided to let the man keep talking. The villain typically revealed his or her devious plans if he let them run their mouths. He feigned curiosity. “And I suppose you set this suffering in motion? What was it? A sonic wave emitter? A quantum entangler? What did you devise for your victims?” The man’s shaggy hair shook vigorously. “I did not do this, friend. When I arrived on this planet, the people were already here and they already had this problem. Some rupture in the quantum entanglement in the solar system, I assume. Whatever it is, it makes them replay over and over their darkest fears and their regrets. Some of them choose to become numb to it all. Drugs, entertainment, sex—you name it. Others, well, they are a bit more courageous. They reach out to death willingly. I happen to be a tool, a siphon, which helps them out. Sometimes I am even merciful enough to take them wholesale. I once destroyed an entire city overnight. The blast was beautiful. So many colors.” Maestro couldn’t take it anymore. The sheer lack of empathy grated on his heart. “Then I will stop you. I cannot allow you to get away with this. I don’t care what it takes, I will save whoever gets into harm’s way.” “Kid, I already told you. I give them what they want—a quick and glorious death. Your antics aren’t needed here. Besides, I’m the hero around here,” he stated matter-of-factly. “Then I guess that makes me the villain,” Maestro stated firmly. A resolute silence fell between the two enemies. “So be it, boy. The door is over there,” Buck pointed. Maestro hesitated before he turned his back and departed.
Maestro was angry. The rage bubbled just beneath his skin and it was all directed towards Siphon—the name Maestro had granted the black clad man. How could Siphon get away with such atrocity? The very idea of such unbridled destruction and violence was an affront to who Maestro was. It tested his person. It flew in the face of everything he stood for and all Maestro had ever accomplished. As he flew, with arm extended, the wind did little to appease his anger. Maestro focused his hatred as his mind worked through every strategy and every battle plan he had ever concocted. First, he’d need to find a place to contain his tech and his armor—a home base—a lair. Second, he’d need to befriend some of the local authorities and reporters so he could stay in the criminal loop. It wasn’t too difficult—people were usually willing to gossip and talk about rumors. Usually these rumors held some clout. With his plot in mind, Maestro turned towards the nearest city and flew in its direction. It wasn’t long before farm land was replaced by sprawling suburbs and finally a spectacular city. Maestro marveled at the technology of the citizens of the planet. He reasoned, based on how far the other colonies had traveled in his solar system, the humans on this planet had colonized in under four hundred years. The fact they had advanced cities was surprising. But, there was a numbness. Like smog, it hung over the city, choking out the light. Maestro aimed downward. He needed to find the police precinct and talk to the chief. On Earth, he had relationships with numerous officers and chiefs of police, and they were relationships he had reaped fully. Maestro had to know any information he could about Siphon. It was Maestro’s assumption Siphon was coordinating the gang activity in the area—most villains had a hand in such nefarious undertakings. From above the streets, Maestro spotted the police headquarters. He enjoyed being above the crowds, above the cities—always had. It gave him a sense of perspective and authority little else was able to grant to him. Below, he could already see some of the officers coming out of the building, lining up on the streets, pointing in his direction as they prepared to welcome him to the city. Maestro dropped down and prepared to land on the street opposite their growing line. Maestro landed softly on top of a car and placed his hands across his waist in a striking pose. The street in front of the police precinct was littered with police officers, all decked in tactical gear. He sensed a palpable tension lingering in the air. Sure enough, innocent bystanders were cowering behind cars and looking furtively at what was unfolding. Indeed, the owner of the car he was standing upon crawled on all fours out of his car and dove behind a mailbox. Confused, but not deterred, Maestro turned his attention to the police headquarters in front of him. “Hello, citizens! I am Maestro!” He shouted. The crowd flinched at his voice. An officer appeared with a bullhorn. “What do you want? Are you here to kill us?” Maestro laughed. “No, I am here to save you!” Collected gasps tore through the street. “Open fire!” Before Maestro could react, the air was split in two with a hail of bullets. They peppered off his skin and armor with a stinging sensation. Maestro brought his cape up over his face and defended himself against the assault. Maestro scrambled behind the car he was standing on as glass shattered around him. Screams sliced the air as bystanders started to get caught in the fire. At first Maestro thought it was accidental, but then he saw a couple people willingly jump in the way of the volley of bullets. Panic pulsed in his veins. What was he supposed to do? Blood was running down the street. Maestro had enough. He turned towards the car he was hiding behind and kicked it towards the police station. It rolled end over end towards the police line. Surprisingly, most of the police officers in the way did not move as the car struck them. The sound of their deaths rung in Maestro’s ears. He had to end this. Suddenly, gunfire erupted from Maestro’s side of the street as a group of loosely armored individuals melted from the alleys. Each one had a white handprint etched across their chests and bandanas over their mouths. The gang members exchanged fire with the police officers as a battle unfolded in the streets. Frustration and anger consumed Maestro. Bodies were filling the street and clogging his thoughts. The sound of gunfire was a resounding gong in his mind, and he had no idea who was his ally and who was his enemy. Smoke and debris filled the air. Maestro was in the middle of it all. His eyes searched the violence. A primal roar escaped his lips. He extended his arms out wide and then brought them crashing together. The result was a bubble of energy which spread out all around him. The force knocked everyone off their feet and sent mailboxes and vendor carts flying in all directions. A groan filled silence settled. Maestro’s breath came in emotional gasps. He found the man he was looking for. As he was getting up off the ground, Maestro grabbed him by the shirt and shot into the air away from the carnage. Before the man in his grasp could react, he was dangling off a building. “Who do you work for!?” Maestro asked gruffly. Surprisingly, the gang leader was calm. “I work for no one,” he answered nonchalantly. “Then why were you hitting the police precinct?” The man shrugged. “It was a dangerous thing to do. A sure way to die. Besides, it’s good entertainment. Gets a lot of the bystanders in on the action.” Maestro wore a look of bewilderment. “You gonna let me go, now? From this height, it’s a sure thing.” Aggravation pestered Maestro. “No. I’m not. But, I’ll cut you a deal. You work for me, get me what I want, and I will give you the death you desire,” Maestro promised emptily. “Excellent!” The gang leader responded eagerly. “What do you want me to do?”
Maestro felt dirty. His legs hung over the side of the tallest building in the city and his head hung lower. Nothing made sense. But now he was in a position to reap the benefit of knowledge and resources. He’d squeeze the gangs dry. But, it was based on a lie. There was no way he could kill the gang leader. Maestro was bothered by the lie but justified it as a means to an end. He was pondering this when he smelled the acrid scent of a house fire on the wind. Immediately, he was up, fifty feet above the building, searching, searching, inclining his head to the wind until he pinpointed the location of the fire. With a rush of air, he sped away. The building was fully engulfed on the top two floors when Maestro arrived. A crowd was gathered at its base, watching and enjoying the destruction. Hovering above the inferno and careful to avoid the smoke, he moved his mind and listened to the thoughts of anyone who was still in the building. A single individual was huddled in a closet on the seventh floor which was already in flames. As soon as Maestro’s conscious encountered the man’s own, a stabbing pain embedded into Maestro’s mind. Like a thousand pieces of glass, he felt pain envelop him. Immediately, he retreated with a sluggish shake of his head. Without hesitation, Maestro descended to the right level. He took a deep breath before crashing through the outer wall to get inside. Smoke closed around him. He couldn’t see anything, and could only hear the flames greedily feasting on the building. “Call out to me!” He shouted above the inferno. Only the flames responded. Maestro looked at the firestorm ahead of him. He had to go through in order to get to the man. He could try to put out the flames using a gust of his breath, but the man might be dead by the time he got to him. Maestro braced himself and prepared to sprint through the flames. Even at super speed, the flames would still lick his skin. Maestro ran into the blaze. He dodged a collapsing wall. He ducked under a caved in doorway. The heat was punishing, sucking the air from his lungs. The smoke choked out his sight, but Maestro was close enough, now, to hear the slow, dull heartbeat of a dying man. “I’m almost there! Hang on!” In the dark and sooty gloom, he could see the doorknob to the closet. His hand extended as he reached out in rescue. Maestro was so determined to save the man, he did not hear the destruction hurtling down from above him. Just as his hand closed on the door, Siphon crashed on top of him, pushing him into the ground with enough force to punch through each floor beneath him. With a sickening crash, the two of them landed on the bottom floor. The energy from the attack sent a gale of wind throughout the building, subduing most of the flames. Bewildered and dazed, Maestro tried to rise. Siphon was on top of him, and quickly shoved him back down. Maestro’s visor cracked. “Stop!” Siphon shouted. Maestro was pinned. Siphon was silhouetted by a gaping wound which ran the height of the building. “Your righteousness and self-sacrifice do not belong here. They are evil of the vilest kind!” There was a cough and tinkering of glass. A head appeared seven stories up. “Mr. Black, is that you?” The voice was weak and faint. Siphon turned his head, but maintained the pressure on Maestro’s chest. “Yes, son.” A pause. “Alright, I’m coming down.” The man whom Maestro came to save jumped through the hole in the floors. Siphon extended his hand as if to catch him. The man was ten feet away, hurtling downward, when a ball of energy shot from the tip of Siphon’s outstretched arm. The man disappeared in a red cloud. Drop of blood, like dew, descended upon the two men. They clung to Maestro like cobwebs. “Tired of this, yet?” Siphon asked deliberately. His arm lowered as another ball of energy started to form in his palm. The energy swirled, filling the room with spinning light. “You don’t belong here. This is your last warning. Next time, I will kill you,” Siphon promised. Siphon raised his hand above his head and brought it crashing back down. His fist impacted the ground next to Maestro’s head. The energy filtered through every fiber of the building. The walls, not able to contain the force, began to crumble. Siphon released the pressure on Maestro’s chest, rose steadily with fists curled, and as the building began to fall inward upon itself, shot upward and out. A sob, deep and alone, escaped from Maestro’s lips as the building buried him.
Maestro limped into his cave. Blood trickled from multiple wounds running down his arms, face, and legs. His skin-tight armor was missing pieces from where the building had done its heavy damage. But, the heaviest damage was upon Maestro himself. His head hung low, and grief hung at his brow. The man slowly sat down on a chair as more pain was added to his body. He hid his eyes in his hands and tried to lose the memory of the man’s death. The man’s blood, in pin pricks, was still on his armor. Maestro tried to wipe it off, but it only smeared. With a gust of anger from his mouth, he threw his helmet and screamed until he had no more tears and no more breath to scream anymore. Everything was horribly wrong. Maestro didn’t understand what to do. He didn’t know how to defeat Siphon. He didn’t know how to save people. He didn’t know how to be the hero. Realization settled into Maestro’s mind. He wasn’t the hero. He was the villain. The whole time, he had been thinking like the hero. But, that way of thinking didn’t work. He had to change, or he’d continue to fail. He had to think like the villain. A plan started to take shape in his mind. Maestro stood with renewed vigor and renewed focus. He knew how to defeat Siphon. He had to use Siphon’s weakness against him. Maestro put his helmet back on and tapped the communicator. “Hello?” The gang leader’s disgruntled voice shouted. “It’s me,” Maestro began, “I need you to spread the word.”
The trap was set. Maestro hovered above the stadium, observing his work. Already, thousands of people were in the stadium seats, waiting. A strange delight accumulated in Maestro’s chest in anticipation for his success. The bomb was in the center of the field. The Timer was set to thirty seconds. The Activator was in Maestro’s hand. His thumb hovered over the button as he contemplated his plan. Anxiety settled into Maestro, but he ignored it. It was going to work, he was sure. It had to work. His thumb pressed firmly. The countdown began. A roar of approval rose from the audience. Thousands of faces shown with jubilee as they welcomed death. Helicopters whirled above the arena, broadcasting the entertainment to the world. “Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven!” The crowd shouted exuberantly. Maestro drew in his breath and prepared for what was next. “Three! Two! One!” The bomb exploded, sending fire and fury in all directions. It bubbled and roared outward, disintegrating the middle of the field and setting fire to the ground. But, it stopped. The fire rolled inward upon itself as it struck the invisible shield Maestro had constructed. The shield held firm, preventing the inferno from advancing. A wild grin appeared on his lips. Now, it was time for the second phase: Siphon. As if on cue, the black clad man appeared just above the shield. Immediately, the man got to work as waves of energy erupted from the ends of his hands. A cackle rushed from Maestro’s lips as his enemy fell in line with his plan. The shield fed off Siphon’s energy. It shimmered with the blasts as it grew stronger and stronger. Before Siphon could figure out he was only adding to the problem, it would be too late. Maestro shot towards the man. He struck Siphon from behind and sent him careening head over feet into the ground. Before he could get back up, Maestro struck him again, and again, and again with laughter falling from his lips until he was satisfied. Maestro’s breathing came in sharp gasps as his enemy lay face down on the ground. Triumph collected in his chest. He had won. It felt strangely enjoyable to be the villain and to be victorious, but Maestro didn’t care anymore. Siphon feebly lifted up a hand and pointed it towards the rolling mass of fire still struggling against the shield. Maestro laughed at the fool as a stream of luminous energy shot towards the shield. He hadn’t learned the first time, evidently. But, it was Maestro who was wrong. The energy wasn’t meant for the shield. Instead, just as he had spread the energy throughout the building, now the energy was rebounding off the shield and shooting outward to the thousands of people who were storming the arena. Like spokes on a wheel, the energy was being pulled from the shield and redirected onto the people. The shield was draining. It flickered. Panic drove into Maestro like a spike. His eyes darted to the crowd. A wave of people were pushing on the shield as if to break it. They were going to be their own destruction. Maestro knew he had to do something. He landed ungraciously and brought his hands together with a thunderclap. The shock wave knocked hundreds off their feet, but still the shield was growing dimmer. Flames were already escaping. Maestro started to run around, pushing people violently off their feet in an attempt to break the connection. Fear and adrenaline burned in his veins. The shield failed. A thunder slammed across the stadium as a wave of ferocity and fire consumed the air. Maestro was knocked off his feet but managed to cover himself with his cape. The heat tried to tear into him, and the gale force intensity sought to drag him across the earth. He could hear screams. It was a relentless carnage. Maestro cowered until an ashen silence fell. Slowly, he removed his cape and was met with anguish beyond words. All around him the earth was charred beyond recognition. Bodies were strewn everywhere. The stadium was in ruins. Maestro did not know how to comprehend the bloodshed around him. He could not comprehend it was his fault. But, he could not get up off his knees. A lone, black clad figure walked towards him, his feet crunching bone and debris until they paused in front of Maestro. Siphon did not speak. He let the devastation weigh on Maestro. “You have failed,” he began gravely. “I will save them. I will always save them.” His defeat was a storm in his heart. “Leave. This is the last time I’m merciful,” Siphon forewarned as he rose off the ground and flew away from the broken man still on his knees. Eventually, Maestro wiped tears from his eyes and rose to his feet. He couldn’t look at the loss around him. It was true, he did not belong here. Weakly, he held up his hand to the sky and pushed off the burnt ground.
The universe wrapped around Maestro as he made his way farther and farther away from the planet. He dared not look back, but he was too weak to go faster. His choices sought to drag him back down. They fogged up his visor with each breath. He pushed onward, trying to outrun himself. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t shake the shame, the regret, the dead from his mind. Maestro drew near a moon. It too was mocking him with silent judgment. He pushed onward, seeking to hide in the moon’s shadow as he continued deeper into the loneliness of space. As soon as Maestro departed the near side of the moon, he glimpsed something which caused him to pause. At first, he did not understand what he was witnessing. Hidden in the dark side of the moon was a giant rip in the spacetime continuum. The enormous hole swirled with different colors of radiation and energy rolling together in a silent, churning maelstrom. It was a wormhole—the remnant of one which had deteriorated but never closed. The dark side of the moon was being eroded away by the energy, and the radiation was shooting outward in random, vicious streams including a long, thin seam of radiation which sling shot around the moon and carried back towards the planet like spider webs. Understanding settled into Maestro’s mind as a plan started to take shape. Maestro turned his gaze back to the planet. He knew he could no longer be the villain. He had to be more. He had to be despised, hated, and reviled. He had to inflict the most pain he could. Maestro had to become a supervillain.
The valley stretched before Maestro. The city unfolded with twinkling, individual lights. The people went about their regular tendencies, unaware of what he was about to accomplish. A mixed feeling of glee and trepidation accumulated with each breath. But, it needed to be done. The machine behind him whirled to life, purring until it resonated in his body. What he was about to do was going to attract Mr. Black’s attention. Good. He took one last look at the valley below. Only pain and suffering lay ahead. He climbed into the machine. It was hastily constructed, but it would do the trick. Essentially, it served as a conduit. He placed a hand in each of the two clamps constructed just above his head. The machine closed in around his wrist and forearm and drew his arms out until he hovered a few inches off the ground. The sensation wasn’t comfortable, but he ignored it. It was time to begin. The machine entered its second stage as a funnel above his head activated. He glanced upward, through man sized funnel, and into the stars beyond. What came next was integral to his plan. If his calculations were incorrect, all was for naught. The funnel began to turn rapidly, collecting boundless amounts of energy with each cycle until the machine glowed red hot. Just as it appeared to begin to crack under the strain, a beam of energy shot from out of the machine and into the heavens. At first, the lonesome ball of energy seemed to float in the air, aimless and unimportant. But, as soon as it penetrated the upper atmosphere, it ruptured into a thousand strands, like veins tracing across the sky. Now, it was time for the third phase. Once he saw the spidery threads of radiation, he poured his energy into the cuffs attached to his forearms. Immediately, the sinews of radiation which consumed the sky were concentrated into a single rope as if pulled together like a drawstring. This rope weaved together and swirled downward towards him. Like gravity, he used all of his power to pull the tattered and ruined wormhole towards him. As soon as the threads of radiation closes enough, he redirected the strand towards the part of the machine attached to his arms. The strand broke into two and collected into two balls of energy just above his hands. He could feel the power at his fingertips. It coursed through him, consuming all of his being. The energy was phenomenal and all at once he knew he could destroy moons, stars, and even space. He feasted greedily on the power, letting it course through his body like blood. The radiation cracked the air around him like lightning. It shown in his eyes like fire. A wicked smile formed on his lips. Now, it was time for them to hurt. His mind, now imbued and amplified with the energy from the wormhole, reached out to the world around him. He could feel every human being. He could see through every eye. All at once, he was one with humanity. He was a part of them. Their collected experiences burned throughout his mind and body which meant what came next was an easy task. Like turning on a breaker, he redirected the wormhole to every human being on the planet. He knew the broken wormhole had to have been created when the people traveled to this solar system. But, when they arrived, their primitive interstellar technology had failed to sew it closed which meant every terrifying experience and every shameful act was trapped inside and replayed over and over. Every strand of radiation which permeated the planet’s atmosphere brought with it a reminder of these horrors and these regrets. It was no wonder the people here chose death—it was always present in their minds. It haunted their sleep. For generations, they were lost to it. Like oxygen, they breathed in their mistakes and their fears. And now, it was his job to make them face them both. Across the planet, every human being was assaulted by violent thoughts. The pain swept across the world. Cars crashed into one another as people were seized with agony and terror. Planes fell from the sky as pilots were gripped with perpetual fear. Everywhere, in every home, in every mind death swallowed people whole. There was the sound of rushing air as a man adorned in black armor landed in front of the machine. He walked forward until he could see his enemy. He expected Mr. Black’s arrival. “Well, I gotta hand it to you. This is brilliant. Torturing every living being in the world at the same time. Kinda wish I’d of thought of it myself, Maestro,” Mr. Black stated cheerfully. All at once, the two men were allies. They shared a common goal in the moment, but the man in the machine lifted his head which was bowed from the strain. He looked Mr. Black in the eye as power poured through every fiber of his being. “My name is not Maestro, for I am the master of none,” he said through gritted teeth. “Is that a fact, kid?” Mr. Black said with a smirk. “I am Siphon, consumer of all!” He yelled as he strained under the weight of the power. What came next was going to be worse than what had already come. “Is that so? Pretty cool name if you ask me. Wait a second…” Mr. Black’s countenance fell. “What are you doing!? You can’t do that!” Siphon held in his reach every human mind. Like a river dammed by a high wall, the thoughts, fears, anxieties, regrets, shame, and failures collected into a murky, polluted lake. All he had to do was release the dam. Siphon changed the flow of his power and reversed its direction. Immediately, every expression of pain and agony was turned upon him. He became the conduit between the wormhole and mankind. Waves of wretched pain washed over him and started to pull him under. Siphon increased every person’s suffering and pulled it into himself. “Stop!” Mr. Black extended both arms outward as energy burst from his fingertips. They hit Siphon with the force of a hurricane. One of his arms was ripped from the machine. The connection started to fade. Mr. Black leaned into his attack, pouring out of himself as much energy he could. Siphon grunted under the strain. A shout cascaded from his throat as he thrust his arm back into the machine. It wrapped around his forearm and commenced the assault on humanity. The air churned with radiation and Mr. Black’s energy. But, Siphon didn’t resist either of them. He let them both consume him. He regained his connection to the people of the world and let the mountain of their despairs crush him. His body, barely hanging on, was absorbing the radiation. Mr. Black’s energy was amplifying the radiation’s effects until each person’s pain was a knife he soaked in with every part of his body. Soon, there would not be any more room in him left. But, he had to hurt the world. There were still some who were not a part of him, yet. Siphon mustered up what remained of his power and extended his consciousness to the world. People writhed on the floors, slumped over their desks, were keeled over and paralyzed by their anguish. Mankind was one in its suffering, and Siphon would soon be one with mankind. “You can’t do this!” Mr. Black shouted as he continued his onslaught. Siphon fell to his knees. His armor was in shambles, and pieces of it were being ripped off of him with each wave of Mr. Black’s energy. He attempted to rise, but could only get to one knee. The edges of his vision were beginning to grow dim. It was almost time for the ultimate act of evil. He could feel it closing in upon him. His consciousness was full. Siphon had within him every human being. With a transformed vigor, Siphon rose to his feet. His body was a bright white from the energy and radiation he had absorbed. He had strength left to do only one thing. Siphon burst upward with a gust strong enough to knock Mr. Black off his feet and rip the machine out of its casing. Like a rocket, he shot through the air with a trail of energy in his wake. From a distance, he looked like a shooting star. In his hands was every strand of radiation, like ropes being wrenched from the moorings. The strain attempted to pull him back to the earth, but Siphon broke through the atmosphere and continued onward into space. The energy wreathing inside of him was about to burst and he could feel himself breaking apart. The moon was in sight. It loomed in front of him, inviting him onward. His vision started to turn glossy white as the forces inside of him competed in their destruction. He was almost there. Siphon moved into the dark side of the moon. Spinning in its infinite course was the jagged remains of the wormhole. Siphon didn’t know if he had the strength to make it all the way. He was fading. The energy was alive inside of him. The pain from all of mankind was fire in his bones. Siphon let out a cry of deep, exhausted effort. The mouth of the wormhole loomed above him. Darkness wider than space swallowed him. He was but a pin prick of broken light in the middle of the raging storm. He could contain it no longer. Siphon released his strength and succumbed to the greatest evil. Like a supernova, the energy inside of him ruptured. It radiated outward, bubbling and crashing into itself. The explosion bent the wormhole in upon itself until its boundaries came crumbling down. The wormhole flickered and was no more. The explosion continued outward, ripping through space. The moon was shattered into pieces and flung in all directions.
Mr. Black picked himself up from the ground. His head was still spinning and his body felt heavy with pain. Once the grogginess abated, he looked to the heavens to see where Siphon had gone. The night sky was a majestic purple. Raining down through the atmosphere were gold streaks of rock from the destroyed moon. Mr. Black stood with his head to the sky as the world stirred as if from a deep sleep.