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The Third Key

We agreed to split up to search for clues at the locations provided. I started to have Morningstar join me but she declined. "I'm going to monitor things via the surveillance system. The kids are fine with Terra's folks, so that will let me keep an eye on things," she said, with a smile. "Besides, it's been a minute since you've taken the bike out for a spin." I couldn't help but smirk at that. She knows me well.

The others headed out. Before long I was in my gear and heading out. It'd been a long, long time since I'd gone out on my own in the city on a mission. It was like, riding a bike. Some things came back to you quickly.

The HUD display on my helmet chimed and indicated an incoming call from Morningstar. "Couldn't stand me being away for five minutes, huh?" I said jokingly. "Be that as it may," she said sarcastically, "I thought you should know there's some bizarre energy signatures right where you're heading. Be safe. Radio silence enabled."

I love that woman. When she first joined the team, everyone was skeptical. Her abilities at the time were...questionable. Turns out, she hadn't fully harnessed them. As time wore on, she became far more powerful than anyone expected. And as we trained together, we found some interesting common ground. Eventually, we found balance...and then love.

I've been through it all. At least 4 alternate timelines, at least 3 secret alien invasions and 2 very public ones, genetically altered creatures...and yet, in spite of all of that I never would've thought finding love would be possible.

Through all of that insanity, though, there were constants, like the team. Engels and Terra were two of my most trusted friends, so it was good to have them back. But for Dispatch to summon us all after this much had to mean something catastrophic.

I arrived at the coordinates and parked my bike. I stepped off and removed my helmet to survey the area. I was in the warehouse district.

I think I fought a shark monster here, once. Good times.

A call came in from Engels. "Hitman, I need someone to bring a car. Now. I've found Dispatch."

"Understood. Sending Morningstar your way," I replied, then disconnected.

I searched further until I found bizarres scorch marks on the ground. There was an electrical smell in the air. Unnatural. Smelled oddly familiar. It almost smelled like...

My thought was interrupted by a familiar man's voice. "Hitman. Should've known you'd end up here. You shouldn't be here right now. This isn't about you."

That voice? How is it possible?

"You're dead," I said grimly, turning around to face him.

"Clearly, I'm not," he said, smiling as he stepped out of the shadows.


Spire, Sonus and myself - then known as X - had once been a team. Formerly a brother to us both, Spire once represented all that was good. Ex-soldier, carrying all of the good intentions, seriousness, and heroic nature, he was the inspiration that drove Sonus and I to become true heroes, even if we were a little rough around the edges.

"I watched you die. I held your dead body in my arms and we buried you," I said flatly, "So either you're from an alternate dimension, you're a clone, or you're someone pretending to be Spire. Which is it?"

He powered up. "Guess you're just gonna have to find out, aren't you?"

"You've got to be kid--"

He fired a series of electrical blasts from his palms. I dodged each of them and my hand instinctively went to my giant blade - the Fang - strapped to my back. I held off. I need to know what I'm really dealing with here.

Another series of blasts. I flipped out of the way, grabbing a trashcan lid and flinging it in his direction. He knocked it aside - as expected - but it bought me an extra second to grab a smokebomb from its pouch and drop it. I vanished into the smoke.

Spire blasted a nearby water main, saturating the concrete with water. He sent an electrical current outward from his body, effectively electrifying the entire ground. I lunged for the closest wall, drawing my blade from its sheath and stabbing it into the concrete, pulling myself off of the ground as the electricity pulsed across the wet ground.

"Oh, so you're trying to kill me kill me. OK. Now I know."

And we're off.

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