Tear The World Apart, Part 17: End Of An Era

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“When the hell did he have time to do that?” Timebender was staring at the sky in awed fascination. Above them, the Relentless and the Aerial Gold Reserve exchanged storms of energy blasts as they circled and did battle. It looked for all the world as though someone's garage-built robot was trying to deathmatch a Terminator – and winning. Next to her, Lucky followed her gaze.

“To be fair, we don't actually know that… no, you're right, it has to be Ecchs.” He shook his head, turning his attention to where Judgment was gazed slack-jawed. “I'm guessing you didn't know about this either, huh? Bad sign, getting outmaneuvered already.”

“You will be silent.” Judgment waved a hand lazily. “Do you think I don't know why you are here – you and your dimensional doppelganger?” He turned to face Psiborg, eyes narrowing. “You think that their powers are enough to overcome the Prime Law?”

“Think it? I know it.” Psiborg shrugged. “You are defeated already, Judgment. You underestimated my master – and you underestimated yourself.”

There was a short, confused pause. From his spot on the street, Eric spoke. “Overestimated.”

“Excuse me?” Psiborg turned his face expressionlessly towards Eric.

“You mean he overestimated himself.”

“Really, Knightshine.” Psiborg shook his head. “In all the years you have fought with and against me, have I ever misspoken?” When Eric started to shake his head, Psiborg waved him off. “As usual, you fail to understand what has happened here. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.”

“Enlighten us.” Judgment started to stalk forwards towards the robot, who watched him passionlessly.

“You say that you researched narrative law, Judgment, but you did not. You merely believed that you did.” Psiborg quirked a slim smile. “Would you like to know another secret, Judgment? The last one nearly destroyed you.”

Judgment stepped up to Psiborg, glaring down at him. “You can say nothing that will shake my confidence.”

“You were the Alpha Team.”

The street was silent. In the background, a small explosion sent tremors through the ground.

“That's just a dumb Sayleen myth.” Timebender's voice was faint.

“Not at all.” Psiborg chuckled. “After all, good always triumphs, does it not? But the universe does not think. Narrative law is everywhere, but it can be altered. Slowly. Gradually. Untold millenia ago, it formed a knot. That knot settled on the fate of a group of people, and the fate of the universe became bound to theirs.”

“Madness.” Judgment's voice was hoarse. Lucky tried to smile.

“And when he says you're crazy…”

“No one is amused, boy.” Psiborg stepped into Judgment's looming shadow, jabbing a finger up at him. “The Justicars were the Alpha Team. When your team became divided, narrative law was weakened. Knightshine's departure calmed things, but not enough. New York was destroyed.” He grinned mirthlessly. “So you see, New York actually was your fault. Just not how you'd imagined.”

“I don't know why you're telling me this, but I do not believe you.” With sudden motion, Judgment reached out and grabbed Psiborg in a powerful crushing lock. “And you have made a mistake.”

“Once again, you are wrong.” There was a sudden flash of white light. Judgment let out a gasp, his arms falling away from Psiborg, who reached out and pushed. The Antihero fell over with a gasp. “And you reap the rewards of your foolishness. You are the last of the Justicars, Judgment. When your teammates died, the power of narrative law came into your hands. And you despoiled it!” His voice was suddenly fierce. “You twisted its rules, and pulled it away from what it had been. Centuries of careful testing by my masters were undone in a matter of decades!”

“That's enough.” Eric stepped forwards. “It's over, Tom. Magister had a fourth Bane.” Reaching into his coat, he drew out the green crystal. Light refracted and bled through its surface. “While I kept you talking here, it's been draining your powers. Give up.”

“Never.” Judgment levered himself to his feet. “I defy your beliefs, Psiborg. I will never give up. I have told you that I am unshakeable, and I will not surrender!”

“Nor do I expect you to.” Psiborg raised his hand.

“No!” Eric started forwards. But by the time they realized what had happened, it was over.

Whitish-yellow light pulsed from Psiborg's head, arcing in a lance of psionic power through his arm and across the gap seperating him from Judgment. There was a flare of light as it connected, burned through Judgment's chest, and lanced out the other side.

The Antihero looked down at the cauterized wound that took up the remains of his chest, and then up at Psiborg. He opened his mouth, coughed droplets of blood. Took one step forwards, and then fell.

Eric clenched his teeth. “There was no need…”

“Of course there was.” Psiborg shrugged. “He was too dangerous to allow to live. I saved you the trouble of realizing that. Now, only one thing remains.”

He raised his arm again, light shining around it. “I'll be taking the Bane, now.”


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