War hated coming to meetings but he had been one of the founding members of Balance of Power and so felt like it was his duty to attend. Still he grumbled and groaned as he eased himself into his seat at the table. The years had not been kind to him but as he looked around the room at the other members he was certain he could take them, this was mostly because Warlock had not chosen to attend this particular meeting.
Ordo, who had called for the meeting, started speaking as soon as War had settled into his seat “I would normally wait until we are all here but given that the missing member is Warlock I must assume he isn’t going to be attending.”
“Then I’m leaving.” Villain said and rose from his chair “None of the rest of you second stringers are worth my time.” He spat.
War laughed, a low rolling laugh that sent chills down the spines of the assembled villains despite War’s obvious mirth. The older members had heard War laugh like that only when he was about to put someone in their place. “Second stringers, I haven’t heard someone so full of themselves since the late Paragon.” War snapped his fingers and his lieutenants, Conquer and Battle, stepped into the room. Both wore a full complement of weaponry and didn’t seem nervous in the slightest to be squaring off against Villain.
Villain was a hothead but even he knew that if he faced off against the three of them at the same time he would have no chance so he sat back in his seat and cursed the old villain under his breath. Ordo was unperturbed by the whole display and just continued with the meeting as though nothing had happened “As some of you will already know, Wizard is planning a big ritual for a few hours from now. Some of you may be wondering why the Dead Languages advised you not to attack at this time.”
“Heroes are going to be crawling all over that ritual. No one here is stupid enough to try and take on that kind of challenge.” Slaughter pointed out. “Then there is the fact that the ritual is to help a member of Unstoppable Force, which means the Elemental Four are bound to be there.”
“I wouldn’t be too concerned with the Elemental Four, I took down their predecessors when I was just a lad, but you are right about the other heroes being everywhere.” War leaned his massive frame against the table and heard the metal creak beneath him.
“I wouldn’t use the previous Elementals as a measure for how you will do against this new batch.” Observe warned. “From what I’ve seen they appear to be more powerful than their predecessors by a significant margin.”
“I find that hard to believe.” Villain chided.
“None of the previous ones demonstrated an ability to turn into their element but Earth showed up at a bank robbery yesterday made out of stone.” Observe tapped some buttons on the tablet he was holding and holographic images appeared above the inlaid projector in the middle of the table. “The other thing is that she in particular appears to be pissed at the issue with her teammate, not surprising since I’m fairly certain they were dating.”
“She is much more likely to kill from what I could tell.” Legion said as he leaned forward, out of the shadows he had requested be near his seat. It was probable that this wasn’t the original, why would he risk it when he could send a clone, but the way all the clones’ minds linked together with the original meant he was aware of everything that went on at the meeting. “She leveled the base Warlock kept her at without bothering to pull any of my clones out.”
“All valid concerns.” Ordo regained control of the conversation. “But not why we advised against attacking the ritual.”
“He warned you all to stay away because I told him to.” The man in the suit walked into the room and sat in the empty seat that belonged to Warlock.
“I wouldn’t sit there if I were you. That seat’s owner tends to take offence at someone taking something that belongs to him.” Villain said with a cocky smirk. He remembered the last year when a up and coming villain had sat in Warlock’s seat and had his soul ripped out before he knew what had happened.
“I’ve found that dead people seldom raise much fuss about these things.” The man in the suit said as he poured himself a glass of brandy.
“Many people have claimed to have killed Warlock and he keeps coming back.” Villain shot back.
Observe was sweating and his knuckles had gone white from gripping the armrests of his chair too hard. No one noticed this until his eyes began to bleed and he started screaming. The pain and fear in his voice turned whatever he had been intending to say into unintelligible gibberish. His bodyguards stormed into the room and began ushering him out while trying to discern who could be attacking their employer. When they saw the man in the suit smiling at them they assumed he was the culprit and fired. Their shots stopped mere inches from his face and hung there, as if all their forward motion had been negated.
The man in the suit swept the shots aside with his hand and spoke “I am quite certain Warlock is dead. But that is not why we are here. We are here because I decided it was time to step out of the shadows and make my intentions known. I have plans for the hero known as Orpheus and I will brook no interference with those plans.”
“We’re not afraid of you.” Villain put on a brave face but the sight of Observe being dragged out screaming was fresh in his mind.
“No, you aren’t but I know what you are afraid of Chester.” The man in the suit smiled and the room faded away. As the other villains watched a cage, like one would see at a zoo, formed around Villain. “You fear becoming an animal in a cage. Something to be studied and laughed at by school children on field trips.” Said school children appeared around the cage, the children bore no faces save for the laughing mask that had become a common sign of theater, and began pointing.
With a snap of the man’s finger the room returned to normal. “Who are you?” War asked. He was intrigued by the new comer and the wide range of abilities he had demonstrated.
“The people who knew me called me Jason.” The man in the suit answered honestly.
War shook his head “No I mean what is your power name?”
The man swirled his drink around in the glass. “What was the first language?”
War thought for a minute “I would say it was something like Sumerian wasn’t it.” He had heard that was the first written language and so figured that is what the stranger meant.
The man shook his head “People communicated long before Sumerian was written down.”
“True but I doubt your word is some combination of grunts and pointing.” War chuckled.
The man took a drink “Too true. That would be a terrible language for powers anyway. No one really uses it anymore so it would be terribly weak.” They laughed together “No the language my word is in isn’t spoke so much as it is thought.”
Ordo dared to interrupt “My predecessor called it the language of concepts. Before one knows the words for something they have an idea of what it is. This was the first language.”
“And my power is the second word in that language.” The man stated.
War thought about it for a moment and laughed uncomfortably as he realized what the second word would have been. Villain looked at him confused “I don’t get it.” He said uncertainly. He had been avoiding eye contact with the man so that he could avoid being put back in the cage but dared to look at him in his confusion.
“The first word, or concept if you will, is the idea of a beginning.” The man explained. “Which would make the second concept…” The man rolled his hand as if to usher Villain along.
“The end.” War concluded.