"Keep your face always towards the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you." - Walt Whitman
October 31st 1940
The day started off normal enough.
I woke up, activated the Matter Generator, and went out to fight some crime. People call me, 'The Mighty Icarus', but I just prefer Icarus. When I'm not fighting crime, I'm spending time in my secret identity of NYPD Officer David Pace, so technically I'm still fighting crime but that doesn't matter. I'm some kind of alien, stronger and faster than normal people, so maybe I'm just as weird as the Ghoul fella giving me a weird look from across the rooftop.
Around midday, during my shift at work, I got a message from Detective Mike Peters, a friend of mine, telling me to get to his safe house in Jersey as quickly as possible. Unfortunately it doesn't seem I got there fast enough, because when I finally got to the meeting place, Mike was dead. I saw the sniper rifle across the street, being peered through by a man dressed completely in white, and that's how we ended up here, crouched on top of a dive bar's roof, watching the worst people that humanity has to offer have the time of their lives.
A man, dressed in technicolor robes, enters the bar, flanked by bodyguards all carrying automatics under their coats. They're not the only ones. I glance at the Ghoul, specifically at the revolver hanging under his coat, and I frown, not too sure about the company I'm keeping. There's something about the man below that seems familiar, and as we watch from the skylight, I notice the Ghoul clench his fist.
"Do you know him?" I ask, nodding down at the figure as he calmly climbs atop the bar stand and begins preaching to the patrons, who all quickly take an interest. I notice the man we're after, Gene Mason, flock to the man's side, mystic amulet still around his neck and emitting the same energy pattern that I followed here.
"That's Father Cross." The Ghoul mumbles, taking a step back from the edge as his heart rate begins to ride.
"The... the serial killer?"
The vigilante nods, body shaking slightly until he catches himself and takes a deep breath.
"Can you hear what he's saying?" Ghoul asks, regaining his composure and looking at me sternly from under his cracked, black goggles. Something weird I notice, we're around the same height, I'm about an inch taller but not enough for someone to notice instantly.
"No. I don't have super hearing."
The Ghoul's mask shifts, almost as if he's smiling. I return the gesture, and the flaming wings on my back bristle with anticipation as I know what he's about to say.
"Then we may as well get right to it."
Immediately I soar up into the sky, casting a shadow into the bar below that draws everyone's attention, and before anything can be done, I redirect my flight downward and smash through the skylight, landing atop the bright green pool table in the center of the room, resulting in lots of gasps. The Ghoul jumps down to join me, so I subtly flap my wings and slow his descent so he doesn't get injured by the landing.
"Evening, gentlemen." I say, arms folded sternly across my chest as all eyes look at us. There must be a couple dozen people in this place, easily. Hopefully some of them will decide to run when everything erupts.
"Icarus!" Someone shouts and the place begins to erupt with movement. People draw their guns, move across the room and get ready for a fight. The look on Father Cross' face is one of anger, his henchmen, even Gene, seem ready to put a bullet into my skull... but then they notice who I'm with.
"It's the Ghoul!"
A deathly silence fills the place, the bravado that was here just a few seconds ago seems to have gone, and I see a couple of men even slip out the entrance. It's an interesting reaction, one my friend takes full advantage of as he steps forward, hands hidden in his coat pockets.
"We're here for Gene Mason." He growls, glaring angrily at the man leaning against the bar. "We're not leaving until we've spoken to him."
A laugh, low and long, fills the room, filling my heart with dread. Across from us, Father Cross rallies his men, speaking in a voice so calm yet powerful that I don't doubt that he speaks for whatever faith he belongs to.
"Well, my friends." The Father says. "You won't be leaving here at all."
That's the cue. Instantly everyone turns on us, drawing their weapons, and immediately the two of us spring into action. The Ghoul jumps to the ground, pulling a pair of knuckle dusters from his pockets and using the cover of the crowd to break line of sight with any trigger happy nut jobs trying to end his life. He lands a couple of quick hits into some of the Crime Cult's members, and I decide to keep an eye on him just in case. While the Ghoul goes down, I go up, drawing the gaze of all around me, thanks to the wings on my back. Bullets soar towards me, most missing, but for the few that do manage to find their mark, I incinerate them with a few quick bursts of invisible heat vision. Then I quit defense and move to offense, bracing my fist and charging through a group of cultists like a bowling ball knocking through pins. The Ghoul moves like a demon, landing powerful blows and kicks before anyone can even react. He's taken some hits, but he doesn't seem to care. He's brutal, unrelenting, and I understand why everyone is so scared of him. A couple of bullets head his way, but I stop them before they land, and at one point the two of us are standing back to back as we each handle our own attackers appropriately.
It's the most fun I've had since I became a superhero, and judging from the Ghoul's body language, he feels the same way. Someone claws at my arm, so I send him crashing through the wall. Ghoul, behind me, ends up facing someone carrying a knife, so he grabs him by the wrist and breaks it. Eventually the last of our foes fall, and the two of us are still at the top of our game.
"Nice work." I tell him over the moans of pain coming up from the ground. We both turn to look at each other, our costumes covered in dust and blood from the conflict.
"You too." The Vigilante says, and I realize he was watching my fight, while I was watching his. He's breathing heavily as he leans against one of the tables, not worrying about the injured cultist lying on the thing. He takes a breath for a second, before standing back up and looking to a table across the room. "Let's... let's finish the thing."
I zip across the room and toss over the table that the Ghoul was looking at, finding Father Cross and Gene Mason hiding under the thing. They both look at me with a mix of terror and hate, I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the feeling it gave me.
"Mister Mason." My hand reaches down and grips the man by the neck before yanking him up off the ground and dangling him in the air. "Let's have a chat." The amulet around his neck hovers in my face, glowing ruby red as it reflects strange symbols I've never seen before into my eyes. A voice begins to whisper into my mind, speaking words in some foreign language, and I quickly begin to shake.
"Traitors!" Father Cross' screams break me out of the trance I'm caught in, and I notice Gene turning blue as my fist crushes his neck. Surprised, my fist releases him, dropping Gene to the ground. "You shall all burn for your crimes this day!" The Father clambers up to his feet and lunges at me in some kind of mad frenzy, spouting gospel. He quickly stops when a punch to the face knocks him unconscious.
"That felt good." The Ghoul mutters, blood on his gloves as he turns to Gene, who's looking up at the man, completely terrified. "Hello Gene."
"Get... get, get, get away from me!" Gene stammers, backing into the bar wall.
"Cross was lucky, Gene." The Ghoul says, crouching down by the cultist, knuckle dusters still on hand. "He got knocked out. You won't though, Gene. I'll keep you awake. Let you feel everything. That's why you're unlucky, Gene. Because you're still awake." Then the vigilante calmly punches Gene across the face, causing blood from the man's mouth to splatter on his ruby amulet. "Tell me what the amulets are for, Gene."
I reach out a hand and place it firmly on the Ghoul's shoulder. "You don't have to be so hard on him." I get given an odd look.
"He murdered your friend. This man deserves a lot worse."
Then something shifts in the air. We both feel it, I can tell from how the Ghoul shivers. The humid temperature of the bar has been replaced by a coldness, one unnatural in all forms. The two of us look back to Gene, and he's gone. Replaced by some misshapen monster quickly forming from the man's flesh.
"Good God!" The Ghoul yells, jumping away from the creature as it begins to stand, amulet still around its neck. It's tall. Thin and grey with dark, red scars running around its naked body. The thing's head is bloated like a mushroom, with no visible eyes and a large, gaping, black hole where its mouth should be.
"They're... not amulets."The beast answers as the two of us are too shocked to reply. He raises a clawed hand, and before we can do anything meaningful, we both stop breathing. "They're talismans. Taking blood to summon powers... and beings from the realm infernal."
The Ghoul collapses first, still alive but not in good condition. His chest is moving quickly, desperately searching for air, yet unable to find any as a strange, wheezing noise escapes his mouth.
"You two just summoned, G'asp. Warden of Breath."
Then I fall too, unable to do anything but watch as my body starts to shut down.
"Soon to be, Lord of All."
There's the crack of thunder in the sky, godly thunder that somehow fills me with hope. G'asp looks worried, and the roof of the bar quickly finds itself getting torn asunder by some madman with a giant, shining axe. He's wearing golden armour, mighty in everything from stature to strength. The man waves a hand towards us, and I feel breath begin to return to my body.
"You two idiots had better stand back." The man says, leaping down between us as we all get back to our feet. "This battle is far beyond you."
There's a hiss from G'asp as he begins to back away, concerned by the power before him.
"September Mourning."He says, voice giving a sort of clicking sound as it speaks. "Come to die?"
"Come to kill you, Warden of Defeat."
The man, September, smiles as he brandishes his axe. The Ghoul gives me a very confused look which I return with a smile, and he draws his revolver, spiteful thing that it is. I soar up into the air, ready to strike and fill my eyes with the invisible, searing heat that hides the power of the sun.
It's been a very strange day.