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#1 Posted by Andferne (38281 posts) - - Show Bio

 The lights glared alive with a flourish that out did any other city in the world. A place that was truly brighter at night than it was during the day. Sin City, Las Vegas. The last week had been a long an grueling search. Like trying to find a needle in the hay sack. How was he to find a gem small enough to fit in his palm, in a city like there where there was undoubtedly thousands, if not millions around. The Ice Dragons were scattered all across the globe searching for these eight objects, trying to put together the puzzle laid before them.

Exiting the shop the Star Spangled Hero let out a long sigh of disappointment, yet another dead end. He walked towards the baby blue car parked next to the side walk, his fingers tracing down its frame as he circled towards the drivers side. The classic muscle car stuck out even in a city like this. Andy had fully restored the 64 1/4 Mustang himself, from the ground up. The hero treated this car like his baby, talking to it as he  lifted the handle and slipped inside. The leather seat instantly forming to his body as he sank down into it. His thoughts going back to his last few cars, of why he was so protective over this one. Years ago he lost his Trans Am as it was blown up by the Vampire known as Switch. They had teamed up to take down the Vine Villians, only for the hero to learn a valuable lesson. Never trust a Vampire. As they geared for War he had betrayed him, stripping the pins from the grenades and tossing them under the car. An explosion Andy has barely walked away from alive. The second beauty came to a similar fate, a 50 caliber round shot straight through the block. Causing a massive wreck that totaled the front end. The brainwashed sniper Ronin had been looking to collect on the bounty placed against Andy. Luckily enough his old friend had come to his sense just in enough time before something was done that both of them would never forgive.

Lightly closing his eyes Andy turned over the key. The ignition sparked and the car came alive with a low rumbling. Taking the sound in Andy sat there for some time, the sound of that engine was music to his ears. With a smile on his face he pulled it out of park and pressed the peddle. A loud roar echoed throughout the streets as the car pulled off, the hero off to his next stop before the end of the night. But then something suddenly caught his attention. His baby blue Mustang began to glow...

It all happened within seconds. The loud explosion, the chunks of metal and glass being thrown about the street. A tire bouncing and then rolling down the street without the rest of the demolished car. Andy had barely had enough time to unbuckle his seat belt and fling himself out of the speeding car. Unfortunately even that was not enough to clear him from the destructive blast. His body was flung awkwardly and violently threw the air, clearing passed the road and slamming into the brick wall of a near by building. Bricks cracked and gave way from the force of the momentum. The wall crumbling down around him as the broken hero fell towards the ground. In that single instant he knew that the only thing that saved his life just then was the Vibranium suit Nighthunter had made for him.

Coughing out a gush of blood the Hero closed and opened his eyes trying to regain his composure. Scanning the area he tried to figure out what had just happened, the initial shock still running through his nervous system. Just a few yards away his indestructible shield was embedded deeply into another wall, buried half way. The screams of people finally hit his ears as they scattered the area, running for their lives. Smoke and fire rose up from what was left of his cherished ride, of his baby. There was a long slender object still sheathed not far from the wreckage, Nighthunter's sword.

There was only one oddity left in the scene. One man was not in a panicked state, fleeing for his life. Half of his body was still cloaked in the shadow as he leaned against the wall. A long flowing trench-coat engulfing his body. That was when Andy knew what had happened, why the glow seemed so familiar. His next words were barely a whisper, as if speaking of a ghost.

"Gambler"
 

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#2 Posted by The_Ghostshell (84303 posts) - - Show Bio

 In life there are no certainties other then thee inevitable fact that at some point we are all going to die. Some believe that when, and how, have already been predetermined. Others however believe that we make our own fate and if the end game is death, then all that is left for one to do is make his or her mark in the World. Leaving behind a legacy, an empire that will be remembered throughout history. Jean Luc LeBeau had been carefully constructing such a legacy from the time he was born. From his early childhood as the prodigal son in the League of Shadows, to his ambitious and ruthless overthrowing of his adoptive father Mighty Magneto. His every step was laid out with calculated precision and methodical preparation. At his height he had ruled over two countries, died and returned four times, fathered two deadly children, and murdered one. All this, and still the man known as Gambler wanted more. Men of considerable power often do.

With the decline of notable villains and heroes alike, a new era was slowly being ushered in. Gone were the days of famous battles and epic confrontations. Everyday a new unestablished team sprung up and died just as quickly. Even Gambler's latest creation, the International, had not lived up to the LeBeau Legacies expectations. Disinterested Gambler had abandoned his teammate, Day Hunter, in the depths of the Veritas HQ. The other International members had either disappeared or failed to show up at all which came as no surprise to the Cajun. Team is a concept lost on the villains. A true team must have a solid foundation of stability, loyalty, and leadership. In essence, a family. However villains by nature are over reaching, jealous, arrogant, and power hungry. Why follow when you can lead is the mentality. Infighting and Civil War is the new way of business, and when you see something you want, you take it. It was better to work alone if for no other reason then for self preservation.

The self proclaimed "King of Kings" had one last avocation to undertake before retiring to the realm of myth and legend. One last master piece of death and agony to perform in front of an unsuspecting audience. Any fool could kill, but to murder one of the most famous heroes in history required an adequate setting worthy of such a performance. It seemed fitting that Las Vegas would play host to one of the most memorable deaths in American history. A town built by well healed gangsters, showgirls, and fantastic mega casinos. Dazzling neon displays help guide the way to the World's most famous monuments to reckless abandonment and unbridled excess.

Atop one of a million brightly lit illuminated billboards Gambler stood statuesque as he peered down on his target. Unaware of his presence, Andfrene sped off in his fully restored baby blue 64 Mustang. Following close behind the Cajun sprang from building to building, roof top to roof top displaying the acrobatic parkour style he was known for. He trailed the former Ice Dragon down Las Vegas blvd until the American icon rolled to a slow stop at the intersection of Tropicana ave. His cigarette flared as his lungs pulled in one last drag. With a quick and subtle gesture the Cajun charged the partially smoked cigarette with kinetic energy and flicked it at its intended target with unbelievable accuracy.

Striking the metallic panel covering the gas tank, sparks of purple energy quickly danced around the back end of the car before irrupting into an explosion. Pieces of debris rained down on masses as they screamed and ran for cover. The gridlocked street became havok as cars slammed into buses, trucks into buildings, and pedestrians trampled over one another in their attempts to flea. The Star Spangled Hero barley escaped but was still caught by the force of the explosion and flung into the base of a building still under construction. Walking through the carnage and flames, Gambler's pace was slow and deliberate. Savoring the moment as Andfrene gathered himself, blood streaming down the side of his mouth. With a newly lit cigarette hanging from the corner of his crookedly smirked lips, the Living Legend smiled, "Tis been to long old friend. I've come to settle dee score." he paused as he flicked his wrists producing several kinetically charged cards "We finish dis tonight no."

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#3 Posted by Andferne (38281 posts) - - Show Bio

 Mayhem raged wild in the streets as people screamed and ran for their lives. People gicing in to reckless abandon as they pushed one another aside to try and seek out safety. Shouts of terrorists are here, bomb, there was a bomb, run! filled the street. Smoke still steamed up from the wreckage of that once perfect machine. Emerging from the chaos was the sly devil himself. For Andy knew if he ever had a mortal shell this man would be it. Jean Luc Lebeau, the Master of Manipulation, the King of Kings, the Living Legend. A man who long ago he called brother. That sly and ever present cocky grin was plastered on the Cajun's face. A slow puff of smoke escaping his lips from the newly lit cigarette. "Tis been to long old friend. I've come to settle dee score". There was a slow and confident pause as the assassin stared down the Hero. Looking him up and down, evaluating not just who was in front of him, but what. With the slightest flick of his wrist kinetically charged cards appeared between his fingers. Any normal man might believe they had magically appeared there from some unknown space. Only the most skilled and talented men could catch the small subtle movements. "We finish dis tonight no"

His words struck a familiar cord for some reason. The Dragon's memories flashing to a time long ago, years even. In that instance he was back in Huntsville, Texas. The first face off against the two Titans. It was a fight born of more than just hated or rivalry, it was a fight for love, of passion. An epic struggle between good and evil. Time seemed to stand still as he thought back to this important meeting in his life. The words echoed through his mind as clearly as they were being said now. “I’m going to kill you AD, you and I both know dis. There is nothing you can do that I haven’t already seen. And when I finish you off I’m going to kill that pretty pet of yours. Oh, you didn’t think I knew about her did you? I wonder what she’s doing right now all alone in dat lil coffee shop surrounded by untested heroes.” The played in his mind with just moments, the rage that filled the Cajun, the passion that fulled them both to extents more man should ever survive. The last words he heard those days long ago now rang in his ears. "DIS AINT OVER AD! YOU HEAR ME, DIS AINT OVER BY A LONG SHOT BOY!” He thought of Lexi then, of a woman he thought he knew, thought he loved. Of what Gambler had done to her as she laid bleeding in his arms. "The hero's going to pay.... for what he took. I'm going to make him bleed."

Indeed that fight was not over. It later poured across the entire United States, from Texas to New York. The rise of the newly formed Hellfire Club saw the deaths of many innocent lives. Because of a loves rivalry a dark and sinister man climbed up into the political ladder of America. With just a few swift and calculated moves that same man became the President of the United States in what seems a nights time. Andy knew then, that when it came to the Cajun there was never any accidentally meetings. Many thought of him to be the greatest gambler of all, always taking the greatest risks. But here, now, Andy knew the truth. Nothing about the Cajun was random, it was all calculated, laid out and planned. A plan following that just to be certain. Contingency plans placed into effect that he would not have to call upon for perhaps years later.

In this defining moment the line hero gained the clairvoyance of his most painful feeling. Of the most tragic events that befell his life. The betrayal of a love. Everything now seemed to be laid into place perfectly. He thought back to when he had first met Lexi, the woman he thought to be his beloved. It was through Gambler he had met this beauty. His tenure in the Outlawz, a life on the road. It was here and now that he placed it all together, the pieces that had all been laid before him like a chess game. The friendship between Lexi and Jean, the love shared and taken. It had all been planned out, flawlessly. The King of Kings had been in on the entire scenario from the beginning. He remembered now that even in those first days of meeting Lexi it was always Gambler who had accompanied him to that small little shop on the corner. As the years passed he knew that there were now subtle hints and pushes made by not just Lexi, but Gambler and Mr Sinister as well. The three of them had concocted a perfect plan that would break even the greatest Heroes heart.

Just then is when Andy had broken his long quiet reflecting of memories. "You Knew!" His eyes flared alive with a rage and hatred never seen within the hero. "All that time, you were in on it!" The red energy began to sizzle from his visor, his heart raced faster and faster as the adrenaline kicked into over drive. He was now fully on his feet and not caring for the cards held in the Crafty Cajun's hands. There were no subtle movements to try and race for his shield deeply embedded into the wall, or for the sharp and deadly sword buried under the wreckage. There were no outside movements at all until a raged filled scream erupted from his lips. "DIE!!!". Just like an erupting volcano on a far away island a similar force poured out from Andy's eyes. The red concussive energy ripped through the space between him and the Cajun in what seemed just a flash of light. The beam easily twice the width of a man and packing enough force to clear the streets.

Even in his rage Andy knew that Gambler was too fast and skilled, to agile and wholly tuned with his body to be taken by such a brash and straightforward attack. But he cared not, he continued that pouring of energy even as he sprinted forward, closing the distance between them until he was in striking distance. The energy soon faded way but the uncharacteristic rage of the Hero did not. With all of his might he flung himself into a concentrated flurry of blows. His body was low in his center of gravity, his left leg bent heavily out in front of him, the customary forward stance he was taught long ago. With every ounce of strength he could manage Andy struck out with a punch aimed center stage for the Kings nose. The purpose to bloody him quickly and blur his vision, or at the very least stun the man so he could continue his flourish. Just a heart beat after a second punch from his other hand was flying out. This time heading lower as to strike his midsection. But more precisely his solar plexus. Wanting to steal the wind from the sly Cajun.

In his martial training he had always been taught two truths. If a man can not see, then he can not fight. If a man can not breath, then he can not fight. In that combination of two blows he looked to take just that away from this Vile Villain. In this moment in time Andy had lost himself, had forgotten what it was to be the hero he had become and been for so long. In this simple moment in his life he thought, damn integrity. I want my revenge.

The Rage of a Dragon, was indeed great.

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#4 Posted by The_Ghostshell (84303 posts) - - Show Bio

 Confidence was draped over the cocky Cajun like fine silk as he gazed upon the fallen hero. His eyes sharpening as his head slightly tilted to the side in an inquisitive nature. "Oh my, have you finally figured it out mon ami?" he said with a smug sneer. "She never loved you. You never had her. She was always a pawn on MY chess board. Surely you must have felt it? Perhaps you were blinded by dee one weakness dat all sympathetic heroes suffer from, your heart." At long last the fallen Dragon had come to the realization that the woman he loved, and thought loved him, was nothing more then another weapon in the ever expanding arsenal of the Cajun. He saw now that she could wound him in a place Gambler never could, the soul. She had stripped away his spirit, his will to carry on the good fight. Casting him into a pit of despair which eventually led to his withdraw from the Ice Dragon. Leaderless the team soon fall apart and Andfrene disappeared.

"YOU KNEW!" roared the hero. "All that time, you were in on it!" A grin that stretched from ear to ear streaked across Gambler's face as he shrugged his shoulders callously. Like the showman he was Gambler twirled his card down between his fingers before twirling it back up again, repeating the motion, mocking his adversary. His arrogance blinding him to the rage amplifying from within Andfrene. "DIE!!" shouted the legendary warrior as a massive rupture of energy burst from his eyes. Instantaneously the destructive beam overwhelmed the King of Kings. Who quickly contorted his body in an unnatural angle thanks to the triple joints running up and down his bones. However the agile maneuver had left him wide open, and the master tactician took full advantage. Charging head long, and quickly closing the gap, he unleashed a gale of versatile strikes. Each one debilitating and executed with perfection. Andfrene had few equals in the realm of hand to hand combat. Every movement was precise and as natural as breathing, able to perform several complex series of attacks on pure instinct.

In a flash the Cajun's nose was bloody the direct result of a straight punch to the face. Causing him to drop his card, letting it float harmlessly to the ground  still glowing brightly. The next shot landed flush as well, stealing Gambler's breath before bending him over. Through the blinding mess of blood and tears the LeBeau Legacy spotted his card just inches away. "Sh!t" he gasped. Frantically raising his hands to shield his face just as the card erupted. Hurling his body through the air and across the street, landing back first in the luxuries fountain outside of Palms hotel, resort, and casino. Blood now poured from his mouth as well as other wounds around his body as he floated lifelessly. But the Cajun was not out yet. He had been through many wars, many confrontations in which both his physical, and mental stability were challenged. He thrived on conflict, as did Andfrene. Just on opposite sides of the spectrum. One lived for power, glory, and legacy. The other, for protecting the innocent, up holding the law, and making the World a safer place.

The explosion had left a decent sized crater in the center of the road with several zig zagging cracks spinning off from it like spider veins. By now the entire strip had been shut down and local law enforcement had barricaded off the area. Las Vegas S.W.A.T. had deployed themselves along strategic vantage points trying desperately to provide cover fire for the EMT's as they evacuated the injured civilians. News stations disregarded the no fly zone dangerously getting close in hopes of capturing that perfect shot, broadcasting the epic confrontation across the World.

Gambler began to regain his composure, tossing his water logged trenchcoat to the side and then leaping out of the fountain's base. Instantly he found himself in the middle of the news chopper's spotlight, center stage, his comfort zone. Peering up he quickly flashed his trademark Cheshire Cat grin before focusing back on Andfrene. Within the blink of an eye he dashed towards the hero setting up his offensive onset. Completely focused now, Gambler knew this fight could very well be his last and he would hold nothing back. Flashing his hand to the side without breaking stride, he utilized his telekintic ability to call Andfrene's shield. Catching it before vaulting feet first in a "franchisesment" parkour move through the burned out shell of the heroes American muscle car. Easily transitioning into the movements of Andfrene himself, he spun his body around in a three hundred and sixty degree spin swinging the shield forcefully at the legend's head. While allowing the momentum to over rotate his body, dropping down to one hand, balancing himself perfectly as he attempted a Brazilian capoeira leg sweep.

There was no turning back now. The battle had commenced and only one of these two celebrated martial artists would survive.

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#5 Posted by Andferne (38281 posts) - - Show Bio

 Those dark words from the Cajun held a confidence and arrogance shown by very few people in this world, and at the same time stung Andy more than any sword ever could. Hurt more than any wound he had ever felt through his long years. Each and every syllable was like poison as it was uttered out. "Oh my, have you finally figured it out mon ami?" he said with a smug sneer. "She never loved you. You never had her. She was always a pawn on MY chess board. Surely you must have felt it? Perhaps you were blinded by dee one weakness dat all sympathetic heroes suffer from, your heart." The Dragon could feel that last crack in his heart, hope was lost the hero gone. All that remained was the Dragon, a powerful and vengeful force that would strike down all that had caused him pain. All of his suffering, all of his pain, it all started with this man in front of him. It would all end with his death..

In an inhumanly twist and bend the clever Cajun had avoided the crimson beam of death that roared forth from Andy's eyes. The brash and straightforward attack doing just as he needed it to, catch the sly one off of his game. In a flurry of blows he struck out, each strike finding their mark as he lost himself into the movements. His keen ears then picked up what was just a shocked gasp. "Sh!t"  Immediately Andy's eyes followed Jean's to see the card laying between them. His eyes shot open, there were no time for words, just a loud audible shout of pain as his body was once again sent hurtling into the air.

The bright discharge of the powerful card blew a crater into the ground where the two combatants had once stood. The Super Soldier was flung effortlessly through the air, crashing hard back into the ruined wall he had hit just minutes earlier. Bricks once more crumbled down around him as he hit the ground hard. Coughing up another puddle of blood the hero tried to raise to his feet. Feeling his knees buckle under him as the weight settled in, falling forward he caught himself with his hands. Gritting his teeth tightly together he closed his eyes hard and shook his head vigorously. Get up, he told himself. Out of the ruins the Dragon rose once more, just in time to see his rival fling his soaked trench coat aside. Leaping into the air he strode forward with the grace of a large hunting cat, only to stop for just a few heartbeats as a chopper from above shown down on him with it's huge spotlight. The stage had been set, the audience had arrived, and soon only one man would walk away from this massacre.

The screams in the streets had been drowned out by the dozens of sirens filling the area. S.W.A.T. and other law enforcement's had arrived on the scene, fire trucks and ambulances were scattered all about dealing with the mayhem that had already been caused. Half of the building that had stood behind the Cajun was now toppled and in ruins from the optic blast he had narrowly avoided. A good amount of the people who had fled were now returning. The police were having just as much trouble setting up a perimeter to keep the onlookers from getting any closer. What started as a handful of spectators soon turned into dozens. In the next coming minutes more would be flooding in as the news media covered the fight from above. Soon almost every television was tuned in, stations breaking from their regularly scheduled programs to catch the ratings that would inevitably ground breaking. Besides how often was it that America saw it's Ex-President, a man who had also run France fight the world's greatest hero.

The heartbeat over Jean was back into action, assuring he had caught the attention of the news chopper to peer down at his remarkable moves. For those who had never seen the Cajun in action would never believe how gracefully and dangerous his each and every move was. There was a slight shuffle from the far wall and just as Andy had glanced that direction he saw his shield rip from the wall and soar to the awaiting hands of Gambler. Flipping into the air he tucked his feet in and brought the shield to bear underneath him. The rode that shield through the ruins of his wrecked Mustang as if it was child's play.

Soaring into the air the crafty Cajun had captivated his audience, his movements looks fluid and efficient, as if he had practiced this moment for hours, day in and day out. Just as his body was reaching the apex of the spin he swung out mightily with the shield for Andferne's face. The technique was masterfully held until the last second to keep anyone from guessing where the true strike was aimed. Andy knew that he did not have the speed to match the Cajun, and with his best defensive weapon in the hands of the deadly assassin he had little choice in what to do. Two quick optic blasts were fired off as the Cajun spun in the air, but each had little chance from striking Gambler as his avoided them gracefully in the spin. Andy's hands tried to come up to take the brunt of the attack as he shifted back but he was too slow. His head jerked sideways violently as blood ripped out from his mouth, the shield catching his cheekbone. The was a bone shattering crack as a massive gash was ripped into the side of his face. Quickly the gruesome sound was followed by a shattering noise. The Visor that was set firmly on his head broke under the pressure, pieces flying in a dozen separate directions.

A wide and deadly energy poured out from his exposed eyes. The massive optic blast streamed towards the left of the two combatants, leveling yet another building as people screamed in horror. Using his momentum the crafty Cajun had continued his attack, dipping down low for a sweeping kick. Effectively blind the Hero had no way of knowing what was coming. Not until he felt the shock of pain strike his leg from the impact. Forcefully the Star Spangled hero hit the ground, his eyes once again opening on reflex. The powerful and deadly beam of energy now ripped into the ground. The street cracked and peeled away as the ground shook under them.

Just moments later the ruined ground gave way, it's integrity compromised from the continued blast. Large chunks of the ground began to give way and fall beneath them into the massive sewer system. Just as Andy had tried to raise up to his feet the quake struck beneath him. With nothing secure to grab onto the hero fell into the darkness. A puff of smoke and debris filled up the massive hole which now led down into the sewers. Gasps of fear filled the air as the gathered American's thought their hero was lost. Despair quickly followed as people whispered "No, he can't be dead, it can't end like this". Mothers grabbed their children and tried to shield their eyes from the events unfolding. Tears streamed down peoples faces as some fell down to their knees. The hero had fallen..

Unknown to the events above the sewers now showed a different view. Under the raising smoke and deep within the sewer system a red light shown, but not one of Andy's optic blasts. The light from his proton shield was now visible as he called it forth to cover him to the falling wreckage. The sight however was anything but hopeful, the recognizable was gone, shattered and broken. The Vibranium suit was tattered and torn in dozens of areas. Large gashes and cuts littered his body as one massive wound was evident more than others. His cheek dripped with a steady flow of blood, even IF he managed to survive this fight, he would be forever scared.  His eyes were shut and he stood perfectly still. Honing his body and his sense to the environment. Because of his mutant ability Andy had learned how to fight as a blind man, a tactic he had to use more than once over his long years as a hero. He now awaited the Assassin in the dark tunnels. A hero had fallen, but the Dragon had awoken.

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#6 Posted by The_Ghostshell (84303 posts) - - Show Bio

 Slightly disoriented and off balance, Andfrene had little time to react as the Cajun executed a series of versatile assaults. Using the heroes own shield against him. Violently embedding the vibranium laced weapon into the face of the Star Spangled Savior, destroying his only means of containing the unbridled power behind his eyes. Pieces of the heroes visor shattered into the air and seemingly hung as if suspended in mid motion. Andfrene's head was disturbingly jolted to the side. Unable to recover in time the hero let loose with an immense burst of energy, leveling two nearby Casinos in a catastrophic symphony of destruction. As the two mighty towers collapsed in on themselves, a massive mushroom cloud of dust and debris rapidly swept through the area. Fearing any further damage Andfrene focused his attention on containing his ability. Which left him momentarily exposed. Gambler took full advantage as he effortlessly transitioned into a leg sweep, taking the virtuous hero to the ground.

Again Andfrene was unable to hold back the force of his concussive blasts, opening up on the ground causing a considerable sized tremor, as pavement began to splinter off and ricochet. The continuing out pour of unchecked energy began to cave in the street, dropping large sections into the sewer below. With the structural integrity compromised and stressed to its limit, the area suddenly caved in on itself. The bloody and battered hero disappeared amongst the sliding concrete and debris. A unified gasp escaped the lips of onlookers and law enforcement alike as their hopes and dreams were seemingly sucked into the same dark abyss that had just swallowed the former Ice Dragon's leader. Even the LeBeau Legacy was not agile enough to prevent his own downfall. Crashing onto the jagged fragmented pieces from above before sliding off into the murky waste filled waters of the sewer. He could tell instantly that he had cracked several ribs in the fall, but had not time to worry about his injuries as he instinctively shot his hands up in the air in order to use his telekinesis to prevent being buried alive.

"OH MY GOD, I cant believe what we have just witnessed here ladies and gentlemen. The entire North corner of Flamingo in front of the Palms casino has just collapsed underground. And it appears that both suspects were dragged down with it. This is just the latest twist in this still developing story. Information is still coming in but it is still unclear what exactly provoked this unexpected situation. Police refuse to comment as reports of unconfirmed fatalities continue to role in. We shall try to keep you, the viewer, up to date on all the latest developments as they happen. This is Amanda Hugginkiss reporting live from KTNV."

Indeed the devastation was ah-inspiring. Broken water mains and pipes lay unearthed dispensing the deserts most precious resource over the ground. The cascading neon lights casting their disoriented reflections in the shimmering pools as they streamed down the broken street. Emergency units took advantage in the momentary lapse in action attempting to contain the small fires and destruction. Evacuating the injured and setting up smaller quadrants. There had been no sign of life since the two combatants had fallen beneath the city but most people knew it was a foolish notion to believe the war was over. As the World watched the unbelievable unfold from the safety of their homes, intricate cut shots had been spliced together creating a visually intense montage of the Star Spangled Hero, and the Living Legend's past confrontations. Recapping the storied history of the World's most recognizable hero, and villain.

Interlude: France

Meanwhile halfway across the World, tucked away from the public eye and completely hidden from the political realm she once dominated, Esther Cotillard LeBeau anxiously remained glued to the holographic projection of the Oracle system. She had not spoken, nor seen, Jean Luc in years. Some speculated that she had died during an assination attempt. But the truth was she had retreated to the confines of the Palazzo Medici and surronded herself with the elegance and beauty of the Renaissance. Perfectly crafted marble inlays helped capture a very diverse interior while silverwave tapestries elevated the palace to heights reserved only for the elite. Even though the former matriarch of the Les Assassins Silenciuex was immersed in splendor, the worried expression painted on her face could not be masked. She knew that Andfrene was one of the most prolific hand to hand fighters in the World with a tactical brilliance matched by none. He had single-handedly dealt her husband his most crushing defeat to date, nearly killing the Cajun assassin before he could seize the reigns of United States President. She knew this was not business, but personal; for both men.

With her full attention directed towards the unfolding events she barely noticed the slender silhouette gracefully glide in behind her. Without deviating from her field of vision she spoke. "You know what you must do. I trust you will execute my orders accordingly?" spoke Esther. The shadow said not a word as it wrapped its arms tenderly around Esther's neck from behind, holding her close. "When it tis finished, return his body. Bring him back to me Angelique, bring him back to his family."

Back in Vegas:

Slowly the injured assassin began to crawl through the sewer still not able to stand. The fall had aggravated several of his preexisting injuries and his body could not heal as fast as it could when he was young. Luckily there was no sight of Andfrene which gave Gambler time to regroup and gather himself. Pride was the only thing driving the Cajun now, his body on the decline he knew this would be his last battle live or die. Gritting his teeth he pushed the pain out of his mind. Composing himself as he rose to his feet, firing off his final card blowing another hole in the ceiling of the sewer. Up above ground the sudden eruption took everybody by surprise and more so when the legendary King of King came vaulting out of the depths. His clothes were in ruins and his broken ribs required the assistance of his left arm. Yet through the fatigue and injuries it was clear that pure determination was resonating through his darkened heart. As he waited for the Heroes of Heroes to emerge, a cold familiar feeling washed over him. Someone, or something was watching him. Someone with an aura of arrogance, confidence, and death. However he could not let himself become distracted, not now. The end game was near and victory was on the horizon. 

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#7 Posted by Andferne (38281 posts) - - Show Bio

 In the dark tunnels a single entity stood steadfast. Th bright glow of the proton shield illuminating a gruesome visage. The Dragon looked as if he had been to hell and back, a large gaping wound dripped of blood as he stood there perfectly still. Drops of blood dripping down into the murky water below, creating small ripples. His American clad vibranium suit was tattered, torn to almost shreds from the endless damage he had sustained. Whelps and bruises had formed all over his body, cuts littered his honed body. Just above the large gash on his face the cheek was now completely swollen. His skin was dark and red, blue and purple, a multitude of colors that spoke unbearable pain. The swelling was so large now that it had closed his one eye, even if he had wanted to open it there would be no way. Not without cutting it open to see more blood spill out. His one good eye was still held closed, his posture low into a defensive state.

He was awaiting for the King of King's to come leaping in on him like a jungle cat, to finish of the battered hero. As the wreckage from above quieted from the last  and most recent explosion he remained still, one by one he began to eliminate the sounds around him. Shifting through each noise to hone in on his advisory. Sorting and filtering through each of those noises to assure he would not be taken by surprise. One by one he let a sound fade into the background as his refined hearing tuned in all around him. The scattering mice, the loose bits of debris, falling chunks of metal and concrete. Screams and fears from above along with the sirens and calls for help. The droplets of blood, then, there it was.

The Cajun had already escaped the tunnels. Andy's heart dropped at first as he thought the worse. But then the realization of why he had gone above came into view. If the deadly assassin had known the hero was in the condition he was would he have fled? No. What would of made the sly and ever clever man back off? He too needed time to recoup, a time Andy would not take full advantage of.

Taking a deep breath in he focused his mind. Speaking only a whisper inside of his own head began to mediate. "Breath in the focus, exhale the pain. Breath in the discipline, exhale the exhaustion". His body was taking in deep and heavy breaths of air as he stood there in the dank waters of the sewer. "Focus your mind, forget the pain. Mind over matter, the pain does not matter. Focus, discipline. Awaken!"

The Dragon had stirred, his one eye stayed shut but he no longer needed to see to know his surroundings. He could feel them, every small detail giving him a sign of what he needed to know, his other sense quickly filling in the hole his sight had left. The odor of the sewer a clear marking of his location, the sirens from above giving him the indication of which direction he needed to travel. The small portions of the sun that was able to sneak past the cloud of smoke from the disaster area clued him in on the opening. His leg muscles twitching he sank down lower into his stance, then with one sudden burst of strength and speed he leaped into the air. Pulling into a ball as he spun end over end like a spinning ball. Just a few heart beats later the beaten form of the Star Spangled Savior soared out from the dark depths below. The sky seemed to clear open on command as the bright sun shown down on him. The sight ah inspiring as he landed firmly, his feet planted beneath him. The glowing form of his shield set out in front, his ears hurried through the dozens of sounds around him like nothing. His eyes were capable of reading dozens of angles in just mere moments, now it was his ears turn to pick up the slack.

Gasps quickly erupted in unison as people caught glimpse of the Hero stood there basked in the sunlight. Silence was held by the gathered on lookers for some time as it registered with them. Phrases of impossible, no one could of survived that and dozens a like it ran from person to person next. There he was, the symbol of America, of Hope. Though his suit was in bad shape its colors were still apparent. The red, the white, and the blue.

Attuned to his surroundings he began to try and calculate an approximate distance of where his Dark Mirror. For that was who Gambler was, Andferne's darker image. The two were so much alike but yet so different. There was no way of getting around it, he now knew what he had to do. There was not much time left, if he wishes to survive Andy would need immediate medical attention. Just the sheer amount of blood loss alone was enough to do him in shortly. If he was to live, the assassin must die, and fast..

There! Andy thought to himself, heavy breathing that was coming in irregular gasps. It would of been too close to be an injured civilian, it had to be the Cajun. A few quick shifted steps and the Dragon moved closer to his prey, firing off the energy shield like a projectile. Keeping the presence of mind to aim it low in case he missed his target. The last thing he wanted was to cause more collateral damage than he already had. Too many had suffered by his hands, an unforgivable number.. The next coming strikes were not meant to be precise, but were wide, designed to strike an area. Testing the waters to see in which location his rival was in.

In front of him was the shield blast, if he heard any contact from ahead he would concentrate his efforts there with the following two attacks. Failing that he sent his next blind technique, a low sweeping kick towards his left flank. Again only hesitating the slightest in case contact was made. Quickly following it up was a swooping round house sent to his opposite side, using the momentum of the leg sweep to carry him over hastily. His movements and transitions were smooth, every direction save behind him had now been covered. The goal behind his sweeping attacks was to make any kind of contact or cause some kind of movement that might give the Cajuns location away better than his breathing. He needed to grab a hold of him and take the fight to the ground, where his hampered vision would not be as much of a disadvantage.

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#8 Posted by The_Ghostshell (84303 posts) - - Show Bio

 Gambler remained vigilant as he cautiously surveyed the gaping hole in anticipation of Andfrene's return. His fractured ribs disrupting his breathing causing an unorthodox motion of inhaling and exhaling. Yet the Cajun's focus was undisturbed mentally blocking out the pain knowing full well the slightest miscalculation could cost him his life. A life he had spent building an untouchable legacy, a reputation that would last throughout the ages. Methodically shaping the history of the Vine as well as the lives of every hero and villain to ever cross his path. Perhaps no one more so then Andfrene. From their time as allies and more importantly, friends, in the Outlawz, to the ultimate act of betrayal through the manipulation of Lexi, Gambler and Andfrene's fate had been intertwined. There was something poetic about a final battle between the two polar opposites; a brilliant tale of tragedy, deceit, loss, and death.

Without warning the illustrious hero came flipping up out of the sewer with perfect form. Although clearly battered Andfrene's posture was one of determination, wasting little time resuming the feud. Launching his energy based shield towards the assassin keeping its projection low as a contingency. Before firing off a series of strikes intended to track, and contain, Gambler. Who's photographic reflexes automatically took control, operating on pure reactionary instinct. Vaulting the Cajun into a corkscrew flip that had been perfectly duplicated by the ninja Tenjin. At the same time as the King of Kings sailed over Andferne's head, he concentrated his telekinesis on the energy shield pulling it behind him back towards the hero. The Cajun landed with remarkable softness, his toes seemingly absorbing the force and sound of the impact. He was now in what appeared to be a flawless position directly behind the blinded Ice Dragon. Who's masterful strikes which had been aimed to discover the position of the LeBeau Legacy, were instead finding open space.

In two steps Gambler attacked. His left foot skipping across the cracked pavement purposely causing his momentum to transfer up his legs and through his body, before being channeled through his right arm into his fist for a leaping Superman punch. Aimed relentlessly for the back of the heroes' neck. As the strike cut through the air like a hot knife through butter, the King of Kings extended two knuckles attempting to execute a surgical strike that would shatter the C-3 and C-4 of Andfrene's cervical leaving him crippled, a fate worse then death. It seemed as if the last moments of the confrontation were unfolding and soon the World would be mourning the loss of its favorite son. A devilish grin swept over Gambler's face as his strike was but an eye blink away from finishing the storied run of the Star Spangled Icon. But almost instantaneously his hand seemed to explode into a crescendo of blood, fragments, and pain. It wasnt until after he roared out in pain crashing shoulder first into the street that his brain register the sound of a gunshot. The World had sent a clear message, they would no longer set back and simply let their heroes fall. Upon orders from their commanding officers the snipers had become directly involved. Displaying breathtaking accuracy as with one shot they had not only changed the course of the fight, but seemingly handicapping the arrogant Cajun.

However they would soon pay for their bravery. Gambler, now enraged, was about to show a new level of depravity as he batted his ruby red eyes and flashed his debonair smile across the innocent bystanders. Instantly woman and children ran out from behind the barricades streaking directly in front of the fallen assassin and the line of fire. Unable to react in time, the snipers unwittingly cut down the large group in a heart wrenching scene. The bullet ridden bodies shacking and twitching as muscle memory and nerves had yet to realize what had happened. Caught in horror the snipers hesitated, giving Gambler enough time to unleash a telekinetic wave crushing the building bringing it down on top of the gunmen.

Luckily for the Cajun his body was in shock. The tattered remains of his hand loosely hung from what was left of the bone. Tearing a piece of his shirt the injury was quickly wrapped up but the loss of blood would soon take its tole. If he was to come out of this with a victory, Gambler knew he had to act quickly. And even though his pride wanted nothing more then to finish Andfrene off with his bare hands, he was well aware that in order to survive he must hold nothing back. In a flash he bolted towards the hero, his injured hand tucked firmly up against his chest. As he closed the gap he anticipated that Andfrene would no doubt be aware of his charge, waiting until the last minute to drop down into a baseball slide dragging his good hand along the pavement leaving a single streak of kinetically charged cement as he slid past his enemy. After clearing Andfrene the Cajun forcefully planted his feet into the ground using the sudden stop in motion to allow his body to flip up end over end. While in mid flight he quickly flicked his wrist causing a small section of debris to shoot over landing on the charged area, igniting a kinetic maelstrom the force of which even he was caught up in. Blowing his body back through the air before violently smashing into the ground causing his body to contort like a rag doll.

Screams rang out as downtown Las Vegas once again witnessed another destructive explosion. To anyone who didn't know better the strip looked like it had been home to World War 3. It was unbelievable that only two people could cause that measure of pure unadulterated destruction. On the far side of the ranging fire and debris lay Gambler's motionless body. His shirt practically ripped from his body, new scars now overlapped old ones, and yet the World knew it was to much to hope for that the deadly scourge be dead. Two gargled coughs helped kill any notion of the Cajun's demise. As he slowly rolled over onto his knees his ears picked up the distinctive sound of metal being dragged across the concrete. His eyes widened as he began to look up at the figure now standing above him. He first noticed the shimmering blade of the forgotten ZS leader Nighthunter. The seven diamond Kanji engravings were a dead give away. His eyes continued upwards past the vibranium hilt to the elegant fingers wrapped loosely around it. And as he saw who it was wielding the legendary blade he could barely contain his excitement. "Your timing is impeccable my dear. Now finish dis for me and lets go home."

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#9 Posted by Angelique LeBeau (639 posts) - - Show Bio

 Angelique listened closely to her father's instructions. No words were spoken as she meticulously glided past her former teacher. Suddenly she paused, bringing the blade up and folding it under her arm before saying, "Votre maison est avec un dieu maintenant."(translated: Your home is with God now) In one swift underhanded motion the blade unfolded from underneath the young LeBeau's arm slicing the neck of Gambler and severing the arteries. Shocked, the Living Legend tipped over  into a pool of his own blood, the look of disbelieve still plastered on his face. Twirling the blade through her fingers Angelique effortlessly cleaned the crimson stains from the katanna. Once again she began to walk towards Andfrene, dragging the sword along the ground in a taunting manor. With her own variation of her father's Cheshire Cat grin, she addressed the blinded veteran. "My father is dead hero. His time is on dis Earth is over, as is yours. Mine will be the last voice you ever hear. Your blade will be the first of many trophies I collect from dee heroes of your era."

Like a snake Angelique coiled her body around in several different positions before settling in. Her right foot was elevated off the ground pressed against the inside of her left knee, exhibiting perfect balance. She was anticipating Andfrene to come at her first which would allow her to pivot to her strong side while reserving the ability to slide backwards into the Hachi Kata method of 8. No one could have foreseen thee events that had just transpired. And as one LeBeau lay dead, another was ready for infamy.

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#10 Edited by Andferne (38281 posts) - - Show Bio

 Seconds passed and Andy immediately knew that something was amiss with his proton shield throw. Hit or miss there should of been some type of contact only seconds after it left his arm. Instantly while he continued his flow of attacks the hero called forth another energy shield, keeping it in front and tight as he swept up and around for that final roundhouse. Just then as he arose from the crouching sweep he felt the contact. The Crafty Cajun had pulled his other shield back towards him, the two energies crashing into one another now, sizzling and popping from the friction of the two forces. Had the Dragon not of called forth this second shield his entire right rib cage would of most likely caved in.

Suddenly from the chaos of noise around them an unfounded sound rang off. Bang! He felt the blood splatter across the back of his head as the sniper's had opened fire, almost incinerating Gambler's hand with their 50 caliber bullets. A slight whisper ghosted out from his mouth as Andy realized the massacre that was about to unfold. "No". Spinning around Andy tucked into a roll, diving off towards the side and continuing to move until he found a solid surface to place his back against. Just as he found a ruined and wrecked car that had been abandoned in the destruction he held up, bringing his shield to bear in front of him as he stayed tucked in tightly. Dozens of gun fire was heard throughout the scene next, followed quickly by even more screams as the snipers were fooled into cutting down innocents. Police officers were yelling at the top of their lungs into the radios for a seize fire, the carnage had only lasted seconds, but the aftermath was devastating. The sound of a crumbling building assured Andy that Jean Luc was still out there, and alive.

Taking in the sounds the hero knew he had to do something, raising to his feet he did what he thought to be his last valiant charge into the horde of chaos. He could now hear the foot steps of the Villain, their coarse seemed to be deadlocked like two charge bulls. Andy's shield was out in front to feel the brunt of the attack had to two collided like battling mastodons. As the sounds of pattering feet grew louder the Dragon braced for impact, only to find none as he heard the rustling of the ground slide passed him. The Crafty Cajun was up to his tricks once more, dipping down low Andy paced his knee on the ground to help stop his momentum, instantly spinning around as he expected an attack to come from behind. But yet there was nothing..

There were no signs, no warning for what came next. At least not to the blind hero who was caught up in the maelstrom of destruction. The kinetically powered pavement under him suddenly shined bright and erupted into a display of destruction and mayhem. Andy's body was sent violently high into the air. His body twisted and turned barreling end over end skyward with nothing to grab on to or halt his way back down. Time seemed to stand still as his was lifted up into the heavens and then sent soaring back down like a rock. Pulling into a ball he tried to regain his composure enough to let his shield take more of the impact. A loud crash reverberated through the war zone, covering the sound of a snap. The breaking of Andy's left arm from the impact and wear it has sustained today, the shield fizzling out of existence.

Dust kicked up like a smoke screen and through the misty visage he picked up Cajun's voice. He was alive, but who was he now talking to?"Your timing is impeccable my dear. Now finish dis for me and lets go home." A firm yet soft, confident voice soon replied "Votre maison est avec un dieu maintenant." He heard the calm and calculated steps walk his way, more alarming however was the sparking screech of a sword being dragged along with her. "My father is dead hero. His time is on dis Earth is over, as is yours. Mine will be the last voice you ever hear. Your blade will be the first of many trophies I collect from dee heroes of your era." Her demeanor was clear, she looked to create her own destiny, her own legacy with the killing blows of two of the worlds most well known men. The hero, and the villain.

Andy knew the realization that was before him. Even if she was telling the truth and she had slain her father, there was no way he could continue a battle against a fresh and well trained fighter. His injuries were too great as his horrific appearance confirmed. Coughing up a pool of blood Andy tried to slide back just an inch, allowing him to brace himself up on his one good arm. The large gash on his face was gruesome, swelling his eye shut and scarring him for life. His left arm was clearly broken, further inspection would reveal his forearm shattered beyond repair. The dozens of other cuts that covered his body revealed he had been in a war, one anyone would think just came from two men.

"There is nothing I can do to stop you Angelique, but you do know that there is another way. The road your mother and father has set you on is not the only way of life. It is not too late for you, let me help you and I can teach you how to become a true warrior. I can show you that there are things in this world worth fighting for beyond your own desires. By your name alone you have an angelic touch to your being, to your spirit. You do not have to follow down that same dark path, let me bring you into the light. Let me help you".

As if on cue the hero rose to his feet. Gathering as much strength as he had left in his body to do so. His left arm was held tightly against his side as he extended his right towards the awaiting killer. "Take my hand, let me help you".

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#11 Posted by Angelique LeBeau (639 posts) - - Show Bio

 "There is nothing I can do to stop you Angelique, but you do know that there is another way. The road your mother and father has set you on is not the only way of life. It is not too late for you, let me help you and I can teach you how to become a true warrior. I can show you that there are things in this world worth fighting for beyond your own desires. By your name alone you have an angelic touch to your being, to your spirit. You do not have to follow down that same dark path, let me bring you into the light. Let me help you."

The acclaimed heroes chivalrous speech caused the young assassin to pause as she was surprisingly caught off guard. In perhaps his final moments the Star Spangled Heroes only concern was not for his own life, but for the future of Angelique's. His attempt to breakdown the years of emotional programming installed by her parents was not out of fear of death, but rather a genuine concern. A true testament of what it meant to be a hero was now on full display. An act that brought the viewing public to tears. Blooded, blinded, and beaten, Andfrene stood defiantly as he attempted to reach out and connect with his enemies' daughter.

His hand was extended towards what he believed to be Angelique's position. Without the use of his eyes the former Ice Dragon founder had to rely on his other senses, causing his aim to be slightly off. Smirking, Angelique softly re-adjusted Andfrene's hand and shook it. "You are a great man Andfrene, perhaps in another life I could have accepted your offer." she whispered. Her angelic smile transformer back into a heartless stare. Without warning the Crimson Rose affiliate clamped down on the heroes hand before spinning into his body, pressing her back deep into his chest twirling her newly acquired sword with the velocity of a helicopter blade. Her strike pierced the heroes chest with the precision of a Black Mamba and just as lethal. As if in slow motion Andfrene instantly spat a cloud of blood out into the Vegas air, his muscles tensing up as his final moments surged through his veins.

Slowly the heroes chin began to rest on the shoulder of Angelique as the cold blooded assassins continued to methodical push her blade deeper and deeper. "Dee World will never forget your name hero. Rest easy with dat knowledge." she mocked as she ripped the sword from his body. Causing a mist to spray not only the ground but the LeBeau Legacy herself, painting her face with the crimson color of victory. In less then thirty minutes the Cotillard Copperhead had stained her blade with the blood of two of the World's most infamous figures. But even the cocky assassin knew there had been no honor in either kills. Yet both deaths had served a greater purpose in facilitating the birth of a new era.

Angelique sighed, almost as if she was regretful for her course of actions. However there was little time to mourn and within seconds she, along with her father's body, disappeared behind a wall of smoke. And as the police slowly moved in and their visibility returned, they saw the Star Spangled hero honorable laid out on his back, hands folded across his shield. Each officer removed his hat giving one last salute to the fallen symbol of America.