“Wait, did he say we were Team A?,” McClane asked, “As in, the first team? As in, the people in line to get our asses kicked?”
“Seems like it,” Spider-Man answered.
“What’s the matter, Johnny?,” Juggernaut snarled, “Scared?”
“Matter of fact, I am, ya giant fire hydrant!,” McClane sneered, “Look, I’m not like you people. I don’t go around in silly tights, fighting aliens in space, and popping god damn rabbits out of my hat. I’m just a guy. A normal, everyday schlub from New York,” he shakes his head and turns away, “I just got the rotten luck of constantly being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“Don’t worry, McClane,” Zantanna told him, “If those aliens are telling the truth, whatever happens out there, you’ll be fine, ultimately. You’re not even supposed to remember it.”
“Yeah, and what if they’re lying their asses off?”
“I can protect you. Honest.”
“Yeah, McClane,” Spider-Man told him, “We’re in this together. Besides, I know some of these guys we’ll be up against. They’re probably trying to solve this just like us.”
Kirby nuzzled up to McClane and his eyes seemingly widened as he cooed. McClane shrank back, “Okay, whatever. Enough of the pep talk, just get that little cream-puff away from me. Damn thing’s creeping me out.” Kirby frowned and sauntered away.
“When you people are done with the feel-goods, come check this out,” Juggernaut directed their attention to the window. They looked out over the large disk floating under them. The disk began to shift, like a rippling pond. Shapes began to emerge; first, they were simply long shapeless blobs, but soon, they formed into cube shapes. Spires began to form on some of them. Some reached several stories while others were far shorter. The liquid metal began to shift into what appeared to be granite, brick, steel, and glass as ledges and windows formed. The shapes soon turned into buildings as the faux-city expanded, forming streets and sidewalks. Soon, even cars began to emerge on the side of the streets. It wasn’t long before the entire area looked not unlike an Earth city (although void of any civilians). The final touch was an atmosphere surrounding the city, making it seem as if the entire area had a blue sky and sunshine.
The first match begins now. Prepare yourselves!
As the voice announced, John Mcclane disappeared from their pods. “Whoa, that was sudden,” Spider-Man exclaimed. The holographic screens on the pod walls lit up, displaying multiple views of John McClane standing in the middle of an empty street, thoroughly confused. Zantanna looked at an opposite screen and saw another figure roaming the streets, “Oh, crap.” Spider-Man turned to her, “What’s up?”. Zantanna looked at Spider-Man with despair, “I know the guy he’s up against.”
McClane strolled through an intersection, one hand on his holstered gun. Slowly, he removed the weapon and took the safety off as he crept through the street with his gun held ready. Slowly, he turned the corner and there in the middle of the street, was a shadowy figure in a black cape, and bat mask. John trained his gun on his new opponent, “Don’t move”.
“You’re law enforcement, aren’t you?,” Batman asked in a hushed but somehow threatening tone.
“What gave you that idea?”
“Your stance. The way you drew your sidearm. You’ve been trained, but if you were a soldier or an assassin, you would have pulled the trigger already. Instead, you gave me a warning.”
“What can I say? I guess I’m just a real softie. Now get down on your knees and put your hands behind your head.”
“Very well, officer,” Batman calmly brought his gloved hands up, “I will comply with your instructions,” slowly, Batman rested on his knees and brought both hands to the back of his cowl. McClane held his gun on Batman and didn’t move.
“What’s he up to?,” Zantanna shook her head as she studied the scene.
“Is he surrendering?,” Spider-Man asked her.
“There’s more to it than that.”
“There’s always more to it.”
“Well, one thing’s for sure, surrendering doesn’t count as an automatic elimination.”
McClane slowly approached Batman, “Slide any weapons over here,”. Batman nodded and made sure to show his palms as he brought them to his utility belt very carefully. Just then, a chime sounded. “The hell is that?,” McClane asked as he instinctively looked to the sky. “One minute is up,” Batman informed him.
“It’s been an entire minute,” Spider-Man explained, “But which one of us is going to be chosen to go out next?”
“Hey, where’s the cream-puff?,” Juggernaut asked.
Kirby materialized next to Batman and McClane. He looked around, silently taking in his surroundings. McClane watched him, still fascinated, and turned to Batman who remained on the ground with his hands up. “That thing isn’t freaking you out?,” McClaner asked. Batman did not answer, but it was obvious he was not surprised. Kirby peaked around the corner, trying to see any signs of their latest opponent. “So, uh… Kirby,” McClane began, “See the other guy they sent out, yet?”. Kirby shook his head.
“I hope those Zardozians are having fun,” Juggernaut growled, “Because so far, this is the lamest fight I’ve ever seen.”
McClane did not take his eyes off Batman, who remained silent on the ground. Suddenly, darkness surrounded him. He couldn’t even see his own hand in front of him. Likewise, the holographic screens in the pod went dark. McClane quickly backed away and raised his gun. He never saw the fist emerging from the darkness and when it connected, McClane disappeared from the battlefield. The rest of the team turned just as McClane’s unconscious body landed on a chair in their pod.
“We’re already one guy down,” Zantanna rushed to check up on McClane. When she checked back to the others, she noticed Juggernaut and Spider-Man had already vanished. Down below, they appeared in the city, not that they could see anything, or each other. “There’s something familiar about this,” Spider-Man said into the darkness, hoping that his spider-sense would alert him of approaching danger.
“Who cares,” Juggernaut swung his arms through the darkness in frustration, “We’re screwed. We can’t see and the only other guy we got on the field is that little cream-puff, but what’s he gonna do? Snuggle people to death? Kill them with his cuteness? That thing’s not doing squat.”
“Hold that thought, Juggalo. Feel that?”
From above, Zantanna could see the black fog swirling and slowly receding from the area. In the street, the wind kicked up wildly as if a tornado touched down somewhere in the city. For all intents and purposes, it did. The black fog was sucked up into a dark funnel cloud and light began to creep in. Spider-Man was sucked up into the air, but he managed to twist around and land on the side of a wall to anchor himself. Juggernaut, meanwhile, stood still as the force winds did not move him. Soon, a figure in a blue hood and cloaked emerged from the darkness, flailing his arms and legs as he passed by. “It’s the Shroud,” Spider-Man shouted to Juggernaut, “Or at least it was.” The Shroud tried his best to fly against the vortex, but it was no use. Not far away, Batman remained anchored to the ground with a rope tied to a street light. He staring off into the distance as his cape flapped in the wind. The Shroud gritted his teeth and shouted down to him as he spun overhead, “A little help here?”. Juggernaut was the first to see what had happened clearly: Kirby had grown a few feet larger as he opened his mouth wide and continued to inhale, sucking up the entire fog while growing larger by the minute. “Looks like Kirby’s useful after all,” Juggernaut laughed, “Look at `im go!” Kirby was now larger than the Shroud who was soon sucked into the inky void of his massive jaws.
Kirby closed his mouth, his cheeks puffed out at the sides. He closed his eyes as if swallowing and soon, shrank back down to normal size as the Shroud shot out behind him, rolling along the ground before stopping. “I am not going to question what part of his body I just came out of,” he muttered to himself. Kirby crouched down as sparks of light flashed around him; he rose, his color slowly turning black as swirls of darkness wrapped themselves around him. “Dark Kirby,” he squeaked before launching into the air after The Shroud, peels of black fog following him as he flew through the air. The Shroud tried to pick himself up off the ground, but it was too late. The blow to his chest sent him into the nearest wall and rendered him unconscious. His body disappeared before it hit the ground.