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Max snapped a fresh clip into Joy then another into Pain. He blinked his eyes, steadied his breathing. The wall was cold against his back, and for a second he flashed on a vague memory of being in some sort of Dome, like a sci-fi underworld. Sometimes the flashes of alternate versions shook him to the core, left him dizzy and spinning. And other times they reminded him that he was a superhero after all. Max spun into the hallway and started sighting, squeezing, repeating, breathing. The guns sounded like a giant beating a drum, shattering the air, the arms and chests of the targets shattering, their black suits exploding in red, their sunglasses hiding eyes gone wide and empty. Max was graceful in the violence because he wasn’t really there; his mind was drifting in a vision of reciting poetry to a shining hologram of his one true love. The rhythm of the words and the rhythm of the weapons ended and the hallway was quiet, the LEGACY hit squad destroyed, Max breathing steadily.

Speakers imbedded in the walls crackled on. “That’s quite alright Mr. Cube. Even as you stand there reloading and no doubt indulging in some fancy psychic technique the nanofabric of the carpeting is absorbing DNA from the blood you have spilled and funneling into microtubes that will be launched into orbit, retrieved by one of our satellites, and bonded to alien-robot hybrid hunters we have in stasis. They will be set loose to track you down, all their superkilling talents infused with the vengeance of the guards you just killed.”

“That’s actually really cool,” Max said.

The speakers crackled. “… Um, sorry?”

“I said that’s really cool. How you’re doing all that stuff with all your crazy technology.” 

“You mean you aren’t scared by it?” the speakers blurted.

“You’re going to all that effort to customize an advanced multi-type team of assassins from space just for me. I’m flattered. And slightly insecure that I won’t live up to the hype.”

The speakers fuzzed and went quiet. Just then Max’s cell rang. The Professor’s voice barged in as soon as the phone flipped open.

“Max, while you’ve been battling LEGACY in their Tower Maggie had been targeted by another supervillain! I believe the villain may be in league with Morganfokker! Her name is-“

“The Cheerleader. I know her. We’ve actually met.” Max lit a smoke. 

“Max, this is serious! All the data I have on The Cheerleader indicates that she is an Omega Level- waitaminute… You’ve met her?”

“Listen Prof, I’m not surprised to hear Maggie’s going at it against DeeGee.” He inhaled, staring down at the carpet, imagining the tiny robots in the carpet gathering up the molecules of blood. It was beautiful in a way. Maybe when the alien-robot hunters finally caught him they could figure out a way to reprogram them or something. A way to give even a bit of these guards a second chance.

“DeeGee?!?! Max what are you talking about?”

“Maggie’s undergoing a ritual and-“

“Another one? She just got out of the Initiation Chamber?!?!”

“Calm down, Prof. She’s invoking the arcana of the High Priestess in order to attain a greater level of wisdom, self-understanding and inner peace. Sacred combat against her shadows and dark sides is part of the ritual. Maggie’s no doubt engaging the Cheerleader to serve as an iconic manifestation of that darkness.”

“Ahh…” The Professor went quiet for a moment and Max could hear the sound of typing and some beeping. “I’ve updated my file, but I still think we have a problem and that Mags might be in danger.”

Max pushed the button on the elevator. Getting out of the LEGACY tower would be a hard job, even with the initial hit squad stopped.

“Why’s that?” Max’s tone grew serious.

“Based on my readings Maggie’s psychic waveform is oscillating between her identity as Ms. Magenta and, if you can believe this…”

The elevator doors slid open. “Think who you’re asking.” 

“Well. Maggie, even as she is in combat with The Cheerleader, is phasing back and forth into a tiny little faerie named Misfit…”

Max stepped into the elevator. “Gotcha. I’ll give her a call.”

The cellphone signal sputtered slightly inside the shielded elevator. The Professor’s voice warbled, “Which one?”

Max flicked the cigarette through the closing doors. “Think who you’re asking.”