Geryman thought he would never again experience this feeling: uncertainty. Ever since that day in the train car when he fully embraced his nature, he had been invincible, bending people to his will and mowing down anyone in his way. He annihilated Carenf, for god’s sake. Victory had come so easy to him since his escape. Now? He had his doubts. His son had proven to be surprisingly strong, resilient, and persistent.

Sitting in an abandoned restaurant, Geryman was finishing off a bottle of whiskey and contemplating how he could take back the offensive. His concentration was broken when an old man walked through the front door, carrying a briefcase. Geryman reflexively took a fighting stance, but then eased when he saw the man posed no physical risk. The gentleman approached, handing him an address and promising a weapon that would turn the tide of the war. As Geryman pondered who this man was, how he found him, and what this weapon could be, he was whisked away into darkness…

…A telepathic connection. A blackened room of undefined dimensions and no discernible floor/ceiling/walls. Geryman had been here before. Coming into focus, his son. Face-to-face for the first time since Geryman had attacked his son from behind. This fight was going to end one of them. If not now, then soon.

When Geryman returned to the physical realm, he found himself in an unfamiliar apartment. Where?…How? As he gathered his bearings he locked eyes with none other than Stievo. He, too, had snapped out of their shared trance into a state of befuddlement. A split second of calm that lasted a century was shattered as both leapt into combat. The two leaders of all that was Dark on Earth exchanged blows. Punches, kicks, bites, pulls, gouges, chokes, throws, counters. The fighting was lightning quick and thunderously brutal. The two bodies combined into one unified force. A mass of energy akin to a wrecking ball or an asteroid, they burst through walls, tore across halls, rumbled down stairs, and took flight to the air.

This cramped apartment building was the stage for a struggle that was playing out across the region – across the country. With each strike by the two Champions, innocents elsewhere suffered. Hearts attacked, cars crashed, buildings crumbled, lives were lost, and tears were wept. The people of Seattle bore the brunt of the anguish, but the ripple effects spread across the country. New Yorkers inexplicably jumped in front of subway cars. Floridians fed themselves to alligators. Angelenos walked out into the Pacific and never returned.

Then, in an instant, it was over. Geryman fled. Both men were injured badly, however both would heal. Stievo had proven his superiority. Geryman was no longer invisible. The older Champion was again on the run, and this time the younger knew exactly where he was headed, having plucked that information from his mind in that black telepathic room. Stievo began his long march toward a (very) small town in the center of the country: Manlius, IL, population 662.

One of the casualties of the epic apartment building battle was sitting in her room, on her bed, in her large and audacious abode. Once the fighting ceased, she knew that Geryman, her meal ticket, had lost – not just the battle, but the war. He could no longer protect her. Her enemies would come for her. Ever the opportunist, she had made her grab for power, but couldn’t hold on. There was nothing left for her now. The glory of the past would never be hers. With trembling hands, Tayli reached for her pistol, placed it in her mouth, and pulled the trigger.

Walls fall, rumble and crumble to rubble
Offense sieges the opportunity
Calls stall, stumble the humble to trouble
Defense seizes the lorn community