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 unstoppable, 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 from that remote island. Now? He had his doubts. His son had proven to be surprisingly strong, resilient, and persistent. But enough was enough. Geryman knew who he was, what he was capable of. It was time to go back on the offensive.

Digging deep into his psyche, Geryman opened up a telepathic connection with his son. There, in that blackened room of undefined dimensions and no discernible floor/ceiling/walls, they stood across from each other. 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.

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

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 in a state of befuddlement. A split second that lasted a century was shattered as both lept 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, rumbling down flights of stairs and took flight into the air.

This cramped apartment building, nestled somewhere in Seattle, 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 had escaped; fled the scene, leaving behind a wounded victor. Immediately, the presumptive sole Champion of Dark knew exactly where Geryman was heading. Stievo would take some time to regenerate, and then he march toward a (very) small town in the center of the country. They would face each other one last time…in Manlius, IL, population 333.

One of the casualties of the battle was sitting in her room, on her bed, in her large and pretentious abode. Immediately, she knew that Geryman, her meal ticket, had lost – not just the battle, but the war. 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 centuries past would never be hers. With trembling hands, Tayli reached for her pistol, placed it in her mouth, and pulled the trigger.