Monday, July 7, 2008


The room they were in now was an expensive one, the kind of hotel on the Rogue Isles that caters to people with lots of other people's money. That pretty much described him and Lethane perfectly. Two people with lots of stolen green and no pants.

It did not apparently bother the blue skinned elf to walk naked into the hotel lobby. Raven still had his boxers and yet he was embarrassed all the way down to his toes, a reaction visible enough for the vicious cerulean bastard to comment on at length.

Several times.

Twice in the elevator.

Now they were in a penthouse suite with comfortable carpet, fantastic furnishings and still no clothing at all. At least the bathrooms had robes, not that he had been able to convince Lethane to wear one.

"Do you just like being vulgar?"

"Fuck yes I do."

He sighs. "How did I know you'd say that, felon?"

Leth looked up from counting a stack of bills, "Because you ain't dumb and you know felons better than you'd like to think." Then, with a wry grin, "Don'tcha, bank robber?"

That got under Raven's skin. He got up and turned away from the pile of loose cash, eye closed as he flexed his hands into fists of frustration. "Don't call me that." He knew it was futile, not to mention hypocritical. He was a bankrobber now, a criminal just like Lethane. He had crossed the line; he was a villain.

It did not matter that the funds in the safe were all just corporate overflow revenues, insured and replaceable. It did not even matter that despite his great strength and powers he had only knocked the guards unconscious or trapped them behind walls of stone. Mercy made no difference now, not since what happened... after.

"Hey, killer!" Lethane's voice rang out. "Souvenir!"

A mask hurtled across the room, thrown by the blue elf and impacting dully against his chest. By reflex he caught it. The blue and white spandex hooked in his fingers stretched as he turned it over, staring at the bloodstain over where it would cover someone's forehead.

"This...," he started to say.

Leth finished the sentence, " a trophy. Enjoy it. That's the hero-zero you clocked for me, big guy." The elven mauler grinned widely, showing all his fangs. "Remember, you can't make a dumbass omelet without breaking a few skulls!"

Raven was aghast, dropping the mask suddenly as if it were on fire. Was that it, really? Was that the mask off the hero he'd... killed?

His hand hurt; he still felt it. He could remember the moment as if it were still happening. They had been interrupted by those heroes just as he was stripping for that damned money bath. Before he could say anything, they opened fire. Meson beams ripped through the air, several hitting him in the chest, the face. There was pain. Anger. He did not want to fight; they did not want to do anything but fight.

Lethane had been more than willing to comply. He leaped from the tub of cash like a tiger upon gazelle. As green rained down all around him, his claws were claiming their due. There had been so much blood.

Raven had tried to end the fight peacefully, crushing weapons and slicing fuel lines with his blazing sword. Though he had caused a few wounds, nothing was fatal. These heroes would live, though they would be considerably worse for the wear. He wanted them to get away from here but since they would not leave quietly, he would have to help them out. Painfully if necessary.

And then it happened. The pain in his back, the deep sting of something actually cutting his impossibly hard flesh. What came next was like a blur, a dim memory of something that happened to someone else. Someone... evil.

He turned around, the motion pulling the hero's blade out of his back. That hurt, but there was little room for pain amid the roaring in his mind. He reached out, catching the swordsman by the face. His large hand wrapped around the front part of the hero's head, clutching tight enough to casually break his jaw at the chin. He held the wretch there, back to the wall, motionless until he dropped his weapon.

As burtual as that was, it would have been the end of things. It would not have gone any father. But then, just as he was about to let go, the hero team's leader shouted in a voice so like his own before all of this, "Let him go, you monster!"

Monster. Monster. Something in him snapped.

The rest was a haze. He only knew that at one point, the man's head came off in his hand. That was the result of using the swordsman as a club, of smashing through the room with him, battering down walls and heroes and anything else in the way. There was screaming. And the sound of crushing bone. And blood. So much blood.

There would have been more killing, so much more, but for Lethane's shouts of, "Yes! Head's up!" when the skull came free. "Good going, champ! Keep that noggin and we'll go bowling later!"

Instantly, there was revulsion. He dropped the grisly thing and turned away, running as far and as fast as he could. Scooping up money, the jeering blue slayer was right behind him the whole way, making terrible jokes about his terrible act.

Lost in this memory, Raven did not notice Lethane's approach until the elf's hand was on his arm. "Hey, Duck. I got an assload of pennies over there for your thoughts."

Raven blinked. "It's nothing. I just... I didn't mean to kill that man."


That turned his head. "What?"

"Woman. That swordsman was actually a bladebitch. You did the Rogue Isles a favor by ending her body count."

Raven slumped, half seeking a chair and completely failing to reach one before falling to the ground. "A woman?"

Leth rolled his slit-pupilled eyes. "Yeah. And a more vicious member of the breed you'd be hard pressed to find. Look, Duck." he said as he crouched beside him. "Slash was one of the nastiest heroes out there. You could kill from now till Christmas and not hit her kill total, that's for sure."

Raven took a long, deep breath before speaking again. "Wait." He shook his head. "That's not right. Kill total?"

"What, am I speaking Darnassian again? What word was tough, rockhead? Kill or Total?"

If he were not so distraught, he would have thrown Leth through a wall again for being just an irreverent prick. As it was, he accepted this as the elf's strange way of being friendly. Raven supposed for a homicidal misanthrope, there were worse ways the man could behave. "No, I meant the killing. Heroes don't kill."

That just made Lethane laugh. Hard. When he could breathe again, the fanged felon asked, "Are you serious?"

Raven nodded. "Of course. When I was a hero, we never killed. It was just... wrong." He said it, even though he could tell each word was just pushing Lethane closer to the edge of another hilarity cliff.

"I hate to tell you this, Duck, but you were the exception, not the rule. Even in your own team."

Raven stood up and stormed off towards the balcony. "Lies! My people were good! They believed in what we did!" Every step was a twist in his gut though, a painful echo what he knew Lethane was about to say. He did not even get to the glass door before the elf's voice called out.

He knew the words that were coming.

He knew then because he had already asked himself the question they formed. Many times, to no answer.

No answers at all.

"Really, Duck? So then how do you explain.... you?"

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Money Pit

Until this moment, Raven had never seen a man actually swim in money. Now, watching Lethane dive naked into a jacuzzi filled with stacks of green, he really never wanted to see it again.

"Do you have to do that?"

The blue marauder poked his head out of the tub and grinned ferally. "Oh Hell yeah I do!" He leaned back against the side of the cash pool and kicked his feet up, sending dead presidents scattering all around. "You should jump in. The money's nice and warm!"

"Oh, I don't think so." Raven started counting the next handful of bills, having saved at least a little of their ill-gotten gains from the swim-crazed fool and his tub o' currency.

"Awww, why not?" Lethane moved to the edge of the jacuzzi nearest him and leered. "Afraid you'll like it?"

He shook his head at the blue elf and kept counting. "No. I'm afraid you'll like it."

That got a laugh and a handful of twenties thrown at his head in a shower of green. "You wish! Come on," Lethane purred as he moved back to the middle of his little pond of avarice. "You can even keep your pants on, big guy." Then he laughed and went bottoms up.


Raven, glancing over at exactly the wrong time, got quite the view. "Can't... unsee... that!"

More laughter.

Raven looked away, keeping his eyes tightly closed. "I am trying to figure out how much of this we get to keep and how much we have to give to your contact. If you don't stop it, I'll never finish." He tried to blink away the image of blue elven ass, succeeding only in giving himself a headache.

"Mikey ain't coming over until tomorrow and it'll take a lot less time to count this stuff if I help."

Raven sighed. "You know what would also help get this done?"

Leth grinned and quipped, "You pulling that stick out of your butt and having a little fun for once?"

He clenched his fists, feeling the earth beneath him rumble in echo to his irritation. "No," Raven said with a growl. "You not taking half the loot and running yourself a trouble-bath!"

That earned him a mocking pout and made the tremors around him a little bit worse. No one got under his skin like this psychopathic long-ear. No one.

"Awww, calm down, Duck. Tell you what." Leth flipped over and lounged in the cash. "You come have a soak in here with me and after we're good and moneyed up, I'll come help you count. I'll even empty the jacuzzi and restack all the bills myself."

Raven released his grip slowly, the ground calming as he did so. "Promise?"

Lethane held up one claw-tipped hand. "Scout's honor."

He stared at the elf skeptically. "I sincerely doubt you were ever a scout."

The maniac's blue lips parted in a wicked, toothy grin. "I ate one once. Does that count?"

Raven's disgusted look was all the answer he felt like giving. After a long, intentional silence, he stood up and put the crumpled money in his hands on the table. "Fine. You win. But I am NOT getting naked."

Leth shrugged. "Suit yourself. It's your loss. But at least pretend you're swimming? The feel of moeny on your bare skin is so nice."

"Fine." Raven took a moment to strip out of his shirt and pants, leaving on his boxers. Lethane was a bizarre creature to be sure; he had no doubt that if given a chance, the elf would most certainly take advantage of a situation like this. Still, if a quick dip in the emerald tub would get the bastard to actually help around here, it was worth going this far.

He was pulling off his socks when the door burst in behind him and four heroes rushed in!

"Paragon City Patrol! Surrender or... what the gay hell is this?!?"

Raven just closed his eyes. If they were polite, they would just shoot him and put him out of his misery...

Monday, February 18, 2008


"Nice going, genius."

Raven sighed, looking down at his stone-sheathed fist and the sparking electronics falling away from it like a silicon rain. "You said 'hit the control panel'."

Lethane dropped the bank guard he was biting and let the man's limb body slump at his feet. "I didn't mean hit the controls, dipshit. I meant for you to punch in the code we got from the Radio." he looked exasperated, hissing past bloody teeth. "You know, the one to open this damned tritanium safe."

"Well, do be clear, I am still not sure we should even be doing this."

Leth just open-palm whapped him on the fore head hard enough to rock him back on his armored feet. "Are you a villain or not?"

Raven started to open his mouth in the negative.

"Before you answer no, keep this in mind." Before saying another word, the feral savage pulled a brutal looking submachine gun off his back and hosed down the far end of the hall, cutting down five guards rushing towards them both.

The ex-hero watched them fall with some regret. He did not really want to be here and these security agents were only doing their jobs. Employed by the island, by Arachnos, did not necessarily make them bad people. They were just men and women trying to make lives for themselves on the Rogue Isles.

"Keep what in mind?"

Leth pulled the clip out of his gun and checked it. "Nine shots. Lovely." Slapping it back in, he palm spacked Raven's head again. "Pay attention, Duck. This ain't Paragon City and your patroness ain't Mary, Mother of Saints. Got it?"

He nodded slowly. "I know all that, Leth. I know I have to try to fit in, if only so I can hide long enough to get to the people that did this to me."

Leth hit him again. That was getting annoying. "Wrong."


The blue skinned marauder emptied what was left of the clip into approaching reinforcements, throwing the useless gun hard enough at the sole surviving guard hard enough to shatter his skull. "I said wrong, Duck. Deaf as well as stupid?"

Bloodraven closed his right hand into a tight fist. "Enough with the insults, Leth. Just say what you're getting at."

Sighing, the lanky slayer turned to the sheer silvery door of the vault and rested his head against it dejectedly. "You just don't get it. Being a villain on the Rogue Isles is tough." Turning his eye, Leth gazed at Raven with narrowed feline eyes. "Being a hero is impossible."

Shifting in his stone-bonded armor, Bloodraven walked over and tapped the tritanium portal with his fists. "I know. You already said you'd kill me if I didn't get with the program."

Lethane watched his hesitatnt partner in crime eye the door and its circular, inpregniable frame. "Duck, it ain't me you have to worry about. If I still wanted you dead, you'd never have survived Piercing Night." An amused smile creased the savage's lips, growing wider at the chagrined look on Bloodraven's face.

"Then who?" Raven was feeling over the door now, trying to find handholds.

Lethane was too busy to answer him at first, chucking huge chunks of marble debris at the flak-armored Guardian agents appearing in the hall. As each one went down in a shower of gore and broken rock, he glanced back and snapped, "It's everyone else, moron! And quit that! Your 'tear the door off' trick won't work here." He heaved another glittering boulder and crushed the last of the agents up against the far wall, a red smear over grey stone.

"Why not?"

"Because the whole vault is tritanium, all the way down to the hinge pins. It doesn't have a vulnerable point!" Leth snarled, his claws growing to deadly length in anticipation of the nexty wave of defenders.


"That's all you have to say? We have to fight our way out of here, go get a digital panel to hack into the display you just ruined and get back here before all of Atlas shows up to stop us... and all you have to say is 'Oh!'?!?"

Raven shrugged. "You didn't let me finish."

Lethane crouched low, hearing faint metallic footsteps on the bank level above. "What, Raven?! There is no fucking way you could possibly finish a sentence that starts with 'Oh' that won't make me smack you?"

Raven closed his eyes, the power of the earth beneath him rising at the focus of his will. This was still a new thing, a tenuous rapport he did not truly understand, but the contact was getting clearer every time he reached for it.

He called and the molten heart of the world itself, answered.

"What was I was going to say was, 'Oh. I guess we'll just have to take the whole vault with us.'"

And with that, his shoulders tioghtened, his back arched and he pulled against the vault. The entire building shuddered at once. Around Bloodraven's feet, the floor split and ruptured. The walls shook, massive rifts cracking in jagged lines of stone and dust. The bank screamed in lithic agony, pipes tearing like arteries, struts breaking like ferric bones!

And as Lethane watched, slack jawed, the entire tritanium chamber tore free amid a shower of ceiling stones and falling earth. Then it was moving, upwards and outwards, towards the surface. Bloodraven was pushing it forward, his weak but effective flight ability guiding it as he 'swam' through the ground, leaving a tunnel for Lethane to use.

"Okay," the cerulean elf said breathlessly as he scrambled to keep up.

"I stand corrected."