The skeleton army divided to let a thin young man with short brown hair approach. He wore glasses and a dark suit. Petting one of the attackers, his touch caused it to fall apart.
“Hunter!” screamed the assembled army.
“Yes,” said the young man. “My name is Timothy Hunter, but you may call me your new lord and master.”
“Get ready to scatter,” Nikki Snow said under her breath to the villains.
“I see some new heroes have come along to challenge me,” the young man said in a high-pitched English accent.
“We’re just visiting,” said Mike Redmon. “If you don’t mind, we’ll go about our business and forget this ever happened.”
“And what if I do mind?” said Hunter.
“Shut up, Mike,” warned Nikki.
“I’ll rip you a new hole,” said Mike. And the Fist flexed his chest muscles.
The young commander of the strange army laughed until tears began rolling down his eyes. Then, adjusting his glasses, all traces of mirth was gone. “For that spot of trite comedy,” Tim Hunter announced slowly and calmly, “I’ll kill you last.”
The warlock raised a hand, and a beam of light erupted, ripping up the ground as it traversed the distance to where the group stood.
Power Ring tried to throw up a wall of green energy as the rest scattered. The terrific beam punched through the wall and seemingly vaporized him in an instant. The army went crazy with delight.
Adam Love popped in behind the powerful Hunter, having picked up a sword from somewhere, which he now swung with all of his might. The blade snapped in half on contact. Hunter merely shrugged, disrupting Adam into particles.
“#$%^&$%^!” screamed Danny Williams, letting a dragon’s roar of flame loose.
Ultraman stared at the young warlock, and red beams of light erupted from his eyes, while Superwoman threw her magic lariat over Hunter’s shoulders as he caught the heat and flame in the palms of his hands.
The Nerve arrived at the back of the army and began working his way to the front of the line with sound of snapping spines. None of the skeletons paid him any attention as he worked.
Timothy Hunter clapped his hands together. The thermal energy instantaneously transformed into flowers, which dropped to the ground.
“Give up!” commanded Superwoman.
The young warlock smiled and grabbed her golden lariat, causing lightning to race up its length. Superwoman vibrated as light erupted through her skin, and she soon lost her grip and collapsed to the ground, unconscious. Hunter casually tossed the rope aside as he advanced on the group.
Ultraman slammed the ground in fury, causing a shockwave to race through the ground. Hunter flew into the air for a moment, unbalanced and off-guard.
The Nerve stepped into the front line of the skeletons, having cut a swathe to get to this point. He knew the metallic things ignored him because they were waiting on Hunter to finish the rest and take him out. The Nerve had other plans.
Nikki Snow flung herself forward as light as a raindrop and leaped into the air. As soon as she reached Hunter, she became as massive as the moon and dug a crater with his body underneath hers.
It was to no avail, as, soon enough, a beam of light flung Nikki’s elephantine bones in different directions.
Timothy Hunter sat up in the crater, rubbing his chest and clearly annoyed. He had only managed to lift one leg under him when the two super-speedsters, Que and Johnny Quick, rushed him from either side. The young warlock raised a shield to take the full brunt of their blows before turning the shield into twin beams of death. Que vibrated himself to a smoky demise, while Johnny Quick vanished into nothingness.
That left Mike, Danny, Ultraman, and Owlman on one side, and the Nerve on the other.
Hunter smiled, adjusting his glasses calmly. “Who wants to die next?” he asked smugly.
“I do,” said the Nerve. All eyes went to the blocky man, who seemed untouched by the events of the last few minutes.
“And what do you have?” asked the warlock. “Super-strength, invulnerability, flight…?”
“Nada,” said the Nerve as he stepped forward.
“Well, then,” said Timothy Hunter, grinning. “Hit me with your best shot.”
The Nerve raised two fingers on a clenched hand and swung with deceptive speed. His fingertips pierced Hunter’s shield at just the right place, and the young warlock fell dead, his brain destroyed by the lethal impact from the two fingers striking his skull and shattering it.
Consequently, Tim Hunter’s occult creations fell apart in a roar of dismay.
“Sure,” said the Nerve. “If that’s what you want.”
“Another success,” Baron Winters said to his leopard Merlin as he sipped his wine.
The cat stared back at him.
“Of course,” said the Baron. “Everything has a price. You know that. That’s my job. I have to send people to their deaths to save more lives down the road.”
The cat lay down in front of the dead fireplace, staring at the ashes under the log holders as it growled softly.
“I don’t like it, either,” said the Baron. “Walking a line is not my preferred way of doing things, but at least some of them survived this time. This could be a chance for them to be the heroes they weren’t before. After all, someone needs to help rebuild this future possible timeline, even if we’ve now ensured that the future Hunter won’t use his abilities to infect the present.”
The Baron emptied his glass in a gulp, then walked away.