A LAST STAND
Las Vegas has been evacuated.
The bright lights of the Strip lie dark. Roads emptied. Sin City has taken immeasurable damage.
The MGM Grand, similarly, looms dark. Ominous.
But inside, a last stand.
“You’re fighting an endless war…
Hunting a miracle…
And when you reach out for the stars…
They just cut you down…”
The camera rushes inside the building, where breaking walls and the flashing lights of fire alarms contrast to the quiet dark outside. David Fox emerges from a corner, stumbling and clutching a separated shoulder. Just as he prepares to catch his breath, the wall in front of him is leveled thanks to a raging Mushigara, his hulking frame covered in smaller, mechanical creatures with egg-shaped heads. The Soul Survivor shields his eyes with his good arm as the God Beast thrashes, reaching and crunching the egg-head of one while crushing another underfoot. Recovered, Fox flips a futuristic pistol with his working hand, assisting his partner with three immediate headshots, splattering yolk and oil against the walls.
“Looking through the glass, cannot recognize the ghost that you are seeing.”
Panning away from the hall and into a ruined cafeteria, Joe Fontaine slashes and slices his way through an onslaught of shadowy tentacles, his two katanas dancing and spraying black ooze with each arcing swing. Moving up a floor, The Bull of the North puts a pair of flaming fists to work, battering a larger shadow beast with blows to the body and its ethereal head, further burning it until it crumples and melts into the floor. Before any reprieve is offered, a black whip cracks and wraps around Buster’s neck, the cloaked form of Shawn Warstein on the other end. Warstein floats into the air, taking Gloves with him, choking and clutching at his neck.
“Every step you take, on the burning sand,
slowly sinking deeper…”
Transitioning outside, Mortimer Kjedelig looks to the sky, a swarm of egg machines buzzing on their approach to the balcony where he stands. Mortimer clears his throat, taking a long breath into his big chest, then shouts loudly, sonic waves forcing the wall of machines to explode into a wall of smoke. He catches his breath, only to see a small round object lobbed through the smoke. He catches it, an orange metal ball with the letter “G” stylized into a smiley face. Morty looks up to see the form of Gamble appearing as the smoke dissipates. Tony smiles that famous scarred smile, and the ball explodes in Mortimer’s face, sending him to the balcony floor and shredding his mask apart, the fabric torn and bloody.
“All the memories remain, all the pain from your broken home…”
A helicopter zips by overhead, Randall Schwartz in the pilot seat and weaving around the flying egg robots. From the side bay, Kenny Freeman picks them off one by one with an obnoxiously large sniper rifle straight out of Fortnite. A giant black tentacle lashes out from the building as they fly back, crashing through the tail of their helicopter, sending them into a spin and exploding against the side of the MGM.
“And the walls ‘round your heart grew so strong,
you can’t let go…”
Jonathan Rhine uses his feet to push himself against the wall in the hallway, a metallic hand clutching at a hole in his exo-suit, his stomach bleeding badly. He blasts energy pulses in one direction at an on-coming swarm of shadow beasts. Next to him, Paxton Ray puts his fists through egg machine after egg machine, yolk and oil painting his forearms and chest.
“You keep crawling on,
don’t wanna let it go…”
Rhine peers into the crowd of shadow beasts, spotting Beautiful Bobby, then his face turns to horror as Dean’s jaw unhinges, his mouth growing massive, before shoveling a few of the beasts into his waiting maw. He gnashes them to pieces before turning a hungering grin toward Rhine. Meanwhile, Paxton fails to notice Doozer materializing from thin air. The Old Bull crushes his fist against Ray’s jaw, sending teeth clattering. He goes invisible, re-appears to strike, and disappears again, over and over until Paxton collapses to his knees, his face a bloody pulp.
“So you keep holding on,
to feel whole…”
In front of Paxton, Rezin explodes through the wall, a tumbling mess of limbs careening into the opposite side of the hall. GREAT SCOTT steps through the rubble, GREAT BEAR behind him. SCOTT’s impossible strength is on display as he wraps a hand around Rezin’s neck, The Goat Bastard’s face caked in blood from a broken nose. SCOTT choke-lifts him one-handed, but tilts his head as Rezin starts to cackle through his gurgles. The Escape Artist wraps a hand around SCOTT’s wrist, and SCOTT recoils as the black void creeps down his arm, like a strange liquid spreading over the skin.
‘CAUSE YOU’RE FIGHTING AN ENDLESS WAR!”
The Time Lord pays no mind to the ceiling crumbling around her in the MGM lobby. She drifts, arms extended at her sides, wading through a swarm of egg-shaped machines. With each flick of the wrist she banishes them, one by one to the far corners of the multiverse. Anna’s spellcasting is interrupted, as a pair of chains vault from the shadows, snapping tight around her neck. Mephisto reveals himself, rolling the chains through his fists and around his elbows, wrapping them over and over, dragging her closer and closer, the chains digging into her neck deeper and deeper.
“HUNTING A MIRACLE!”
A massive monstrosity of shadow barrels its way through a backstage hallway, crumbling the walls as it drags its way forward with enormous claws. King Blueberry and Reina Raspberry backpedal, furiously typing into their wrist consoles, controlling an army of berry-shaped nano-bots in an attempt to engulf the creature. The creature does not relent, and as they near the end of the hallway, the cyborg known as Sid Phillips strides forward between them, his infrared eyeball scanning, and he does what he’s programmed to do.
“AND WHEN YOU REACH OUT FOR THE STARS!”
The giant shadow beast hurtles into the MGM garage, having been thrown through ten stories thanks to a Sid Phillips bionic powerbomb. It lands in a heap, black tongue lolling to the pavement. Within the garage, Dusk floats above the ground, striped cape waving as his red laser vision cuts a swath through support pillars. Larry Tact, with nowhere to hide, confronts the Lost Soul, blocking the beams with crossed forearms. He struggles forward, teeth bared, skin on his arms beginning to bubble.
“THEY JUST CUT YOU DOWN!”
In the MGM’s underbelly, a bloodied Hayes Hanlon inches his way in the dark, the area dimly lit with red emergency lights. He holds a cracked and blood-stained baseball bat in defense, eyes wide and darting left and right. Suddenly he walks into an object and hops back. The object steps forward to reveal itself; the wall of meat known as Ivan Stanislav. Ivan stares down at the Event Horizon, then starts to shift, growing imposing fangs, arms bursting with gnarled gray hair, transforming into a were-bear with eyes glowing red. Hayes lifts his bat in defiance, just before the monster engulfs him in his claws.
‘CAUSE YOU’RE FIGHTING AN ENDLESS WAR!”
Outside in the courtyard, The Anglo Luchadore approaches the scene of the crumbling MGM Grand. In front of the entrance, God’s Champion, Hoyt Williams looms, arms outstretched, the shadow beasts unwilling to approach. TAL takes a step forward, but stops in his tracks as a great beast leaps and lands behind him, breaking the asphalt underfoot. TAL turns to meet the fifteen foot form of Balaam, steam and smoke smoldering through his mask. The Intense Champion slowly pulls his own mask over his head, and in true super saiyan fashion, bursts into a gleaming light. He plants his feet and flies from the ground at the Mask of Malice, flying straight through his chest in a streaking beam.
“HUNTING A MIRACLE!”
Center-ring in the Garden, Ria Lockhart spins and whirls, arcing an impossible amount of knives into a rush of egg machines, clambering over each other. Despite her defiance, they gain ground, and worse, the burning effigy of FLAMBERGE approaches down the ramp, flaming sword in hand. Rainbow Rock fights defiantly as FLAMBERGE melts the ropes and floats into the ring. Her knives only melt against his burning body. As FLAMBERGE raises his sword, a figure barrels from the ceiling, slamming into the center of the ring. From Nate Colton’s superhero landing, a forcefield grows, a half-dome expanding outward and pushing FLAMBERGE and the surrounding egg-machines away.
“IS IT WORTH DYING FOR?”
On the MGM rooftop, the miniature explosions that emanate from Nova’s body have created a small mound of shadow beasts and egg machines. Pulse after pulse sends them to their doom. Across the way, Brandon Youngblood streaks from the sky, creating a small crater upon landing. His red cape is singed and ripped, his face bruised and scarred. The Risen Star turns his own weathered face to the Tower of Babel. Youngblood looks up at Nova atop his mound of carcasses, but their moment is interrupted.
“OR ARE YOU BLIND BY…”
Rising up from the ground, a gargantuan egg-shaped machine rises, forty stories tall at least. Colossal mechanical arms slam into the building, and Nova and Youngblood turn to face it. The manic face of Cancer Jiles sits behind a stretch of glass, sitting behind the machination’s control center, wildly flipping switches and pressing buttons.
“BLINDED BY IT ALL!?”
However,, rising between the gargantuan egg mech and the MGM, is a robed Julian Bathory. He pulls back his hood, and the Carpathian Devil raises his arms slowly. From the earth, a pair of building-sized black tentacles burst, flailing against the MGM Grand, threatening to topple it. Youngblood’s eyes glow white, ready to attack. Nova charges another pulse.
But even Cancer in his egg-Gundam, and Bathory and his shadowed beasts, are forced to shift their attention.
On the opposite end of the building, a behemoth of a flaming phoenix emerges. Twice the size of the MGM, and twice as wide. It rears up, on-lookers on the roof stunned. It’s immense wings spread wide, then curl in to envelope the remains of the crumbling MGM Grand.f
And then, black.
And the logo.