Finally, the first chapter...
Chapter 1: Aperture
Gotham City, Conneticut
14:29 GMT 8 January 2018
"Hold on, Rob!" Marshall yelled into the phone. He tried to tune out the heavy sound of machinery coming from the apartment basement, but a large explosion rocked the building, obliterating his concentration completely. In a few moments, all was still.
"What happened?" Robin asked, not really surprised at the new development. He had gotten used the insanity long ago. When it was even more insane.
Marshall sighed as a soot-covered teenager burst through the apartment door, hacking and coughing up black smoke. His short black and blue hair flung debris every which way when the boy shook his head, and his shirt was practically in shreds. Despite this, he looked happy- very happy, in fact.
"Wisel happened," the exasperated teen said. Marshall covered the phone with his free hand and turned to Wisel. "What went wrong?"
"Nothing actually," Wisel said, shedding his singed (and still burning) work jacket and placing it on the loor, stomping out the remaining embers. "The portal project proceeded just as planned- the flame was just a bit extra to show if it could work."
"And does it?" Robin's voice mangaged to project through the cover of Marshall's hand. "Does the portal work?"
Wisel grinned a happy, manic grin. "Of course it does! It's me we're talkin' about, you know."
"Tch, whatever." Marshall said. "Go get Silva and the others and tell 'em to meet us downstairs in 10 minutes, a'ight?"
Wisel jumped up from his perch on the couch without a sound, swiping his destroyed jacket from the floor. "Yeah, yeah." The door closed silently as he walked out.
Marshall turned his attention back to the phone, on which Robin was waiting patiently. "So?" he said.
"Are you sure that the universe is really in trouble?" Robin asked, blunt and to the point. "It might have just been a nightmare or-"
"I never have nightmares... not anymore."
Robin exhaled deeply. "Is it as bad as you really said?"
Robin stayed silent.
"You know, you're really starting to sound like Batman," Marshall drawled.
"Yo... don't even joke like that."
Marshall laughed, glad to have broken the silence. "Listen, we're gonna be at Mount Justice in about fifteen minutes, so prepare a warm welcome for your family, 'kay?"
Robin chuckled that creepy chuckle. "Yeah, alright."
"Tell Artemis that I'm back, will ya?"
He could almost see Robin's smile. "Alright, bro."
"Hurry up, guys!" Wisel called from the bottom of the basement stairs. He tapped his foot impatiently, finally giving up on his "brothers". If they weren't down here in 1 minute, he was leaving without them.
Marshall's amused voice resounded behind him, nearly making Wisel jump up. "One minute? That's kind of harsh."
Wisel whirled around to find his six brothers standing behind him, carrying their duffel bags over their shoulders. Marshall, being the one closest to the portal, tapped it, making it hum with electrical and ethereal activity. A whirling mass of energy appeared before the teens, and the zeta-tube hummed with life.
Zarias, a bear of a teenager, turned towards Wisel, silently praising him. "How many people can go through at a time?"
Wisel smirked proudly. "All of us."
"Alrighty, then." Marshall turned to his brothers. "Silva, call up Batman really quick and notify him of our departure for Mt. Justice. Everybody else, y'all ready to go?" There was a unified noncommital grunt as approval, mainly because he had woken the majority of them up from "nap time" ("It's 1:30 in the fucking afternoon!" Marshall said, ripping the curtains of Royce's room wide open, which earned him a piercing shriek as a response. Needless to say, by that time, everyone was up.).
Silva snapped the phone shut as his brief conversation with Batman ended. "We're good to go."
Marshall grinned, facing the zeta tube. "Let's do this."
An eerie, chilling laugh was heard as he jumped through the portal.
Mount Justice, Rhode Island
12:39 GMT 8 January, 2018
The zeta tube in Mt. Justice started up, speckles of blue and white light dancing around the cave faintly. A low, distinct hum started, and the Team turned from their various spots in the lounge to face the apparent newcomers.
Kaldur stood from his place on the recliner. "No one informed us of an arrival."
Cassandra snorted. "Really, Kal? Since when did Batman ever call us up and say 'Hey kids, I'm coming over in five. See ya then!', hmm?"
"Calm down, guys," Robin said, hopping up from the couch so he could get a better look at who was coming. "They're friends of mine."
"You have friends?" Cissie said, raising an eyebrow.
"Oh, ha ha."
Recognized Apollo: B-11, The Emperor: B-12, Typhon B-13, Xiaolin B-14, Apache B-15, Deadeye B-16, Grizzle B-17.
"Aw, sweet!" Wally said ecstatically. "Apache's here? This is gonna be awesome!"
"Wait, wait, wait." Rocket said, holding up her hands, a signal for everybody to shut up. "Just who are these guys, 'cause it looks like some of you know them," She gestured to Wally, Robin, and Artemis. "and some of y'all don't."
A silky, mocking voice echoed from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. "Well, just telling you would spoil the surprise, Rocket."
Seemingly out of thin air, seven teenagers appeared, each with duffel bags slung onto their shoulders. They were all dressed in normal clothes- well, most of them. One, the biggest of them, was barefoot, and was dressed in an open, sleeveless haori and ripped brown cargo pants. The one thing that was common to all of them was that they all seemed around 17, but that's where the similarities ended.
Superboy subtly curled his gloved hand into a fist. "Who are you?"
The one in the lead held up his hands calmly. "We mean no harm, though this was to be expected since I didn't give enough time for Batman to warn you of our arrival." He waved his hand, his obsidian skin seemingly absorbing light as he gestured to the teens behind him. "I'm Marshall, and we are the Reapers. A team, just like you."
Marshall's hand moved to indicate each of the members in turn. "This is Wisel, or The Emperor," he said, pointing with his thumb to a gray-skinned boy wearing a black leather jacket with a gray shirt underneath. He had on cargo pants and carpenter boots, and all in all didn't look much like royalty. But his eyes gave him away, the gold irises gleaming with a fire that projected a sense of power and experience.
"This is Silva," Marshall said, moving on to the next person. Silva wore a deep blue hoodie that appeared to ripple with waves and navy blue cargo pants. He was also barefoot, and his toenails were pointed like wickedly sharp claws. His light blue skin and sharp-toothed smile made him reminiscent of a shark, and the 3 horizontal slits added to the macabre look.
"I'm Royce," said one, slightly smaller than the others. He was dressed in a white short-sleeved, button-down shirt with a black suit vest over it. His gray skinny jeans were frayed at the bottom, and his black and white Converse had multiple scuff marks on them. Royce's fedora was tilted forward, only revealing his mouth as he spoke with the same silky voice that greeted the Team when the Reapers first made their appearance.
"And I'm Wren," said the boy next to Royce. His dress was simple: a compressed, short-sleeved Under Armour T-shirt and black cargo pants. He looked like he could kick ass, but he acted so laid back that the Team knew that it was going to be hard to take him seriously.
"My name is Blaine." The guy who spoke was dressed in a combination of hunting and climbing gear, all with a camouflage or mossy oak design. He carried a large black metal case over his shoulder in addition to his duffel. "And this is Zarias," he said, pointing to the giant teen behind him with his thumb. "He may not talk much now, but when you get to know him, he's a pretty cool guy."
"Nice to know," Kaldur said, looking up at Zarias. "But we still don't know what you're doing here. Care to fill us in?"
"I allowed them to come," said a deep voice coming from the direction of the zeta tube. Everyone except for Robin, Apache, and Marshall jumped slightly and turned around to find half of the Justice League standing there, watching them. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Flash, Green Arrow, Captain Marvel, Doctor Fate, Black Canary, Red Tornado, and Aquaman.
Kaldur bowed slightly when he caught sight of Aquaman. "My King." He stood up straight. "If I may ask, what are you doing here?"
Batman answered instead. "We have received word from an anonymous source that an extinction level event will occur within the next two years if it is not stopped." He crossed over to the cave's supercomputer and brought up a page on something called OMAC. "Our source calls it Infinite Crisis- an end to magic and the end of many people we know." He pointed to the screen. "This is what facilitates the Crisis, Project OMAC. We know very little about this, except that it has a connection to what we're trying to prevent. We're trying to gather as much force as we can to slow its coming, and that's why we brought in the Reapers. They're here to help, so try to treat them like you would treat each other."
"Oh," Royce spoke up, smiling. "Just a fair warning, though- if you troll us, we will troll back."
Zarias snorted. "No, you will troll back."
"No one will be trolling anyone," Batman said firmly. "Marshall, Wisel, Wren, and Royce will be living elsewhere, while Blaine, Silva, and Zarias will be living here at Mt. Justice. M'gann, Connor- after training, you will give them a tour of the cave."
"Whoa, wait." Blaine raised his eyebrow questioningly. "We're training?"
"All Team members are subject to mandatory group training exercises," Black Canary said. "That now includes you guys."
"Black Canary will show you to the training room. The rest of the Justice League have other matters to attend to, so we will be taking our leave." Batman turned to leave. then turned back to face the Reapers. "Behave." he said.
A minute later, all Justice League members were gone with the exception of Black Canary. "Come on," she said. "I'll show you to the training room."
Mount Justice, Rhode Island
13:48 GMT 8 January, 2018
"What the hell are we doing?" Royce said, standing on one side of the training room with his brothers. It was as large as a football field and completely devoid of obstacles. The Team stood at the other side: Aqualad, Robin, Superboy, Miss Martian, Kid Flash, Artemis, Blue Beetle, Arrowette, Wonder Girl, Lagoon Boy, Batgirl, Empress, Zatanna, and Rocket. They had all changed into their costumes while the Reapers had stayed in their civilian clothes.
"The focus of this training room is the practice of metahuman abilities," Black Canary said over the loudspeaker. Royce looked up to see her looking down at them from a 3-walled observation room, the fourth wall being a glass window. She held a microphone in her hand. "This room is large enough for you to practice freely and strong enough to withstand a nuclear blast, so it should be able to keep your powers from destroying the entire mountain. You can start when you want to."
"Can I go first?" Royce said, jumping up in excitement.
"Depends if you're gonna seriously injure somebody or not," replied Wisel.
Royce snorted, appearing in the center of the field in a second. "I'll see what I can do," he called back. Then he turned to face the Team. "Well? Are we throwin' down or what?"
They looked at each other, uncertain. "Only one of you is going to fight us?" Kaldur asked.
"Naw, man! That would just be stupid, 'cause I'd get my ass whooped." Royce laughed at his own little joke. "You just send out who you wanna send out, and it'll snowball from there. Get it?"
"I believe I do. Wally, Cissie- would you like to go first?"
Cissie smirked. "Gladly."
Kaldur pulled both of them aside before they could go to meet Royce. "Be careful," he said. "Though I do not think I need to stress that. I sense that he's much stronger than he looks."
"Who, that little guy?" Cissie said, tilting her head towards Royce.
Said person's eye twtched maddeningly. "I heard that, you-"
He calmed down instantly. "Sorry. Let's just do this, a'ight?"
Kid Flash pulled his goggles down over his eyes. "Sure," he said. "Let's put on a show, shall we Apache?"
Royce grinned. "Gladly." And the battle began.
Kid Flash sped towards Royce, and Arrowette quickly loosed three arrows his way as well. He avoided the projectiles with ease, tripping up Kid Flash as he did so. Royce bobbed and weaved as the two teammates threw everything they had at him: trick arrows, cherry bombs- hell, when Kid Flash tried to hit him, he only did so once out of every ten times he tried, and even then, Royce got back up in an instant, albeit bleeding a little bit. He was simply too fast.
"Aw, come on," Royce said, leaping to his feet yet again. "You guys have to at least put up a fight. This is too easy!"
Kid Flash stopped, panting heavily. He was almost out of energy. "You're not doing shit! If anything, you have to put up a fight!" His eyes suddenly widened, then he smiled knowingly. "But you're tired, aren't you?"
Royce froze, stunned. Then he laughed. "Psh. You know me too well, KF. So I say that we finish this." An odd, silver glow began to shine through his skin.
"Shit." Kid Flash turned to Arrowette. "Grapple up to the ceiling and stay there until I say to come down." If I can say it.
Royce's skin turned into an intenesly-glowing silver in patches. His eye sockets were empty and in its place was a dull, red glow. The Team looked on, shocked.
Before Arrowette could react, Kid Flash had grabbed her by the belt, spun her around and launched her up to the ceiling, leaving her no choice but to grapple to it and stay there.
"Alright, Royce. Let's-" Kid Flash was cut short by an earth-shattering knee to the gut, followed closely by a barrage of light but paralyzing punches. In less than a second, Kid Flash had been blasted across the room, landing in front of the Team, paralyzed from the neck down.
Wonder Girl gasped and reached for him to see if he was alive, but was stopped by a sharp bark from Kid Flash. "Stop! This isn't your fight!"
Cassandra glowered. "Like hell it-"
"Listen to Wally," said Royce. His voice sounded like a hundred people talking at once, somehow sounding melodic. "If you sent him out, leave him be. He'll be okay in a couple of minutes, just a little sore." With that last word, he disappeared.
"Where did he go?" Arrowette screamed down, distressed. Falling from this height would definitely kill her, and she definitely had no desire to die anytime soon.
"Don't worry," Wally gasped, trying to move his fingers, which were slowly coming back under his control. "He's just playing with you...for now. When you feel him coming close to you, scream as loud as you can, alright?"
Arrowette nearly screamed out of frustration. "Scream? Scream? What the fuck for?"
"Just trust me!"
"Why the hell should I? And what do you mean feel him? I can't even touch him!"
"Believe me, you'll know! Now just calm down and wait!"
Arrowette muttered a string of indistinct curses at Wally, clinging on to the grappling handle for dear life. How in God's name was she supposed to feel this guy? She just saw him take out Kid Flash in less than a second! That isn't possible!
Suddenly, she felt a slight warmth, and a subtle gust of wind. Resolving that she'd kill Wally if his advice didn't work, she screamed as loud as she could.
Royce appeared in front of her in an instant, grabbing his ears in pain. He was too close for it not to affect him.
Now he knew what Marshall meant when he said 'stop playing with your food'.
He tried to grab her, to force himself through the ringing pain that echoed in his skull. A kick was sent his way, but just because he was in pain didn't mean he wasn't fast. He grabbed her leg and sent a quick sonic vibration up its length, numbing it. Arrowette was so shocked that her grip on the handle loosened and she plummeted to the ground.
Well, she started to.
Halfway down, a pair of strong glowing arms caught her bridal style, and gently lowered her to the ground. Setting Arrowette on her own two feet, Royce's glow faded until he was back to normal, looking very worn and tired.
"You okay?" he asked.
"Yeah... I guess. Are you?"
"Yeah. I'm just a little-" He stopped abruptly and fell forward, slipping on the puddle of blood amassing at his feet.
"-tired," he finished.
Arrowette gasped as Royce's blood lightly splashed her boots. His breathing was a bit ragged, and he wasn't moving.
"Is he alright?" Miss Martian called out, worried.
"He's fine." A voice behind her made Arrowette jump, and she turned around to see Blaine sling Royce over his shoulder. "His regneration should start in a few minutes- nothin' to worry about." He started to walk back to the other side of the room. "Send out your seconds."
"Seconds?" Superboy snorted. "Forget seconds! Let's just do this already!"
Blaine turned his head slightly and smiled, his grin stretched over his face like the Cheshire Cat (which unnerved Artemis to no end). Setting Royce down, he turned fully to face the Team. "Oh, you're gonna regret sayin' that, Supey."
Said teen smirked. "Am I?"
Blaine pulled out two handguns from the holsters on his waist and started firing, which prompted everyone to surge out onto the training field and have an all-out war.
Black Canary watched as the training field became a war zone, and when Royce was back on his feet, he made it look like it. Individual Reapers took on two of the Team at a time, holding them back...with effort. She happily noted Empress, Batgirl, and Robin's teamwork in tackling Wren, a boy who, for as long as she could remember, could beat any martial artist's ass into the ground. He was quickly catching on to Empress' predictability in teleporting, and started to seriously beat the trio back, ending it with a whirlwind of a kick that knocked the three team members into the wall. Surprisingly, Wren fell back to sit on the floor, and it was obvious that he was exhausted.
As a matter of fact, even though the Reapers defeated the Team, every one of them looked tired and exhausted. Well, with the exception of Wisel, who for as long as she's known him has never gotten tired from physical exertion, Silva, who was just too used to this, and Marshall, who stunningly looked a bit worn himself. Maybe he shouldn't have underestimated both Zatanna and Rocket as much as he had.
"All done?" she said into the mike.
Everyone looked up at her with disbelief as they helped each other get up from the training room floor. Did she just ask if they were done after what was supposed to be a simple training exercise delved into the fucked up world of mosh pit?
This chick is crazy.
"Are you blind?" Royce asked.
"Does it look like were going to be fighting anytime soon?" Conner said from his position- flat on the floor.
Black Canary smiled slightly. "I guess not."
"SO WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION IS?" Royce screamed.
"Team." Batman's voice crackled over the ever-present speakers in the Cave, no doubt put there by the Bat himself. "Suit up. Mission briefing in five."
Marshall looked around. "Sooo... I guess we'll just stay here then, right?'
"This includes all Reapers present."
Black Canary laughed. "Does that answer your question?"
"I believe it does."
Marshall and the rest of the Reapers' profiles can be found on my profile page.