After handing over Ice Queen to the police, the L-Force returned to their base. Lincoln was mad as, once again, Infrared had managed to get away from him. Without even putting up much of a fight against the young white-haired hero. He decided to go back to the training room so he could be alone and practice even more. None of his sisters argued with him, figuring it was best to just let him blow off some steam at the moment. In the meantime, they decided themselves to see if they could find the older version of Lincoln, hoping to get some much needed answers from their AWOL futuristic teammate.
They found him in the equipment room, standing in front of Lincoln's open locker and staring into it for some reason. Lori didn't waste any time in getting his attention.
"Hey there, F.L.," she said in a clearly hostile tone.
F.L. turned to look at them. "Oh, hey guys," he said casually. "Sorry I kind of disappeared in the middle of the fight back there."
"Yeeeeah," Lynn said as she and the others eyed him suspiciously. "Did you know that Infrared showed up right after you did? Really could've used your help back there, dude."
"What? Infrared showed up?" he asked in shocked surprise. "Oh man. I am so sorry I wasn't there. After I got sucker punched by that ice soldier, I sort of passed out and by the time I woke up, I figured the fight was over, so I just thought I'd meet you guys back here."
The girls weren't sure that they totally bought his story. They still felt like there was something he wasn't telling them, especially Lori.
"Right," she said. "You know, doesn't it seem a little weird that every time Infrared has shown up to attack us, you were nowhere to be found?"
"Even though you told us that capturing him was the whole reason you came back in time in the first place?" Lisa added to Lori's questioning.
Future Lincoln lowered his head and turned back to the open locker. He glanced back at them in the mirror that was inside it. "What exactly are you guys getting at here?" he asked in a low voice.
"Just admit it," Lucy insisted, trying to cut to the chase. "You didn't come back in time to stop Infrared, did you?"
The man said nothing. He simply stood silent for a moment until, suddenly, he turned around and fired a red energy blast at Lucy, knocking her backwards, much to the shock of everyone else. As the others went to the aid of their goth sister, Future Lincoln approached them menacingly.
"So you finally figured it out, did you?" he asked rhetorically. As he continued to approach his sisters, his costume began to change. The orange and white pattern slowly shifted into all black with hints of red for accents. This made him look just like Infrared. There was also a metal slot on his chest, which opened up to reveal the meteorite's core. The girls all gasped, shocked and terrified that the adult version of their own brother was the one who had been trying to destroy them the whole time.
"Actually, I was kind of wondering how long it would take you," the futuristic traitor gloated.
"Why are you doing this?" Leni asked, visibly hurt that her own brother would betray them like this. "What did we ever do to make you hate us so much?"
"You tried to steal my dream from me," F.L. answered in a low and hateful voice.
"Steal your dream? What the heck are you talking about?" Lynn questioned, prompting the man to go into full super villain rant mode.
"All my life, I've had to live in your shadows," he began. "Each of you always had your own special talents that made people love you. Music, comedy, pageants, sports, science, you name it. Meanwhile, nobody ever cared about anything I was good at. It was always about one of you!"
The girls all looked at each other. Lincoln had never mentioned feeling this way to any of them before. It was disheartening for some of them to think that all this time, he had felt so inadequate next to them.
"And then we got our superpowers and the whole town became a living comic book," he continued. "It was a dream come true for me. Finally, I could make a name for myself and be something truly special for the first time in my life! But because the power I happened to get saddled with wasn't flashy or powerful enough, you all stuck me on the sidelines and forced me into a tech support position."
"We just wanted to protect you," Luan tried to reason with him.
"I DIDN'T WANT TO BE PROTECTED!" he shouted angrily, his outburst causing his red aura to flare up dramatically. It went back to its regular form as Future Lincoln settled down a bit. "I wanted to be out there, protecting other people! Do you have any idea how hard it was to sit idly by, just staring at those computer screens, watching as all my sisters got to go out day after day and live the dream that I had always had?! If it wasn't for The Event, none of you would've ever even considered becoming superheroes! And yet, there you were, doing exactly what I had dreamt of doing my whole life, while all I could do was sit back and watch! I should've been the one out there all along! Not any of you!"
As the adult Lincoln spoke, the tone in his voice began to portray just how much pain and jealousy he'd been living with all this time. His eyes even started to let out a few small tears. Even though he was threatening them, some of the girls like Leni, Luna, Luan and Lucy couldn't help but feel sorry for him.
"But then, I finally made it out into the field," he went on. "And I got a taste of what it felt like to be a real hero. But even with all the good intentions, determination and high-tech gadgets in the world, it still wasn't enough to make up for my weaknesses. My power was still too weak and I had been held back for so long that I didn't have the skills or the experience to keep up with the rest of you. I was the laughing stock of the team. Just the lame runt who always had to be saved when I was supposed to be the one doing the saving!
"And then, one day, I discovered the core. It filled me with a power unlike anything I had ever felt before. I knew that with the core's power enhancing my own, I could finally live my dream the way I've always wanted. But you! You wanted me to get rid of it, because you were jealous that it made me stronger than all of you combined! So that's when I realized that the only way I could ever truly be free to follow my destiny… was to eliminate the ten things that kept getting in my way… permanently!"
He shot a quick glare back at them as he said that last part. This caused some of them to flinch, but Lori looked him in the eye with a fearless expression. "But you couldn't do it, could you?" she deduced.
"No, I couldn't," F.L. admitted regretfully. "But not for any sentimental reasons. You and your powers were all just too overwhelming for me, even with the power of the core. However, that did give me an idea. Remember how I said that meteorite powers develop and grow stronger over time? Well, that's why I decided to travel back to a time when all of our powers were still in their early stages." F.L.'s aura glowed even brighter as he started to levitate off the ground with a wicked grin on his face. "And now that I've trained my younger self to master the core's power…" He paused dramatically as the girls all realized he was preparing to attack them and got into defensive positions. "I have all the power I need to finally destroy you!"
He fired a large energy blast, which all the girls managed to dodge. Some of them took refuge behind various objects while others stood ready to fight. Leni was one of the one's hiding. "Do we really have to fight him?" she asked. "He's our brother."
"No he's not," answered Lynn, who was standing out in the open. "He's some warped, twisted version of our brother who's trying to kill us! If we don't take him down, he's gonna take us all out!"
"She's right," Lori agreed. "I never thought we'd have to take down one of our own, but… L-Force, attack!"
And with that, the battle was on. Lynn was the first to jump into action. Literally. She jumped straight up to try and issue a mighty punch to F.L.'s face. However, he easily blocked it by grabbing her fist in his hand without even flinching, much to her surprise. He then simply whirled around and tossed her hard into the wall like a baseball. She fell out of the crater she'd left in the wall and hit the floor, already feeling sore from that slam. "Consider that payback for all the times you've called me Stinkoln," the false hero mocked.
Next, Lola flew up and prepared to fire a massive energy laser. But once she did, Future Lincoln quickly countered with a powerful red laser blast of his own. At first, the two seemed to be almost evenly matched, but the villain's power soon not only cut through Lola's laser, but also shifted into a giant hand made of solid light that captured the little girl in its strong grip. She tried to break free, but it was no use. "Not so scary now, are you, Little Miss Cute and Mean?" He lifted her up in his energy fist and slammed her into the ground, with the power from the laser maximizing the damage.
Suddenly, Luan decided to give the guy a taste of his own medicine by stretching her arms out and making both her hands big enough to try and swat him in between them. But he flew out of the way in time and every time she tried again, she missed, causing a practical thunderstorm of claps. Finally, she managed to catch him in between her hands and restrain him. Or so she thought. All of a sudden, she was shocked by a powerful jolt of electricity that surged throughout her entire body, allowing F.L. to free himself from her grasp and take her out of commission in the process. "Looks like the joke's on you this time, Luan," he said with a taunting laugh.
Luna fired a sonic blast wave to pin him against the wall, but he stopped her by shooting lasers from his eyes that hit her right in the face. Leni tried to restrain him by wrapping various threads of fabric around him, but he easily incinerated them with fire. Lisa directed all of her nano-bots to attack him in one giant wave, but with a super powerful energy beam, he managed to destroy ever single one of them.
"Oh no! My nano-bots!" she cried in distress, trying desperately to get them to respond to her thoughts with no success.
"Ha ha ha ha! Guess you're not quite the genius you think you are," the villain insulted her, making her angry.
As the battle continued to rage on, the girls of the L-Force tried everything they could to stop this futuristic menace, but nothing they did seemed to even faze him. Soon, every one of them lay on the ground beaten, weak and defeated. A sight that the overpowered villain who used to be their brother relished every moment of. He hovered over them menacingly as they were all too battered to fight back any longer.
"You all thought you could control me," the villain said, charging up his power to deliver the final fatal strike. "You were wrong."
Not seeing anyway out of this, the girls all closed their eyes and accepted their fate.
Suddenly, a voice that Future Lincoln knew all too well called out from behind him and got his attention. When he turned around, there was his younger self standing in the doorway and staring up at him with the core in his hand and a face of shock and extreme sadness. He had now been caught by the last person he'd ever wanted to see him doing what he was about to do. Himself.
"What are you doing?" Lincoln asked in complete disbelief.
"Lincoln, I can explain!" F.L. said to quickly try to cover for himself, no matter how futile such an attempt would be now.
"You lied to me? You were Infrared this whole time?" The young Loud boy didn't need his vision power to see what was right in front of him. He only wished he'd been able to see it sooner. "Why?! How could you try to kill your own sisters?!"
"I'm doing you a favor!" His older self tried to justify. "Don't you see? All they'll ever do is try to hold you back. They'll never see you as anything more than their wimpy, powerless brother. Just the one that they have to keep an eye on while they're busy trying to protect everyone else. But with them out of the way, me as your mentor and the core's power at our command, you can finally be the great hero that you were always meant to be."
"You're no hero! You're a monster!" Lincoln shot back. "And I don't want this power if it makes me try to murder my own family!"
"Then why are you still holding the core?" F.L. inquired with a knowing grin.
Struck by his question, Lincoln glanced down at the meteorite core still clutched in his fist. Even with what was going on right in front of him, he still couldn't bring himself to let go of it. Why couldn't he let it go?
"Because you're scared, aren't you?" his evil older self answered for him. "You're scared that without it, you'll always be a pathetic little weakling."
"Don't listen to him, bro!" Luna shouted, catching the boy's attention. "You're not weak! You're strong!"
"She's right!" Lisa agreed. "You and your powers have helped save countless lives, including ours, multiple times!"
"Ever since I started training you, I've watched you get tougher and more capable with every passing day!" Lynn added. "Because no matter how many times you go down, you always get right back up and keep going. You never quit!"
"And it's exactly that persistence that we've always admired about you," Lori jumped in. "Your heart, your courage, your determination to always do the right thing no matter how dangerous! That's what makes you a hero, Lincoln! That's real strength! You showed me that."
Lincoln stood frozen in place. He had never heard such encouraging words from his sisters before. It was so touching that he actually felt tears starting to push themselves out from under his eyes.
That's when the floating red menace above them gave a snide chuckle and broke him out of it. "Well, thanks for those encouraging words, ladies, but it's too little too late for that now," he said, turning around to charge up his power again and deliver a deadly energy blast. "So get ready to taste the fury of-"
"No!" Lincoln shouted, distracting his attention again. "They're right! I don't need this stupid rock and I definitely don't need you!"
F.L. turned around and chuckled wickedly again. "Don't you get it? You don't have a choice. Look at me. I am you destiny! There's nothing you can do to escape me and there's nothing you can do to stop me."
The young hero looked around for something, anything that he could use to stop this overpowered monster. Then he looked at the stone in his hand again and that's when it hit him. "I don't need to stop you… if you never exist."
"Say what?" his older self asked, more confused than worried.
"I will NEVER become you!"
Lincoln raised his fist holding the core into the air and before his future self could stop him, he tossed it onto the ground and shattered it into little pieces. The second the core shattered, Future Lincoln stopped in his tracks, as if he had just been punched in the chest. The meteorite on his own chest shattered into pieces as well and then, right where it was, a giant glowing green crack formed. He started to panic as the crack kept growing and growing all over his body. The cracks spread all over his chest before covering the rest of his torso, then down his arms and back and legs until his normal bright red glow was replaced with a bright green one instead. Soon enough, the man's entire body was covered in cracks that grew and grew until he let out an anguished scream and exploded in a burst of green light.
When it was over, there was nothing left of the lying villain that once stood before them. Just a collection of green sparkles that flurried down before disappearing. Positive that they were now safe, the girls all came up to give their thanks to their real brother.
"Yay, Lincoln!" Lola shouted.
"You saved us!" Luan exclaimed.
"Way to go, Lincoln," said Lucy.
"It was nothing," Lincoln said, blushing a little bit at their praise. "I wasn't about to let you guys get slaughtered by some time traveling psycho. Even if that time traveling psycho turned out to be me."
"See, bro? You really are a hero!" said Lynn.
"Yeah, and you didn't need some fancy magic rock to do it," said Lana.
"Technically, he did need the core so he could destroy it, thus destroying his villainous future self," Lisa pointed out, earning mild glares from a couple of her sisters. "But, that's not really the point," she quickly admitted.
"What Lisa means to say is that we're all very proud of you for what you did," Lori said, bending over to hug her little brother. "I know how much you enjoyed feeling strong and confident. It must've taken a lot for you to give that up to save us."
"Are you kidding?" Lincoln countered. "It was either give up the thing that turned me into a raging psychotic murderer or lose my sisters forever. Kind of a no-brainer."
Everybody had a good laugh about that.
"Listen, guys. I'm sorry for being such a jerk earlier. Guess the power of that rock really did mess with my head. Plus, the words of my lousy mentor didn't help," Lincoln admitted.
"No worries, bro," Luna replied. "After the way you just saved all of our butts like that, we totally forgive you."
"Thanks. You girls are the best sisters a guy could ask for." That prompted all the girls to embrace their brother in a big 'thank you' group hug.
Some time later, Lincoln was being literally dragged towards the briefing room by the twins pulling him by both his arms. They had told him it was an emergency, but when he kept asking them what the emergency was, they wouldn't tell him. When they finally arrived at the briefing room, the doors slid open to reveal...
"SURPRISE!" All the girls shouted. The entire room was decorated in party supplies. There were balloons, confetti, a snack table, and a banner that read 'THANK YOU LINCOLN!' in giant letters with his face in the middle. There was even a cake with the words 'You're Our Hero!' written in icing in comic style font on it. Lincoln certainly was surprised as he let out a happy, but confused, chuckle.
"What? What's going on here?" Lincoln asked, confused as to why his sisters would want to throw him a surprise party.
"We just wanted to do a little something to say thanks for saving all our bacons," Luna answered.
"And to let you know how much we all appreciate you and everything you've done for us and the city. Not just as our teammate, but as our brother," Luan added.
"You know, so you don't grow up hating us, turn into an evil supervillain and try to kill us all," Lynn said.
"Lynn!" Lori yelled, calling out the athlete for her insensitivity.
"What?" Lynn replied.
"Plus, from now on, we're gonna make sure you get the credit you deserve for helping to save the day," Leni added.
"That's right," Lola agreed. "No one's ever gonna call you a sidekick again on our watch."
"Guys, I really appreciate that, but you don't need to do all this," Lincoln said. "I've seen where the path of jealousy and bitterness leads and that's a place that I do not want to end up in. You guys were right. I don't need flashy superpowers to be a hero. And I realize now that it doesn't really matter how other people see me. All that matters is that I see myself as a hero. So from now on, I'm gonna stop trying to make other people see me the way I want them to and let my actions speak for themselves."
"That is really mature of you, Lincoln," Lori said, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder and giving him a warm, proud smile.
"Thanks, Lori," he replied. "Now let me at that cake!"
And just like that, Lincoln ran straight for the cake, grabbed a knife and cut himself a big piece. His sudden shift in tone elicited good-hearted laughter from all of his sisters, right before they all followed his lead and each took a piece for themselves. It was a great moment that Lincoln cherished for the rest of his life. He had stopped a powerful enemy, saved the lives of his family and now he was enjoying cake and having fun with them. Whether he ever made it as a big time superhero or not, Lincoln's future was definitely looking bright.
At last, I finally bring this story to its end. Hope you've all enjoyed reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing it. Now I can say that it was mainly inspired by Danny Phantom's "The Ultimate Enemy." When I first got into ironlegion's L-Force series some three years ago (wow, can't believe it's been that long!), I thought it would be cool to do something like this. I didn't come up with the idea right away, but when I did, I really liked it. And I hope you've all liked it as well.
Thanks for reading! :)