There was a second where we all froze. Wayne, perhaps, was waiting for my reaction, but I was too shocked to offer one. I watched Lucatz's yellow eyes flash one last time. Then they petrified like lustrous marble, glassy and lifeless. Blood boiled from his pallid lips, hot plasma oozed from his neck in whitish globs.
Then the second passed and suddenly I couldn't control myself. My brain felt numb, but through the numbness I felt the gnawing of anger, and I seized onto that anger like a lifeline. I remembered I had a wrench in my hand and I sprang at Wayne, whirling it overhead with all my might. Ready for me, Wayne parried with his laser, melting the wrench in half, but the sheer force of my blow sent the laser spinning from his hands and into the dark room behind him. I lifted my arms to strike again with the decapitated handle of my weapon, but before I could do so I was knocked to the ground from behind. I rolled over in time to see an enormous black shape flash over me. Vengeance leaped forward and intercepted a blow from Wayne's monster that had been meant for me. The two of them struggled like two of hell's demons, wings flapping, claws slashing, jaws scything.
Suddenly I noticed that Wayne had sneaked away into the reactor room and was making for his laser. I rolled out from beneath the two battling monsters and struggled upright with a cry. I slipped the coil of wire over my arm and unraveled it in a fluid motion. I cracked it overhead like a whip and the wire snaked forward three meters, lashing across Wayne's hand just as he reached out to pick up the laser.
"No you don't!" I roared as I lunged toward Wayne, viciously snapping the wire again and again, cutting angry red gouges into his arms and face. I lost all consciousness of myself. I could only feel the blinding hatred that directed me to hurt Wayne as much as I could, the dull pain in my knuckles as I fell on top of him and beat him mercilessly until his screams resounded in the enormous chamber. Then the cable cutters were in my hand and I was pressing their pointed tips to the sweaty, shuddering bulge of Wayne's throat. His pale face, stained by the shivery blue lighting, reminded me suddenly of Lucas Wayne in the palace's record room all that time ago.
"An eye for an eye, right?" I snarled hysterically, my face inches from his. "I killed your brother, you kill mine. Well, we can't stop here, oh no. No, you're the next eye. Which one is it going to be?" I said, prodding the cutters toward his eyes.
He flinched. I laughed mirthlessly.
"Not so brave without your weapons, your friends, your sick science experiments here to protect you, huh?"
Wayne squinted through a swollen eyelid and smirked.
"Go on, kill me," he said hoarsely. "But if you poke out this eye, I'll poke out that one."
I followed his gaze to the doorway and saw what I had not noticed, intent as I was on making Wayne suffer. Vengeance lay on the ground, weak and beaten. His giant attacker stood over him, swordlike claws dangling over his supine form.
The seething anger in my belly cooled to a chilly, leaden feeling. The cutters grew slack in my hand. I had come here to free Vengeance, not to kill Wayne. And there he lay dying while I couldn't do anything about it. He had saved my life once, but I was powerless to save his.
The cable cutters clattered to the floor. I stood up, shaking slightly. It was over. Wayne had won. He always won.
"Let him go," I pleaded.
"I think not," said Wayne as he struggled to his feet. He had recovered himself and his smirking superiority. "An eye for an eye, right? You nearly beat me to death. I'm entitled to get you back." He limped over to where Vengeance lay and stared down at his barely-conscious figure. "Mark II is so much better behaved, don't you think? I think this one needs to be taught a lesson," he said, gesturing to Vengeance.
I felt my fists and stomach tighten and I lurched forward.
"Don't," I said warningly.
"Don't do what?" Wayne had turned to the wall and was removing a sinister-looking rod-shaped device from it. It trailed a long cable which I traced all the way back to the reactor.
"Don't do this?" said Wayne, pulling the trigger. Crackling blue sheets of electricity poured from the rod into Vengeance's body. A terrible roar of pain ripped from Vengeance's throat, but all he could do was writhe in agony as Wayne held down the trigger.
"How much will it take for him to learn, do you think?" Wayne sneered. "How much?"
I looked on in horror and suddenly I realized that Wayne was going to kill him. I had angered him too much and now he was going to make me suffer by watching Vengeance be tortured to death, and then, finally, he would do the same to me. Of course he would never have let us go, and I had been stupid — so, so stupid — not to take him down with me when I had the chance.
I charged forward, knowing full well that it was useless. As I drew close, Wayne turned and casually let fly a blast in my direction. An arc of lightning shot through me and knocked me off my feet. Every nerve in my body exploded with a pain so intense I blacked out for a second. Then I lay curled on the ground, twitching and gasping helplessly.
Vengeance's continued moaning prompted me to raise my head gingerly. Wayne continued to electrocute him, but he was trying to fight it. I saw him struggling to raise his head, his jaws gnash feebly. A desperate flame had ignited in his eyes.
Wayne had noticed it too. He glanced at "Mark II" and nodded. The monster raised its claws for the kill.
I didn't have time to think about what I was doing. I just scrambled forward on hands and knees and wrapped my arms around the beast's ankle. It stopped and gazed down at me in curiosity for a moment before it decided to kill me. I struck with the only weapon I had left: I pulled the hypodermic from my pocket and plunged it into the creature's leg.