"There is no more Hawk," he said. "There is only ecstasy."

Dagger moaned her lover's name. She ran.

The darkness followed her. Dagger forced herself to concentrate. She knew that she couldn't use her light-powers against the amalgamated creature, she needed to retreat and regroup. She summoned what was left of her light and attempted to channel it through her muscles, increasing her endurance enough that she could attempt to escape to the outside.

Her feet did not echo as she ran back down the hallway. The very sounds seemed to be absorbed by the darkness. All she could hear was her breathing and the pounding of her heart. What had the thing done to Hawk? How could she undo it? She needed help ... maybe she could contact Nightcreeper somehow, he's a member of the Judgment League Avengers ... but first she had to survive this.

The thought of running away on her lover made her gut wrench, but she knew she had no choice. She passed the sleeping bodies of one of those to whom she had given her light. No, she thought, I am not so far gone I must steal the life force back.

Left ... left ... left again ... right ... she desperately tried to retrace their path. When she would pause to get her bearings, she found herself no closer to the exit than she had been. Was she wandering in blind circles, or was the darkness somehow twisting space within itself? There must be another solution. She felt a chill, even through the aura her power provided. Think, damn you, think.

There must be some equipment in the nuclear generator itself. Could she shut it down somehow? Maybe that would close off the entity's power supply and make it more manageable. She choked off a scream as she saw the darkness circle around her. Looking around frantically, she saw the fire escape ladder visible through an outside window.

She grit her teeth, and crashed through the window, catching the ladder and pulling herself up. She scrambled to the roof, hoping to get a layout of the plant from an aerial view. Her lungs ached with the effort, her breath grew more ragged.

She remembered vaguely the position of the generator in relation to the office complex. She knelt, took a running start to the edge of the roof, grit her teeth hard, and leapt off it to the ground. The pain on her landing took her breath away, but she rolled over with the impact and pushed herself to her feet, heading straight for the body of the generator. She found the darkness was already there ahead of her.

She felt it wrap around her body, her lover's face contorted with ecstasy as the darkness extracted the light from inside her. She barely saw the fireballs as they descended from the sky.

Their careers were legend: Agent Atom, Atomic, Captain Galaxy, Captain Gamma, Captain Quasar, Captain Star, Captain Warlock, Captain Wonder, Gammatron, the Living Atom, the Quantum Leap-Frog, and Dr. Draxhattan.

Captain Galaxy landed by the woman's body. "My god ... Tandy?" He looked into the darkness. "Is my son in there?"

At his words, the darkness coalesced into Hank Hall's form, still clad in the cloak of darkness. "Salutations, Judge Hall," it said.

The older man narrowed his eyes. "You're not my son, though you might be wearing his face somehow." The darkness reached out for him, and he felt the Captain Galaxy powers start to ebb.

A sudden blast of energy from Atomic's visor severed the tendril of darkness. Then, the rest of the companions added their power to his. Hank Hall's face laughed. "Again, again!" it said, absorbing the power.

Captain Warlock mused, "This tragedy won't be ended this way. We can't burn out the darkness, we must deconstruct it."

Judge Hall felt the power of Captain Galaxy flow back into him, as Allen Adam's voice in his mind taught him how to use his power to perceive the deep structures which bound all things together. The impromptu 'Judgment League Atomic' refocused their heightened perceptions; they sought to break the darkforce apart and free the human passengers inside.

The man who had been Hank Hall howled in pain and anger, and responded in kind. The darkness warred with the light, absorbing what power it could, tearing apart what it couldn't. Captain Gamma and Gammatron were the next wounded, as the darkforce stabilised the quantum indeterminacy which had caused them to exist simultaneously after they had been split in the gamma bomb explosion. For a brief moment, a twice-amalgamated figure who could only be called Captain Gammatron stood united as their wave forms collapsed into one, then the body of Nathaniel Banner fell to the ground, unconscious.

But the force of the light was too great, and the darkforce recoiled. Watching from outside, the sheriff and his men shielded their eyes at the fierce illumination as the cloak wrapped around itself and was gone.

Captain Galaxy looked at the empty space. "Hank?" he whispered. He turned to the others. "Have we killed him?"

Dr. Draxhattan shook his head. "It is improbable. I sensed a generation of tachyon particles when he disappeared. There was a temporal displacement. I must depart now, my search for Thanoseid is not yet over."

"Oh boy," said the Quantum Leap-Frog, disgustedly. "Maybe I'll encounter him on one of my time-jumps."

Captain Star nodded solemnly, disturbed by Dr. Draxhattan's mention of his half-brother. "So he's lost in time, and lost in space."

The Captain Galaxy powers faded, leaving Judge Hall in their place as they went off in search of a new host. The older man knelt down, touching the face of the desiccated corpse that had been Tandy Bowan. His voice was heavy with grief. "And meaning."

And super heroes
Come to feast
To taste the flesh
Not yet deceased
And all I know
Is still the beast is
Feeding


Lyrics copyright Richard O'Brien.