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Gathering Dusk Issue #6 – Deadly Nightshade

Updated: Apr 27

“And then I took the elevator down and came right here,” Donna said, tapping her fingers anxiously on the metal table. The chair was hard, the room was chilly, and the air smelled like cheap air conditioning, leaving her distinctly uncomfortable and cold… but it was the three police officers on the other side of the table that made it all worth it. The two of them, detectives Brisen and Kurtis, had listened to her story, the whole way through… the third, a Detective Larson, had arrived halfway into the story, taking notes as she spoke.

Donna had caused quite the commotion when she burst into the precinct covered in blood. She’d had several weapons trained on her before she could explain that she was here to report a crime, not that she had committed one. Photographs and several pressing phone calls had followed… then Donna had been taken into one of the interview rooms with a pair of detectives. Telling the whole story was incredibly painful… but having it finally spoken left her feeling somewhat… free… inside. Light, like a burden had been taken away.

“That’s quite a tale,” the third detective, Larson, said, nodding his head.

Donna nodded wordlessly. It really was. Baldur was dead. The hero that the world loved most of all. If she hadn’t seen him as he truly was, she would have been crushed to hear it. “It was… it was a long time.”

“The problem is… it’s bullshit.”

Donna opened her mouth, and then froze.

Larson stood… and stretched one hand towards Donna. Abruptly her muscles seized, and her eyes went wide as the detective kept one hand directly pointed at her. He was an Aberrant of some kind… someone capable of paralyzing criminals.

“W- w- w…” Donna forced out. Making her mouth or even her lungs work was hard. “Why?”

“The moment you started telling your story,” Larson answered, eyes narrowed, “I decided to start checking up on it. The Dawnbringers are under police jurisdiction… we have access to their cameras. So I pulled the surveillance logs. I watched what happened, murderer.”

Donna forced her mouth open to protest, but stopped when she saw the look in the detectives eyes. Fury… and fear. No lust. No sadism. He didn’t look at her like a victim, or prey… he looked at her like she was a lion he was trying to force back into its cage before she ate him. She felt abruptly sure he wasn’t lying… he really believed she was dangerous to him. Had Oracle already realized what had happened and prepared for it? What had he seen on that camera?

“Cuff her,” he ordered the other two detectives.

Instinct told her that Detective Larson wasn’t like Baldur or Oracle… That he was doing what he thought was necessary. He probably would try to see it that she got a trial… and in a trial, it was more than possible she could prove that her story was true… it wasn’t like her body was without corroborating evidence. But Larson wasn’t the one in charge. Donna had no illusions that getting arrested wouldn’t get her returned to Oracle sooner rather than later.

She couldn’t be captured again.

Her options were limited… but not non-existent. She had lied to the detectives about one thing… She hadn’t come straight here. She had made herself a promise after all, more than a year ago.

Donna opened a portal beneath her and fell through it like a rock. She heard the detectives shouting, the sound of weapons being drawn… and a second later, the sound of gunfire. It didn’t matter. The moment she fell through the portal, the superhuman force keeping her stationary ended. She rolled hard to the side and out of view as she closed the portal as fast as she could, cutting off three of the chair’s four legs as she did.

Then it was closed, and the sounds of shouting and bullets ended.

Donna lay on the ground, breathing heavily and trying not to cry. She could visualize the detectives running around, searching for her. If they had checked their files on her, registered for every Aberrant, they would know that she had to be nearby. She wasn’t. She had made a promise to herself… never again. So the first thing she had done after running off into the night was find a safe place, away from people, and prepared a waypoint. An escape. It was used up now… the first thing she would have to do was make a new one.

The police were against her. The Dawnbringers would be hunting her. She needed help.

Donna reached into her pocket and pulled out Baldur’s phone. Once they realized that she had it, they could track it… but for right now, it would work. She opened it and began to search for what she was looking for.

“…entire nation is in mourning today after the announcement of the death of the superhero Baldur,” the radio said. “Speaking in front of the nation today, Oracle publicly swore to bring his killer, the super-villain Belladonna Saito, to justice for his murder.” The news broadcast took a moment there to play an excerpt from the speech he had given before continuing with the news. “A manhunt for the super-villain Nightshade is currently underway… the police ask for anyone seeing the woman to notify them and to not try to apprehend her – she is considered armed and extremely dangerous. Nightshade, currently #1 on the FBI’s most wanted list, marks the first active super-villain in New York City this decade, and the first time a Dawnbringer has died in battle since the fall of Midnight. The Dawnbringers ask that you remai-”

The radio abruptly cut off as Lucy Green pulled into her parking spot and turned the key, killing the engine and the sound at once. She slipped out of the car, cursing to herself as always as her leg ached, but she forced herself to be strong and not flinch. She didn’t see any of the brats around, but this was a school… someone could be watching, and it wouldn’t do to tarnish her image. She was Lux. She was invincible. Maintaining that image was even more important, since Baldur was gone now.

She was probably going to need to comfort plenty of the brats today.

She limped towards the school, leg aching with every step. Her parking spot was the closest one, closer even that the superintendent’s or principal’s, but it was still too damned far. Maybe with Baldur gone, the school would give into her demand to put a side entrance to the offices, so she could park right outside. Just a dozen steps between her car and her chair. That would be…

A glowing ring of violet light appeared just a foot in front of her.

Lux only had a second to stare at the ring in confusion before she heard running footsteps behind her. She barely had time to turn her head before someone hit her hard from behind, sending her sprawling right into that open portal.

She found herself on charred floorboards, soot and dirt staining her perfect nails and white clothing… but she didn’t think too long about that. Whatever else Lux was, she was a warrior. A fighter. A hero. And her injury didn’t affect her power at all. She was in shade but there was light aplenty around anyway… she wove it into a barrier, a sparkling globe around her that was as hard as steel… if thinner than she would have liked. And then forced herself to her feet.

Donna Saito stood behind her.

The woman didn’t look much like the high school girl that she had counseled fifteen months ago. Her hair was was solid black now, as was her clothing… army boots beneath what looked like a flak jacket. The woman’s mismatched eyes were hard as she stared at her.

“Belladonna,” Lux gasped. “What-”

“Don’t you DARE use that name!” Donna spat as she took two steps forward and threw a sideways kick at the globe-like barrier. It stopped it, of course… but the momentum was still carried, and Lux needed to back up with the shield to prevent it from slamming into her like a nail struck by a hammer. “My father called me that. You don’t get to!”

Lux cursed beneath her breath as she felt the shield shudder under a second kick. The light here was too dim. She needed to get into full sunlight… then she would teach her former student a lesson. As the shield cracked under a third blow, Lux let it drop, reweaving the broken glow into a blazing shaft of hard light that she thrust towards Nightshade.

And a portal opened right behind it, and her own lance smashed into her from behind, sending her sprawling back to the ground.

“Who’s the Ant now?” Donna spat.

Lux lashed out again, trying to do it faster, unexpectedly. Donna easily danced away, slipping into a portal that opened beside her and closed just as fast. Then she was beside Lux and kicking her in her side, making her breath explode from her lungs, forcing her to collapse down.

She felt hands around her neck and kicked at Donna with her good leg… it didn’t help much, but then a second later, she was gone. Lux forced herself to her feet, ready for the next attack… but Donna just stood there, glaring.

“It was you,” she said coldly. Fury burned in her eyes. “You knew what they were going to do.”

“I… I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Lux protested, trying to form another shield. It wouldn’t come. She pushed harder and harder and harder… there was enough light around. She should be able to make something to protect herself with… but the light wouldn’t obey her commands.

“Yes, you do,” Donna said. Then she laughed. “You know the part that really burns, Ms Green? The part that hurts the worst?”

Lux finally found the collar around her neck from where Donna had closed it around her. Animite.

“I was going to call you for help,” the girl whispered. “I had Baldur’s phone. I was just looking up your number… and realized you’d been texting with him for years. He’d sent you pictures, for gods sake.” She shook her head. “Twelve thousand. That was all my life was worth to you. Less than half of the car you were driving.”

“I don’t…”

“You sold me,” Donna spat. “Sold me like cattle. Like you were going to do to Abigail. Yeah, I saw her, too… poor girl. Did she want to be a hero too? Is that why they wanted her? Or do those perverts just like furry ears and no one ever told me?”

Lux backed away from Donna, feeling the unstable wall against her back as she slid along it. “Donna, please… I don’t know… I don’t know what you’re talking about…”

She heard voices. Other people. “HELP!” Lux yelled. “It’s Nightshade! Help me!” Two police officers came into view, and she shot a look at Donna, grinning. “Shoot her!” she pleaded. “It’s Nightshade! Shoot the bitch!”

Then one of the officers grabbed her.

Lux was so surprised she didn’t even struggle at first… not until her back was against his chest, one of his hands already groping her breast. “Wha-”

The other officer grabbed her arm as she tried to raise it and put his other hand on her throat. “Well, I’ll be damned. You really did it.”

“Of course I did,” Nightshade said. “Now, where’s my money, Aaron?”

The cop choking her stopped for a second, reaching into his pocket and pulling out three rolls of dollar bills, tossing them across the floor to the woman in black. “There you go. Twelve thousand, as promised.”

“You can’t do this!” Lux screamed.

“Shut up, slut,” Aaron said, punching her in the stomach.

“No, let her talk,” Nightshade said, walking up to the trio. “I want to hear this.”

“She’s ours now,” the crooked cop protested.

“You can wait another minute,” Nightshade said, glaring at him. “And in case you start thinking big, about taking two women for free instead of paying for one… you should remember what I did to you last time. I won’t hold back again.”

The cop visibly paled.

Nightshade turned to meet Lux’s gaze. “Do you know why I’m doing this, Ms Green? Did it even make an impression on you?”

“Fuck it,” the other cop said. “I’m hard as a rock. She can listen with a dick in her.” Lux’s eyes went wide as she felt the man reaching beneath her dress, grabbing her panties and ripping them off her body before she felt his hardness rubbing against her ass… and then a second later, she screamed as his dick broke into her.

“Donna, please!” she begged between cries.

But her former student wasn’t listening. “Quit your whining. It’s only one cock, and neither of them is half the size Baldur was… I know. I’ve seen,” she sneered. Nightshade pulled a phone out of her pocket… Baldur’s phone… and showed her what was on the screen. An address. Plain and simple. “Those narcissistic bastards… they picked me up from my home, and they couldn’t even bother to remember where it was,” she whispered. “So they asked. And you told them. That’s why you’re here… in what’s left of my house after they finished with it. My parents died here… and you killed them. They didn’t even pay you for that.”

Lux opened her mouth to beg again, but the raven-haired woman slapped her. “They offered me more than this,” she said, lifting the roll. “A lot more. Hell, I think they would have paid more just to put their dicks in you once. But it’s not about the money, is it? This isn’t for me… this is for my parents.”

“You can’t do this!” Lux protested.

“If only there was a hero to save you,” Donna said softly. “But heroes aren’t real, are they, Lucy? They never were.”

“Donna, please… you can’t let them do this to me!” Lux pleaded as her rapist started stroking faster inside of her, clearly about to cum. “Help me!”

“But if I don’t let them take you, you might never live up to your potential, Ms Green,” Nightshade said, her eyes hard as diamonds. She smirked as Lux cried out, feeling the cop cum inside her with savage grunts of pleasure. “I’m sure once they’re done with you, you could fill a valuable role. The world always needs more whores. Just think about how useful you’ll be to the world… more useful than you ever have been before.”

“Yeah,” Aaron said with a chuckle. “She’ll be real useful, alright.”

“This is your destiny, Lux,” Donna continued. “I’m just glad I could help you find it.” She turned and walked away as the second officer pushed Lux to the ground, shoving his own dick into her pussy. Nightshade was long gone by the time he came, but Lux kept calling out for help anyway, certain the heroine wouldn’t be leaving her, certain that she couldn’t be doing this. Lux called out for Donna right up until the two corrupt cops began to drag her away, kicking and screaming… until one of them stuffed her ripped panties into her mouth.

Belladonna Saito, whom the world was now calling Nightshade, stood in what had once been her bedroom and listened to the rape of the woman who had betrayed her. She stood there, listening, waiting until the sounds changed from those of rape to those of a receding struggle as the woman who was responsible for what had happened to her faded into the distance… and she barely felt anything. She was numb, at last. She had tried so hard to go numb in the Dawnbringer’s captivity, without success… it seemed ironic to her that she should finally manage to do it now, after escaping. For just a second, a feeling of guilt tried to build… but no. She crushed that feeling mercilessly. It had been hard to watch, but Lux was guilty beyond question. The only morals that the universe ran on was the law of the strong, and the weak. The Dawnbringers, and Lux, had taught her that.

The guilt was the old Donna. The soft Donna. The Donna that had been so naive that she had gotten herself turned into a blowup doll and her parents murdered in pursuit of those hopes and dreams, all because she couldn’t see the world the way it was. Because she wanted to change the world. Stupid girl. The world couldn’t be changed. It was what it was… cruel, cold, and uncaring. And now that she knew the truth of the Dawnbringers, she knew it always had been. Leave Lux to her fate. She deserves worse.

She was all alone now. Even Em… When she had called the woman, she had cried and asked Donna how she could have done this before hanging up. Then her former girlfriend had called the police on her. Donna had loved the girl… had thought she loved her back. But Em had betrayed her without a second thought, too. Donna understood now… in this entire world, there had been only two people who had truly loved her. And now they were dead.

She was alone. She couldn’t bring them back… but she could avenge them.

Slowly, she dropped Baldur’s phone to the ground and smashed it beneath her boot… it had served its final use. Then she sat down in the ruins of what had once been her room in the condemned, burned out house, and took out a notebook and pen. One by one, she wrote their names.












She knew that most of what she had known about the Dawnbringers before was wrong. She had felt Oracle in her head. Echo hadn’t stopped her from killing Baldur, or escaping. Baldur’s power had been able to activate on its own. Mammoth wasn’t just strong, he was unstoppable. There was more to all of them… and yet, also less.

Donna flipped between the names several times, taking them in one at a time… burning their faces into her mind. Then she began to write down every single thing she remembered about each of them. Everything they had said. Everything she had seen them do. Everything they had stopped her from doing.

And one by one, she began to make plans of how to kill them.

The End of Arc 1

The story continues with Arc 2 – Fallen Star

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