At the sound of the thunder, for a brief moment everything stopped. Even the
rain stopped. Light drifted into the places where the raindrops had been.
Though the sun had nearly set, there was a strange brightness in the air. Tension hummed in the air, vibrating on the ends of feathers and whiskers. Time itself stood still. Far above the tree, a flash of silver lit the sky. It trickled from one loud to the next, leaped into the sky, and came crashing down directly onto the tree supporting Megavolt and Coulomb.
"Direct hit!!" Negaduck cheered. Darkwing, Ampera, and the rest of the group could only watch, wide-eyed, as a cloud of smoke rose around the tree.
Sparks flew, but they were not from either of the sparky inventors. They were from Negaduck's carefully planned kerosene fire.
The fire spread quickly all around the giraffes' enclosure, then engulfed the main building. The spell was broken at last when a young giraffe foal cried out in terror.
Then all Hell broke loose.
In the heat and light of the flames, everyone sprang to action. It was a mad, confused race to simply strike out and hit something. Panic. Rage. Terror. All pulsed through the veins of the nightly wanderers.
The night wore on and the battle was a fierce one. It was joined soon by the city fire department and police force, but they could get nowhere near the battlegrounds. It was impossible to see. Smoke and heat blinded the warriors until they no longer fought anybody but themselves.
Who knows how long it lasted? Time stopped when the lightening struck and sealed the fate of the two who perched there… whatever that fate might be.
But eventually the fight slowed. The original warriors were huddled in a close group at the far end of the giraffe enclosure. They said nothing. It was all they could do to breathe. Flashing lights and shouting voices surrounded them on all sides. But their minds rested on only one thing: What happened?
It was like a spell-an evil spell that took them over. Time was still frozen, so it was not over yet. The police and fire fighters began to gather behind the bloody, exhausted fighters. Together, all watched, expectant.
A shadow was there. It moved forward with the wind, and back with the flames, and forward again until it stepped out onto the scorched grass. Megavolt, alive but weak, staggered forward. In his arms he held Coulomb, himself, a child. Dead. Dead, or dying. The villain's eyes were on the boy's face always. The fire had not touched them, but it had come close. Both wore suits now burned and blackened.
Megavolt walked slowly. It was painful, certainly. All eyes were upon them. Nobody dared to move and make time move as well. Megavolt stopped a few yards from the group. Ampera drew in a shaking breath as her father sank to his knees with the child-himself-in his arms. He raised his eyes only to meet Darkwing's gaze. For an instant, there was an understanding between them.
Then, Megavolt looked back down at the boy's burned face. So young, so pained. He brushed a strand of soft brown hair from the blood red goggles. He stared at that face. All the longing and the loss in the world was that little boy's death. He bowed his head and began to weep bitterly.
And time began to touch them once more. Darkwing felt tears come to his eyes. Somehow, for a single instant, he had seen Gosalyn lying there in the villain's arms. She was so much more asleep than dead. So was this child.
Some higher power guided his feet. He rose and went to Megavolt and sat beside him. He let his tears fall freely. He was suddenly compelled to take the hand of the child and hold it.
Ampera joined them. Slowly, each member of the fateful fight joined in the circle around Megavolt and his slain duplicate. Last of all, Negaduck came and sat among them.
All around the guardrails of the giraffes' enclosure, suited officials watched in amazement. They witnessed an unexplainable thing. Not a miracle, not a tragedy. A ghostly remembrance brought forth in the flesh as the heroes, villains, and clones wept for the death of the child who was at the same time Coulomb and Megavolt and neither one.
When Time began again, they were carried away in a blissful state of shock. Their eyes did not record the strange sight of them all huddled together, but their hearts dutifully remembered the feeling of having no walls.
Coulomb's body was carried away. Nobody knew by who or when. Negaduck and the Fearsome Four drifted off into the night to awake later, alone but complete within themselves. Ampera and Quanta simply faded into shadows and disappeared back into the bodies that gave them life. Those outside the circle who witnessed the extraordinary occurrence closest would forever swear that the two blue-feathered young women faded before their eyes as they sat in the group of mourning.
So strange and mysterious were the events of that night that those who took part can never tell you with full confidence whether or not it was only a dream. Yet if it was a dream, it was a supernatural vision. And if it truly happened…
…then it could happen again.
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