Chapter 8: Sure Schemes That Way

Chapter 8: Sure Schemes That Way

A Chapter by Cameron Lockhart

The time finally comes for Katherine's and her children's plans to be enacted, but some unexpected company might throw a wrench in both.


The big day was here at last. The day when the Seymours' criminal enterprise would finally topple after all these years. They say that the journey is often more exhilarating than the destination, but in the case of a certain pair of malcontent teenage siblings, the destination is what mattered most, for it would determine if their little plan would suffice. Would it be enough to sabotage their mother and bring her back to her senses? Only time would tell, and thankfully there wasn't too much of it left. That morning, Mike Jr. and Josephine stood patiently (more so the latter) outside of their family's mansion, with the only ally present being Queen Cobra.

She stood silently on one side of the front steps, staring straight ahead seemingly at nothing, showing no emotion and not moving an inch aside from breathing. Her dual kanabos were holstered in an X formation on her back. All this time, the twins assumed that being evil essentially meant freedom from order, yet Queen Cobra just seemed so disciplined. Even Josephine was a little unnerved at just how indifferent she appeared, considering what was about to go down in a matter of moments.

"So, uh… yo." The silence was shattered by Mike Jr., like the bones of the many people he had assaulted during his time on Earth. "Yo, Queenie?"

Queen Cobra didn't respond, nor provide any sign of acknowledgment.

"So like, why aren't you more excited about this? I mean, we're about to take over the afterlife and kick some major a*s. Why are you so uptight?"

"Because loosening up is a sign of weakness in combat," she replied in a stoic tone.

"But don't you enjoy doing what you do? Beating up good guys is supposed to be fun… right?"

"It is foolish to expect fun out of work. I am a hired killer and goon. I do not do crimes for recreation." Queen Cobra turned to look at him for once, narrowing her pitch-black eyes.

"Yikes! I liked it better when you weren't using eye contact…" Mike Jr. muttered, backing away a little.

"Welp, at least it's further proof that this supervillain thing isn't for us." Josephine shrugged, speaking at a similar volume to her brother. "Say, where are the others?"

"Right here!" Katherine announced, clad in her supervillain attire. She marched out front with what appeared to be an armored, tricked-out version of a familiar face. "Folks, meet the new and improved Pygmy Hippo! Or rather, not so Pygmy Hippo!"

The twins gawked at his new appearance, consisting of a metallic version of his luchador mask with a glowing red antenna on top. Some steel armor was present on his upper torso and upper arms, connected to his helmet via a series of wires. Similar armor covered his legs, and his boxing gloves had been swapped out for mechanized versions of themselves, his brass knuckles now resembling long, golden claws.

"Heaven will soon become hell," Hippo spoke in a robotic version of his usual voice, the eyes on his mask glowing yellow accordingly.

"No s**t it will. Now we just need to wait on one more arrival, and- wait, who the hell are those guys?!" Katherine pointed at what looked like a group of everyday people jogging into the town square.

It turned out to be Ike and his three friends from earlier, this time accompanied by a buff yet curvy tracksuit-clad woman, her white-tipped dreadlocks worn up in a loose bun.

"Hey, I've seen those guys on a poster before. It's the Afterlife Task Force!" Katherine almost panicked. Sure was a good thing she didn't notice the shared smirk on her children's faces. "A-And we haven't even finished getting ready yet! …ah, whatever. Go get them! Stop them from interfering!"

With a simultaneous war cry, the four gathered minions ran off in the direction of her extended pointed finger, scampering down the driveway and across the moat as they made their way into the square to confront the heroes.

"Remember, Junior. Just like we planned." Josephine turned to her brother.

"You mean get my a*s kicked?" Mike Jr. asked incredulously.

"You're not getting your a*s kicked. We're just gonna each take one hit from Ike, pretend to get knocked away, and then stay out of sight until it's time to make our next move. You'd better not mess this up-!"

"Too late!"

Ike stood just yards ahead of the twins, preparing to grab the both of them and knock them out of Katherine's field of vision, but was caught off guard when Mike Jr. picked up his pace and launched him into the air with a savage uppercut to the jaw. Leaping after him, the elder twin bludgeoned his torso with a series of helicopter kicks, before an axe kick sent him plummeting into the other side of the fountain with a loud splash. Josephine just rolled her eyes and sprinted after them, crouching beside her brother, whom she didn't hesitate to elbow in the ribs.

"You idiot! Is it that hard for you to follow the most simplistic set of instructions?!" she hissed.

"Nah, I just enjoy pissing you off." Mike Jr. smirked, folding his buff arms.

"Oof was not expecting that," Ike sputtered, shaking water and coins out of his hair. "But hey, looks like you two held up your end of the deal… somewhat. So what now?"

"I was just thinking we could lay low while your friends take out the rest of Mom's underlings. Maybe even pretend to fight in the meantime?" Josephine shrugged. She may have been the smarter of the two, but that didn't mean she enjoyed being a strategist.

"F**k that noise. Let's just fight for real. I mean, we are dead, so it's not like we'll actually hurt each other," Mike Jr. suggested.

"Works for me. But, uh, when do you want us to bring out the reincarnation devices?" Ike asked, holding up a small device resembling a two-pronged hand taser.

"Just go for it once you feel that they're on the ropes. But whatever you do, don't hit us or Mom with it," Josephine ordered.

"Right. I'll relay it to them now." Ike pressed a finger to his earpiece.

While the three had their fight to stall for time, the rest of the task force went up against the remaining assassins for hire. Queen Cobra wielded her dual kanabos with unrivaled proficiency, attempting to strike at Todd, but thanks to his small size and agility, he dodged every last hit with relative ease. After he managed to distance himself a bit, she charged after him; Todd jogged towards her too, tossing out a pair of yo-yos that were tied together to act as a bolo and ensnaring her legs. He managed to get in a few punches to her chest and face after she keeled over, but a knee to the gut was able to knock him away as she cut herself loose with the spikes on her club. Right as the poor kid was getting up, she tossed a kanabo at him, stunning him long enough to where she could knock him into the air with a flip-kick, catching her weapon after it bounced off of his face.

Right before Queen Cobra could follow up, however, the dreadlocked woman charged in and nailed her from behind with a shoulder bash, followed up with a stomp on the back, and a suplex into the nearby fountain. She soon caught Todd in her arms right before he could hit the ground.

"Whew, thanks for the save there, Robyn," he said.

"No prob," Robyn replied, in a light valley-girl accent that didn't match her tough appearance.

After putting him down, the two reentered a fighting stance as Queen Cobra leaped to her feet.

Elsewhere, Eli and Second took it upon themselves to fight the souped-up Pygmy Hippo. The latter seemed to be far less arrogant than usual, only communicating through auto-tuned grunts and yells. In addition to physical combat, he could jump extra high, skate along the ground, and hover in the air via the jets built into his robotic boots. He could also fire off his claws like miniature missiles, which could grow back instantaneously.

Eli rolled to his side to avoid some of the projectiles, before leaping up and catching Hippo off guard with an uppercut to the chin, sending him flipping backwards through the air for a spell. Hippo fought back with some more missiles but wasn't prepared to see Eli catch them and toss them at the bottoms of his boots, shorting out the built-in jets and forcing him to land on the ground. From there, the two traded several blows up close, allowing Second to sneak behind Hippo and trip him with a leg-sweep, knocking him onto his face. As Eli stepped back, his partner leaped above their downed opponent with his fists brought together, about to clock him on the head, but was knocked back by a powerful sound wave emitted from Hippo's antenna.

"Hmph, even with all that training and assistance, those amateurs are barely standing a chance."

That muttered phrase came from Balthazar, silently lurking on the manor's roof as he surveyed the carnage in the center of Hitsville. He hadn't counted on the arrival of the afterlife task force, but he wasn't worried in the slightest about the threat they could pose to the villains' plans. The last time he'd ever felt worried was moments before his death, when his original pentagram was destroyed. Briefly shuddering at that haunting memory, he lifted up the current one around his neck, staring down at it and caressing it with three fingers.

"No regrets, and nothing to lose…"

Back on the ground, Queen Cobra appeared to be on the ropes. Todd popped up behind her and hopped a short distance off the ground, delivering a spin kick to the middle of her back to make her stumble. Immediately afterward, Robyn rushed in from the front with a running, football-style tackle, before gripping her waist and leaping yards into the air to flip around for a bit. A final toss sent her crashing into a nearby wall, all but finished until another participant entered the fight. Teleporting in from above, Balthazar landed on Robyn's head with a devastating vertical dropkick, hitting her hard enough to send her underground. He gracefully flipped off of her head and landed on the asphalt, ready to take on all other comers.

Without even looking behind him, he teleported out of the way as Todd attempted to pounce on him, wielding a softball bat. Warping behind his assailant, Balthazar knocked him face down with a leg sweep and grabbed him by the ankles faster than Todd could comprehend. He then found himself getting spun around faster and faster until he was tossed across the town square and smashed through a manhole cover, landing in the sewers with an audible splash. Balthazar landed back on the ground, briefly caught off guard when Robyn hit him from behind with an upward knee strike. He broke his fall with a handstand, flipping back onto his feet as he noticed her charging at him with readied fists. Surprisingly, he didn't even crack a smile as he teleported away from every last punch thrown his way, countering each one with a punch or kick of his own, although he failed to knock her over this time.

"Don't worry, Robyn! I got your back!" It was then that Todd hopped back above ground, bat at the ready again.

Thinking on his toes, Balthazar teleported away again, causing Robyn to accidentally knock Todd all the way across the square with her next hook, knocking him out as he crashed through a picket fence. While she was distracted by the realization of her mistake, she was knocked away herself by a shoulder bash from Balthazar, who had reappeared behind her, as she tumbled across the ground. She didn't even get a chance to stop rolling before he teleported again and kicked her high into the air, flying after her thanks to the scarlet flames he formed on his feet. He then proceeded to rapidly teleport in circles around her, dealing countless kicks from a variety of angles before grabbing her waist and pile-driving her into the ground at a slight angle.

When the dust cleared, Balthazar was revealed to be surfing on top of Robyn's face-down body, sliding along the ground with such force that it tore up the asphalt. Yards away from a nearby wall, he clamped his ankles around her head and performed a front flip, tossing her into said wall with a devastating crash.

"Heh, that was so simple, I almost feel bad," he said with a rare smirk.

Wasn't long until Second and Eli attempted to dive at him from both sides, only to crash into each other as he teleported out of the way. Seizing the opportunity, Balthazar reappeared and launched himself yards into the air while gripping both of their shirts, before rapidly spinning around and flinging them to opposite ends of town. Second broke his fall by grabbing a tree branch and flipping on top of it, while Eli clumsily climbed out of the pile of recyclables resulting from him crashing into the bins. He was the first to charge back at Balthazar, who swerved around his jab and knocked him onto his face with a leg sweep, turning around quickly enough to catch Second about to dive kick to his head. Grabbing him by the ankle, he slammed him onto the ground with a jackknife, before doing the same on his other side, crushing Eli as well.

For his final move, Balthazar brought his flame-cloaked fists together and pounded the ground, forming a fiery shockwave that knocked the two fallen men into the air. One last flaming chop to each of their heads was enough to knock them unconscious, sending them hurtling into the streets like a pair of fiery comets, almost hitting the twins and Ike, who were having their pretend fight nearby.

"Aaannnddd Balthazar has all but cleared the board!" Katherine declared from the top of her home's front staircase.

"Oh, man…" Mike Jr. mused with widened eyes, peeking out from behind the fountain. "I didn't think he'd be able to take them all out so easily."

"I should've seen this coming!" Josephine grumbled, furiously gripping her hair. "I knew that guy was holding back when he sparred with us!"

"So what are we gonna do?"

"Well, we could, uh… hmmm… er, just lemme think on it for a bit. I-It shouldn't take too long…"

"Well, you'd better think fast, since- gah!" Ike was abruptly knocked away by an uppercut from Balthazar, who teleported just inches away from him.

A forward flip kick sent him back onto the ground, bouncing a little on impact before a flaming bicycle kick had him reeling through several trees until he crashed into a house, stunned as a result. It was then that Balthazar teleported before him again, a cold, ominous stare seeping from his periwinkle eyes.

"Say goodnight, you Sunday night has-been," he growled, unaware of both Mike Jr. and Josephine looking at each other with worry some yards behind him.

© 2022 Cameron Lockhart

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Added on September 19, 2022
Last Updated on September 19, 2022
Tags: antihero, afterlife, action, humor, family, drama, comedy, redemption


Cameron Lockhart
Cameron Lockhart

Charleston, SC

I've loved writing ever since I could properly hold a pencil, and I currently strive to become a published author someday. In 2021, I earned a BA in Creative Writing; I primarily focused on prose and .. more..