"So that's his name..."
"Not a supervillain I've heard of. He a new guy?"
"No, but you'd be forgiven for thinking that, Ellison. He hasn't been seen since the last time I was a superhero. Feargiver."
"Feargiver was a supervillain…"
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves, Ellison. It is a longer story than you realise. Before the infiltration, it was decided that we needed someone to rally the troops, as it were.
The villains weren't scared enough, and we weren't strong enough for an all-out war. Hence, Feargiver. Created to strike fear into the hearts of villains. Unfortunately, we made the mistake of thinking we were winning.
The Unfinished Man infiltrated the Council of Superheroes. Things changed. All superheroes seemed to be assigned specific villains. You had your arch enemy. It fit in with all the comic books. Propaganda to stop normal people panicking. We were never far from genocide. The Government let us have our games, but let us know in no uncertain terms that just one misstep would lead to war. So… back to enemies. Everything came back to your arch enemy.
A vendetta system was created. You are bound to your enemy. It ends when one of you dies. Massacre was offered the gift of a realignment if he was able to kill me. He chose single combat, where he cut off my face with a sword and left me to bleed to death. Only I didn't die. As his punishment he was told he would never again be considered for realignment."
"So you think this is an act of revenge? Him lashing out like this?"
"I'm unsure if he knows that the Unfinished Man is dead and that we have regained control of the Council, but he is trying to bring me out into the open."
"As he did once before…"
"We'll get to that… for failing to end the vendetta, I was stripped of my powers, and they were given to an ignorant fool. I believe his words were 'This power is so cool!' No sense of responsibility. He terrorised indiscriminately, once even attacking an orphanage. A theme in my life, it seems. Is it not bad enough that these children have been abandoned? He became 'Average Man', and of course, we know what happened to him. Most unfortunate, though not entirely undeserved. I hope you don't think me too cruel in saying that, do you Ellison? Oh well, not that it matters right now anyway. You wanted to know about the showdown in the Plaza, correct?"
"It was much the same as this, really. I'd arrived too late to stop him. Dead bodies everywhere. All I had to do was kill him, and it was over. Thing is, I had learned something about him that stopped me."
Manifest's face shifted and began to appear smaller. Within moments it was the face of a baby.
No response. Blood began to drip down Manifest's face. Ellison's eyebrow twitched. Manifest clicked his own jaw and removed the face plate.
"That look again. I thought it was disgust at first. It's frustration isn't it? First you couldn't kill me because we were in the car. Too risky, too much potential for collateral. Got to follow protocol. Now? You can't attack me because you work for the Government. An act of war, right? That would lead to another massacre, wouldn't it?"
No response. No request for a lawyer. Right to remain silent observed.
"Good thing the bad cop brought back up this time, isn't it? Massacre, meet the Misery Eater."
She crossed the room effortlessly, as though the piled dead bodies weren't there. Veiled, clad in black, the epitome of style, even amongst the chaos.
She whispered to Massacre, and embraced him with a long kiss. Breaking away, she turned to face Manifest, and laughed as she spat Massacre's lower lip to the floor as blood began to stream from his face.
"I'm not taking his soul, it's contaminated. Just let him die."
After a few minutes, Massacre fell to the floor, and Misery Eater lifted her veil.
"No, Manifest. Not any more. They granted me a new identity. Things have changed. It's time for me to swallow your misery."
"That wasn't part of the plan."
"Oh, not like him. Relax, I'm going to consume your misery in a different way. Follow me to the car. It's far too creepy to stay here, we need to get away from all these bodies. I know somewhere quiet, where we won't be disturbed…"