A midnight black 1954 Cadillac Fleetwood idled outside the front gate of the Bellepoint Penitentiary Supermax.
The facility was built like a fortress--designed to keep prisoners in and everyone else out. An armored division of soldiers kept constant watch, armed with rifles capable of leveling small buildings. The electrified fences carried charges that could incinerate flesh and bone.
Three figures exited the Cadillac.
"Remember, gentlemen. We're here for Clarence Donovan," their leader said. "Everything else is just gravy."
They walked forward.
The first alarm went off two minutes after one of the spotters had seen the car.
A dozen soldiers flanked the prison's lobby. Their suits made them look like immense strongmen--they were wrapped in black fibers that mimicked the appearance and function of muscle tissue. Their rifles hummed with the steady pulse of building energy; their helms fed them a constant stream of information.
At the center of the room stood an old man in a silly hat.
He was armed with two boomerangs.
"Drop the weapons," the sergeant said, his voice crackling beneath his helmet.
The old man threw them.
The men and women in the control room stared with disbelief at the viewscreen.
"Is he--please tell me he's not beating an entire division of armored Marines with boomerangs," one of the technicians said.
"That's Boomerang Kid," another technician said.
"Who?" asked the first.
"He was--he was a super-villain. Back when my dad was just a boy," she said. "I didn't even think he was still--"
The doors to the room ruptured inward, snapping off their hinges. As they crashed to the floor, a childish giggle bubbled up from behind them.
A fat, bald old man in a tweed suit stepped inside.
One of the technicans turned and drew his gun. A giant punching glove extended out of the old man's jacket, emerging with a cartoonish 'sproing!'; it smashed into the technician's face.
"Everybody freeze!," the Toy-Master said. The boxing glove exploded--a frigid gas expanded out from it and into the back-end of the room, engulfing the remaining technicians. There was the sound of screams, followed by the crackle of rapidly forming frost.
When the gas cleared, only frozen corpses were left.
The Toy-Master strolled forward and shoved one of the corpses aside ("N-ice to meet you!" he said, giggling again) and reached for the frozen console.
The Yard--as it was known among the men who occupied Bellepoint Penitentiary--was not a place for the light of heart.
Here, some of the roughest, most violent offenders--primarily Class 5 powers--mingled. At any point during the prison's normal operating hours, it was filled with an assortment of men capable of shattering concrete with their bare fists.
When the old man in white walked in, he caused more than a few of the inmates to raise their eyebrows.
He was crisply dressed in a clean white coat, gloves, and hat; the clouds of dust that constantly lingered around the yard seemed repelled by his presence. When he walked toward the center of the yard and tipped his hat back, several inmates could see his face.
His nose was gone, leaving nothing but a smooth triangular nasal cavity. His cheekbones were particularly pronounced--and his hair had all but fallen out. He had the look of a man freshly raised from the dead--little more than a well-groomed skull.
Several of the bolder criminals stepped forward to intercept him.
"Gentlemen," he said, pausing to bow. "A pleasure to meet you. Perhaps you can be of some assistance."
"Assistance?" one of the inmates--a green-scaled giant with a fin on top of his head--said. "What're we 'assisting' you with, Skeletor?"
The old man smiled. Something about it was unnerving--all teeth, no lip. "I'm looking for someone. Mr. Donovan. Sometimes goes by the name of 'Sharkface'."
Another inmate--this one a gray-skinned man who towered at nearly 7 feet--stepped forward. When he smiled, it was like stepping into a knifeshop. "Must be your lucky day, Crypt-Keeper."
"Mr. Donovan, I presume?"
"Yeah. What can I do you for?"
"I'm here to inquire about someone you met recently," the old man said. "The Skull."
Sharkface's eyes narrowed. "I already talked to the Feds about that."
"And I'm sure you fed them quite an amusing little fib. But I'm interested in the truth, Mr. Donovan."
"You know," Sharkface said, cracking his knuckles, "I'm suddenly feeling a little less than sociable. Why don't I allow my boys here to give you a tour of the facilities?"
Several of the inmates had formed a circle around the old man. His smile only grew--which managed to unnerve a few of them.
"A tour would be lovely," he said, tugging off his left glove.
Minutes later, a single dot of burning blue light appeared near the center of the prison's courtyard.
It expanded outwards, forming into a tear; through it extended a leg, followed by a hip, and another leg--and then a torso. At last, an entire person emerged--a girl dressed in t-shirt and jeans, with bandages tightly wound around her eyes. She stepped forward carefully, cocking her head upward.
Though she could not see, she could 'feel' the space around her--and what she felt was disturbing.
Though there were many human-shaped lumps here--dozens, perhaps nearly a hundred--only one of them showed any signs of life. She moved toward it, reaching her hands out to touch it.
The skin was cold.
Sharkface groaned. "Who are you? How'd you get in here?"
"I teleported in," she said. "I'm here to help."
"Little late, girl," he said. "I'll be dead in about twenty minutes."
"Son of a bitch tore through us. Everyone," he said, and then he spat. "I didn't want to spill, but--God, it was like he was drilling into my brain..."
"Spill?" she said.
"He knows. Everything I know," he said. "Goddammit. I wanted to kill that little bitch myself, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let that fucker get his satisfaction--not after what he did to me. To us."
"What are you talking about?"
"The Skull," he said. "You gotta--" He choked on his next sentence. "You gotta warn her. Tell her."
"Tell her what?"
"You teleported in?"
"I want you to take me somewhere. Do that for me and I'll tell you everything. Everything I can, anyway."
The girl hesitated, but then slowly nodded. "Where do you want me to take you?"
"My mother," Sharkface said. "Need to--need to talk to her. Apologize, and shit." He turned his face away, ashamed.
"I can take you there," the girl said, and she brought her hands to his chest. "But a hospital might be better--"
"Ain't no hospital can fix what I got," he said. "Bastard's already killed me. He just gave me a bit of time to deliver a message."
"What message?" she asked.
"He wants her to know," he said. "He wants Sue Daysdale to know that the Scourge knows her name. And that he's coming."