The Skull turned to the man standing on the panel, an expression of awe flitting across his face before he set his jaw and furrowed his brow. "Scourge. Super-strength, teleportation, flight."
"Ah, the Stone of Gethsemane," said the man, brushing dust from his jacket. "And I take it this is some form of time travel. I appreciate the rescue. I could have been killed back there."
Both men sprang from the control nest, dashing along opposing sides of the room.
"You were, once."
Scourge wavered silently in the air for a moment, before bursting into laughter. The noise curled through the entire building, cold and sharp.
"Andrew Bristle! Why I never dreamed I'd get the pleasure of defeating you again."
"Watch for sparks," Bristle called to the Skull, "and hit him hard."
The Skull propelled himself into the air, and flew towards Scourge. Scourge disappeared from beneath the Skull's thick leather boot with a fraction of an inch to spare, only to find Bristle's elbow quickly bearing down on his new location.
Scourge blinked from place to place, each time a fist or a foot immediately bursting through the cloud of sparks he left in his wake. He began to gasp and shake, his breath cut short as he vanished and reappeared as rapidly as the Stone could manage - everywhere the pair of Skulls right behind. The dance continued across the room until Bristle's fist finally collided with Scourge's head just as it burst back into space.
Scourge fell to the ground, blood streaming from his face. The Skull's shadow blanketed Scourge's prone body as he quickly followed. Moments before the Skull reached the floor, Scourge's yellow eyes opened and disappeared.
The Skull slammed into concrete. The surface heaved and cracked, but the Skull returned to his feet unharmed. Above, he saw Bristle snatch Scourge from the air, this time tearing the pendant from around his neck.
"No! I rose from the grave!" said Scourge. "I have become death itself!"
"I have seen Death," said Bristle, the Stone crushed in his palm. With a shake of his arm he threw Scourge at the control platform and leapt after him.
"I tore this mask from his face."
Bristle seized Scourge by his tattered jacket and smashed the thin body into the machine's console. Lights flared and died; the metal plate let out a thin stream of smoke.
"Bad guy?" asked Blink.
"Dealt with," said the Skull, passing the speedster into the bunker. The underground structure extended in every direction from its entrance, including down. The Skull strode towards one of the rooms that opened into the main lobby.
"Look, we have to get to a hospital or something," Blink said, following behind. "That kid is hurt real bad."
"Yes," replied the Skull. "So bad that no conventional treatment is going to cut it. Only one thing can save him now."
"And you've got it, right?"
The child was lying on a table, surrounded by laboratory equipment. His eyes were closed, his breathing shallow. He let out a muffled groan as the Skull swept through the mess, glass beakers shattering on the ground.
The Skull pulled an ornate wooden box to the edge and withdrew a small glass vial.
"The Skull Formula," he said, holding it to the light. Shapes swirled and dissipated in its crimson contents.
Blink buzzed around the table as the Skull removed the tube's metal cap and began to pour the liquid into the boy's unconscious lips. "The same stuff that turned you into a car-tossing vigilante? Is this safe, Don? You don't even know this kid."
"I know him. Scourge pulled him here from 1930 to use as a hostage. His name is Don Daysdale. This is how it happens. This is how I became the Skull."
The child spluttered and shook, his face flushed and fists clenched.
"I had a complicated childhood."
"No, what - you're fifty?"
The table rattled as the boy's legs began to kick. Blink placed a hand on the child's shoulder.
"He'll be fine," said the Skull. "I never remembered any of this. One day I just woke up in Metro City in 1971 with superpowers and some weird old guy in face-paint yelling at me."
The boy's feet stopped and he came to a still.
"It was a hell of an improvement from what I was used to," the Skull added.
"Wait, you were your own sidekick?" said Blink. "Oh, man. What did they call you?"
"If you say 'Bones' I'm going to-"
There was a rumble from the lobby as the elevator began to move again. Blink was already at the bottom of the shaft when the occupant came into view.
"Do we have trouble?"
"It's quite all right. My name is Andrew Bristle," said Bristle, stepping off the moving platform. "Better known, I expect, as the original Skull."
"Oh, fantastic," Blink said. "I was just thinking that what this city really needed was a few more Skulls. Three should really do it, yeah."
"Let's just hope it's enough," said the Skull as he closed the door to the lab. "It's hazy, but I can remember the next eight years. We've got our work cut out for us."
"You do call him Bones, don't you?" said Blink. "God damn it, you do."
"Is it really that important?"
"This is the end of our working relationship. I am not appearing alongside 'the Skull and Bones'. That is not a thing that is happening here, Don."
The Skull smiled. He'd reached it - the point where he started living things a second time. He'd spent almost a decade in the future as Bones before returning to his own time. The next eight years should be the easiest of his life.