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The Misadventures of Axel Shade (Fanfiction based on my playthrough of CoV)


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Chapter 1: The Breakout

 

Twenty years. Twenty God-forsaken years.

 

Deep in the bowels of the Zigursky Correctional Facility, in the sector reserved only for the most notorious superpowered criminals in history, Axel Shade was shaking in frustration as his thoughts drifted to the past again. Just two decades ago, the world knew him as Emperor Stahleon Hephaestian, a fearsome cybernetic warlord who had almost brought the world to its knees with his innumerable legions of mechanical soldiers. But now? He was just another prisoner, another number on the list, another fallen star of supervillainy. For twenty years now, he had been held in the highest-security prison on the planet, trapped in a weakened and severely disarmed body and suspended in electromagnetic shackles designed just for him.

 

Just how much longer am I to remain here? It feels like I would need a miracle to leave...

 

Just then, with perhaps coincidental timing, Axel could hear a loud rumble paired with the cell around him shaking violently. Then another one, now accompanied by alarm sirens blaring. And suddenly, everything around him went dark.

 

THUD! The disgraced archvillain's body dropped to the floor with a loud noise as the electromagnetic shackles suspending him in mid-air went out. He slowly got back on his feet, taking a moment to dust himself off and get used to being able to move again, before approaching the cell door and knocking it open with a well-placed punch. By the time the Zig's emergency power generators went online, he was already gone.

 

As he made his way through the prison complex's halls, Shade would notice he wasn't the only one taking advantage of whatever just happened. Countless criminals of all kinds have likewise used the sudden blackout to break free from their cells, and were already in the middle of a rush to get outside before the compound's security guards catch up. In the midst of all this, Axel wound up bumping into one individual who, curiously enough, was resting calmly against a wall, apparently not even interested in escaping. It was a man appearing to be in his thirties, with his blonde hair in a buzzcut, sporting a neatly-trimmed beard and a pair of heavy goggles on his eyes.

 

"Hey, watch your step!", exclaimed the prisoner when he got crashed into.
"You get out of my--", the cyborg was about to reply before noticing who he is talking to. "Hard Time? Do you have any idea what is going on?"
"I'm not sure. There was some kinda big explosion that shook loose a bunch of the cells. Most of the cons made a break for it and ran out into the Yard, only to be recaptured by security."
"That much I do know. Tell me something I do not."
"Lots of people are saying Arachnos is involved, that they're trying to break out some sort of special people." Hard Time paused for a second. "Could even be you, I guess."
"Arachnos, you say... About time they remembered about me." Axel deliberately left out the part where he was a formidable competitor to the spider-branded organization.
"Heh. They must think you're pretty important to them if they're willing to raise this kind of ruckus to break you out. But I'd watch myself if I were you. Just because they think you're special doesn't mean they'll give you a free ride. You'll have to prove you've got what it takes."
"What is there to prove? I have been in their business for fifteen years, I think that is proof enough."

 

Shade was about to rush off and continue his escape, but stopped in his tracks after a few steps and returned to Hard Time.

"I just remembered that all my weapons were stripped off of me when I was imprisoned here", he muttered in mild embarrassment. "Do you have any clue where to look for them?"
"I know everything about this place", the goggled prisoner replied. "There's a whole vault of confiscated gear up on the top floor."
"Thank you." The ex-archvillain was about to depart again, but turned back upon seeing his interlocutor hasn't joined in the mass breakout. "Are you not coming along?"
"Nah, I choose to stay. I'd rather serve my sentence to the end than risk prolonging it."
"As you wish. Farewell, then." With these words, Axel left the sector, this time for real.

 

On his way up to the vault, he passed by a scene of several dozen inmates charging the Zig's main gate, getting into a brutal fight with the guards gathered there. Taking advantage of the commotion, he continued his journey, eventually reaching a massive, secure door - the last thing standing between him and his weapons. It was obviously tough enough to withstand direct melee attacks, even ones reinforced with cybernetics.

 

Luckily, a solution to the problem had soon presented itself in the form of a lone guard, who had been tasked with overseeing the vault no matter what and who had just noticed Axel's intrusion.
"S-S-Stand back!", the guard exclaimed while drawing his sidearm with obvious hestitation.
"Make me", Shade responded while advancing closer to the man.
"F-Fine!"


A couple bullets were fired - the first merely grazed the cyborg's head, while the following two hit his chest without denting it. Sure, Axel may have been deprived of means of offense, but his armor was still made of the same highly-durable alloy as all those years ago. He responded to this pitiful attempt at stopping him by catching the guard by the collar and slamming him face-first against the retinal scanner holding the door closed. The device read the unfortunate sap's eye and promptly turned green, unlocking the heavy door. With nothing more standing in his path, Shade stepped in and, after a few minutes of searching, reached a locker labeled with his name and prisoner ID. It didn't take long before he unlocked it, refitted himself with his old gear, and tore off his orange prisoner jumpsuit for good measure.

 

With that out of the way, he hurriedly made his way back to the prison's ground level, where he could see that the brawl at the gates had died down, while one of the floor grates was lifted enough for people to pass through. Stranger still, he could hear a raspy, almost gravely voice shouting "OVER HERE!" from below. Naturally, it attracted the mechanized villain's attention and led him down to the Ziggurat's sewage system - and a platoon of Arachnos soldiers, all clad in unmistakable jet-black body armor with eight-eyed helmets and silver harnesses patterned after spiders. One of them in particular stood out, with very lanky body proportions evocative of a stick figure and mild signs of decomposition on his exposed lower face drawing even more attention than the collar and cape present over his uniform, denoting him as commander of this squad.


"AXEL HERBERT SHADE, IS IT?", the stick-like officer spoke, revealing himself to be the source of that voice from before.
"That is indeed me. Who is asking?"
"ARACHNOS OPERATIVE STICKMANN, AT YOUR SERVICE." He backed his words with an Arachnos salute: hands crossed on the chest, palms outwards, with fingers curled to resemble a spider's legs.
"I could already tell you are of Arachnos. Now, what business do you have with me?"
"SHHHHH... THIS AIN'T THE BEST PLACE TO DISCUSS THAT. FOLLOW ME."

 

With those words, Stickmann turned to go deeper into the sewers, with his soldiers (and Axel) following. Before long, they emerged outside, in the complex's outer yard. It was a veritable battlefield at the moment: escaped prisoners and Arachnos soldiers on one side, security officers and Longbow guardians on the other. But none of that was of major concern to anyone in this little group as they advanced towards a futuristic black helicopter which seemed ready to take off. Operative Stickmann entered first... before emerging from it with a frustrated look on what little of his face was visible.

"DRAT. THE DEMOLITION GUYS DIDN'T DO THEIR JOB RIGHT AND THE RADARS ARE STILL UP. TYPICAL."
"What happened?", asked Shade.
"I SENT MY CO-PILOT JENKINS TO ONE OF THE RADAR BUNKERS WITH A BOMB TO FINISH THE JOB, BUT HE HASN'T RETURNED YET. IF YOU WANT TO GET OUT OF HERE, SOMEONE'S GONNA HAVE TO BITE THE BULLET AND GO CHECK UP ON HIM."

 

After the Arachnos officer, two more figures emerged from the aircraft: a man in dark Eastern-style robes, and a black-scaled draconic humanoid in a purple bodysuit.

"Another Destined One, eh?", asked the latter upon seeing Axel. "Can't wait until we all make it out of here... There's so much I want to do over in the Isles!"
"Destined One? What even is the meaning of that?" The cyborg villain really couldn't stand being out of the loop at this point.
"That Stickmann guy didn't tell you? Lord Recluse is looking for powerful villains who could help him take over the world."
"Let it be known that I am not interested in furthering the goals of anyone but myself. Especially if said goals pertain to world domination."
"HEY!" Stickmann saw fit to interject. "YOU CAN ALWAYS STAY HERE IF YOU DON'T WANT TO ESCAPE. LORD RECLUSE IS OFFERING YOU MERCY, I'D ACCEPT IT IF I WERE YOU."
Axel let out a defeated sigh. "Fine. I will take your offer, then."
"SO, AS I WAS SAYING... I NEED SOMEONE TO GO INTO THAT BUNKER, RESCUE JENKINS, GET THE BOMB HE HAS AND MAKE SURE IT GETS PLANTED IN THE RIGHT SPOT. WHO VOLUNTEERS?"
The man-dragon and the Eastern-looking mage started arguing, each trying to push the other into the task, while the Arachnos troopers cowered away.
"Okay, I volunteer", said Shade after a while of that frustrating impasse.
"GOOD. THE ENTRANCE'S OVER THERE." Stickmann pointed towards one of the short tower-like buildings surrounding the prison's perimeter. "AND TAKE OUT ANYONE WHO GETS IN THE WAY, OKAY? THEY'LL ONLY SCREW THINGS UP FOR THE REST OF US."
"Can do."

 

Upon crossing the radar bunker's door, Shade would bear witness to a scene of an Arachnos soldier standing against a wall, interrogated by two agents clad in tight white-and-red bodysuits with unmistakable Freedom Corps patterns on them.
"FREEZE!", shouted one of them. "Hands against the wall!"
"Who are you guys supposed to be?", replied the spider-man.
"We are the ones asking questions here. Who is Arachnos busting out? I want names, and I want them now!"
"I'm a trained Arachnos soldier, you won't get me to spill the names of--"

 

Before the captive could finish, his oppressors could both feel a nasty electric shock on their backs. The one who was asking questions thus far turned around to see the person responsible.
"Stahleon? B-but..."
"Good to see somebody remembers me." With these words, he punched the Longbowman squarely in the face, before firing an energy bolt from his gauntlet towards the other one's chest. Both of them dropped to the ground, unable to fight back. Seeing that, the Arachnos operative recoiled in fear before turning to face his savior.
"Whoa... Emperor Stahleon himself... And I thought we were here to rescue YOU!"
"Cut the small talk, Jenkins. Where is the bomb?"
"R-right h-here, sir." Jenkins handed over a bundle of dynamite sticks with a digital detonator strapped on one side. "W-was supposed to put it at the mast's base, b-but then these guys showed up and--!"
"Whatever. Just stick by me and watch how a professional villain does it."

 

Axel and Jenkins went deeper into the bunker, knocking out several more guards and Longbowmen along the way before reaching the central chamber: a small octagonal room with a pillar in the center and computer terminals lining the walls.
"This is it", said the soldier. "We just need to plant this bomb at the pillar and we're golden!"
"Not so fast!"


The two villains stopped and looked behind themselves to see themselves cornered by a Warden - a high-ranking Longbow officer, distinguished by his cape and helmet.
"You are not going to take this station down. Not while I stand!"
"Well then, go ahead and try to stop us."

Shade put the bomb back in Jenkins' hands and tackled the officer of justice. They would go on to exchange a few punches and kicks, taking the fight back and forth between the control room and the corridor leading up to it while the Arachnos soldier planted the explosive. Eventually, it would let out a beeping noise indicating that it has been armed, attracting the attention of both combatants.
"I did it, sir!", shouted Jenkins with satisfaction.
"Oh, you little--!" The Warden broke away from the struggle in a bid to disarm the bomb while it's still ticking, only to find himself snagged by the cape and flung against a wall by Shade, who then proceeded to maul him with a burst of rocket punches and then electrify him in the face. With the last of his strength, the Longbow officer tried to reach out and stop Shade and Jenkins from escaping, but to no avail.

 

The duo managed to leave in the nick of time, with the radar station bursting into flames behind them. Operative Stickmann and the two other Destined Ones were still waiting for them.
"I SHOULD LEAVE YOU HERE FOR YOUR STUPIDITY", said Stickmann to Jenkins while bonking him on the forehead, only to get interrupted by another explosion. "ANYWAY, IT'S TIME TO GO. I HEARD THAT THE FREEDOM PHALANX ARE ON THE WAY TO BUTTON UP THIS BREAKOUT, SO WE'D BEST BE LEAVING QUICK."

 

Without much further ado, everyone gathered climbed aboard the helicopter, which would promptly take to the skies and - along with several others - departed from Paragon City's airspace, directing its movement towards the far-off Rogue Isles, the eponymous City of Villains.

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Posted (edited)

Operative Stickmann belongs to @owt.

The draconic humanoid and the Eastern-robed man belong to @JuanPablo1234.

The characters were all used with their owners' permission.

Edited by Vic Raiden
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  • 2 weeks later

Chapter 2: No Mercy for the Wicked

 

The trip from Paragon City to the Rogue Isles took quite a while, so it was pretty much inevitable that the arachnocopter's passengers would eventually strike up a conversation to pass the time, as well as to get to know each other better. A good chunk of that was taken up by Axel telling the other two escaped supervillains stories from his lengthy career.

 

"Wow... You really were quite the guy", said the Destined One with a draconic face after the third such tale, recounting Shade's plot to raise the Terra Volta complex into the air and use the threat of its explosion to press the Paragon City Council to surrender the city to him, only foiled by a timely intervention of Statesman and Galaxy Girl.
"Yeah, I wish I got to do half as much before I got busted", added the one clad like an Eastern mage.
"I am glad to hear that my tales are entertaining", replied Axel. "But enough about me. How come that throughout this whole flight, I have not asked who either of you are?"

 

After a brief period of silence, the robed one was the first to speak up.
"I am Gedeon, Sensei of the Hand of Extermination, Master of Darkness..."
"...who got kicked out of his ninja clan for breaking their teachings", interjected his scaly companion.
"HEY!"
"Sorry."
"As I was saying...", continued Gedeon, "my old masters were too narrow-minded to understand the sheer potential of the dark arts I had discovered, and so they turned against me. Banished to that blindingly shiny city, I was lucky to find some like-minded people I could work with."
"Let me guess, the Hmong Tsoo?", asked Shade.
"No, it was a death-worshipping gang calling themselves Skulls. I quickly earned their trust, made their Lords of Death into my henchmen, and was just about to throw Paragon on its knees before that blue dork with a big badge ruined all my fun!"

The cyborg warlord couldn't help but chuckle at Gedeon's story. "Skulls? Really? You wanted to take over the world with a meek street gang?"
The Eastern-robed ex-ninja was about to get up from his seat and do something nasty in response, but was stopped just in time by the draconic man.
"My turn now", he said. "You ever heard of a hero called Juan Blazelight?"
"I may have heard some inmates discuss him."
"Well, because it just so happens I'm his dark side made manifest..." With those words, the veins along his scaly body lit up with a volcanic orange glow, as did the wing membranes. "Eternal Juan!"
"I have never heard a dumber villain name before."
"Ye, I know, I've never been good with names... But you've no idea how much destruction I've wrought upon Paragon while I was still sharing a body with my good self. But alas, we've since parted ways, and then he and that Blue Steel prick got me jailed after I tried to burn the big PPD building."
"Now that unironically sounds impressive, especially coming from a fledgling criminal like you."
"Meh, it's nothing. Were it not for Juan, I would've torched ALL of Kings Row, if not the whole city!"
"On the bright side, the two of us wouldn't have met otherwise", said Gedeon. "We got caught more or less together, remember?"

The discussion went on for a couple more minutes. The monotonous droning of the arachnocopter's anti-gravity engines eventually began dying down before stopping completely, which, along with the sensation of delicate impact below the passengers' feet, meant that the craft had landed. Shortly after, the hatch on its side opened, letting in light from the outside and inadvertently blinding the passengers as they disembarked.

"AND HERE WE ARE", said Operative Stickmann upon leaving the pilot seat, shortly followed by Jenkins standing at attention beside him. "WELCOME... TO HELL."

 

Indeed, the location the arachnocopter arrived at looked nightmarish enough to pass for a part of the underworld. The entire land outside the landing platform was shrouded in ruins, slums and decrepit Colonial-era tenements stretching as far as the horizon. If one were to look hard enough, they could see people in dirty clothing scuttling about amidst the rubble, searching for anything they could improve their situation with - or anyone they could steal these things from. Coupled with fires emanating from several buildings all throughout, this whole landscape evoked the image of a town ravaged by a brutal war.

 

While Gedeon and Eternal Juan gleefully admired the sights, Axel was far less amused.
"What are we doing here?", he asked Stickmann after a moment of pondering. "Were we not supposed to meet Lord Recluse himself?"
"LORD RECLUSE DOESN'T JUST LET ANYONE WALTZ INTO HIS THRONE ROOM", replied the lanky zombie-like soldier. "HE HAD DESIGNATED THIS ISLAND - MERCY ISLAND - AS A TEST OF GRIT FOR ALL HIS DESTINED ONES. ONLY THOSE WHO CAN SURVIVE HERE AND EMERGE STRONG ENOUGH MAY DREAM OF COMING FACE TO FACE WITH HIM."
"A test? He does not need to test me. He should know how powerful I was back in the day..."
"WAS. THAT'S THE KEYWORD. YOU LITERALLY JUST GOT OUT OF JAIL, YOU HAVE NO BIG ARMY TO SHOW HIM, AND YOUR ARMOR HAS DECAYED SINCE YOU LAST WORE IT. CAN -YOU- BE SURE YOU'VE GOT WHAT IT TAKES TO SATISFY HIM?"
"Considering what you just reminded me of, not exactly."
"EXACTLY! IF YOU CAN'T BE SURE YOU'VE GOT IT, NEITHER CAN HE. YOU DON'T WANNA PROVE YOUR STRENGTH TO LORD RECLUSE, AT LEAST PROVE IT TO YOURSELF, OKAY?"
"Fine then. I will take this belittling test."
"BESIDES... WE'VE GOT A LITTLE SITUATION IN HERE." Stickmann brought out a pair of binoculars and gave it to Shade before pointing towards an odd structure in the distance. "SEE THAT FORT OVER THERE?"
"Yes?" The cyborg could indeed make out the shape of a small Arachnos fortress... with tricolor Freedom Corps banners hanging in all the most eye-catching places, a red-and-white helicopter seated on the rooftop, and several small single-seater VTOL fighters flying around.
"THAT'S FORT DARWIN. USED TO BE A KEY PART OF THE ETOILES' NAVAL DEFENSE NETWORK... UP U#NTIL THOSE PESKY LONGBOW FELLAS SHOWED UP AND TOOK IT BY STORM. NOW THEY'RE ARRESTING CRIMINALS 'ROUND HERE, PROVIDING AID TO THE CIVILIANS, AND WORST OF ALL, THEY EVEN STARTED A RECONSTRUCTION EFFORT IN THE OLD TOWN! OUR SOLDIERS ARE STRUGGLING TO REPEL THEM, SO WE NEED ALL THE HELP WE CAN GET."
"I see... This could indeed be problematic."
"PROBLEMATIC IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT."
"Okay, so we got here, and now what?" Eternal Juan made his and Gedeon's presen7ce known again.
"AND NOW YOU CAN GO MAKE YOURSELVES AT HOME IN MERCY, DESTINED ONES. THERE'S A LOT FOR YOU TO DO 'ROUND HERE."

 

Upon descending down the ramp leading off the platform they arrived at, the three jailbroken villains would gain a better view of what lay behind Mercy's massive walls. Almost immediately they found themselves at a large square-shaped plaza, with a slight rectangular elevation in the middle. Straight ahead they could see the large, imposing building of the governor's palace, decorated with red-and-black banners bearing Arachnos' logo and capped off with a large dome whose supports made it resemble a gigantic monstrous spider resting atop the building's roof. Directly opposite it stood the stronghold's primary gatehouse with its four elevator gates and the ramp leading up to the landing pad balcony, while the remaining two sides were filled in by less significant buildings, most prominent of them being the bank and the Hungry Dragon inn. Normally, this place would be rather empty save for occasional Arachnos patrols or public executions, but today the whole plaza was rife with criminals from various walks of life, some still wearing the orange jumpsuits of Zigursky Correctional Facility prisoners, all gathered in front of a low tribune spread out underneath the Arachnos palace's main entrance, bearing a plain lecter flanked by three Arachnos troopers presenting their jagged submachine guns standing on either side.

 

As Axel and his two companions, approached the crowd, they would poke the nearest person present in a bid to get their attention.
"Excuse me, what is going on here?", asked the cyborg.
"I don't know, apparently there's some big ceremony we don't want to miss", was the response.


It didn't take much longer before the Arachnos palace's double door swung open and out stepped a dark-haired man with a short well-maintained beard, clad in a variant of the Wolf Spider bodysuit distinguished with a red chestplate and shoulder pads and a black collared harness, paired up with a strange backpack and a cape. He walked up to the lectern, while two officers in silvery white suits stood beside him.

"Welcome to the Rogue Isles, Destined Ones", the man spoke out with a noticeable Russian accent. "My name is Ivan Kuzmin and I am the Marshal of the Mercy Stronghold, the commander-in-chief of the Arachnos legions stationed here. I have called you all together because you're the worst assortment of lowlife criminals with exceptional powers I have ever seen!" He was making no effort to conceal his sheer villainous excitement. "You're mean! You're malicious! You're my kind of rotten!"
The crowd began cheering. Around the same time, one of the white-clad Arachnos commanders beside Kuzmin walked off the tribune and began making his way through the assortment of new Destined Ones, carefully examining each one of them and having an attendant of his write his judgements on a clipboard.
"Ever since our glorious leader, Lord Recluse, launched his ingenious plan to conquer the world, hundreds if not thousands of villains have graced Etoile soil. It is with great pleasure that I am seeing you join them here, in the land of the free. Anywhere else in the world you'd be living in hiding, in constant fear of the forces of justice out to detain you... But here, here you can do as you please freely, just as Lord Recluse wills it!"

 

Once again, the listeners cheered, with the exception of Axel himself, who was not particularly feeling the spirit of the situation. In due time, he too would be approached by the officer in white.
"Your name, sir?", he asked upon taking a first look at the cyborg.
"Stahleon Hephaestian", was the response.
"Yeah, and I'm Sister Psyche. You're not fooling an Arbiter with such a cheap rip-off armor. Give me a real pseudonym or go back to the gutter."
Shade sighed in annoyance. Never before did he feel so disrespected. "... Cyberkhan."
"That sounds more like it. Write that down, Jenkins." The Arbiter's attendant politely filled in another row on the clipboard.
"But how do you not recognize me!?"
"Listen, I have too much work to do to deal with your tantrums. Good luck convincing anyone that your delusions are true." With that, the two spider-marked men moved on.

 

Meanwhile, Marshal Kuzmin continued his inaugural speech.
"But don't think it's going to be easy. He had you all summoned here because he sees potential in you, potential to change the world. And this is why I, acting on the authority he gave me, am laying a test before you all. Prove that you have the strength, the cunning and the determination to rise above your peers, to amass wealth and infamy like none other, to become worthy of the grace of our great leader! And now, without further ado, I hereby declare that this season of Project Destiny... IS NOW OPEN!"

 

With an even greater cheer than before, the crowd would proceed to surge off the plaza, each crook going his or her way to cause mayhem. Only Stahleon - or Cyberkhan, as he was forced to go by now - remained there. All the way until the ceremony's end, he was too stunned by the "cheap rip-off armor" remark to even consider moving, but once he examined his reflection in a nearby puddle, this confusion would turn into sorrow.

 

Indeed, as he stood now, he was but a shadow of his former self. His ornate black-and-red plating was now severely rusted and damaged, with paint chipping off the once-shiny cuirass and the formerly intimidating head crest having broken in a couple places. The titanium frame hidden beneath it embodied the pinnacle of robotic engineering... by the standards of the 1990s. Nowadays it was little more than a museum exhibit, an outdated piece of hardware nobody would take seriously anymore, especially not in its current bad shape. It was then that it finally hit him: the Stahleon Hephaestian whose very name used to instill fear in the world's hearts was long gone. All that remained was a delusional relic of a bygone age, with no resources nor power nor even respect.

 

As Axel pondered his situation, he would suddenly hear a familiar voice coming up from the landing pad's direction.
"HEY. WHAT'S THE MATTER, DESTINED ONE?"
"Stickmann?..." Cyberkhan turned around to face the lanky officer.
"YOU GOING TO STAND AROUND UNTIL YOU DIE? ...THAT WAS A JOKE, HA HA. YOU HAVE BETTER THINGS YOU COULD BE DOING THAN LANGUISHING HERE, YOU KNOW."
"Perhaps, but... Is there even any point? As far as Arachnos cares, I am a fraud."
"MAYBE YOU ARE A FRAUD, HA HA. YOU COULD TRY LAYING DOWN AND DECOMPOSING WITH THE REST OF THE JUNK ON THE ISLAND, IF YOU'D LIKE... OR YOU COULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I'M NOT YOUR BOSS, THOUGH, HA HA."
"Junk? JUNK!?" Shade began to regain his composure. "I am the great Emperor Stahleon! I have done many great things before, I will not let them treat me like junk!"
"NOW THAT'S THE SPIRIT."
"I will show them what I really am made of. The saga of Stahleon Hephaestian is far from over!"
"THAT'S RIGHT, KNOCK 'EM DEAD. AND REMEMBER: NO MERCY FOR THE WICKED, HA HA."
"I shall... keep that in mind."

With those parting words, a now-reinvigorated Axel Shade would set off to the stronghold's streets, in search of something he could do to prove to everyone that his villainous credibility has not yet died down.

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