Cataclysm wavered where she stood and fell to her knees. She was out of tricks, exhausted, and overwhelmingly done. That meant Vanguard had won again. She looked up at him, ready to surrender, and realized something was wrong. The look on his face. Eyes wide in shock, mouth open. What was happening? What was he looking at like that? Suddenly he stepped in front of her, arms thrown wide.
“Stay down.”
“What? What are you talking about?”
His voice cracked as he spoke again.
“Just…just stay down. I won’t let them. I won’t let them do this.”
She stared up at him and realized there was a single tear rolling down his cheek.
“I always thought they’d listen to me. I’ve always believed in you, that someday you’d listen and stop all of this. I…I guess they didn’t believe.”
He was shaking.
“Vanguard, what are you talking about?”
Her voice was hard with fear and confusion and he just looked at her, his own eyes full of sorrow.
“There’s a sniper on the roof behind me. Right now, they’re trying to decide if I’m an acceptable loss in taking you down for good.”
“But.” She faltered. “You’re a hero! You’re their hero. Why would they do that? How do you know?”
He hesitated and reached to brush her auburn hair away from her forehead.
“I saw the laser sight. I’m so sorry. If I’d known… If I had any idea.”
Cataclysm reached up and pulled her mask off.
“Jamie. My…my name is Jamie Fisher. Tell them I’ll stop. I’ll surrender. Hell, I’ll become a hero, if that’s what they want. But I’m not worth you dying over.”
Vanguard relaxed slightly and started to move, reaching for the radio that would let him speak to the police. Then a single world shattering crack tore through the sky and he fell. Cataclysm stared in horror as his white body armor began to turn red.

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