Chapter 42

Gyan turned to O'Shay and approached the bars of the cage.

"Don't gloat too hard," he said to the Irishman. "you may have us trapped, but you forgot one thing."

"What's that?" O'Shay smirked.

"Pain disupts your dream worlds!"

Gyan clenched his fists and thrust his arms through the cage, hooking them around the bars. The electric shock locked every muscle in his body. Gyan convulsed violently and suddenly dropped to the ground as the illusion broke. The cage blurred and disappeared.

Almost immediately, two streaks of lightning flashed over him, striking O'Shay in the torso. The Irishman screamed as Jolt's supercharged bolts of energy knocked him off his feet.

Hawk took to the air for an aerial attack, and Simmi spring-boarded off the wall. Jolt's hands sparkled in anticipation of sending forth another paralysing surge of energy, while Fever dove low to avoid any oncoming attack as he pushed forward towards the enemy.

Only Crunch surged forward at ground level, ever the sore loser, roaring with rage at having been taken advantage of.

O'Shay looked up from where he'd fallen and raised a hand. A sonic boom pulsed outward from his palm lifting everyone off their feet and sending them flying backwards across the room.

"It's not real!" Gyan shouted, egging the others not to submit.

They heard his words and surged forward again. O'Shay was on his knees now and raised both arms, emitting a pulse so strong this time that it sent them all slamming into the back wall. The invisible pulse held them in place, crushing them against the wall as they watched O'Shay rise to his feet, glaring with intense concentration.

"Mind over matter!" he shouted. "You can think what you want, but it's what you believe that controls you!"

With a grunt, O'Shay pushed forward with his palms and his prisoners felt the crush as the barrier pressed them tighter against the wall.

"Argh!" Gyan gasped for air. "Take hands!" He panted for breath as he slid his arm sideways until he felt Jackhammer's fingers. "Everyone!"

Gyan closed his eyes and strained against the imaginary wall with his mind, sending his thoughts through the others like a Mexican wave. For a split second he felt the pressure ease before slamming into him again. Even through the rush of blood to his ears he heard the others gasp too.

"Harder!" he heard Jolt yell. "Concentrate harder!"

Gyan did. His head felt like it would explode as his veins swelled with the effort of disrupting O'Shay's illusion. Nothing happened except the increasing pressure that crushed them.

"Remember the pain!" Jackhammer growled through gritted teeth.

Gyan could barely hear his words but he didn't need them to be loud. He clasped Jackhammer's hand tighter and visualised the electric shock he'd received from O'Shay's cage. He felt Jackhammer stiffen and suddenly the barrier weakened. The recreation of pain was travelling down the line, breaking the illusion with each of them.

Gyan felt the tug as Jackhammer forced himself one step forward. He followed suit and soon the line was pressing against O'Shay's barrier, step by arduous step, forcing themselves forward.

O'Shay cried out and staggered back as he strained to maintain control. The Superhero League and their companions were breaking free, forcing his barrier to push back on himself. O'Shay screamed as the barrier collapsed and everyone in the room stumbled and fell.

Crunch leapt to his feet, first off the rank, and took a flying dive at O'Shay, crashing into him and sending them both tumbling to the ground in a mess of flailing arms and legs. Before O'Shay could recover, Crunch lifted the dazed figure from the floor and threw him as far and hard as he could. All eyes followed in horrified silence as O'Shay sailed across the length of the room, hitting the back wall with a nauseating crack!

The body slid to the ground as if in slow motion and the Superhero League looked upon it as though mesermised.

"Crunch!" Jackhammer roared, breaking the sudden silence. They all turned as a group to find nobody there.

"He's escaped!" Fever yelled. The words were barely out before Jackhammer was charging towards the exit in search of his nemesis. Outside, the streets were empty. Jackhammer scanned each direction and bolted from nearby intersections to neighbouring alleyways but Crunch was nowhere to be seen.

"Damn it!" Jackhammer yelled. If he'd had something in his hand he would have thrown it down in frustration. He returned inside to find the others finishing their own scan of the interior for any hidden surprises.

Like Jackhammer, they were empty handed. There was no one else inside but themselves and the limp, lifeless bodies of Seduction and O'Shay.

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