The light subsides and the voice fades away with it. You silently meet your friends’ eyes and find that they’re as shaken up as you are. Whatever that was, it knocked the drunk right out of you. “Heed my words?” Dale mutters. “Who talks like that?”

In case an ominous psychic warning isn’t enough, suddenly the entire bar shakes from a concussive blast. Gainful employment or not, your reporter’s instincts kick in and you leap from your bar stool to investigate. Outside you see pedestrians fleeing in all directions from a smoking crater in the middle of the street, and three unmistakable figures dotting the landscape. The first is an enormous man in a horned helmet who you recognize as the Ox, a famous New York supervillain. He’s carrying several large, unmarked bags, and you realize that much of the rubble comes from the busted-through wall of a bank building directly behind him.

The second is a cloaked figure with glowing eyes — Nightwatchman, the most mysterious of the whole crop of costumed heroes. His modus operandi is to hide in darkness and strike terror in the hearts of criminals. He’s old school, and seriously badass.

And inside the crater itself is a figure in some sort of high-tech battle armor. Could that be the Cosmic Guardian? He’s a legendary hero who disappeared some time in the mid-’90s. From the looks of things, he appears to have just saved downtown Cleveland from a stray meteor.

Superheroes! And villains! Right in front of your favorite bar! The three of them exchange glances, and you’re pretty sure you’re about to witness a superpowered smackdown. But then the Guardian launches into the air, sputtering off on a wild trajectory (and, from the sound of things, crashing back to earth a few blocks over). Nightwatchman disappears into an alley, leaving the Ox alone amid the chaos. What the hell is going on here? Could a simultaneous meteor strike and bank robbery be pure coincidence? And if he’s not here to battle the Ox, what could Nightwatchman possibly be doing in Cleveland?

Melah is the first to say what you’re all thinking. “If you two still want to start that website, I think we’ve got our first story.”

“We should split up,” Dale says. Sirens are approaching, which means the Ox is about to go toe-to-toe with Cleveland’s finest. That’s front-page news for sure — cell-phone video of the Ox in action would generate the kind of page views a typical start-up news site could only dream of. Then again, the darkness-lurking, fear-inspiring reason you always wanted to be a superhero just fled down that alley. And a long-missing champion may have saved the city from a meteor. That’s some big-time, interplanetary space hero stuff right there. Which lead should you follow?

If you stay put and report on the Ox situation, turn to page 6.

If you chase after the Nightwatchman, turn to page 8.

If you track down the Cosmic Guardian instead, turn to page 11.

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