Read a full summary of Vicious, the first book in the Villains series. This page is full of spoilers, so beware! If you are wondering what happened in Vicious, then you are in the right place!
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***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in Vicious?
10 Years Ago
Victor and Eli are roommates at Lockland University. They’re both brilliant, always vying for the top place in their classes. They are also opposites.
Victor is introverted and awkward. His parents are famous self-help authors and speakers. He hates their work and uses a permanent marker on their books, marking out most of the words and leaving just a few behind to try to speak his truth. Victor considers it a form of art. He was in love with Angie, a girl he met freshmen year. She became Eli’s girlfriend not long after the two of them met their sophomore year.
Eli is charming, good-looking, and popular. But Victor can tell there’s something dark underneath the all-American façade. Eli has faith in God and prays often. He reveals his father was a minister and shows Victor the scars on his back from beatings when he was younger. Victor is fascinated by and jealous of Eli and the ease with which he moves through life.
Victor and Eli choose their senior thesis topics. Eli decides on one that will be life-changing for the two friends…EO’s (ExtraOrdinaries, basically superheroes). After much study, Eli deduces people who reportedly have super powers have recovered from near death experiences. He tries to find other commonalities between them.
Victor does not want to be left behind or the sidekick in Eli’s research, which could be groundbreaking. When Eli tells him everything he has discovered, Victor wants to be a test subject. Eli protests but eventually relents. Victor takes a lethal dose of pain pills chased by whiskey. Eli ends up getting scared and calls an ambulance before Victor dies.
Next up is Eli. He wants to give it a try. He dies in an ice bath in the bathroom of the boys’ apartment. Victor brings him back with three epipens and chest compressions. His body can now heal itself, almost instantly, from any wound.
Victor doesn’t want to be outdone and wants to try his death again immediately. Eli refuses. Victor gets Angie to help. She doesn’t want to, but he manipulates her by telling her what Eli has done. Her emotions take over. She agrees to electrocute Victor in her lab.
The pain is horrific. Victor wishes he could ask her to stop. But she keeps turning the power up. He dies. Then he comes back because of a chemical he put in his body beforehand. His power is uncontrollable at first as it manifests. It kills Angie.
He calls Eli to let him know what happened. He can hear Eli dialing 9-1-1 on their home phone in the background. Victor hangs up and runs. The police find and arrest him. He concocts a decent story. He’s held overnight to see if any physical evidence ties him to the crime. Victor decides he can’t wait that long; he needs to talk to Eli about what happened. He uses his pain power to knock out his cellmate and the guard.
When he gets home, Eli can’t handle what happened. Victor stabs him, wanting to leave the knife in so the wound won’t heal. Then he turns up the pain volume on Eli. He tells Eli he’s figured out something for his thesis: the power they come back with is a reflection of the thought that was strong enough to bring them back to life. He turns the pain back down. When his back is turned, Eli shoots. It hits the wall. He shoots and misses again. The third time he hits Victor in the shoulder.
He tells Victor he’s missing his humanity since coming back. But Victor’s not reacting to Angie’s death like he should, so Eli’s going to kill him. He fires and hits Victor again. Victor throws a knife and hits Eli’s arm. The gun falls to the ground. Victor can’t feel pain but is losing blood quickly. He falls to the ground, and he’ll lose consciousness soon. Victor feels an impact in his back, another shot. He distantly hears Eli make a phone call. He blacks out.
The cops believe Eli’s story that Victor had been acting weird the past few days and then attacked him. Detective Stell is on the way. Eli recognizes that name. He’s the cop Victor said questioned him about the EO business. Eli runs. He has to find Professor Lyne because he has copies of Eli’s thesis research, which could turn out incriminating. He destroys Lyne’s hard drive. Lyne is there when he’s leaving the office. He pushes him down the stairwell and kills him. He ties up one more loose end the next day, running over the janitor who was in the building at the same time in a hit-and-run accident.
Eli continues his belief that EO’s are an affront to nature but believes he is the exception. He begins his meticulous search for other EO’s. His first hit is Wallace, a man killed in a freak accident whose name surfaced in an online forum saying no one near him is safe. He finds Wallace, who puts up a fight, but eventually manages to kill him. He hopes to become more efficient with the murders in the future.
There’s only one target he isn’t able to off: Serena. He tracks her down at a Halloween party. She seduces him. She asks him his name and why he’s at the party. He answers honestly. He can tell she’s controlling his will. He’s fascinated by it. Serena likes the challenge Eli presents because she has gotten so bored with everyone bending to her will automatically. Even though he doesn’t want to share it, Serena eventually gets Eli’s backstory and current purpose out of him. Serena convinces Eli to let her shoot him so she can see his regenerative abilities firsthand.
They begin a tentative partnership and an intimate relationship. Every day Serena tells Eli not to kill her today to protect herself. He has to obey. Serena thinks there has to be an easier way to find potential EO’s if they could access the right networks. She secretly goes to the police station and coerces Officers Stell and Dane to help them in their search for EO’s. She tells them Eli’s a hero. Eli looks through their file to start tracking down more EO suspects.
Victor has been in prison for 10 years, the first five of which were in solitary confinement. Once he made it into general population, he began planning his escape. He lucked out in cell mates and got paired with the large, strong, clever Mitch.
Mitch feels like he’s cursed. He was in and out of foster homes during his youth. Since he’s really big, it’s always (incorrectly) assumed he’s not smart and he’s a trouble maker. He gets accused of many things he didn’t do and serves a couple jail stints for crimes he didn’t commit. Mitch decides to actually commit the one crime he’s always wanted to: robbing a bank by hacking their system. He finally is imprisoned for a crime he committed.
This term is when he meets Victor. He thinks his cell mate needs protection at first since he’s slight and quiet. But he quickly sees Victor has a different kind of power. Since they both try to protect each other, they build trust and become friends.
Victor and Mitch work together and eventually successfully break out. They steal a car. Mitch is aimless. Victor halfway is. His purpose is finding Eli, but he has no idea how to start his search. One night, they see a girl walking along the side of the road. Victor insists they go back for her. Her name is Sydney, she’s twelve, and she has been shot.
The trio hole up at a fancy hotel in Merit called The Esquire. Victor heals Sydney’s wound. It was inflicted by her sister Serena’s boyfriend.
Victor sees a newspaper article about a hero who prevented a bank robbery. The man wanted to remain anonymous, but there’s a picture. It’s Eli. He hasn’t aged a day in the past 10 years.
Sydney sees the article. She’s scared of the man but doesn’t tell Victor and Mitch about it until the next morning. Sydney doesn’t tell Victor her whole story, but she tells enough to get the point across. She idolized her older sister Serena. Their usual frozen lake picnic was delayed until March, when Serena finally got a break from college. The ice wasn’t solid anymore. They fell through. They both died and came back as EO’s.
Serena can manipulate people and their moods, which is apparent when she convinces the hospital staff to let her walk out. Sydney can raise the dead, which she discovers wandering the hospital halls since she’s bored.
Serena disappears from Sydney’s life, claiming she’s too busy with college, travel, and life to come home. Out of the blue, she calls Sydney one day and wants to spend time together. Sydney packs a duffel immediately and joins her at her apartment. Her new boyfriend Eli is there. Sydney thinks he acts strange. It comes out he’s an EO, too, and wants to see Sydney’s skill in action. They drive out into the country, where Eli has dumped a dead body. Sydney reluctantly raises the man. Eli promptly shoots him to cover the evidence and then turns the gun on Sydney. He says her power is unnatural and makes her a danger. She runs into the woods but takes a shot to the arm. She gets away.
When she finishes her story, Victor shows her his scars where Eli shot him. He asks if she can get back to the apartment. She does. Serena’s gone. She’s letting a friend live there to get away from her roommate, but the friend saw Serena in class just yesterday.
Victor wonders at his luck or fate: of ending up in Merit, of seeing Sydney on the side of the road, and of seeing Eli’s picture in the paper. He can somehow feel that Eli is nearby. He wants to draw Eli to him and be ready. Victor wants to search for potential EO’s to try to track Eli down.
Victor doesn’t want to force Sydney to tell him her power, but he lets her know he’s at a disadvantage since Eli knows what it is and he doesn’t. She has him shoot a dog they come across. She brings it back to life. He lets her keep it. She names it Dol.
To send a message to Eli, he’s going to have Sydney resurrect the last EO he killed: Barry Lynch. She does so. They convince Barry to help by saying that Sydney can kill him again with a snap of her fingers. They plan another bank robbery.
Victor has left Mitch searching databases to find potential EO’s. They might not need this now that they’ve resurrected Barry, but Mitch is continuing his search anyway. He’s found a bunch of potential EO’s. Most of them are dead. They assume Eli offed them. Victor feels like this is proof of Eli’s own evil even though he tries to preach otherwise. Mitch has found a few potential EO’s who are still alive. They don’t know which one is Eli’s next target, but Victor doesn’t care. He thinks they’re going to draw him out with Barry. But then Mitch discovers something else: in the Merit Police Department database, all of Eli’s current targets are flagged with middle names that are a derivative of ‘Eli.’
Eli is on a nearby college campus searching out one of the EO’s on Mitch’s ‘alive list,’ a college girl with blue hair. He follows her after class and murders her by her car. He gets a call from Officer Dane about the bank robbery in progress. When he hears Barry’s the perpetrator, he knows Sydney is still alive. He calls Serena. She’s watching it all on the news. She knows Eli has lied to her, which shouldn’t be possible because of her abilities. He has been fighting them for so long he’s finally finding ways around them sometimes. Eli arrives at the bank. Barry’s already dead. He finds a note in Barry’s pocket with stick figures symbolizing Victor and Sydney and their bullet wounds. The note says ‘I made a friend.’ Eli tells the officer to burn Barry’s body this time.
Victor questions Sydney about Serena’s ability, trying to puzzle out why Eli is keeping her around. But Sydney doesn’t know what it is. Mitch calls and says he’s captured one of the cops, Dane. Sydney stays behind when Victor goes to question him. Victor asks Dane for his access ID’s so he can send Eli another message soon. He tortures Dane by inflicting pain to get him to agree to help.
In a different room at The Esquire Hotel, Eli shows Victor’s note to Serena. She thinks they should send a note back. Eli has no idea how to reach Victor. Serena wants to call a meeting with the entire city police department to brain wash them and try to flush Victor out of hiding.
Victor tortures Dane with pain to get information about Eli. He also gets Dane’s login ID and pass code for the database. He quickly figures out Dane is under Serena’s control and kills him. Victor has Mitch fetch Sydney to see if Dane’s death breaks Serena’s hold on him. Sydney revives him. The hold isn’t broken. Victor kills him once again.
Eli calls Stell to set up the meeting at the police station. Stell mentions Dane is missing. Eli tries Dane’s cell. Victor hears it ringing in Dane’s pocket and picks it up. Eli recognizes his voice and knows he must be in Merit. Victor says he’ll see him at midnight and hangs up.
Serena tells the police force to believe Eli because he’s a hero. He tells them Victor is an EO, an escaped convict, and very bad news. He tells them about Mitch. They believe him wholeheartedly and will aid in the search for them.
Eli wants to search for the last couple EO’s they have files on while he waits for midnight. Serena begs to go with him. They visit Zachary Flinch’s house. He died in a mine collapse. Eli ends up shooting him before he even gets a chance to tell them his ability. He searches for Dominic, his last target, alone.
Victor asks Mitch to use Dane’s ID to upload one last file to the policy database: Victor’s. The profile picture will be of one of his parents’ books, and the info will show the location for their midnight meeting: the abandoned, half-built Falcon Price high-rise.
Sydney begs Victor to try to save an EO while they wait for midnight. He decides on Dominc. He and Mitch head to his most likely location per his profile, a local bar. They leave Sydney behind. They ask her to upload Victor’s file with the meeting location at 10:30 and to start burning all paperwork in their room, one page at a time, at 11:00.
Eli waits for Dominic at the bar. He watches him down three drinks. A big man he recognizes (and made a mental note of because he seemed out of place) from the hotel walks into the bar. Eli is instantly suspicious. When the man walks by Dominic, he whispers something to him. After the big man passes by Dominic, he disappears into thin air.
Dominic can walk in shadows, basically pause time and become invisible. He heads out into the alley like Mitch whispered to him and meets Victor, who tells him about Eli, the man out to kill him. Dominic’s death occurred when he stepped on an IED as a soldier. He lives in constant pain. Victor shows him how he can take pain away and promises to do so permanently for Dominic if he helps them defeat Eli. He agrees.
Eli follows the big man into the bathroom. He discovers his name is Mitch and he works with Victor. Eli pistol whips Mitch, shoots him in the chest, and leaves. He calls Stell and tells him to get to the bar and clean up the murder.
Victor gets suspicious when Mitch hasn’t come out of the bar yet. He grasps Dominic’s arm, and they enter the bar invisibly. They see Eli leaving and find Mitch in the bathroom. He was wearing a bullet proof vest, so he isn’t hurt badly. They clean both him and the bathroom and then leave. They steal a car to drive back into the city.
Sydney has the patio door open because she’s burning the papers. Dol wanders out. She calls for Dol to come back in. Serena hears her voice because she’s on her balcony. Serena goes to Sydney’s room. She coerces her into opening the door and eventually forces her to go somewhere safe. She’s trying to protect her, but the only safe place Sydney knows is by Mitch’s side. So she heads to Falcon Price to look for him. Dol is with her.
Mitch is walking into the Falcon Price building alone and comes upon Serena. She tries to use her power to get him to turn his gun on himself, but it’s empty of bullets.
Sydney and Dol wander the Falcon Price building looking for Victor. She finds Eli instead. She shoots him in the face. He heals before her eyes.
The dark behind Serena peels away and parts. Victor and Dominic step out of the shadow world. Victor, wearing ear plugs just in case, slits her throat before she has a chance to speak. She dies quickly. They burn the body so Sydney won’t ever have to see her like this.
Dol jumps at Eli as he makes a move toward Sydney. He shoots the dog. He turns the gun on Sydney, but hands reach out of parted darkness behind her. She disappears from Eli’s sight. She’s in the shadow world with Dominic. She can see Victor standing behind Eli in the real world. She begs Dominic to go back for Dol. He does. She revives the dog. It’s harder the second time around.
How did Vicious end?
Eli and Victor fight in a vicious, bloody battle with guns and knives. Victor gives Eli the same three bullet wounds. Eli uses a set of knives similar to the ones Victor used on him in their college apartment. The floor is slick with their blood. Eli heals over and over again. Victor dulls his pain but doesn’t want to do so too much so he doesn’t ignore a wound and bleed out before the fight is over.
Eli hears the police arriving and wants to make sure he’s the one who kills Victor. He stabs a killing blow into Victor’s chest. Dominic, Mitch, and Sydney all know the second he dies because their pain returns to them.
The cops storm the room where Eli and Victor fought. Eli’s confused about why they’re no longer on his side. Then he realizes Serena must have died since her hold is no longer on them. As Eli is arrested, he begs them to burn Victor’s body. They won’t listen to him.
Mitch, Sydney, Dominic, and Dol go to the cemetery late at night. They dig up Victor’s body. Sydney revives him. He smiles.
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