Tuesday, January 22, 2013

GZ Legends 32: Tiara of the Mind Pt 1

The mansions of Miami house powerful and influential people. Moving among them are the stinking rich and overly pampered. Ricci Hutchins was just such a person on all counts. Ricci carried herself like a diplomat, but under the surface was all venom. To look at her, you would never see a reddish brown hair out of place. She had a long gray streak in her bangs that she felt dignified her even more. Her beautiful hazel eyes could bring down any man. They could also pierce the soul if Ricci was challenged or angered.

 Behind her back, colleagues joked she had an ego the size of the moon. They were right, but such jokes often lost people their jobs. Many of those people didn’t even work for Ricci. Whenever something didn’t go Ricci’s way, she dumped obscene amounts of money into making it her way. In reality, behind her beauty, Elyse was dark and cruel. When the darkness overtook the Earth, she took it personally, as if it affected no one else but her. That made her a perfect candidate for the Tiara of the Mind.

 Even the Strykeforce Guard and the curators of the museum didn’t know how the Tiara chose its wearers. They always assumed them innocent victims until putting it on. However the Tiara was particularly attracted to female greed and avarice. Ricci found it on her doormat. It did have a little help from Stormy, the man in the top hat, but it was attracted to her very much. Ricci’s eyes were wide with awe as she lifted it from the doorstep. The flawless gems and exquisite precious metalwork were unlike anything she ever experienced. The Tiara shined of platinum and gold, despite the world’s darkness.

“This must be worth hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions,” she gasped. She ran to a mirror in her living room and set it upon her head. Instantly her mind flooded with its psychic power, momentarily taking her breath away.

 “Chesworth!” she called to her butler.

            “I wonder what that bitch wants now,” she heard and spun to face him.

            “What did you just say?”

            “Nothing, Madame, how may I serve you? You female fiend from hell,” His lips didn’t move for the second part.

            She put a hand to the side of her head, “Oh my, I can hear your thoughts, Chesworth.”

            “Oh good, she’s going insane.”

            “What? You, you, GET OUT OF HERE!” She screamed.

            Chesworth gave a shout of terror as his body moved without his control. He dashed out the door and down the front walk as fast as he could go. He didn’t stop for the gate, the sidewalk or even the street. That’s where the car hit him. Ricci couldn’t believe it. Not that Chesworth was dead, but more how powerful she had just become. She shut the door and didn’t bother with calling the police. She had more important things to do.

 In the following days, Ricci built her own empire out of the City of Miami.  She discovered she could only control men, but that was fine with her. She soon had everyman of Miami’s law enforcement as her personal guards. She made slaves of any service personnel who came near and even made a special pet out of the Mayor. Scantily clad men lined up to give her whatever she desired. The most attractive were kept the closest with silver trays of food and drink. Those she deemed less attractive, like the Mayor who was a sort of overweight man, were also scantily clad. But they had to wear diaper type clothing and jester’s caps. She enjoyed making them perform at her whim. Her cruelty had new outlets and she expressed them in ways she never imagined before.

“Good morning, Fat Slob,” she said to the Mayor.

“Good morning, my Queen,” he droned.

“I have a special command for you today. Ask to hear it.”

“May I hear your new command, my Queen?”

“Yes you may! I command you to be fully aware of my control over you in every detail.”

The man’s face turned red, his eyes grew wide and his lips began to tremble.

“Aw, do you want to cry? Go on, cry.”

The Mayor burst into sobs while Ricci laughed.

“Alright, enough, stop crying, I command it. But remain aware of my control, that part is hilarious!”

In his mind he screamed with no other recourse.

All around the property the police held barricades to keep away the women who didn’t like their men being stolen. Every man in Miami now obeyed Ricci, and the city ceased to function. She walked out on her porch to check on two of her prize guards. They had on strange uniforms that she didn’t recognize. Ricci didn’t know who they worked for but their powers, she felt, would protect her well.

“Now what will I do next?” she pondered. “Why stop at Miami? I could take over the world.” She went back inside to ponder the idea.

The portal let Dreamseer, Nightfall, Redeagle, Atomizer, Sandstorm and Kyte out only a few blocks away. Much like Chicago, streets were deserted. Time was getting difficult to track without the sun, but Sandstorm knew it was daytime. Before they set out, Sandstorm insisted that his team get at least 8 hours of sleep. When they went through Traveler’s portal is was 11 AM.

Sandstorm’s trained eye caught movement from windows of the houses around them. People were peeking out their curtains, but so far no one came outside.

            “It’s important that she not see any of you four guys, or she’ll take control of you,” Dreamseer said.

            “I’ll go as air, Kyte can do his thing up in the darkness so we can stay out of sight,” Sandstorm offered.

            “Atomizer and I will hold back and run in, hopefully as a surprise,” Redeagle said.

            “Just make your first shot count. She already has the whole city. She may even sense you after a while, so we may not have much time.” Dreamseer continued.

            “Hey! Hey you!” a red haired woman hissed from a household doorway. “What are you doing? Get in here!”

            They went into the woman’s home where three other women gasped at the sight of them, especially the men.

            “Are you really under your own control?” one of the women asked.

            “For now,” Redeagle answered, “Can you tell us about what’s been happening?”

            “None of us really understands how she’s doing it other than some crazed power or black magic. All we know is that she’s controlling every male over 16 years old. Forcing them to bring all the riches of Miami to her by the truckload. She’s taken over a whole block of  mansions and houses to store it all. She’s insane,” another woman explained.

            “Who is she?” Sandstorm asked.

            “Her name is Ricci Hutchins and she’s a nasty rich woman a couple blocks north. You can’t miss her with her house surrounded by the Miami police department as her personal guards,” the woman of the house said with disdain.

            “Well, we had an idea of where to find her. I guess that will make her obvious,” Redeagle said.

            “Are you going to stop her and get our men back?” the woman asked.

            “We’ll do our best,” Nightfall said, “And we’ll try very hard not to hurt any of them in the process.”

            “If you get too close and you’re a woman, you’ll be shot on sight.”

            “Then we need an approach that can’t be seen,” Sandstorm said, “I think I have an idea for just that.”

            One of the women couldn’t contain her curiosity any longer, she pointed to Kyte and asked, “I’m sorry, but is he an angel? And why can’t we see his face and stuff? What’s all over him?”

            “I am the Kyte, named after a bird of prey. My power causes me to be encased in shadows always. I can control these shadows, reach out and grasp things with them or attack my enemies. Or your enemies. Do you want to see my face?”

            “Yes, I would feel better.”

            The shadows around his face drew back and revealed his rugged features. He had black hair drawn back into a pony tail and long side burns. His square jaw was tight but he smiled slightly with a glitter to his steely eyes. He then brought the shadows back over his face, because it was time to go.

            “You have a nice face,” the woman said with a tear, “You remind me of my husband.”

            “Your husband will return,” Kyte said in his deep monotone, “Sandstorm, what is your idea?”

            “We’ll need the use of your back yard,” Sandstorm said to the woman who invited them in. She led them out to her dark back yard and another woman brought out a couple of flashlights. “Okay, now I need to see where this barricade is. I’ll be right back.” He dissolved into air as he often did, much to the amazement of the women.

            “How did he do that?”

            “He’s an elemental,” Nightfall said, “A very powerful elemental.”

            Sandstorm reappeared. “Okay, it really is only a couple blocks from here. I’m sorry, but I’m about to ruin your back yard. Only temporarily though, I promise.” He held his hands out toward the earth before she could respond. At his command the ground yawned open wide and a tunnel formed. “I’ve managed not to break any pipes as far as I can tell. We’ll just have to be careful and work our way around them.”

            The woman held a hand over her mouth, she could only stare.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

GZ Legends 31: Down Time

            Now that the heroes had claimed two of the lost artifacts, they took advantage of rest time. The indicator could go off at any moment, so time was precious. Sandstorm decided to ask questions of Dr. Vampire that he’d always been curious about.

            “So you really are a vampire?”

            “Yes I am,” Dr. Vampire answered.

            “So you drink people’s blood and turn into a bat or wolf?”

            Dr. Vampire chuckled, “I drink the blood of an alien creature from a distant planet. It sustains me more than anything on Earth could. I’ve never changed into any animal. I can become intangible and use some limited hypnosis. But I am a vampire and I do have a scale of evil within me that I must control. If I don’t, I reduce myself to a feral state. It’s quite dangerous.”

            “How do you control it?”

            “I have help. Dreamseer can help me if needs be. My team knows what to do.”

            “That’s very interesting. Sorry if I’m out of line.”

            “Not at all. I don’t mind curiosity, Sandstorm. Curiosity is part of what led me to become a doctor.”

            “What are you a doctor of?” Sandstorm couldn’t contain his own curiosity at this point.

            “Exobiology, paranormal sciences, parahuman abilities, and I’m a surgeon.”

            “I don’t think I understand all that, but it sounds impressive.”

            “It helps me get the job done,” Dr. Vampire shrugged.

            “So, do vampires really pass on their traits by biting people?”

            “They can. I can. But I won’t. There are two kinds of vampires that require blood. There are inherited types, born as vampires and those who are turned into them. I was turned by Dracula himself.”

            “No way.”

            “Yes. He’s real and commands a fleet of starships.”

            “Dracula is an alien?”

            “Naturally. They came to our world long, long ago and found humans to be superstitious and quite tasty. They didn’t want to attract more otherworldly attention so several established themselves here and fed off of the people. They developed rules in order to keep their cover. Rules like having to go somewhere else after getting a stake in the heart or being tricked into sunlight.”

            “Those things don’t kill a vampire?”

            “No they don’t. But they needed man to stay superstitious and fearful as much as possible. So there was some give and take. Most were too afraid to look close enough to see that the vampire just changed location and maybe even their looks a little. A stake through the heart is about worthless with their level of regeneration.”

            “What a unique history lesson, Doctor.”


Anubis and Nightfall went to the rooftop.

            “I thought you were dead, twice now. I don’t know what I’d do if someone else died near me like that. Especially if I couldn’t bring them back the way I did.”

            “You know, all the danger is part of the job.”

            “Well, maybe you could help Commander Larratus?”

            “Oh and just be his secretary?”

            Anubis thought fast, “No. No, I don’t mean that. I just worry is all. I like you.”

            “I like you too, Jackal Boy, but I am going to do my job. I’m sure with you there to protect me, I’ll be just fine.”

            “Yeah, you got that right.”

In the break room, Atomizer sat down across from Dreamseer with his salami sandwich. The Elven woman opened up a parcel that contained green looking brownie-like items.

            “What are those?” he asked.

            “You probably couldn’t pronounce their Elven names but they are what you might call brownies or cakes made with plant proteins. I’m vegetarian.”

            “Oh,” Atomizer looked down at his meat sandwich, “Oh, um, okay, I hope you don’t mind…”

            She leaned forward a little, “Why no, I don’t mind if you eat my friends.”

            Atomizer stammered and suddenly couldn’t form any words.

            Dreamseer laughed, “Oh relax! I’m just messing with you. It’s just so funny how people get so sensitive because of my diet.”

            “Oh yeah, well you had me going there.” Atomizer took a healthy bite and Dreamseer stared at him blankly for a moment before she burst out laughing again.

            “Ah, you got me again,” he shook his head. “So is there a mister?”

            “No, I don’t have a husband or boyfriend,” she smiled, “But, I’m sorry, I don’t date humans.”

            Atomizer nodded still feeling very awkward and she laughed again.

            “You just got me again didn’t you?”

            “Yes, I’m sorry, I’m picking on you but I don’t mean ill of you. You’re funny.”

            “So you do date humans?” he smiled.

            “I have in the past,” she smiled back.

“Far out, well, maybe when this is over you’d like to get a drink somewhere? I mean, it’s the least you could do for ribbing me here isn’t it?”

            “You think I owe you a date? Is this how you pick up human women?”

            “Is it working?”

            “Maybe,” she smiled mischievously and finished her cakes.

            In another area of the building Traveler spoke with Lonestar.

            “I could really be of more use if I were on a mission or two directly,” she held out her staff and it ignited into mystical flames. She watched them dance across its surface.

            “You know if something happens to you we’re stuck. I’m sure you’ll get to hit someone or something with that stick of yours before this is all done.”

            “It’s the fire staff of the Lord High Druid.”

            “Well, it’s just a burning stick to me, but it is a powerful burning stick. I’ll give it that.”

            She commanded the flame go out. “Well, it’s really boring sitting around here listening to that Commander Larratus guy go on and on. He never stops complaining and he’s really abrasive.”

            “You’ve put up with worse. Come on, you trust the Doc right?”

            “Of course I do.”

            “Okay then, let’s just do our jobs and make right in the universe. Let’s get these artifacts back to the museum and call it a day.”

            “I know. You’re right.”

            Back in the conference room the indicator beeped to life. Two more artifacts were active. It was time to split up again.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

GZ Legends 30: Guardian of the Dead!

The fall of Doctor Vampire ignited a new fire of tenacity in the heroes. Anubis charged in with a roar of rage, swinging his lance. The ground surged and formed around Ted’s legs thanks to Sandstorm. Lonestar joined Anubis in his charge, thinking Ted couldn’t possibly block them both. Kyte sent his shadow tendrils to wrap around the big man’s arms to immobilize him further.  At first, they only wanted to get the scythe away from Ted. But now that he had killed one of them, they lost any sense of mercy. Nightfall moved in as well, hoping to touch the brute and knock him out with her powers.

Ted gave a savage yell and a pulse wave emitted. Their bodies flew in all directions and the concrete holdings shattered. Anubis tried to shield Nightfall, but even that gave no protection. After a few long moments, Anubis struggled to his feet. Next to him, Nightfall lay on the ground motionless. Not far away, Kyte’s body draped over the top of  a car, Lonestar was smashed into the side of a van, and even Sandstorm’s body lay in the parking lot. Ted was laughing, until he saw Anubis standing.

            “Hey! Why aren’t you dead?”

            Anubis grimaced and looked down at the beautiful Nightfall. That nagging memory of his first love came to him again.

            A blast from the scythe snapped his attention back to slime ball, Ted. It didn’t move him. Anubis clenched glowing fists, shining as bright as his eyes. Ted shot him again.

            “You’re supposed to die!” But the scythe had no more effect on Anubis, though neither of them understood why.

            The last time Nightfall fell in combat, Anubis felt panic and that evoked something more powerful than he was by himself. This time, the feeling changed. Instead of panic and rage, Anubis found resolve within rage. Last time was accidental. This time it felt natural.

            Anubis raised his lance to the sky and gave a howl that shook Ted to his very soul. Their surroundings shifted and changed to whirling storm clouds as if they no longer stood on Earth as they knew it. Anubis and all the bodies of the parking lot vanished. They were replaced with a crumbling sound of rock and a golden Egyptian sarcophagus shot up from the ground over fifty feet high. It showered Ted with rocks and dirt. It’s surface cracked and crumbled until it too exploded in all directions. It left a giant version of Anubis, the true spirit itself, standing high over Ted with arm’s across its chest. In one hand it held a crooked scepter and in the other, the bladed lance. It turned its head and glared down at him. It raised its scepter to the swirling sky and its voice thundered,

            “GUARDIAN OF THE DEAD.”

            Bright lights gathered at the scepter, giving it a fierce glow. It turned and swung the ball of light down at Ted. The resulting blast engulfed and whited out all in view.

            Suddenly Anubis stood as if nothing had happened, except that he was out of breath. Ted was gone, and the scythe lay on the ground.

            “Are you going to help me up, or stand there panting?” Nightfall asked.

            “You are okay!” He whisked her up in his arms and hugged her.

            “Ugh, okay okay.”

            He set her down, “It happened again and this time even bigger!”


            Dr. Vampire stood up, walked over with a confused expression and picked up the scythe. “I don’t know what happened, but good job.”

            Anubis explained his special maneuver and how it happened before. “It really did seem stronger this time.”

            “I think I understand,” the Doctor said, “You were chosen by the crystal Powermid.”

            “Yeah, but what does that mean?”

            Dr. Vampire pointed to the blackened sky, “Isn’t it obvious? You have a destiny and were found worthy. Apparently this special move of yours is for times of dire need. It may even get stronger every time you use it. You serve Destiny himself, and that is an incredible thing. Remember what I explained about the balance and Chaos?”

            Anubis nodded and noted in awe that even the patrons of the bar were getting up.

            “The Powermid was created to correct part of the damage to the balance. It travels the universe seeking those worthy and empowering them in the likeness of the Egyptian gods.”

            “Does that mean there could be others out there?”

            “Yes. But you’ll have to finish this mission out before you can find out for sure. Unless they show up, of course.”


            “So, while you aren’t the true Anubis, you carry his mantle and likeness of his powers. That’s probably why the scythe’s instant death effect didn’t work on you. Anubis is the Guardian of the dead. Only another Death serving deity can use such effects on you.”

            “I never dreamed of anything like this. When this is over, I am going to search for others. Thank you, Doctor.”

            The Doctor patted him on the back as they stepped through the portal, “You’re welcome. You know, it would be interesting to study your powers further.”

            “Sure,” Anubis said.

            Once both teams were back in New York and had shared their accounts, it was time to try and take a break again. Anubis told Dr. Vampire all about his journey in the desert. Sandstorm went to the roof to take in environmental information with his powers. Electrode chose to run a recon of the city for Professor Zombie’s henchmen. The members of the Strykeforce Guard had to contemplate feelings on the fact that they died. It was most unnerving to them. Dreamseer would often help her teammates with such things as combat shock. First she wanted to talk to Atomizer.

            “How are you feeling since the rooftop?” she asked sweetly.

            “I don’t know. I know I hate spiders forever. And, was that really a god?”

            “Sphidra is a god to Arachnid kind, yes.”

            “Then how did we beat it? How do we beat a god?”

            “Consider this perspective; how big is an average spider compared to a human?”


            “That’s right. So, to other gods, how big do you think Sphidra really is?”

            “Huh. I hadn’t thought of it like that. So you’re saying that tiny to other gods is closer to equivalent for us?”

            “In a manner of speaking, yes. Now, here,” Dreamseer brushed her Elven fingers through the hair by Atomizer’s left temple. As she did, he could feel all the terror and shock melt away. “I think you’ll find it amazing what a little psychic healing can do.”

            Atomizer suddenly saw her with new eyes. He swallowed a lump in his throat and struggled to speak, “Thank you.”

            “You’re welcome. Now I have to see to my teammates.” She walked away with a half glance over her shoulder.

            Atomizer plopped down into a chair, lost in amazement.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

GZ Legends 29: The Scythe of Death

Thick gnarled fingers gripped a beer mug and brought it to a stout man’s thick lips. He tilted his head back and drained the whole thing with some sloshing down the front of him. He slammed the mug down hard, breaking the handle off.  He ran his hand over his bald head as he turned and surveyed the scene in the wrecked bar. They didn’t think of him as a loser now. Bodies of men and women were strewn throughout the dive biker bar. Tables were overturned and chairs lay in jagged pieces.

Ted turned around on his stool to admire the wreckage he created. He reached over and picked up the golden and ornate scythe leaning against the bar next to him. It was what made all this possible for Ted. The fancy man in the top hat said it would bring him great power over his laughing peers. Ted was skeptical only until he took the weapon in his hands and felt its surging power for himself.

“You all hear that?” Ted said as he stood up with the scythe. “That’s the sound of none of you ever laughing at me again! Oh yeah! You all laughed at big dumb Ted and his ideas! Well now look at ya! You’re dead all over the place and here I am! You all said that cockroaches wouldn’t let me in on their jobs! Well, now all the jobs are mine! I’m in charge here!”

Ted gazed lovingly at the long gleaming blade of the scythe. “I’m going to run all of Texas with you.”

As the first team of heroes were on their way to Chicago; a second team left, headed for a few miles south of Texarkana, Texas. While still in New York, Commander Larratus shook his head as he read over new reports. With the sun blocked out, crime was on the rise. Reports of robberies and looting were escalating at an alarming pace. The longer it took to get a grip on this situation and bring the sun back, the worse it was going to get. Commander Larratus looked to Traveler, who stayed behind to open the portals and bring the teams back.

“I hope we can trust this Doctor Vampire of yours, not to mention you.”

“I can only give you my word on that. You will have to see for yourself,” she responded gently.

Out in the dusty desert, in the parking lot of the bar called, Dirty Deeds, the second team stepped through a portal. Dr. Vampire, Sandstorm, Lonestar, Anubis, Kyte, and Nightfall observed the outside portion of the mess. Some motorcycles were knocked over and a few bodies lay on the outside ground.

“Are we too late?” Sandstorm asked.

“For them, yes,” Doctor Vampire responded, “I sense one life form inside and the scythe.”

“Interesting for a bladed weapon,” Sandstorm said, “I don’t see any blood.”

“That’s the danger we face, my friend. This blade doesn’t have to touch you to kill you. Everyone get ready.”

Kyte’s body covered with dark shadow and he flew up into the darkness where he couldn’t be seen. Sandstorm’s body dissolved into sand and dirt as he prepared to use surprise as well. Lonestar drew his sword and he sent his white falcon up into the air to watch over them.

“I’ll go in first,” and Anubis flew to the front door of the bar before anyone could stop him.

“Your friend is a true rookie,” Doctor Vampire said to Nightfall as he dropped intangibly into the ground.

Nightfall drew her blaster, “Then let’s keep him covered.” She ran to a front corner of the bar away from the door while Lonestar positioned on the opposite side.

The sight of far more bodies inside the bar, gave Anubis pause after he burst through the door. It reminded him of his fight with zealots that killed his first love. He wondered if what he did really looked as atrocious as this.

“Just what the hell are you?” Ted’s booming voice snapped Anubis out of it.

“Oh, hey! Props to you for not mentioning that I look like a dog. It seems like a real trend with bad guys I meet lately. I’m Anubis, Big Guy and you’re not supposed to have that. How about you return it?”

“I’m Ted and this is mine now, Dog-face!”

“Okay, I take it back. No Brownie button for you!”

“Shut up! No one laughs at me anymore!”

“You call me a dog again and I’ll bite you like one. Now give me the scythe. It’s not meant for you!”

“Well come on, Dog! Bite me!” Ted swung the scythe and a wave of force tore through the bar, launching Anubis through door and wall like a rocket. Anubis tumbled in the dirt across the parking lot. His lance stuck in the ground half way across.

Ted emerged from the giant hole he made. “No one is taking this from me! Not you! Not anybody! I killed them all and I’ll kill you too!”

“Anyone can abuse power like that,” Lonestar said to get his attention. “How about you try metal against metal instead?”

Lonestar lunged with his sword and Ted brought the scythe up quickly to block the attack. The two magical weapons clashed with resonance that broke nearby windows of building and car. The sword of a Starknight carries its own blessings, making it more than a match for any artifact or weapon. The two of them pressed together with the weapons for a moment before Ted lashed outward and tossed Lonestar backwards through the air. Holding the scythe made him stronger than any of the heroes expected. 

Nightfall took a shot with her blaster, hitting Ted squarely in the back. It had no effect. Ted turned to swing at her, but a heavy boot dropped in from above and struck across his jaw. Kyte wasn’t one to ignore an opening.

“If you want a real fight, I’m glad to give you one!” Kyte shouted over the beating of his wings. As a master combatant, Kyte landed several punches and kicks before Ted could respond. While Ted’s response was slower, it was still stronger. Kyte was knocked backwards as well.

A pair of giant stone hands rose from the ground on either side of Ted and clapped together over his body with a crash. With a shrug of power, Ted shattered them and still stood there.

Doctor Vampire rose out of the ground in front of Ted in intangible form.

“Time to try something else, Ted. Look at me and pay attention,” Dr. Vampire took off his sunglasses, revealing piercing yellow eyes. “Time to rest, Ted. You’ve fought well and you’ve won. Time to rest.”

“NOOOO!” Ted lashed out with the power of the scythe and hurtled Dr. Vampire’s body across the parking lot. “No one messes with my head!”

Doctor Vampire landed next to Anubis who was just picking himself up.

“Hey, Doc?” Anbus went to him but there was no response. “Oh no, Doctor, are you okay?”

Doctor Vampire was dead.

Friday, January 4, 2013

GZ Legends 28: The Skull of Sphidra Pt 4

            Sphidra, the embodiment of a nightmare, loomed over the motley crew of heroes on the dark rooftop.

            “What funny little creatures to oppose the will of Sphidra!” its voice shrieked and cracked. “Why are you not already my servants?”

            “I sense two minds,” Nyhtwulf said as he worked on healing Dreamseer of spider venom.

            “Oh that’s great,” Agent Redeagle said. He stood near Nyhtwulf and Dreamseer with is dagger drawn to fend off attackers.

            “Answer me, fools, or face the wrath of Sphidra!” Its voice shrieked even worse. The heroes had to cover their ears.

            “Why would we serve you?” Electrode shouted.

            “All in this realm have been formed to serve!”

            “Oh, I get it,” Blacktide said, “We weren’t here when this idiot put the skull on his head.”

            “And everyone who was here got mutated into servants,” Atomizer said. “Oh my God! I could become a spider creature!”

            “Don’t make me shake you,” Blacktide grumbled, “Keep ahold of yourself.”

            “I’m trying, Man, I’m trying.”

            “You will all serve Sphidra!” Jets of webbing launched at them from its hind quarters.

            Blacktide put up a wide disintegration field to stop the webs from engulfing them. Electrode and Atomizer fell back from the heat of Blacktide’s energy power. Realizing he almost burned them, Blacktide nearly froze but shook it off.

            “Get further behind me!”

            “Impressive, insect, but you will still succumb to Sphidra!”

            “Oh come on! We don’t even know who Sphidra is!” Blacktide shouted, “We don’t know what Sphidra is! Why don’t you explain it to us? Or are you really just some moron who put a giant skull on his head?”

            Nyhtwulf worked feverishly to counter the venom in Dreamseer. He could tell Blacktide was trying to give him time. They needed Dreamseer, but would they have her soon enough?

            “Sphidra is not this curious fool! Sphidra is power and the god of all arachnid forms! Soon this puny being will be completely transformed and Sphidra will reign supreme! Cities will fall!”

            “You know, maybe you shouldn’t tick it off,” Atomizer said.

            Blacktide only shot him a half glare over a shoulder in response.

            “No, let him be, I know what he’s doing,” Electrode said.

            “Man I hope so,” Atomizer said.

            “Go on,” Electrode prompted Blacktide.

            “You aren’t a god! You’re a monster! We’ll never serve you! And I’ll tell you something else; referring to yourself in third person is really stupid!”

            All of the heroes suddenly clutched at their heads as the psychic shriek filled their minds. Nyhtwulf was more resistant to it and kept working. It looked like Dreamseer was finally waking up.

            “Ahh, I said not to tick it off!” Atomizer shouted, “Didn’t I say not to tick it off?”

            “Shut up!” Blacktide shouted back.

            Electrode launched a bolt of lightning in an almost automatic response. The shriek stopped as Sphidra was momentarily stunned.  Sphidra brought one pointed leg forward and nearly skewered Electrode with it. Instead, it only pierced the rooftop. Electrode dodged easily but staggered to his knees from the blinding pain in his skull.

            “If you will not serve, you will die!” it screamed. Its voice was now as painful as the psychic attack.

            Blacktide clasped his hands into a double fist and lunged for the leg that almost hit Electrode. With a hard swing, a puff of smoke and a coughing sound, the leg had to leave its sharp tip in the roof. Sphidra screamed and the leg spewed liquid goo across the rooftop. Bits rained on all three of them.

            “Again?” Atomizer yelled. “I still don’t have the last spider’s guts off of me!”

            “Take it out on the damn spider, will ya!” Blacktide shouted.

            Atomizer concentrated on the concreted corner of the roof nearest Sphidra. His vision blurred from the pain of psychic attack. The stone of the corner shuddered as if it resisted him but then exploded outward. Shards of debris sprayed across Sphidra. The beast screamed in rage and pain, but still wasn’t defeated. Injuries to the spider were superficial at the most. Atomizer fell to his knees with a hand to his head. As he touched his forehead he felt something odd about his hand. Something poked at him. Atomizer looked at his hand and nearly fainted. Tiny black hairs were growing from his skin.

            Sphidra swung its other foreleg at Blacktide in rage, only to suffer the same fate as the previous leg. It screeched in rage and pain, using its psychic abilities to attack again. This time the heroes were thrown to the ground in agony. Blacktide’s power disintegrated through the roof and he fell through the hole. Electrode couldn’t move from where he lay, blinded by pain. Agent Redeagle couldn’t get up either. Colors flashed before all the heroes’ eyes and they thought their heads might explode.

            On the floor below the roof, Blacktide landed on someone’s queen sized bed, only slightly charring it before some control of his powers came back. He screamed and clutched at his head. He was unable to decipher any of his surroundings until the pain stopped suddenly.  In a half second the pain vanished totally. Blacktide jumped up and looked through the hole above. He noticed a slight hole in the upper corner from Atomizer’s previous attack attempt. Blacktide climbed and stood back on top of the bed and raised his hand towards that hole in the corner.

            On the roof, Dreamseer stood with Nyhtwulf. It was Dreamseer’s own psyhic abilities that stopped the pain her teammates suffered. Now she brought herself mind to mind with Sphidra. In a psychic form she could see the true spider that was Sphidra. It was terrible to behold. Sphidra had fangs larger than any man and eyes that glowed with psychic might. This vision of its body was coated in an exoskeleton of psychic armor. Dreamseer could tell that Sphidra had more than the power to convert a city. Given time, the beast could convert the world.

            “You cannot stop the will of Sphidra, little Elf,” its voice cracked in her head.

            “I don’t have to stop you, Sphidra, only engage you.”

            Nyhtwulf wasn’t seen leaving the rooftop. The lupine hero vanished into the shadows as Twilie demons are born to do. He flew through buildings and circled in behind his prey. When Nyhtwulf flew through the back of Sphidra’s body, it was taken completely by surprise. Nyhtwulf’s power to disrupt life force shook the great beast just as a beam of disintegration blasted through the abdomen. Blacktide, with mental direction form his partner, had focused his power through the upper corner he was staring at. Having a spiritual and psychic bond with Nythwulf was as good as having x-ray vision. A very large hole smouldered in the arachnid body. Sphidra screamed as Nyhtwulf reached the head. The shadowy wolf grasped at the head and skull of Sphidra while forcing his way forward. The skull became intangible along with Nyhtwulf and was wrenched free from Sphidra’s body.

            Nyhtwulf landed on the rooftop with the Skull of Sphidra in his clawed hands. Behind him, the great body shattered and fell to pieces. Some parts burst into flames, some turned to dust; the rest just fell to the streets below.

            Atomizer looked at his hands. The black hairs vanished. A spider came over the edge of the roof near him. Before he could react, it shrank before his eyes back to the average size of a spider.

            “Oh yeah,” Atomizer said as he brought his foot down on it.

            “Is everyone okay?” Agent Redeagle asked as he picked himself up.

            “Just fine now,” Electrode answered.

            Blacktide burst onto the scene from the rooftop door. He nodded to his partner, Nyhtwulf who held up the skull in triumph.

            “Good job, partner,” Blacktide said.

            “I guess now we can get out of here,” Atomizer said and he wanted to very badly.

            “Help me,” a voice came from the destroyed corner of the building, “Help me, please!”

            Redeagle ran over and found a man, drenched in spidery goo, barely clutching the edge of the debris. He rescued the man easily and brought him onto the roof.

            “Who are you?” Redeagle asked.

            “I’m Professor Isaac Middleton,” the man tried to say with dignity that just wasn’t there.

            “You put on the skull,” Dreamseer said.

            “Yes, as your friend said; I’m the moron who put on the skull. It was sent to me in a package at the University with a note. The note said it was the helm of a an ancient warrior chief. When I touched it, I was strangely compelled to put it on.”

            “It does have a psychic pull,” Nyhtwulf said, “but it has little effect on me.”

            “So you weren’t so much of a moron after all,” Blacktide said, “I was just trying to distract Sphidra anyway. It wasn’t personal.”

            “So many people are dead now because of me,” the Professor said in anguish.

            “Well, now you can do something about that,” Dreamseer said soothingly, “I sense that the other human beings are changing back. They will need someone to help the city heal. You can do that, Professor.”

            “Yes. Yes. I suppose I owe that,” the Professor said as the psychic suggestion sank in.

            “Then we have to go now, the rest is up to you,” Dreamseer said.

            Practically on cue, a portal opened to take them back to New York. Dreamseer had mentally contacted Traveler with the news. They all went through the portal, leaving the Professor alone on the messy rooftop.

            The Professor looked over himself. His shirt was gone and his pants were in rags. He was covered in goop. He slowly walked to the rooftop door where he noticed the little spider on the door frame. Then he noticed another, and another. Soon there were hundreds around him. Curious, Professor Middleton held out a hand and several of them scampered onto his palm.

            “Oh my,” the Professor said quietly, “I think I see how this is going to start. I believe I shall have my own team of heroes to rebuild Chicago. Maybe it’s about time.”

            Back in New York, Doctor Vampire took the skull and locked it away in a special box.

            “Congratulations all of you,” said Dr. Vampire,” You wouldn’t believe how things went for use while you were gone.”

            “What happened?” Dreamseer asked.

            Doctor Vampire gazed at her with a solemn expression,“We died.”

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

GZ Legends27: The Skull of Sphidra Pt 3

            Nyhtwulf felt terrible. He hoped to lead his team past the hordes of the giant spiders and hybrids to their mission. They had made it to the 7th floor when the monsters came out from apartments on all sides. With a savage roar, Nyhtwulf flew at them down one end of the hall. He phased his body through as many as he could. Bodies of human-spider hybrids fell convulsing to the floor. Nyhtwulf would not let his new friends in his new life fall to such despicable creatures.

            Electrode blasted into two doorways that opened on either side of the hall by him. Electric arcs destroyed spiders that were trying to come through those doors all at once. The hallway didn’t give him much room for his speed, but Electrode could fire arcs of lighting with deadly accuracy. It took a conscious effort to keep control without giving in to the terror around him. He let the fear fuel him for the mission. He forced the monsters back into those two rooms and the air smelled of charred flesh. The killing tore at his heart. He knew his team had no choice. The fiend behind all of this was the true murderer.

            Atomizer helped Blacktide at the back of the group.

            “Here!” Atomizer shouted and he gestured with both hands down the hall. Walls exploded from mental command, fragmenting arachnid bodies.

            Blacktide followed up with a wide disintegration blast that left little in its wake. A few more spiders came from the holes they made in the walls. Those were more easily dealt with as Blacktide used his new-found control for near pinpoint accuracy.

            Thanks to the powers of his friends, Agent Redeagle only had to keep couple of spiders away from Dreamseer. Once they regrouped and the tide of spiders had been forced back, he looked to Nyhtwulf.

            “This is nuts, can’t you just teleport us to the roof?”

            “I sense too many things in the way. To take all of you would be too dangerous,” Nyhtwulf said.

            “Take me up,” Electrode offered, “I’ll clear the roof once you’re clear and you can come back for the rest.”

            “Yes, I can do that and even better,” the lupine beings eyes lit up with a new idea, “Use your energy through me!”

            “Huh?” Electrode wasn’t expecting that.

            “You will not harm me. I channel energy and can enhance yours for maximum effect.”

            “Just believe him on that, okay?” Blacktide said, “More of these things are coming so let’s get this plan moving.”

            “Okay, take me!” Electrode said.

            Nyhtwulf grabbed onto Electrode’s shoulders and the two of them vanished. They appeared, slightly hovering over the rooftop. For a moment, Electrode gasped at the sight of swarming creatures, but Nyhtwulf snapped him out of it.

            “Now,” Nyhtwulf said.

            “You sure?”

            “Do it!” Nyhtwulf almost growled at him but caught himself, not wanting to show a mean side to his new friends.

            Electrode performed exactly like he had down in the street with a bright and powerful display. This time he felt no drain. Nyhtwulf channeled the nuclear electric assault and magnified it. Spider bodies flew away into the darkness, clearing the entire roof area instantly. Nyhtwulf set Electrode on the roof to keep any more from gathering before he could return. In moments, Nyhtwulf reappeared with the group. Dreamseer was unconscious.

            “She was bit,” Redeagle explained, “They came back in force. Nyhtwulf was just in time for us.

            “I must heal her, but it will take me a few minutes,” Nyhtwulf said, “More are coming up.”

            Electrode gazed out across the tops of the buildings. He could see the crisscross of webs reflecting the city lights. There were thousands of them. Distant shadows shifted as more spiders moved in on their prey. Without any more hesitation, Electrode started firing lightning out across the webs, sending more charred bodies on a long fall. Blacktide and Atomizer joined him. Destroying the web lines seemed like an easy idea, and it started out that way. Amazingly, new ones almost instantly took their place. As the beasts came near, the three pulled no punches and gave no quarter. While Redeagle stood guard over Nyhtwulf and Dreamseer, they made sure that not a single spider made it back onto that rooftop.

            For a brief moment, they thought all of the spiders were dead. They just weren’t coming any more.

            “What’s going on?” Blacktide asked, “Does anyone see them?”

            “Where’d they go?” Atomizer glanced around the roof edges, “No way we got them all.”

            Electrode surged lightning out across the webs, providing a momentary view. The spiders were falling back, almost like a strategic retreat. “Now why are they doing that?” Electrode asked.

            Web lines to the roof pulled taut as a greater shadow began to appear. This spider dwarfed all others and held the teams gaze in awe. Its leg span was easily 80 feet across and the legs were as thick as telephone poles. Those legs held up a massive arachnid body with a human male torso extending from the front. It had one humanoid arm for the right side. The left arm was in form of a mandible. It looked as though it were in the midst of a transformation. On the head of the humanoid extension was the very thing they were sent for. Whoever this was, he wore the Skull of Sphidra.