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.