Momentarily stunned from a horn blast that made the ground tremble, Electrode struggled to move. The Hearse bore down on him with savage ferocity, its shining grill seemed hungry for flesh. As the skull hood ornament was about to smash into Electrode’s mid-section, a black shadow whisked through. Nyhtwulf had arrived on scene and rescued Electrode at the last second. The Hearse didn’t miss a beat as it turned to follow the flying thief across the parking lot.
“Are you okay?” Nyhtwulf asked.
“Yeah, just need to clear my head. Drop me up here at the edge of the lot. I can keep ahead of it now. And thanks!”
The Hearse was gaining on the two until a long bladed lance shot down from above, impaling the asphalt and catching The Hearse mid grill. Being stopped cold by Anubis’s lance was a bigger surprise to the death machine than anyone else. It paused as Anubis landed in front of it.
“Well, that was easy!” Anubis laughed. “What’s it like to be stopped by a pointy stick?”
“Stupid Hero! I am no base machine to be stopped from a single direction!” In an explosion of sound the voice echoed. The Hearse spun its body around the lance and hit Anubis like a giant baseball bat.
Since receiving his powers, Anubis had taken direct hits from artillery and space age weaponry. He had been punched by Cyclone, a younger brother to Death himself. In all of that, pain had not been much of an issue. For the first time in all the battles, something really hurt. Anubis realized that, until that moment, he had no idea what getting hit really hard meant. His body went through a panel van, blasting it into two pieces, and Anubis kept going. He moved through the walls of the nearby mall so fast he barely noticed the first shop was women’s apparel. The next shop was sporting goods, then a shoe store. He kept going. Two support pillars snapped like matchsticks, and he kept going. Two more shops and three walls later, he burst through the opposite side of the mall building and kept going. The oak tree shattered as he went through filled the air with a cloud of splinters. Past all of that, mercifully, was desert. A great dust cloud burst into the air, as Anubis’s body carved an 80 yard trench across the ground.
After several long moments, Anubis put a trembling hand on the ground to try and push himself up. His first attempt found him staggering and dropping to one knee. He coughed out some dust and sand while trying to get his wits back in order. As he concentrated on taking some long deep breathes, he was surprised at his next thought.
Despite all of what he had just experienced, he heard himself mutter, “It can talk.”
Back in the parking lot, Electrode fired bolts of lightning at the machine as it charged him again. This time, Electrode was able to dodge the attack and The Hearse smashed into a closed gas station. Electrode took advantage of the situation and launched a full lightning assault, engulfing machine and building in an explosion of force and fire. He didn’t conduct this assault without care as there were no other buildings nearby. Still, The Hearse quickly emerged unscathed, though alight with burning gasoline.
Nyhtwulf, with no fear of flames, landed on The Hearse’s hood, hoping to distract it from further damage. He gripped the section where the hood came near the windshield and tried to look through the darkened barrier. The Hearse abruptly stopped. Electrode kept fair distance while watching to see what Nyhtwulf could achieve.
“You serve our master, Lord Death,” The Hearse growled.
“I served. I am free with his blessing. Let’s stop this now. No more destruction is necessary.”
“Since you carry the blessing of Death, I will not kill you. I will not obey you either.” The Hearse sounded its horn again, throwing Nyhtwulf into the air. If the lupine Twilie Demons were ever considered to have a weakness, it would be intensity of sound.
Nyhtwulf caught himself in the air, but had to shake off dizzying effects. At that moment, a bright sword spun in through the air and bounced off the body of The Hearse. Lonestar’s longsword returned to his hand as he ran in to help his friends.
The Hearse spun and charged effortlessly at Lonestar. The Starknight jumped over the machines hood and brought his sword down on the windshield. To his surprise, he was thrown backwards hard and fast. His sword, blessed as it was, didn’t even leave a scratch. Lonestar landed hard on his back 30 yards away as The Hearse kept coming. This time it was Electrode’s turn to save a partner as he dashed in and moved Lonestar out of the way. As it passed, Blacktide unleashed a wave of disintegration energy that did absolutely nothing. Blacktide looked on in shock. Nothing had ever withstood his power like that before.
While all of that was going on, Dr. Vampire found Anubis.
“Are you seriously hurt?”
“Well, that sure hurt seriously, but I don’t know about seriously hurt,” Anubis gave a pained chuckle. “I’m headed back in to stop that thing.”
“I’m afraid we aren’t doing very well on that front. We’re only keeping its attention on trying to kill us. At least that keeps it from killing innocents.”
“Well, Doc, I may just have an idea.” After Anubis’s explanation, Doctor Vampire raced back toward the fight as fast as he could go.
Anubis lifted into the air and grit his teeth. He felt power and energy surge and launched himself back toward the mall. He flew right back through the tunnel his body created across the mall and back into the parking lot. As he flew past, he grabbed his lance out of the asphalt. He could see Electrode and Lonestar standing in the street with the Hearse preparing another charge. When he saw that Dr. Vampire had arrived to spread word of his plan, it was time to attack. Anubis held back his lance and glared hard at his target. He threw hard and the bladed lance streaked with the accuracy of a guided missile. The Hearse was charging as the lance hit home deep in the front right wheel well and into the ground at an angle.
The fact that The Hearse didn’t break his lance earlier wasn’t lost on Anubis. He realized that he needed a more precise point to stop the machine in its tracks. The Hearse’s front wheel halted against the lance and gouged a long line in the asphalt. Lonestar, whose own weapon was also blessed against destruction, took his cue to dodge to the other side. He thrust his sword into the opposite wheel well hard, and created another locking point for the Hearse. Electrode dashed behind it as it was stopped. With thousands of lightning strikes, he heated the asphalt around the back tires, hoping to lock the wheels in half molten tar. Doctor Vampire brought out a small device and flew up to the hood of the monster. It was a device made to return large artifacts to the museum. He slapped it down on the hood and was thrown back as it exploded. Nyhtwulf caught the Doctor and all of them stood, wondering what to do next.
“You cannot control me with your pathetic toys!” The Hearse roared. “Your weapons may be blessed, but the ground beneath me is not! You will not hold me long enough to save your lives!”
The Hearse began to shake back and forth, cracking the street under it and throwing chunks of asphalt in all directions.
Doctor Vampire turned to Nyhtwulf, “For what I’m about to do, I need you ready for me. I need you to be ready to strike me down.”
“What?” Nyhtwulf was stunned at such a request.
“Please just trust me, you will be the only one here who can without killing me.”
Doctor Vampire turned back to the Hearse, spread his arms and shouted; “Hearse of Death and Destruction, hear me! I, Doctor Vampire, a force of darkness, wish to prove myself worthy!”
The Hearse stopped cold and the heroes stared at Doctor Vampire in shock.