Monday, March 25, 2013

GZ Legends 41: The Eye of Destruction pt1

In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Michael Robins gripped his steering wheel with whiting knuckles. How dare they lay him off! He worked for a large insurance firm and had disregarded warnings of layoffs. They said low profits were a concern. They said that they needed everyone doing their best to avoid the layoffs. Michael never worried. He felt his work far too valuable to ever lay him off. The reality came as a shock.  He pulled into the lot of a liquor store and shut off the engine. He went in and bought himself a tall bottle of cheap blended whiskey.

Mike was already a dirty mess. His shirt was half untucked and his knuckles bled from punching walls. His black hair tufted in all direction.  Mike ignored the odd looks from the store clerk as he threw the money on the counter. He stomped back out to the car, unscrewing the cap as he went. He threw his head back for a long swig and has he did, a loud crash almost made him drop the bottle. The windshield of his car lay in tiny square pieces all over the front seats.

            “AAAAAAA! You have got to be kidding me!” he smashed the bottle on the ground in a rage, “Is the world out to hex me?”

            A baseball sized red jewel glistened in the driver’s seat.

            “What a minute,” he opened the door and picked up the gem. As he turned it in his hand it glowed slightly. “What is this?”

            He lifted the jewel and looked through it for closer examination. He could see a red tinted liquor store through it and felt a rumble in the ground. The shaking increased and Mike fell back against his car. The windows of the liquor store shattered and its walls crumpled. The building collapsed in a cloud of dust.

            “No way,” Mike said. “An earthquake.” Thinking it over he went back to looking at the gem. He turned for better light and looked through it again. This time Mike gazed at a smaller building across the street. The shaking began again and yet another building crumpled to the ground. In his amazement he completely ignored the murders he had just committed.

            “Double no way!” It began to dawn on him. He aimed at a third place, a car wash and the same thing happened again. “Ha ha! Oh yeah!”

Michael grabbed a newspaper from the back seat of his car and used it to sweep away the broken glass. He got in and turned the key in the ignition. He knew just where to take his new find. With screeching tires, Mike hit the gas and peeled out of the parking lot. With his typical luck, he immediately drew the attention of a police officer. Mike groaned as he pulled over for the flashing lights. Then he looked at the gem next to him on the seat. Mike picked it up and got out of the car.

            “You need to stay in your car, sir,” the officer instructed.

            “ But look,” Mike lifted the gem toward him. A flash of red light flew from it and hit the officer. He and his squad car both launched away into the air. Mike almost couldn’t stop laughing as the officer’s body grew tiny in the distance. He laughed all the way back to work in near hysterics.

“This is so wonderful,” Mike said through tears of laughter. He pulled in at the edge of the parking lot and got out his cell phone. He dialed his ex-boss.

            “You idiots should come to the windows,” he said and hung up.

            Familiar faces soon filled the windows, some with expressions of worry at what he must be planning. He raised the gem toward the building, “Now you’re all fired,” he chuckled.

 The ground trembled, concrete cracked and the building groaned. Windows shattered and he could hear the screaming begin. It started from one side and then went across as it finally collapsed to the ground. The screams were no more. More tears streamed down Michael Robinson’s face as he laughed and went completely mad with power.

Sandstorm, Electrode, Atomizer, Dreamseer, Kyte, and Redeagle stepped through the portal to a scene of desolation and death. Red and blue lights swirled from several street corners. Sirens sounded from all directions. Buildings lay in smoldering ruins and the air was dense with smoke and dust. As much as they wanted to dive in and help find victims, they knew there would be countless more if they didn’t find the Eye of Destruction.

            Dreamseer concentrated, “I sense a mind drunk with power. That way,” she pointed down the remains of a city street.

            They moved quickly and couldn’t help but free a victim or two along the way. But they had to hurry. The longer anyone used the gem the further the range would go. It was a matter of time before Michael’s influence went state wide.

            “We need to get moving,” Sandstorm said, “Kyte and Electrode, you two come ahead with me and let’s see if we can shut this guy down. I can feel his effects. He’s about to trigger a massive quake that will take half this state with it. The rest of you catch up as fast as you can.”

            As Kyte took to the air, Sandstorm turned into a wind and gave him a push as Electrode flashed on ahead.

            At the edge of the city, Mike reached out further with the gem, “Today I become a God. Let the world tremble!”

            “That’s not very nice,” Electrode said as he paused in front of Mike.

            Mike automatically fired a force wave from the gem, easily dodged by the Nuclear Electric Man.

            “You’ve hurt and killed a lot of people,” Electrode dodged another attack and then returned fired but his bolts were stopped short by a red aura of light around Mike.

            “Okay, that’s interesting.”

            “You can’t hurt me. I’m all powerful.” Mike laughed in madness.

            Shadowy tendrils snaked down from above as Kyte tried to force through the aura to get the gem. The attempt proved futile as not even Kyte’s dark forces could move through the strange barrier. A giant stone hand rose out of the ground and tried to grab Mike, but it crumbled away at the power of the gem. Sandstorm manifested an image of himself floating in the air.

            “You have to stop now!” his voice boomed.

            Michael was too absorbed in the power of the gem. The Eye of Destruction had his mind and the madness of it made him foam slightly from the corners of his mouth.

 Sandstorm sensed elemental power couldn’t pass the barrier and found himself in a pushing match with the gem. It tried to force him away, but he held his ground. As he made it turn on him, he could feel the threat to the Earth around them lessen a bit. Still he fought to keep another earthquake from rippling out and tearing the state of South Dakota apart. The three of them battered away at the aura and Mike seemed oblivious to them. He smiled stupidly while they struggled. Then his face changed a little as Dreamseer arrived and tried to grip his mind.

            “Ahh!” she cried out holding her temple, “The gem is resisting me.”

            Redeagle dared not fire a shot for fear the bullet would bounce and hit a friend.

            “I can’t get through!” Sandstorm shouted, “It’s all I can do to keep him from ripping the whole state apart!”

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

GZ Legends 40: The TANK pt 3

            Anubis stopped himself flying through the air and shook his head enough to rattle his armor. He glanced below and one thought immediately took precedence over all others.

            “Nightfall!” He called as he flew to where he last saw her.  To his relief, she sat on the ground rubbing her forehead.

            “You don’t have to yell,” she said with a grimace. “That gave me a monstrous headache.”

            “I’m just glad you’re okay. You are okay right?” Anubis helped her to her feet and touched a scrape on her forehead to heal it.

            “Much better now, thanks. You better see about the rest.”

            Anubis found Blacktide next, but Nyhtwulf was already assisting him. Slowly, everyone was picking themselves up and dusting themselves off.  Aches and pains were evident in all by moaning and groaning. Dr. Vampire walked up to the group with a hand at his mid back. Anubis and Nyhtwulf used their healing abilities to bring everyone back to full capabilities.

            “It’s truly good fortune to have two healers with us today,” Dr. Vampire said. “Now we have to figure out another way to stop TANK.”

            “So far, we can’t hurt it and can’t hold it down,” Blacktide said.

            “Who decided to make that thing without an off switch anyway?” Anubis grumbled.

            “There has to be some way to stop it. It’s headed into downtown Seattle,” Lonestar said.

            “Unfortunately, fighting it just got a lot harder. It learns as it goes. It will remember us and have countermeasures ready.” Dr. Vampire explained in disdain. “Still, there may be a way to shock it, but it will be very dangerous to attempt.”

            “We’re all ears, Doc.” Anubis said.

            Moments later, the team raced to catch up with the TANK as it stomped toward downtown. It hadn’t slowed in leaving an obvious path of destruction in any way. People rushed to evacuate from the path of the machine while armored SWAT vehicles established a road block. Brave officers stood their ground with heavy artillery and assistance from the National Guard.  They waited until the TANK stomped into full view so they had the best target possible and opened fire. Assault rifle and machine gun rounds may as well have been confetti against the TANK’s mystical armor. LAW (light anti-tank weapon) rockets proved just as meaningless. Mounted energy cannons on the TANK’s shoulders flickered to life and a SWAT van exploded into a massive fireball. From the center of its three fingered hands, a larger weapon, called a Master Cannon, emitted a bright wide beam that vaporized police cars and blew another van in half. As follow up to the firepower, the TANK grabbed up a flaming wrecked car and threw it at fleeing officers. To cover escape of the soldiers and officers, a fully armed Apache helicopter hovered in and locked missiles on the TANK.

            The explosions of missile fire filled the air around the TANK in an impressive display. Unharmed, the TANK aimed its shoulder cannons and fired red beams of death. The pilot could see that he had no chance to evade. The weapons were too fast in deployment. He held his breath, expecting to burn to death in a split second from an attack that didn’t hit its mark.

            Anubis floated in the air between TANK and the helicopter. He had created a forcefield of energy that stopped the attack. He knew that it would soon fire again. Anubis looked over his shoulder to the shocked expressions on the pilot’s faces.

            “GET OUT OF HERE!” He screamed at them and the chopper veered away into the darkness without any more hesitation. “Geez, you’d think they need special instructions! Nah, let’s just pause here and stare at the flying dog!”

            Anubis charged his lance with cosmic power and unleashed a powerful blast into the front of the TANK. He held position and strained to keep the powerful energy flowing. He had to keep the TANK’s sensors focused on him. After only a few seconds, TANK returned fire and Anubis found himself dodging blasts. Anubis snatched up the smoldering engine of a police car and threw it at TANK. The machine caught the flying engine effortlessly and moved to throw it back. That’s when Nyhtwulf flew through the back of the TANK and out the front.

            Nyhtwulf and Doctor Vampire noted that Nyhtwulf passed through the arm of the TANK intangibly without additional effect earlier. This became a crucial point of a new plan of attack.  Because Nyhtwulf disrupts life force and mental energy upon passing through any living thing, the Twilie demon made sure he flew through the TANK’s hostage pilot. The disruption of the young thug’s mind passed over into the internal functions of the TANK. The machine stood and shuddered. In its internal confusion, the hatch slid open.

            Blacktide saw his cue at that moment. He disintegrated the ground behind the machine at an angle so that, once again, it would slam onto its back. It would also be easier to access the opened hatch. Lonestar and Anubis jumped into action. As they had done with the Hearse, they jammed their own indestructible weapons into the hatch mechanisms, creating a stalemate of artifacts. The hatch could not close, but that wouldn’t stop the TANK from fighting back in the split seconds left to them. Doctor Vampire flew Nightfall on top of the TANK’s chest and into the hatch with the thug. As the last part of the desperate plan, she reached out and touched his face.

            With her power to render any person unconscious by touch with a mental blackout, the TANK lost its neural connection to its pilot. The neural crown lifted away and they pulled the young man out of the cockpit. Lonestar and Anubis pulled their weapons out of the way and the hatch closed. The TANK was finally shut down. Doctor Vampire pulled out another of his large artifact transport discs and placed it on the TANK’s leg. In moments the machine was gone.

            Far behind them, ambulance and fire personnel were hard at work. More approached from the direction out front of them. Doctor Vampire beckoned them to move on through.

            Slowly, the thug came to his senses to find the six heroes looking over him.

            “You want to tell us how you wound up inside that thing?” Anubis said.

            “I don’t know, man. I don’t remember anything after breakfast this morning.”

            “Nightfall?” Doctor Vampire cued.

            “I’m afraid he’s telling the truth. His memories have been wiped and I know we didn’t cause it. They’re completely gone.” Nightfall reported.

            “The TANK wouldn’t have done that either.”

            “My power does not have such an effect,” Nyhtwulf offered.

            “No. I can tell this was done before we found him,” Nightfall said.

            The ring on Anubis’s hand shimmered without notice of anyone. It was the same ring that found its way on Anubis’s hand at the beach without his notice. It was the same ring enchanted so that he wouldn’t notice it now. Through the gem of that ring, they had an audience. Through the gem of that ring, Stormy Knight watched with a knowing smile on his face.

HEY READER, feel like you'r missing something? Look to the upper right for a link to GZ Legends number 1!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

GZ Legends 39: The TANK pt 2

Anubis, Nightfall, Dr. Vampire, Blacktide, Nyhtwulf, and Lonestar stepped through the portal onto a ransacked city street. Cars were overturned, crushed, and burning. The fronts of all the buildings were gaping, smoking holes. Deep cracks webbed across asphalt and concrete. Not even lamp posts remained standing. The final touch to the visual nightmare lay with the bodies of the dead strewn up and down the street.

“This is the work of the TANK armor. It’s an alien weapon and its name stands for Terminate, Attack, Negate, and Kill.” Doctor Vampire explained it with a heavy conscience bothering him from the last mission. “As before, we are facing something we cannot destroy. We have to keep it busy until we can deactivate it.”

“What am I supposed to do to it?” Nightfall said.

“You’re power can separate the neural link the armor has with its pilot. This machine was built to remove any form of conscience from its pilot so that kill missions could be completed without hesitation. Whoever climbed into the cockpit, is a fool and a victim. He or she may even be completely innocent.”

“And me?” Blacktide said. “I was totally useless against The Hearse. What do you want me to do with this?”

“You don’t have to use your powers directly on the TANK to be helpful or effective. If you think about it, I’m sure you’ll find there are other things you can do.” Doctor Vampire said.

“And the rest of us will keep it good and busy until we can send it back to the museum, Doc.” Anubis said. “So let’s get going before all of Seattle becomes a fiery memory.”

On those words, everyone broke into a run, but Doctor Vampire grabbed Anubis by the arm for one last second.

“You need to know that I’m very sorry,” Dr. Vampire said. “My greatest fear has always been hurting friends and allies.”

“Doc, it’s okay. I understand what happened. Besides, you don’t hit anywhere near as hard as The Hearse does!”

Anubis flew into the air and Doctor Vampire followed. It didn’t take long to catch up with the TANK as it took its time delivering destruction. No trail of terror could be more obvious. If that wasn’t enough, the TANK’s attacks could be heard miles away. Explosions, the screech of energy weapons fire, and the screams of innocent victims were a morbid chorus in the streets of Seattle.

Anubis and Nyhtwulf were first to get in the TANK’s way. Nyhtwulf hovered in front of it and waited. Without hesitation, it fired powerful beams of energy that vanished into the Twilie Demon’s shadowy body. Those beams came back out from Nyhtwulf’s hand as the lupine hero used his power to redirect any energy that enters his body. The force of being hit with its own weapon actually made the TANK take one step backward.

Anubis followed up with a powerful flying uppercut using his lance. Since the machine was slightly off balance, the blow delivered it the rest of the way to the ground. It landed on its back with a resounding crash. It didn’t stay there. Propulsion jets instantly brought it back to its feet. It swung a metal hand at Nyhtwulf who simply turned intangible and avoided it. Anubis had to perform aerial dodging maneuvers from energy blasts.

Dr. Vampire and the rest caught up just in time for Anubis’s aerobatic display.

“Who knew he was so agile,” Nightfall said without realizing it.

Dr. Vampire shook his head and turned to Blacktide.

“This is your chance. They brought it down once. You can do it again.”

Blacktide thought fast. How could he bring down this giant when he couldn’t hurt it. He grit his teeth and took several running steps forward. He threw his hand outward in a wide arc and a gray wave of disintegration power surged out. In a cloud of smoke, the street under the TANK’s feet vanished and it crashed to its back again. Blacktide barely rolled out of the way in time.

Lonestar jumped onto the front of the machine and tried to jam his sword into the seam where the front would open. His sword couldn’t wedge into the gap no matter how hard it was thrust. There was the loud song of metal clashing with  metal, as a giant hand swatted Lonestar away. The Starknight flew through the front of a nearby building with the crunch of brick and shattering of glass. Again, the TANK was on its feet.

Anubis dropped out of the dark sky like a missile, landing both feet square in the upper front of the machine. Such was the force of his landing that the TANK was knocked down for a third time.

“Nyhtwulf! Shield me from its energy cannons!” Doctor Vampire cried out as he took position on top of the TANK. Looking into the front visor, Dr. Vampire could see the blank face of the young gangster.

Dr. Vampire took off his sunglasses as Nyhtwulf landed between him and the TANK’s shoulder cannons. The Vampire looked the young thug in the eyes with the inherited power of hypnosis. A sudden screaming sound in his brain, made Dr. Vampire cry out and reel backwards. Nyhtwulf caught him and flew him out of the way as the TANK regained its standing again.

“I thought I could strengthen his mind against the TANK’s control,” groaned Dr. Vampire. “It’s too strong. We have to get it to open up.”

Anubis and Lonestar moved in to tackle the TANK at its broad legs while Blacktide prepared a deeper hole for it in the street. Blacktide wondered if he could make the hole so the machine would be wedged too much to just jump back up again.

The TANK shimmered with new energy on their approach and a shockwave of power exploded across the area. No one could hold their ground against it. Anubis was tossed into the blackened sky. Lonestar was thrown down a side street like an armored rag doll. Nyhtwulf and Dr. Vampire vanished into another building that collapsed on top of them. Blacktide flew through vehicles and debris in another direction. Even Nightfall, who had kept her distance, waiting for her part in the fight, was thrown back. As the monstrous TANK stomped forward, not a hero stood against it.

Friday, March 1, 2013

GZ Legends 38: The TANK pt 1

      100TH POST!!!     

       “I was useless!” Blacktide paced in the break room, clenching his fists. “I’ve never been so useless in a fight. I can’t believe it!”

            “The Hearse is indestructible, my friend,” Nyhtwulf said. “Nothing we can do could ever damage it.” The Twilie Demon was munching on cream cheese cubes, complete in their foil wrappers. This didn’t faze him when it came to talking and created a ‘nom nom’ sound with the words.

            “Could have been worse, couldn’t it?” Atomizer said, “After all, I tried my power on an alien weapon and nearly blew a whole city street away.” Atomizer popped open a soda and took a long drink.

            “I’ve never come across anything like that before. I’ve always had to worry about accidently killing people around me. If it weren’t for Nyhtwulf being my partner now, I doubt I would still be here.” Blacktide stared out a window. He instinctively wanted to punch a wall in his frustration, but knew better.

            “You saved innocent people,” Nyhtwulf said. “I saw through your eyes.”

            Blacktide remembered the fallen ceiling beams and trapped civilians. His power was instrumental in freeing them. His power literally erased key points in debris, allowing Dr. Vampire and Lonestar to use their strength freely and safely for several rescues.

            “Yeah, I did.”

            “So you weren’t useless, Man!” Atomizer said. “You did good. I’d pat you on the back, but I know you’d hate it so I’m doing it verbally, okay?”

            Blacktide couldn’t help but smirk at the idea, “I hate that too.”

            In another room, Dr. Vampire lay on a table unconscious. Dreamseer had her fingertips at the Doctor’s temples. She was completely silent. Electrode stood outside the room with Lonestar, watching the ordeal.

            “You want to tell me what happened out there?” Electrode asked.

            “Since he was turned into a vampire by Lord Dracula himself, our leader has had to contain a great darkness. There is always the chance of it coming out and it makes him very powerful. It’s a curse that none of us have found a way to break.”

            “So he could become a monster at literally anytime?”

            “No. He’s only at risk under certain forms of great stress or in places of great evil.”

            “Inside The Hearse had to be pretty evil, I imagine.” Electrode nodded. It reminded him of the struggle he saw in Blacktide.

            Up on the roof, Nightfall sat on the edge of the building with Anubis, gazing over the city lights of New York.

            “I’m telling you, I never thought it was possible to feel such pain,” Anubis said. “I think that thing could have actually killed me. And I understand Doctor Vampire’s problem, but that was quite a surprise as well.”

            “Dreamseer is taking care of him. You know, this is an important lesson for you. You have these new and wonderful powers, but you don’t know any of your own limits. Now you know that you have to be careful out there.”

            “I know. I knew I could be hurt when I got shot by one of those alien weapons. I just didn’t know I could be hurt that bad or hit that hard. I’ll sure remember next time.”

            “Sounds like you want revenge on The Hearse.” Nightfall cocked and eyebrow in disbelief.

            “Well, yeah, wouldn’t you? I want a rematch.”

            Nightfall laughed, “Oh you are such a rookie! That’s not what I meant by learning your limits. You can’t kill The Hearse.”

            “You’re only supposed to laugh when I actually tell a joke you know,” Anubis tried to show an expression of fake pouting on his jackal’s face, but it just looked like a weird snarl.

            “You’re just funnier than you realize!” Nightfall smacked him on the shoulder.

            “Careful, you’ll knock me off the roof,” Anubis teased, so she hit him some more.

            “You can fly!”

            Far across the country, a new mission unfolded. The gangs of south Seattle are well known for their violent crimes. A lot of young lives have been wasted over territorial disputes, drugs, and women. All it really takes for a gang member to get shot is the wrong color clothing, an odd hand signal, or just a bad attitude. Two small groups met over a dispute in a rundown area of buildings awaiting the wrecking ball. Posturing became words. Words became anger and shoving. Shoving turned to weapons. One brought out a knife and his opponent, a gun. A hail of gunfire took down all but one thug who dodged between the buildings on the run. He lost his way through the decrepit buildings and lost his way to the exit. High fences and barbed wire thwarted his escape attempts. His pursuers were catching up to him as he dodged behind a dumpster.  He clutched the edge of the trash container while he fought to catch his breath. The other gangsters passed him by, but it wouldn’t be for long.

            “You’re in a fix,” the smooth voice startled the young thug so he spun with his knife ready. A quick strike to the wrist from a black cane topped with a silver skull, knocked the knife away. The man in the top hat smiled at him.

“Relax, I’m here as your friend. I can help you,” Stormy said.

            “Yeah? Well you gonna help us both get killed if you don’t shut up.” He looked worriedly over the dumpster. The other thugs weren’t in sight yet.

            “How would you like to teach them a lesson?”

            “What? You got an uzi?” The thug wondered if he could dive for his knife.

            “No, I have this,” suddenly a 20 foot tall suit of mechanized armor was standing behind Stormy. It was rounded and smooth with a pair of massive metal hands. Its feet were as wide as the hood of a mid-size car. Portions of the armor played a trick on the eyes as they seemed like portals to view the universe. Stars, planets and deep space could be seen in the reflection of the arms and legs. The massive head section split open and lowered in a way that would allow a person to climb into the cockpit.

“You should climb in and take it for a spin. It’s much better than waiting to get shot.” Stormy faded away with a cruel chuckle.

            The thug could hear them getting closer. Surely they heard some of the noise that guy made. What else could he do? He climbed up into the big suit of armor and the panels closed over him. A metal halo dropped down around the top of his head and he could feel control of the whole machine. Screens appeared and he could see outside. He moved his arm, and its arm did the same. He turned to face the opening the other thugs would come through. The shooter came around first and stopped cold with a shocked expression. The thug willed the machine to step forward. It put a great metal foot on the dumpster, and crushed it flat. The other gangsters fired their guns, but bullets were useless against the mystical TANK armor.

 The thug laughed, “You still wanna shoot me?”

            The first shooter met his grisly end in the compacting grasp of a metal hand. The thug pilot laughed, delirious with power. The others turned to run but energy beam weapons fired from the armor’s shoulders. Both men were turned to charred skeletal remains.

            “Yeah!” the thug yelled. But then something felt odd. He couldn’t move his arms and legs anymore, and the TANK started moving without his commands. Scanners located the nearest populated area as the thug watched and it started walking. As his mind went blank he heard the metallic voice coming from the machine.

            “I am TANK.”

(Feel like you're missing out? Catch this link back to Number One.)