Tuesday, September 24, 2013

GZ Legends 67: All Aboard!

After Nyhtwulf vanished, Galose had everyone put a hand on his armor to transport them away from the White House disaster area. When they appeared at the new location, everyone except Galose looked around at the interior of his ship in surprise.

            “This is not the office.” Atomizer said.

            “No. It is my ship. It is the fastest way to get on board the Rotanian vessel in orbit.” Galose said.

            “A little warning would have been good.” Redeagle stated.

            “I apologize. I thought we were all in agreement of our next objective.”

            “No problem.” Sandstorm said. “Let’s get to it. Clearly the Rotanians are in control of the force that’s blocking out the sun. Every day that continues, the world weakens. Without sunlight, eventually, everything will die.”

            Galose sat down at the controls and put his hands on the armrests. “All of you should find a place to secure yourselves.”

            While there was no steering apparatus and Galose didn’t touch any switches, the ship powered on and lifted away from the New York rooftop.

“My armor interfaces with my ship.” Galose explained, anticipating a question.

            “Far out.” Electrode said.

            Sandstorm sat in the co-pilot’s seat while the others scrambled for a spot on two narrow benches. They couldn’t tell if the metal planks were for sitting on or not and there were no harnesses or seat belts. Fortunately, the ship flew smoothly enough, that they weren’t tossed around very much. Anubis held Nightfall in his arms and she stayed there.

            Nightfall and Galose were the only ones with any real experience dealing with Rotanians. They knew, sneaking aboard a command vessel was like following a dragon into its lair.

            Nightfall looked up at Anubis. “Hey.”

            “Hey what?”

            “This is the most dangerous thing we’ve done so far. I want you to be careful.”

“Aw, don’t worry.” Anubis gave a toothy grin like only the head of a jackal could. “We’ve got this. They’ll never know what hit them.”

            “I hope you’re right.” Nightfall put her head against his armored chest. “But chances are, they’ll know the moment we’re on board.”

            “Then we won’t have to waste time looking for them.” Anubis said.

            “I know what my targets will be.” Atomizer said. “I can knock out a whole mass of them.”

            “I’m glad you’re feeling better.” Redeagle said. “Just make sure you don’t blast us all out into space.”

            “Thanks for the new worry.”

            “Hey, maybe could just have Atomizer blow their ship up?” Electrode suggested.

            “That would not be a good idea.” Galose said. “Starship technology is volatile. Destroy their ship in the wrong way and you risk a cataclysm across half your planet. Their vessel is too close. Here, see it for yourself.”

            “Wow.” Sandstorm said. “I’ve never seen anything that big.”

            The world’s largest aircraft carrier couldn’t hope to compare to the Rotanian flagship, floating in space before them. It’s length would be worth 30 of the great ships, end to end. Nightfall gasped at the sight of it.

            “Galose, is that what I think it is?”

            “Yes. That is the Maker’s own command ship. It’s the largest of the fleet.”

            “The Maker?” Sandstorm asked.

            “The Maker is the creator of the Rotanians. He’s a planetary conqueror and murderer.” Galose explained.

“Can they see us?” Electrode asked.

            “No. They cannot track Cyborian technology. However, once we are on board, we will all be in extreme danger. It is important that we have our mission parameters before I teleport us into the storage section I have located.”

            “Oh, so you found us a locker to hide in?” Atomizer said.

            “It is far larger than a locker by your definition. We will be safe for only a few seconds more than anywhere else.” Galose said. The Cyborian turned his head to view Sandstorm’s face. “What do you want to do?”

            Sandstorm looked out the window and nodded. “I want to shut that shield down and destroy that ship.”

            “Destroying it will difficult.” Galose activated a holographic display of the ship over the console. “If you can make your way to the highlighted section toward the back end or aft of the craft, you will find the engines and power units. Destroy the engines, but do not breach the power units’ enclosures. You, Sandstorm, and your partner, Electrode are best suited for this task. I will go to the bridge, destroy the controls for the shield and activate the Maker’s emergency protocols.”

            “What are those?” Sandstorm asked.

            “Teleportation systems for the ship. I will also reroute their systems to far away from here.”

            “And what do the rest of us do?” Redeagle asked.

            “As much damage as possible, while making your way to the engine room on separate paths.” Galose explained. “We will all meet there where I can remove us all from the ship before it departs.”

            Galose set some controls on his ship and stood up.

            “Two of you will need better weapons.” Galose walked over to a panel and it slid open for him. He pulled out two rifle type weapons similar to what he carried in his forearms. He handed one to Nightfall. “Do you know how to use this?”

Nightfall smiled as she took it. “A metron rifle. I sure do! I’ll show Redeagle how to use the other one.”

            “They do look impressive.” Redeagle said.

            “Oh, they are.” Nightfall said.

            “Since most of us already have partners, we’ll be in teams of two except for Galose.” Sandstorm said. “Don’t lose your partners. And, Galose, are you sure you’re okay with going to the bridge alone?”

            “I believe the Earth expression is, ‘all in a day’s work’.” Galose said flatly.

            “I think I can get the hang of this now.” Redeagle said. “I’m ready if the rest of you are.”

            In a flickering of lights and without another word, all of them found themselves in a room full of metal crates. Galose pointed to a wide sliding door.

            “Through that door, we will be fighting for our lives.”

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

GZ Legends 66: Blacktide in Chains!

When Nyhtwulf sank out of sight, he shifted from one plane of existence to another. To retrieve his friend, he had to travel back to the Realm of the Dead attached to a plane called Midworld. The channel between dimensions to enter the Realm seethed with shadows and mists of grey. Other spirits lurked in the seeming abyss and it was important he flew right past them, paying them no heed. Any attention to such creatures would invite an attack and serve as a great delay.

            Very few knew the path that Nyhtwulf took to return to the Isle of Skulls. Even fewer had permission to use it. On this path, there was no need of Charon’s ferry, but it was still over the River Styx, and still very dangerous. As he entered the Realm, he flew through a long tunnel of black stone. Below him were weeping souls, wandering the underworld lost as penance for unspeakable crimes in life. Nyhtwulf stayed well above their reach, following the tunnel until he flew over water. He stayed high above the water of the River Styx as well, knowing that even more lost souls occupied the murky depths. Their loneliness knew no equal, so they would drag any being deep to drown them forever.

            There were some spirits who knew Nyhtwulf and shrank away as he flew past. The lupine hero was thankful for this as he didn’t feel he had time for any extra fights.

            On board Charon’s ferry, Blacktide struggled in chains.

            “You waste your useless strength, mortal.” Charon said. “You cannot break the chains of the dead. They are built to hold the most ruthless of spirits and demons.”

            “Yeah? I bet the next person wearing them is you.” Blacktide said with a grimace.

            “I will not. Once I settle the score with that vermin, I will cast you both to the bottom of the river. You will never be seen again.”

            “I’ve heard songs like this before. It never ends well. My partner is coming, but it’s not going to end like you plan. I’ll bet on it.”

            “Bet your soul, perhaps?” Charon gazed at him with glowing eye sockets in a vacant dirty skull.

            “No need. You know, I bet if you did a better job, your boss might actually give you a real body. The whole rotting skeleton thing is kind of last year.”

            “Watch your tongue, mortal, or I will remove it.”

            “And, speaking of souls, I didn’t think betting with them was your bag.” Blacktide didn’t care if he aggravated Charon. He did it on purpose.

Charon turned and roared at Blacktide. Flames burst and danced around his skull as he stood on the deck of his ferry.

            “Ooo, you’re scary. Let me out of these chains and I’ll show you something really scary.” Blacktide yanked on the chains to accent his point.

            “You are no threat to me.”

            “We’ll see about that. I’m calling dibs on one good kick to your skull.”

            As Charon took to ignoring his prisoner, Nyhtwulf arrived at the castle of the Four Horsemen. The doors opened and let him in without even the need to knock. He marched to the great throne room where the Four sat in solemn silence. As Nythtwulf approached the room, he was addressed immediately.

            “Enter and be seen.” Death’s voice echoed and boomed in the room with high vaulted ceilings of stone.

            Nyhtwulf knelt at the foot of the steps leading to Death’s magnificent throne.

            “Rise, former servant. We have been expecting you.”

            “Then you know why I come?”

            “Yes. And I give you my permission as you seek it. You may deliver the punishment for Charon’s misdeeds as you see fit, but the final judgment will be mine.” Death opened a clawed skeletal hand and an orb of shadows fell to the steps. I landed at Nyhtwulf’s feet. “Throw that upon the mortal captive, wrongly taken by Charon. Then dispense your justice.”

            “Thank you, my Lord. I will go directly.”

            Once given direction by one such as Death himself, one does not delay. Nyhtwulf exited the front doors and flew for the River Styx.

            “It will be interesting to see your friend come to save you.” Charon said to Blacktide.

            “What do you mean?”

            “No one may fly over the River Styx and we are in the middle of the river. Your friend may not even make it to save you. I will relish in seeing him pulled to the depths.”

            “So you plan to let the river do your dirty work? I think there’s a problem with that plan, Charon.”

            “What do you know about it?”

In answer, a savage roar sounded as Nyhtwulf flew onto the deck of the ferry to attack Charon. The Ferryman, being no slow slouch, responded instantly with his pole, knocking the Twilie Demon out of the air and onto the wood. Charon swung twice more with Nyhtwulf dodging aside each time.

            “How is this possible! The river should have swallowed you!” Charon shouted.

            “You forget, Charon, I earned permission!” Nyhtwulf  lunged and slashed with his claws at Charon’s chest section. Bits of cloak and rib were torn away, but this would not slow down Charon.

            Charon spun his pole like a martial arts Grandmaster, batting Nyhtwulf back and forth between powerful strikes. Nyhtwulf’s intangibility served as no defense in this realm.

            “I remember that you have been given another life!” Charon said. “It is another life that you can lose, Demon. I am already dead.”

            “Come on, Buddy, you can do it!” Blacktide called. “Take him apart!”

            Nyhtwulf had momentarily forgotten the orb given to him. Twilie Demons can store a number of things in their shadowy fur. So he brought out the orb and threw it past Charon. It landed on Blacktide’s chest and broke open, engulfing the chained man in strange shadows. Blacktide cried out as they latched onto him. In distraction, Nyhtwulf was hit again, and cast overboard. As he hit the water, he wondered what he had done to his friend.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

GZ Legends 65: Alliance of Evil

 Far away, in Earth’s orbit, Stormy Knight watched the battle of the White House on a screen and smiled. He was on the deck of the Rotanian battleship that held the dark barrier around the planet. As the scene ended, he caressed the view screen with his fingertips fondly.

            “Thank you. It’s exactly what I wanted, Engineer.” Stormy turned to face a scowling being seated in a giant floating chair.

            “I prefer to be called, The Maker, however I have made more than a few exceptions for you.” The Celestine, a dwarf of the Deep Stars, was almost hard to see in the floating monstrosity he had built for his throne. As it hovered, it hummed with power. Lights and scanners glowed on all sides of it. The Maker’s hands rested on a pair of blank metal panels that were suspiciously void of control switches or buttons. In fact, there were no visible switches anywhere on the apparatus.  “I have a hard time understanding why you play about with this plan of yours. My ship could have turned all of them to ash with a single shot.”

            “It’s a matter of balance. For this to work, certain things must happen in certain ways. As I’ve said before, you needn’t worry. I promised you the Earth to strip of its resources as you will. I keep my promises.” Stormy smiled.

            “Yes. You promised. I have agreed to watch you and assist as you’ve requested. Once your plan has born the fruit you desire, you claim this world will be ripe for my picking. We shall see.”

            “Indeed we shall. I can tell you they will be coming for you soon.”

            “I expected as much. At that point, there will be no more playing with our prey. When they come to my ship, it will be time for them to die.” The Maker’s face was stern, serious and unyielding.

            Stormy stood up and held out his hands in an open and kind gesture. “Of course, Maker! They’re all yours!”

            On the White House grounds, as the dust settled and the smoke blew away, the friends did their best to assist fallen soldiers before they regrouped. Washington, DC didn’t have enough ambulances and they had to call for more military support for the injured. Sandstorm didn’t even want to know how many were dead. Since Vietnam, he knew what it meant to be a soldier. The deaths of brothers-in-arms always weighed heavily on him.

            “I’m sorry for those who have fallen, General.” Sandstorm said after additional support arrived. “I also wish we could help you more, but we have a lot of work to do ourselves.”

            “I understand. You go get them and show them what happens to people who mess with the US.” The General said with a nod.

“I’m going to show them what happens when you mess with the whole planet.” Sandstorm walked away and rejoined his friends who were comparing experiences from the fight.

            “I shot more Rotanians than you did.” Galose said to Blacktide.

            “Big talk for a guy with all the automated targeting systems.” Blacktide said. “I think I’m more interested in learning what you know about the Rotanians.”

            “You know them?” Anubis chimed in. Everyone looked to Galose.

            “Yes. I know them very well. They are the reason my people are bonded with dimensional combat armor. It was all we could do to escape genocide.”

            “So they’re bad enough to wipe out an entire race.” Atomizer said. “Wow.”

            “Yes. The Rotanians were created by a warped and diabolical being who calls himself, The Maker. He’s also known as, The Engineer. He’s a Celestine, a dwarf from the Deep Stars who has turned his back on his own race and all organic life across the cosmos. He’s bent on domination of the universe. Let there be no doubt, my friends; they are here to strip your world of its resources. In the process they are capable of killing every living thing.”

            “And they do it by blocking out the sun?” Sandstorm asked.

            “No. This is not their usual method. Something else is definitely going on here.”

            “Stormy Nutcase.” Anubis growled.

            “Who?” Galose said.

            “Stormy Knight, is what he meant to say.” Nightfall said.

            “No, I said what I meant and that was just being polite.” Anubis interrupted.

            “Anyway,” Nightfall elbowed the Egyptian hero. “Stormy Knight is the person who’s been behind all our woes lately. He’s probably got something to do with the Rotanians.”

            “Do you know what he wants?” Galose asked.

            “We know that he’s a Minion of an evil god. Past that we can only speculate.” Electrode said. “We’ve been running all over the country because of him.”

            “Perhaps it is time to stop running all over the country then.” Galose said.

            “How do we get on an alien starship?” Sandstorm asked.

            “I couldn’t fly through the barrier myself.” Anubis said.

            “I believe I can assist with that.” Galose said.

Before the Cyborian could explain himself any further, all of the heroes were tossed in different directions by an unseen force. A grayish-green mist formed and a massive object rose from the ground like an ancient ghost. It was the Ferry boat of the River Styx and Charon was aboard. The skeletal being glared at Nyhtwulf. It reached out and grabbed Blacktide, pulling him onboard.

            “You and I have unfinished business, oh favored one! Follow me to the depths of the dead, if you still dare!”

            As quickly as it appeared, the boat was gone and Blacktide with it. Everyone scrambled to their feet.
            “You gotta be kidding me!” Atomizer said. “When does the crazy stop?”

            “We have to go after him.” Sandstorm said and several nodded in agreement.

            “No.” Nyhtwulf said. “I will go. This is for me and me alone. I will rescue my friend and meet you on the craft above.”

            “Are you sure about that?” Redeagle asked.

            “I do not know that I could take all of you to the Underworld. I know that technology cannot.” Nyhtwulf nodded to Galose. “However, I served there for centuries. I know the way. Go, and I will join you soon.” With that, Nyhtwulf sank into the ground and out of sight.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

GZ Legends 64: Heads are gonna blow!

  For Atomizer, having that rifle in his face was one of those moments in time that seemed to never end. All at once the need for survival was met with the possibilities of using his power on alien technology. The memory of losing control days ago, when he made an alien weapon explode’ surfaced like a demon in his mind. He could see his reflection in the face plate of the Rotanian robot soldier. He knew one idea would have to trump the other for him to live.

            Close proximity was one thing that didn’t really matter for Atomizer’s combustive power. He could control the direction of any blast he created. When the Rotanian’s head exploded, it did so in a direction straight behind it, taking out another robot nearby. Seeing that he could hit the machines without destroying half a city block, Atomizer flew into action.

            “Get down and stay down!” He cried out to the nearby human soldiers.

            He lashed out, targeting Rotanian heads, chests, and arms while dodging stray rifle blasts. The chain of explosions was like rapid fire cannon shots. Even from a distance they made people’s ears ring. Fragments of robot fell on the immediate area like rain. As Atomizer went, he snatched up one of the Rotanian rifles. Finding it had no trigger mechanism or way he could operate it, he tossed it aside.

            Atomizer triggered his power on multiple targets, keeping any robot more than 10 feet away. He stayed on the move, avoiding every shot that came his way.

            Redeagle would have been impressed with his partner if he had time to look. The 7 foot tall agent made for quite a target. He had to keep forcing his way through the ranks of murderous robots with the broken tank barrel. Thanks to his strength, Redeagle was able to knock aside two or three robots with each swing. Unfortunately, they were made of tough materials, and Redeagle didn’t have powers that could finish them so easily. That didn’t stop him from pummeling them endlessly though.

As a robot moved in behind Redeagle, Nyhtwulf swooped in and grabbed the end of the Rotanian rifle as it went off. The energy blast channeled through Nyhtwulf’s body and came out his other hand that was against the Rotanian’s head.

“Thanks!” Redeagle said as he continued fighting.

Nyhtwulf nodded and flew back into action. Not far away, Anubis was trying new combat methods. After taking a couple of hits, the Egyptian hero realized these weapons were stronger than the ones used by Professor Zombie’s henchmen. He learned that he needed to dodge more. As Anubis ran into the midst of several robots, he swung his lance and created a wide pulse of cosmic energy that threw robots in every direction. He jabbed his bladed lance through a Rotanian’s head and ripped it off, throwing into the chest of another one. It felt good to really cut loose and use his powers on things that could feel no pain. Unlike Zombie’s henchmen, these were not missing people. These were not someone’s loved ones turned into killers. These were just stupid robots.

“When I find out who made you guys, I’m going to have to thank him for the practice!” Anubis taunted.

“Oh, he’s such a rookie!” Nightfall grumbled from her covered location where she continued to shoot at Rotanians. She couldn’t help but love Anubis’s innocence as a new hero, but she worried for his lack of experience. She resolved to keep an eye on him, but there was something troubling her. She liked Anubis very much, but she wasn’t sure about falling in love with him. It wasn't that long ago that he lost Ella in the desert.

None of the Rotanians could get close to Blacktide who was assisted by Galose. The two of them were shooting down Rotanians left and right.

“Don’t get too close to me.” Blacktide said.

“You need not worry. My sensors know how far your disintegration field is extended. I have set my own combat shields to help cover you. Now let’s see who can shut down the most Rotanians.” Galose said.

“You know these things?”

“Yes. They are what you might call, mortal enemies of my people.”

“You’re going to have to explain that to us when we’re done with this.” Blacktide said as he erased the torso of a robot that ran towards them.

“I will.” Galose’s systems multi-targeted and he continued to fire any and all of his weaponry at his targets.

Electrode caused chain linked explosions of robots with his nuclear electric assault. At high speeds, faster than their weapons could target, he raced through the battlefield. He ran the entire length of the White House property back and forth. On each pass, he would eliminate a dozen opponents. The mass numbers of their assailants worried him. How many could there be? From his view, he could almost take time to count them. What he saw, the others didn’t have time to notice. Rotanians were continuing to appear as they were defeated. Electrode managed to destroy several right after they arrived, but more soon replaced them. As he ran, he also intercepted any flying rifle shots that hovered almost motionless around him. Thanks to that, many a fired enemy shot, never found its mark. There was no time for him to report what he was seeing. Running and fighting were all Electrode could do.

Amidst it all, like a giant toddler throwing a tantrum with his toys, was Sandstorm in the form of a giant. Stone, wood and Earth made up the humongous form that grabbed up robots in heaping handfuls and smashed them together above the White House lawn. Then he brought down the debris in heavy fists that thundered against the ground and more mechanical bodies. The laser blasts tore away at the elemental form, but did nothing to slow Sandstorm down.

The entirety of the battle shook houses three blocks away. Light from explosions of fire lit up the darkened skies. The deafening sounds of the fight melded into an incoherent roar that threatened to never end. Yet, in all but an instant, end it did. Without warning, the heroes found themselves looking all directions for their next target. None were left standing. Finally, the Rotanians stopped appearing. The sudden silence was eerily as harsh as the earsplitting shouts of war. The friends stood, hearts pounding in their ears, wondering what was about to happen next.