Author: Glistam

Compromised Secrets

Compromised Secrets

At 8 pm the Channel 5 logo flashes on the screen. Instead of the next episode of the classic sitcom, Not MY Hero!, the familiar face of Lori Landry appears. Visible for those who recognize it is a Church of the Reflections pendant, worn prominently. She begins speaking seriously to the camera.

“Good evening. I’m Lori Landry and this is a Channel 5 Special Report. What, exactly, is Sector 10‘s involvement with Century Station’s newest group of heroes, S.A.V.I.O.R.? Our investigation digs into that mystery with surprising results, including government cover-ups and secret allegiances. Stay tuned as we expose the secret truths behind this team’s quick rise to prominence.”

Lori opens up by talking about the heroine, Miss Amazing. The security footage of her robbing a jewelry store is played. Lori then recounts how S.A.V.I.O.R. ‘claimed’ the heroine was under mind control during this time, but questions if this was true. After all, the supposed mastermind responsible was killed during the act of being brought to justice. Other victims of his came forward to the police for a proper debriefing, but not Miss Amazing. Was this a S.A.V.I.O.R. cover-up? It wouldn’t be the first one.

The narrative quickly shifts to the murder of Urien Daniels of US Robotics, with security footage of the robot Caedechron in his office just before the incident shown. The footage then changes to show the robot Caedechron being secured by CSPD recently, after being arrested by a CSPD traffic cop. Lori recounts the manhunt for the murderous machine supposedly controlled by a human mind. A tragic story not dissimilar to Century Station’s own Spartacus, but far less noble. Then Lori links them with the uncovered cover-up by Thanatos.

“Public record shows this ‘Thanatos’ was a member of S.A.V.I.O.R. during that incident, and police reports now show he used his considerable computer skills to dupe investigators into a wild goose chase.” A short interview with Xavier Financial C.E.O. Cassandra Blodgett airs next, in which Cassandra talks about the relief that her company is no longer under investigation. Cassandra recounts how the police were led to believe through e-mails that an identical killing machine was created by her late father, Mason Blodgett.

“My father was no saint,” Cassandra concludes, “but murder that brazen? Even he wasn’t that crooked and evil. Thankfully, the truth came to light. I just hope that man Caedechron finds the help and peace he clearly needs.” She looks straight at the camera as she says this final line. “I hope all of those in S.A.V.I.O.R. who have issues find the help they truly need to overcome them.” Cassandra ends her interview there and declines to comment further on what she meant or who she may have been talking about.

This special report leads from there into a full-on conspiracy theory about Thanatos. The master hacker, an even bigger threat to Century Station than Motherboard because he was sanctioned by the government. What else did he tamper with? Under whose authority did he act? A CSPD clip is played where one of their PR specialists say they will be working to de-tangle Thanatos’ tangled web for some time to come. The narrative returns to Miss Amazing finally, showing scattered clips of her fighting alongside S.A.V.I.O.R., and her exploits alongside The Gryphon.

“Today the checkered past of Black Phantom and his association with The Sector became known. But what we’ve uncovered evidence that he is that he isn’t the only one with ties to The Sector. Miss Amazing herself was granted her abilities from this same shadowy government organization! What debt does she owe them? What debt is she paying off by being an inside agent alongside Black Phantom? How do her allies feel about this?”

A clip plays with a shadowed figure speaking in a disguised voice. Below the caption says this is an Anonymous S.A.V.I.O.R. Inside Source. The figure speaks. “Well let me tell you about this self-appointed feminist warrior that believes she has absolute control over all interactions in S.A.V.I.O.R.” The figure continues to rant about Miss Amazing, eventually revealing that she’s the bed partner of The Gryphon. The figure implies there isn’t much more to her as a person than that, but this is where the clip stops and Lori picks back up.

“Our inside source paints a conflicting picture, and with good reason. With a Sector background, it should be worrying that she’s gotten so close to the hero of Norwood, Garrick ‘Gryphon’ Faulkner. Was the reveal of his identity just another game she was playing with S.A.V.I.O.R.? Look at these videos.” Several clips of S.A.V.I.O.R. showing Black Phantom and Miss Amazing play, and Lori narrates  over each one to illustrate that Black Phantom and Miss Amazing work so hard to remain separate from each other. She heavily insinuates that they are clearly working together and trying too hard not to make it show. The final clip shows Miss Amazing realizing she’s near Black Phantom and she clearly makes an effort to move away and distance herself from the man.

Lori spends the rest of the broadcast spinning the angle that S.A.V.I.O.R. are nothing more than patsy’s being manipulated by the government through Miss Amazing and Black Phantom as their two agents, with Thanatos as the insidious cover-up machine. She ends the broadcast finally with this:

“S.A.V.I.O.R. came seemingly out of nowhere and rose quickly these past months to replace our beloved Centurions as the city’s peacekeepers. Such a meteoric rise doesn’t happen without either a lot of coincidence, or a lot of support. I ask you what seems more believable: That S.A.V.I.O.R. has ridden on the coattails of improbable circumstances which just happened to align in order to place them where they are? Or is their position in the city manufactured through deliberate government action backed by The Sector to place them as the city’s top heroes after the U.S. Government called the Centurions away for a ‘special mission’ from which they’ve never returned?”

 


 

Update to the Mayor

Update to the Mayor

“You wished to see me, Mayor Zardona?”

“Yes, Director Balisong. Come in,” the man behind the desk said brusquely. Director Balisong maintained her outward composure but sighed inwardly. On the mayor’s desk were this morning’s copies of all the city’s newspapers – The Observer, the Everyman, the News-Herald, the Silver-Hill Sentinel, and the Evening Call. She suspected she knew what this meeting was about, and now that she saw the papers on his desk she knew she was right.

“This new team, S.A.V.I.O.R., is an embarrassment to Century Station,” Mayor Zardona announced once she walked up to his desk. “First that robot, Caedechron, is arrested last night by your officers for Murder. I expected that to be the news today – and it was in the Observer. But the other papers are having a different field day. Look at this!” He tossed her a copy of this morning’s Everyman. She ignored it for the moment – she had already read it. He continued. “They’re promising a story like that one every day this week! Your ‘heroes’ are a disgrace. They were a farce when you brought them to my attention after the Papa Zombie incident, and they’re even worse now!”

Director Balisong stayed calm and let the Mayor have his rant. She knew he wasn’t ranting at her but rather his own frustrations. Operation Overlord took a major setback when the US Government drafted the Centurions and took them from the city. The clock was ticking and he was exasperated. He continued his tirade for several minutes. She casually picked up the Everyman and eyed the story once more. The other gossip shared a similar story, though the Everyman’s was the most comprehensive.

The front page showed a clear image of the hero Victor Valenzuela swinging through the city, brandishing a Tecate® beer while carrying an injured civilian. It was an impressive image, and in other circumstances could’ve been a great PR shot for Tecate®. According to the article however, it was damning. The headline read “‘S’ IS NOT FOR SOBER” and the article claimed this image plus many others (seen inside), combined with numerous accounts of his actions at and after Jake Thompson‘s funeral, demonstrated the hero had a clear drinking problem. It was sensationalist news – gossip and out of context images paired with an isolated incident and rhetoric to fuel what was clearly a deliberate smear campaign.

“…I never should have let you talk me into making them Centurions,” the Mayor finally concluded. He looked at her with a mixture of anger and tiredness. There was so much to do, so little time left, and so many hurdles.

“With all due respect sir,” she calmly stated, “this is nonsense. These gossip papers are hardly reputable news sources. The damage control on this is simple, and if spun right would only elevate this hero. You’ve seen the latest polls of public opinion regarding S.A.V.I.O.R.. The public is responding well to them. The Centurions have been considered ‘too soft’ for years now. Harder edge heroes will have harder edges, and we’re nor unprepared for them. Surely you can’t deny that.” There was more to it than that of course, but she was trying to put it in a language he could identify with. Political, always political. Speak in his language to disarm him and then have a productive conversation. It was rote by now.

“This is just ‘day one,’ Anja,” he said to her. “If you can’t get ahead of this it may destroy them, and both of us in the process. Then there’d be no opposing the Council of Industry anymore, or holding off Federal intervention, and more importantly there’d be no saving the city.”

Balisong regarded the Mayor with understanding. This was the conversation they needed to have. “I know sir. I’ve already set officers to carefully investigate the ‘anonymous sources’ Wasswegass cited in his article. There are images in here that were clearly lifted from security cameras and information that was not privvy to the public. Aldo Wassergass, the editor and publisher of the Everyman, is many things – a thug, a bully, a sleazeball, and a slippery criminal. But no-one could ever accuse him of being a good investigator. He was obviously given this information. We just need to find out by who and why.”

“Just stay on top of it,” Mayor Zardona sighed. He sat down, spent. For every crisis solved there were always a dozen more. “Tell me how things are going in the city today. We have so many people from out of town for the Eclipse. Hopefully we can get through just this one day without a major incident.”

She cleared her throat. “Well S.A.V.I.O.R. has split up across the city, to cover areas of Midtown, Brisby, and The Hill. We’re working with other teams to have as much coverage as we can today. The group of S.A.V.I.O.R. patrolling The Hill… let me see…” She checked on her tablet the current roster. “It’s The Gryphon, Black Phantom, Hank, Miss Amazing, and their new recruit Quazi. The five of them just interrupted a robbery by members of Kagemusha Ryuujin out in Battenburg Heights. Oh, that reminds me – we need to hire a psychologist who’s familiar with psychic trauma for the team.”

“Fine, fine. Get what you need. In fact,” Zardona said with a look of sudden inspiration, “make the hiring of this person public knowledge, so the people can see that we’re already addressing the concerns these papers are bringing up. Lord knows what else we’ll see through the rest of the week. This could help us in getting a step ahead.”

Suppressing a small smile, Director Balisong simply nodded. “I’ll get right on that sir.”

“Anything else notable happening out there right now?”

“Just a small protest from members of the Church of Reflections. They believe they’re still allowed to have their gathering in Century Park. We’ve turned most of them away but they’ve returned with more and are protesting. It’s stayed non-violent and we expect it to sort itself out once the eclipse is over.”

“Even after their leaders were exposed and their church disbanded as a fraud cult, they’re still trying to maintain it?”

“People want something to believe in, no matter how flawed it is,” she responded. “That’s also what I think S.A.V.I.O.R. can be to this city.”

“All right, I get it,” he told her. He stood back up and looked out of his window at the parts of the city he could see from here. The eclipse was starting, but it would be a little while before it became noticeable. “Just keep me updated. See if you can find out what’s in store for the rest of week before it’s printed and arrives at my door.”

“Yes sir,” she said as she turned around and left.

A Fly on a Wall

A Fly on a Wall

Somewhere in Century Station…

 
A lone figure strode through the hall, her insect-like wings twitching unconsciously. The antenna on her forehead moved back and forth, sensing the area around her in ways her normal senses could not. A trail of roaches followed and flanked her. Her normally calm face was a mask of rage and fury. Two sentries moved to bar her path. One spoke. “Lady Hive, Modulus left instructions-” his voice was cut off as a swarm of the roaches ran up his body and into his mouth, cutting off his words and choking him. He moved away in a panic, frantically trying to clear the insects off of him. The other sentry wisely stepped back, allowing her to proceed. As she passed a swarm of the roaches engulfed him as well. She was not in the mood.

Lady Hive entered the chamber Modulus was inhabiting. Workbenches pressed against the walls, littered with tech projects. In each corner were powerful 8-foot tall robots, seemingly powered down. She and her insects could feel the hum of their machinery though – they were functional and ready for action at a moment’s notice. In the center of the chamber sat a 5½-foot tall, non-descript man. He appeared to be meditating in a lotus position. Lady Hive approached him but stopped several feet away. “Modulus,” she started to say to him, but it was his turn to interrupt her.

“Tell me what happened,” he asked her in a carefully neutral tone. He didn’t open his eyes or move to acknowledge her presence in any way.

She started as if she had been slapped. She didn’t interpret his tone as a good sign. “We had secured Dr. Wendell Moore, as you instructed, and was preparing to leave with him when those new heroes, S.A.V.I.O.R., showed up. We were overwhelmed. The robot-”

“Caedechron,” Modulus corrected.

“…the teenager-”

“Miss Amazing,” Modulus corrected once again.

“…and The Beast all ganged up on me while the beer commercial guy-”

“Rubber Band Man,” Modulus added, in the same exact tone as all his other statements.

“…snatched the Doctor from my pet. They didn’t even flinch when I directed my spiders to kill the remaining people inside. They just let them all die to keep fighting and humiliating me.” She clenched her fists in anger at the memory. The roach swarms around her began to writhe and undulate in response.

“The spider caught in another’s web, so to speak?”

Lady Hive glared at him with fear in her eyes. He knew. Of course he knew.

“What of the others?” Modulus asked calmly, directing her back to her tale.

She calmed herself slightly and continued the tale. “Inside the building Obelisk started knocking it down, per your instructions. But The Gryphon intercepted him. He flew Obelisk out of the building and toward the harbor. It looked as if the hero meant to toss him into the ocean. The suicidal woman-”

“Deathwish,” Modulus simply corrected.

“…intercepted Scream Queen and managed to capture her outside the building, with Caedechron’s help. I lost sight of the Rubber Band Man, I assume because Phaze was dealing with him.”

“I was,” a voice suddenly announced, from the edge of the chamber. The form of a young bald man appeared visible in that moment. “Rebota surprised me. A man with his talents… I still can’t believe he’d abandon the lucrative life we lead to become a mere hero, content to simply save lives.”

Lady Hive glared at Phase as he walked closer to them. She still couldn’t sense him in the room at all, despite seeing and hearing him now. The man was like a living ghost. Modulus didn’t react to this interruption at all. Likely, Lady Hive thought, because he already knew the mercenary was there.

Modulus snapped opened his eyes and stood up, looking straight at Lady Hive as if he had heard her thoughts. Phaze teleported across the chamber to be standing near Lady Hive – but not too close. “Phaze returned a little while before you did,” Modulus informed her. “He had both the primary objectives and, it turns out, our friend Obelisk, who he rescued from certain death over the ocean. Both The Gryphon and The Beast worked together to send him flying into the water. Obelisk is almost as perturbed as you are, Sharon.” Lady Hive flinched at the mention of her old name. Modulus clasped his hands behind his back and began slowly pacing. “The Beast’s new wings were a scenario I didn’t anticipate. Imagine my surprise when instead of The Gryphon dying, it was nearly Obelisk instead! Phaze, as per our arrangement you will be compensated accordingly for your intervention.”

Phaze nodded curtly. “I take it you don’t require me to retrieve Scream Queen from CSPD?”

Modulus shook his head. “No. Our business is concluded for the time being. If she had followed directions she would never have been caught. She can sit there and contemplate her failure for the time being. We don’t require her for the next phase of our plan.”

“Understood. I’ll take my leave then. It was, as always, a pleasure.” Phaze took a step back and disappeared, teleporting away and leaving Modulus and Lady Hive alone again.

“I thought the Doctor was the primary objective?” Lady Hive asked incredulously.

“Of course you did. I told you that on purpose, so you would provide a meaningful distraction for the majority of the heroes, allowing Phaze to collect what I needed.”

She didn’t like being played like this, but she knew better than to direct her anger at Modulus. She’d burn off some of this steam later. “So what now? Do you finally have everything you need?”

Modulus cracked the barest hint of a smile. “Almost. An old friend left some parting gifts with his ex-girlfriend, and I think the best time to relieve her of them will be at hand in a few days. Rest up. You’ll have your chance for revenge – I promise you that.”

A Voicemail from Richard

A Voicemail from Richard

 

You have one new voicemail, if you would like to listen to your voicemail, please press 1…

[BEEEEP]

Nathan, this is Richard. Listen, I understand you need some time to cool off. Tensions were still high after last night and things got really heated this morning. If you want to cut ties with S.A.V.I.O.R. I won’t stop you. It’s simple paperwork to make that official.

But I’d hate to see you go. Especially like this. Your experiences give unique perspectives that we sorely lack as a group. Garrick has been thrust into the role of “leader,” and I think he especially could use your help and support to succeed in this role.

Garrick and the others are accompanying “Carl” to his appointment today with Dr. Wendell Moore. They all hope to help him get to the bottom of why he is the way he is. I’ll be staying behind to run diagnostics on A.R.C.H.I.E. all day. I’ll be around if you want to talk about this any further.

[BEEEEP]

What Ashmadiel Had to Say

What Ashmadiel Had to Say

“You have been lied to.”

Gryphon hovered in the air, suspended by spectral, flaming wings. His eyes glowed with a bright golden light. His voice was unearthly – the spirit of his sword, Ashmadiel, was speaking through him and gave his voice a layered, harmonious quality. He/ She/ They addressed the eight very confused Nightbane, with Black Phantom and The Beast both nearby to witness this.

“The Nightlands are savagely ruled by sorcerers of long ago; men and women who shed their humanity for power to become monsters in both look and deed. Called the Ba’al-ze-neckt, or the Lords of the Night, they grew to bear nothing but hatred and malice towards humanity. Their goals became to destroy the works of mankind, grind them into the dust, enslave them, and then sacrifice them to increase their power.”

“After a great war which destroyed the first Human civilization, the Night Lords were eventually banished to the Nightlands and trapped them. While imprisoned in that dark mirror to the Earth they spread out and conquered it. They destroyed all that opposed them there until even the very land itself was bent to their twisted will. Among those destroyed were a race called the Formless Ones, natives who once lived peacefully in that Land of the Night. The Night Lords killed them all in their bid for power. Yet, they did not truly die.”

“Tied to the power of the land which birthed them, their spirits of the Formless Ones are reincarnated on Earth, where they can grow into their power safely. Throughout the ages they have sought to reclaim their homelands and would constantly return to take the fight back to the Night Lords. In time, they became known by a different name. These Spawn of the Night Lands would become known as the Bane of the Night Lords – Nightbane. With the power of their formless selves longing to be free, and the power of their ancient home surging through their bodies, they have waged a never ending war against the Night Lords to reclaim their homeland.”

“The Night Lords fear the Night Bane. Their connection to the Night Lands is too strong to keep them out. Their thirst for vengance too powerful to be held back when facing off against the ancient sorcerer-kings or their empowered minions. It is only the Night Lord’s vast numbers and mighty armies which have kept the Nightbane from eliminating them and reclaiming their home.”

“Though imprisoned, the Night Lords long to be free and return once more to reclaim the Earth for themselves. They could not escape the Nightlands, but their minions could. Once, their minions were numerous enough to threaten this world. That was when…”

Ashmadiel, controlling Gryphon, paused a moment before continuing.

“That was when my fellow Celestials and I finally mobilized to fight and stave off their invasion. Luciphim fought with Obscuruphim under the banner of The Shining Legion. We Athanatos proudly revealed ourselves and stood to defend this world from the return of the Night Lords. Many Nightbane fought by our side. But in a bid to end the war for good, both my partner and I overstepped, dealing a fatal blow to the Shining Legion from which it would never recover.”

“Both my partner and I were imprisoned in weapons as punishment for our arrogance. But despite the blow I dealt the Shining Legion, the Nightbane fought on successfully. Throughout the centuries I have witnessed Nightbane continue to step up to fight the Night Lords and their minions. Yet, sometime in this past century, it seems things changed.”

“The ways between the Nightlands and Earth became completely sealed off. The one who was manipulating the lot of you was a Prince of the Night Lords – nearly as monstrous as them and utterly loyal to their cause. He was deceiving you, I believe, in order to leverage your connections to your ancient homeland in a bid to re-open the ways between dimensions. Perhaps even to free the Night Lords themselves and bring them to the Earth once more, so they could continue their bid to destroy Humanity and increase their own power.”

“Your ignorance was used against you. Do not fault yourselves for this. The dimensional seal which prevented crossing the Mirrorwall was destroyed, and you will in time be able to cross that boundary yourselves. It did not appear that the Night Prince or his master knew that. Perhaps their plans would have changed if they had realized. I do not know.”

Ashmadiel was silent now, and looked around at all the Nightbane that had been deceived here. Her eyes fell on The Beast. “Something about you is different, but exactly what is hard to say. You are like them but you are not them. Your way will be different, I think, and perhaps even more difficult.”

With a look of patience, Gryphon/ Ashmadiel looked around at all the heroes and Nightbane here in the room. “Before I return the Gryphon to you, is there anything further any of you wish to ask?”

Are We Sure These Guys Are Heroes?

Are We Sure These Guys Are Heroes?

Are we sure these guys are heroes? I heard someone shooting when I ran over from grandma’s house. People usually don’t run from heroes. I think I saw the sword guy rush into that room and start attacking other animal people. The robot guy not from Skynet just disintegrated a person in front of us. I’m pretty sure he is lying and is from Skynet. Also Victor shot me at these people before we even found out who they were or what they were doing. This group I am supposed to be joining doesn’t sound like heroes to me. Also they have potty mouths. I wish Walter didn’t change his number. I have so many questions. George needs to get back from his summit trip too. At least I found grandma, maybe she can help me over some milk and cookies.
Calling Out Mayday

Calling Out Mayday

Can you hear, can you hear, can you hear my voice?
Coming through, coming through, coming through the noise?
I’m floating through outer space
I’m lost and I cant find a way
All the lights going dark
and my hopes destroyed

Help me, is anybody there?
Save me, I’m running out of air

Calling out Mayday
Calling out Mayday

It’s so dark, it’s so dark out here in space
and it’s been so long, been so long since I’ve seen a face
My eyes are shut but I can see
the void between you and me
and I feel, and I feel like I’m going insane

Help me, is anybody there?
Save me, I’m running out of air

Calling out Mayday
Calling out Mayday

Far from the sun
Beyond stars
I hear their song
They’re coming closer
Talking without sound
Calling me home

Calling out Mayday
Calling out Mayday

Save me, I’m running out of air
I’m running out of air
I’m running out of air
I’m running out of air
I’m running out of air…

 

 

Amazing Expedition to Dimension ZX89Ω!

Amazing Expedition to Dimension ZX89Ω!

Reader’s Note: Character names native to the ZX89Ω Dimension are denoted with a “-Ω” after the name in an attempt to avoid confusion.

 
“Can you tell me what happened?”

“Well…”

After The Geist-Ω of Dimension ZX89Ω told the S.A.V.I.O.R. of Dimension P-52 about his Jake-Ω and Granny-Ω‘s meeting with the Atorians, he finished by letting them know neither of the two heroes had ever been seen again. But in case they ever returned, The Geist-Ω purchased Granny-Ω’s house in order to hold the property for her. He hadn’t been able to do anything with Jake’s house though because of the weirdness surrounding it.

A slowly expanding temporal dome had appeared around Jake-Ω’s house. Time was obviously slowed within, and it had expanded to about a half-mile radius around the house over these last months. Various teams had tried to travel through it and they could be seen visibly stuck, moving ever so slowly forward. The Centurions-Ω refused to have anything to do with this at this time – they said something about having had enough of temporal business. The Geist-Ω asked Jake if he would be able to take care of that before he moved on to his next destination with the rest of the team?

Once Jake disappointingly verified there was no Atorian invasion of Earth happening at the moment, he said he could do that before he took S.A.V.I.O.R. to go check out another place he had in mind. After doing some quick estimation of the dangers that could be in his home after six months left unsupervised, he asked S.A.V.I.O.R. to accompany him. Jake then began to build a device to keep the current portal back to their dimension open so there was no danger of becoming trapped in this dimension.

Based on the story The Geist-Ω told them about Jake and Granny, Thanatos thought it was possible the Atorian Empress was just here on vacation. He voiced to Granny his observation that the Granny-Ω of this dimension simply gave them up without even being told they had to surrender or anything. Gryphon agreed that what Thanatos said seemed possible.

Caedechron asked Geist-Ω about himself in this dimension and was crestfallen to learn that the same events involving his death happened to him here, too. After verifying with Jake that this visit wasn’t a time travel from the past sort of situation, The Geist-Ω told Caedechron cautiously that his body was still alive! It took Caedechron-Ω a while, but he eventually tracked it down and found it. Rather than answer where his body was found, The Geist-Ω tried to prepare Caedechron to realize that his body turned up very injured due to what his killers did with it. The body took some time to heal but permanent injuries were sustained. Finally The Geist-Ω told Caedechron to ask Mason Blodget for more details. If he was even still alive… It was implied heavily that the man wouldn’t remain alive long.

Thanatos revealed that he made sure to blame the release of the incriminating evidence against Blodget and Xander Financial on the Church of Reflections. The Geist-Ω admitted that the church became a big “to-do” in his dimension for a little while, then went back to obscurity. He suggested that once the church rears its head they should reach out to Covenant and get him involved. This surprised the others since their Covenant had just left the team not too long ago. The Geist-Ω relayed the current members of S.A.V.I.O.R. in his dimension: Himself, The Gryphon-Ω, Black Phantom-Ω, The Strange-Ω, Caedechron-Ω, Zeau-Ω, Cavalry-Ω, Hyperia-Ω, Covenant-Ω, Precision-Ω, Rebota-Ω, Hank-Ω, and Mar’rakesch-Ω.

Gryphon keyed in on the mention of Hyperia. The Geist-Ω mentioned that the Gryphon-Ω’s relationships weren’t going too well and that those two were not very friendly towards each other here. He took him outside to discuss more privately. Black Phantom, curious, read the Gryphon’s mind to try and discover what was meant by “relationships“, and got a mindful of his polyamorous dealings. Outside Geist-Ω revealed that Hyperia-Ω didn’t care for Stephania-Ω, Ramona-Ω, and Mavis Beacon-Ω, and that drove a wedge between the two. His seeming attempts to continue to try anyway with Hyperia-Ω drove a wedge between him and the others. Then the stress of what happened to Mallic in this dimension drove Gryphon-Ω into despair.

The Geist-Ω further revealed that Mallic got heavy competition from a company called C.F. Robotics and they drove Mallic out of business about two months ago. This company was started by Jake-Ω before he left. The revelation of this possible future for his friends crushed Gryphon. Both Granny2Good and Caedechron were able to hear that conversation with their enhances hearing. Granny2Good immediately called out Jake about it. Jake finished modifying one of Granny’s antique cameras to hold open the existing portal to their dimension. He flipped it on while facing the portal and it shimmered for a moment before returning to its normal look. Then Jake finally responded to Granny. He showed no remorse, only noted that he employed Amanda Surges to make Autumn jealous enough to want to work for him again, and that he always intended to fire Amanda once that happened. Granny resolved to fire Amanda once they returned. Jake moved on to trying to program his gun so a portal would resolve in Jake-Ω’s home.

Miss Amazing ran outside to comfort Gryphon once Granny relayed what she overheard. He looked hollow to her. Her words didn’t seem to comfort him. The Geist-Ω was surprised by their closeness – the Miss Amazing-Ω of his dimension went on the run once Sector 10 came back into both her and Black Phantom-Ω’s lives. His Gryphon-Ω and Miss Amazing-Ω had never been an item in his dimension. These differences between the his life and that of this duplicate in this dimension did little to lift up Gryphon.

This was when a three-foot tall being approached the house. The Geist-Ω knew this being but before he could make introductions Thanatos came out of the house. The small being went right up to him and called him Carl as if he knew that version of him. The Geist-Ω cleared up that confusion quickly and the small being introduced itself as Mar’rakesch Zim’ba’bwe Golgo13tha’sTerror-Ω, or Mar’rakesch for short. Mar’rakesch-Ω spoke through a universal translator which had trouble identifying if the speaker was male or female. Thanatos reached out and re-programmed it so it always had a male voice. Mar’rakesch-Ω barely seemed to notice.

Thanatos went over to Gryphon and quietly offered to go to C.F. Robotics and “liberate” all their ideas, then bring them back and give them to Garrick instead. Garrick told him yes, and that Thanatos should make sure they get caught up in bureaucratic nonsense regarding breaking copyright laws. He told Thanatos that basically, he wanted their to business suffer for what they did to Mallic. Garrick was very resolute at that moment in their destruction through this agent. Garrick then got up and walked inside in a haze and went to Jake in order to help him make the portal gun work. Jake was confused by this act of unexpected Teamwork but humored it.

Caedechron was busying himself with the mouse skeleton he found earlier when Thanatos came back into the house with the Geist-Ω. Thanatos quietly asked Caedechron if he wanted to go with him to C.F. Robotics. He assumed it would be a while before Jake was done getting his gun to work. At that moment, Jake announced that he was done! Gryphon stepped back, having been the one to successfully alter the dimensional math in a way which allowed a portal to materialize within a temporal instability. Jake created the portal and told everyone they should go and get this over with.

S.A.V.I.O.R. discussed leaving certain members behind to watch the camera-maintained portal. The mutually decide that only Jake, Thanatos, Caedechron, Gryphon, Miss Amazing, Mar’rakesch-Ω, and The Geist-Ω will go through the portal. Jake rummaged in Granny-Ω’s kitchen and found a full bag of the special tea leaves he had brought over that night of Granny’s dinner. He held it out to the others and suggested they all “have fun” while waiting. Black Phantom took them, saying he wanted to try them at home with Deathwish. After that conversation it was noticed that Thanatos was missing! The others deduced he went ahead through the portal alone, so the rest of expedition team went after him.

The portal had deposited Thanatos in the ruins of what looked like a den or study. The room was much larger than it had any right being. He had snuck through hoping to find some interesting technology – instead what he found was ancient trash and weird creatures. He tried to communicate with them but instead he drew their attention, and they seemed poised to attack at any second. He formed a rifle from his black box and took aim while one by one the others who came through after him arrived.

Mar’rakesch-Ω tried to reason with them, but all that was accomplished was making them momentarily confused. One by one S.A.V.I.O.R. began to cut these strange monstrosities down. They were tough, and Jake noted they were organisms which were technically possible for his own technology to produce. Jake slipped out of the room while the others were finishing the fight. He wanted to get to the bottom of this weirdness as fast as possible.

When everyone else followed, they entered an old dining room area. Again, very unusually large and with all it’s furniture ruined. More notably though was the misshapen lump of flesh slowly crawling across the floor which appeared to be a nightmarish conglomeration of four Shorties. The four heads moaned different complaints as the monstrosity kept inching forward. Mar’rakesch-Ω could feel its fear and pain and reached out to suppress its fear. All this did was make their pain so much worse, causing them to call out to kill them and end this. Mar’rakesch-Ω then began to meditate in order to try and offer some healing, but while meditating Caidechron walked over and mercy killed all four with bullets to the head. Mar’rakesch-Ω could feel them die, finally at peace.

While Mar’rakesch-Ω was still processing that and being comforted by The Geist-Ω and Caedechron, the robot’s sensors picked up latent heat which indicated which way Jake had gone. They follow through that door into what used to be a kitchen, but was now instead filled with thousands of genetically altered spiders. Jake had suited up into his mecha Jake suit and cleared a path, allowing the others to catch up to him. Together they all entered the garage.

A blast of dry heat blew past them as they entered the garage. The building gave way to a vast desert with a pyramid way off in the distance. Jake found the trap door to his lab buried in sand and opened it up for them to al climb down. Down at the bottom of the ladder the lab was in ruins. There were numerous cloning chambers and computer terminals lining the walls, all broken and aged to obsolescence. Littering the floor all around were the dead, cloned bodies of everyone Jake-Ω had ever taken DNA samples from. Each body was long-since deceased and deformed in subtle ways, as if they hadn’t been cloned perfectly.

Jake told everyone to wait there while he went to take care of what was causing the issue they were there for. Caedechron noticed that there was strong source of strange radiation coming from the room Jake was entering, and this radiation matched the signature of what he faintly sensed back in their dimension. Jake went through a door into the room beyond. He found the device he expected but discovered it contained an object which, while familiar, what not exactly like the one he acquired over a month ago. It was still an impossible object – no three dimensional shape could exist like this, yet here it was. Jake noted the system to take advantage of its unique nature had broken down, causing the formerly controlled impossible object to react in these bizarre ways, creating the temporal and dimensional instabilities in and around this house. Jake began to repair the containment unit and prep it for transport.

Back in the first part of the lab, while everyone else was waiting Thanatos extended his nanites over the least wrecked cloning pod he could find, and its attached computer terminal. Nearly half the nanites which made up his form design were pulled off his body for this. Once covered, he had the nanites consume it, allowing them to absorb its shape and function. When questioned about what he did he simply told the others that all living things must eat.

Jake succeeded, and the energy this impossible object had been radiating was now safely contained. This caused a sudden wave of pressure throughout the property as time and space snapped back to normal around them. This was jarring enough physically that it forced Thanatos to swap personalities, making Trip emerge. Trip began to panic because he had no idea how he got there. Gryphon explained to him that the black box had been the controlling personality up until now, a fact which greatly excited Trip as that implied his attempts to create some kind of A.I. had been successful.

Jake walked into the room carrying a sealed, two-foot square box with numerous tech attachments embed all along the outside of it. He kicked his own dead clone body on the ground and said “Let’s go” to everyone else, then began to climb up. Looking at the ladder, the centaur Trip asked Miss Amazing if she could reach into his mind and pull out either The Beast or Alice, since unlike him they would be able to climb out. She tried, but accidentally pushed out Thanatos instead.

As they exited the lab they noticed the garage was restored, though all the equipment and the Delorean were aged to uselessness. Jake looked for any usable tech to salvage but found very little that was useful. Mar’rakesch-Ω spoke about wanting to find parts to eventually make a light saber. While Thanatos showed off the one Jake had made for him, Jake casually assembled another one to give to the tiny alien. Though it wouldn’t last long, it could be useful as a model for future construction. Mar’rakesch-Ω was very taken aback and thankful.

Before handing it over, Jake used the light saber to burn away all the spider webs in the kitchen. They burned away fast, killing most of the spiders too. Once clear Jake gave Mar’rakesch-Ω the light saber then became very disappointed that there was no drinkable beer in the fridge. He ignored the loud thumps which the others heard as larger bodies formerly suspended in the webs fell to the ground. There were several small animals and what appeared to be three tiny, six-inch tall humans with insect-like wings. Gryphon noticed one of the tiny humans appeared to be alive, though in rough shape.

Mar’rakesch-Ω rushed over at this news and meditated in order to heal the tiny creature, after ensuring no-one was going to kill him before the meditation finished. No-one did. The healing appeared to be successful as the tiny human stabilized. He remained unconscious though and Mar’rakesch-Ω carried him safely and securely. Jake and the Geist-Ω had walked away by this time and returned through the portal. Thanatos and Caedechron plotted to take a road trip once they returned to Granny’s. Caedechron did note that the radiation he noticed before was not only significantly weaker since Jake fixed things, but it was traveling with him now. Their job here complete, everyone went back to the ruined den of the now normal-sized house and returned through the portal to Granny’s house.

The Geist-Ω remarked that he’d received work the people who were trapped in the temporal field had been freed and successfully rescued. Jake simply closed that portal and opened a new one to Grymdin. Granny, Gryphon, Miss Amazing, Zeau, and Mar’rakesch-Ω all went through the portal at Jake’s urging. He followed to find they had entered a massive one-sided battle playing out in this former alien cantina setting. The aliens here were fighting against invading Atorian soldiers. These soldiers though each displayed the strength, speed, and durability of Granny2Good. They were also arriving through portals similar to Jake’s. The defenders here stood no chance and were falling one by one. Even an old friend of Jake’s, Paunchy-Ω, was knocked out by a pair of the soldiers.

Nearby there was a human-looking alien screaming for help. Caedechron recognized this alien as Zator Napal-Ω, an arms merchant which Black Phantom had recently assassinated someone for in order to acquire a powerful alien weapon. Zator-Ω’s bodyguards were holding off two Atorian soldiers, but they wouldn’t last long. Mar’rakesch-Ω stepped forward to try and talk and disarm the conflict, but the translator’s words just couldn’t couldn’t seem to reach anyone in this battle. Granny ran to rescue Zator-Ω at Jake’s prompting, then they all retreated back through the portal. One of the Atorian soldiers noticed them – specifically Granny, and tried to come after them.

Gryphon had waited by the portal to allow everyone else to go through first. Instead of letting Mar’rakesch-Ω try to talk with her, he intercepted the soldier and deliberately let her hit him full strength. The power of her attack hurt him and forced him back through the air several feet. Seeing everyone else had made it through he ignored the power she displayed and taunted her while floating back through the portal. Jake closed it as soon as he was clear, before the soldier could follow.

Safe at Granny’s, Mar’rakesch-Ω was confused as to why Gryphon didn’t let the small alien try to diffuse the situation and confronted Gryphon about it. Gryphon said that none of it mattered – people would just do whatever they want. He began to lament that the future as he saw it here was inevetable upon his return. Granny2Good suggested to Jake that he create a barrier around this dimension so the Atorians couldn’t portal out. Jake pulls out his phone to make a call.

Meanwhile, Thanatos, Caedechron, and Black Phantom had taken Granny2Good-Ω’s aircar and flown over to C.F. Robotics. Once there, Thanatos very charismaticly convinced them that he was there on Jake’s orders and they needed to shut the place down. Megatron continued to operate as normal. They could see Starbucks guy and three Shorties had all stopped working to stare at them. The Shorties reacted with surprise and a little bit of fear at seeing Thanatos.

A woman in her late 20’s and a power suit, her long blond hair in a tight bun, came down from the offices on the floor above to meet with them. This was Amanda Surges-Ω. She received Thanatos and bought everything he said to her. He actually had the undivided attention of everyone in the place. This allowed Black Phantom and Caedechron to wander off and explore. Caedechron, in particular, started looking for robotic weapons he could relieve them of.

Amanda-Ω maintained that the factory was following the direction Jake had set it on to the best of her ability. She was confused by what Thanatos said were Jake’s orders. Thanatos casually leaned against a computer and downloaded all the data from the C.F. Robotics network. He noticed that all the data was originally Mallic’s, including their research projects. He then implanted a virus that would wipe out all the robotics schematics in the factory’s computers in 15 hours. Thanatos meanwhile told Amanda-Ω that she took the factory in the wrong direction.

He called Jake and Gryphon and asked if he should destroy everything. They had all returned from Grymdin by now with Zator in mute shock. Jake said no and to tell her he’ll have new schematics for them shortly. They’ll need to start doing something new. Thanatos continued to review the data he took off their computers while Jake explained to Gryphon that he built C.F. Robotics in their dimension with all of Mallic’s information in order to make the factory as high-tech as possible without drawing the attention of Alpha Prime. In his review Thanatos found most of the dates on the data aligned with what Jake had just explained, but some of the more recent and sensitive data had been taken after that. It was tagged with the name of Blake Masters-Ω, and when he told them the date Granny remembered that was the night she tailed Amanda in their dimension, and watched her have a secret meeting with someone she didn’t recognize who she now guessed was Blake.

Gryphon despondently asked Jake for one favor once they returned to their dimension – to name the company anything but “C.F.”, which were his father’s initials. Jake said “deal.” Thanatos then linked Amanda-Ω into the call so Jake could send her schematics to create tech which will prevent portals from being able to open into other dimensions. She reviewed them and said it would take about a week, or less with overtime, to get this going. Jake authorized the overtime. Then he turned to Granny and demanded she tell him her weaknesses. She thought about it and admitted that when she’s unconscious she seems to lose her powers. Jake began to mentally formulate a combination of gasses that could knock out the Atorian soldiers and give people a fighting chance against them.

The Geist-Ω talked with Mar’rakesch-Ω, and they decided to leave. The Geist-Ω said “It was great seeing some of you…” and left, allowing S.A.V.I.O.R. and Jake to finish their business, and maybe even question that alien Zator Napal-Ω with them. As they left Jake told The Geist-Ω that Jake-Ω and Granny2Good-Ω needed to be rescued, and gave him some coordinates in space to begin their search at. The Geist-Ω accepted and left.

While waiting for Caedechron, Black Phantom, and Thanatos to return, The rest of them began to question the trembling Zator-Ω. He was eager to talk, to please them, so long as they didn’t hurt him and would let him go. Once he was calmed down he informed them that the Atorians began to expand their territory about two months ago. But with their new super-soldiers and portal technology, they completely destroyed the united forces the Federation of Allied Races had pit against them. The Atorians, unopposed, began to quickly conquer the planets in that sector. They also expanded into the territory of the Thissera-Micean Cooperative, but by now it was known that no one could stand up to them in a straight-on confrontation. The TMC recalled all their operatives and have been fighting a guerrilla tactics war against the Atorians in their sector. They’re losing, but doing a better job than the FAR did.

Zator-Ω confessed that as an arms dealer, he welcomed the war at first. But loss after loss meant buyers became more and more scarce. Those who wanted to buy could no longer afford it, and there was no guarantee that any credit extended to prospective buyers could ever be collected upon. The situation in the galaxy was seemingly hopeless. The Toogarth Empire were gearing up to enter the fight but they aren’t joining it to win – they’re joining it to die their glorious deaths in battle.

Once the rest of S.A.V.I.O.R. returned, they let Zavor-Ω go. Then they walked back through the still-open portal to their own dimension. Once the last one was through the portal closed. None of them noticed the small stowaway that traveled back with them.

“…and that’s what happened.”

“But what happened next? Did Gryphon and Jake reconcile? Will Granny2Good still give herself and Jake up? Will they defeat the Atorians? Is Mar’rakesch a boy or girl? Why did The Geist seem to dislike Thanatos? Did Caedechron find anything interesting at the factory? Did they ever find the stowaway?”

“Slow down there young one. Story time is done for tonight. You have a lot of questions, but there will be time another night for those answers.”

Jake and Ethel Give Up

Jake and Ethel Give Up

The Geist of Dimension ZX89Ω looked over these Heroes from Dimension P-52 assembled before him. Seeing them was like looking back in time, at an more raw version of S.A.V.I.O.R., one which still had Granny2Good and was partnered with Jake Thompson, L.L.C.. They had all come here with questions about a night that was almost six months ago now, when Jake and Ethel confronted Empress Arcadia of the Atorian Empire here on Earth, and ultimately left with them. The Heroes wanted to know how that meeting went down. The Geist began to tell the story.

“It started while we were at Ethel’s for dinner. We had a couple interruptions – that was also the night we met Cai, and we dealt with some thugs Mason Blodget’s goons sent after Ethel. But all of us, Jake included, were enjoying the meal when Katherine remarked that the Atorian Empress had been trying to reach her. Jake and Ethel agreed they ‘might as well get this over with,’ and agreed to meet the next day.”

“Through the conversation Katherine was directed to contact Director Anja Balisong to meet in the ‘usual place’ the following night. I was a bit worried as to what this might have meant. I could tell I wasn’t alone in this concern. Thanatos used his unique abilities to help clear this up. He…” He made eye contact with the Thanatos from the other dimension and let whatever he was about to say trail off.

“Turned out the Director had been meeting with the Atorians as other-worldly delegates for over a month now. The Empress had opened negotiations with ‘local law enforcement’ to apprehend enemies of their Empire hiding out here on Earth.” He looked straight at Jake and Ethel when he said this. “The ‘local law enforcement’ consisted of Director Balisong on behalf of Earth and Alpha Prime on behalf of the Thissera-Micean Cooperative.”

“Once the Empress had started dealing with Alpha Prime and Director Balisong, she wouldn’t accept anyone else – especially none of the men which our government sent to try and join in. These talks stalled once Alpha Prime went to Antarctica to deal with the Elemental Rift which opened there after, well you remember that I’m sure.”

“Anyway, the Director was surprised, but she facilitated our meeting. We met at the Century Park Skyscraper over in the Silver City district. Nathan had of course scoped the building and meeting site out ahead of time with Ava’s help, and made sure Alice was with us that day. Director Balisong let us set up and stage ourselves ahead of time. We suspected some sort of trick, especially after their attack the night before. Alice, Katherine, Ava, and Ethel were our main speakers while the rest of us backed them up.”

“When Empress Arcadia arrived, she brought 8 of her guards with her. It was, we noticed, one less than there were the night before. They wore their full armor, including helmets. The Empress walked in confidently and regally, but that was offset somewhat the Earth clothing she was wearing. If it wasn’t for her attitude and the tattoos on her head, she could have looked like any typical modern teenager.”

“She sat down across from Alice, Katherine, Ava, and Ethel. Her guards stayed close behind, paying attention to both her and the rest of us. Empress Arcadia looked at the Director and asked in English if she brought ‘that drink from the mountains.’ The Director said she did and smiled, producing a can of Mountain Dew. She took it, started drinking it, and prepared to say something when she was interrupted.”

“‘We’ll go,’ Ethel said suddenly. Everyone was surprised, but no-one seemed more surprised than the Empress herself. ‘I don’t want to see anyone else get hurt by you. Jake and I will go. Right, brother dear? I think it’s the least you could do, to come with your dear sister.’ She said that in such a charismatic way that I could see Jake was having a hard time saying no.”

“The Empress could only say, ‘What?’ She sounded very confused. Whatever she had planned for, this was obviously not it.”

“Ethel continued speaking, saying stuff like ‘this is what you came here for,’ ‘this will keep anyone else from getting hurt,’ ‘if this will make you leave Earth then fine,’ and ‘I can handle myself. It’s not they can really hurt me.’

“The Empress looked to all her guards. They had a conversation in their language. Ethel called them out on being rude while Garrick simply translated in real time, out loud, to the rest of us. ‘The guard said See, it worked out after all and now we can go home finally. Now the Empress said Maybe it’s a trick and we should stay longer to be sure. The guard just told her Respectfully, she’d be a fool not to take this chance. The Empress now said Fine, I guess. She sounds like she’s sulking. Now she just told the guard to Send the order to repel the Niamese Coalition’s boarding party and prepare to leave orbit. Oh, the guard is surprised to hear that and said Repel what? Those annoyances are here and attacking? Now the Empress said Not yet, but any moment now. Hurry up and relay the order.'”

“When that conversation ended Jake looked to Ethel and said ‘If that’s what you really want to do, then I’ll go with you. This is dumb, but I’ll do it.’ Ethel told him ‘See Jake? I knew that deep down you’re a good person.’ Jake’s only reply to that was a shrug.”

“The Atorian guard stepped away and made a call to their ship as ordered. The Empress looked at Ethel and said, ‘Well, I guess all vacations have to end eventually. Thanks. For being reasonable about this. You two come with us and we’ll leave now.’ Katherine and Nathan confirmed she was being honest, but was also clearly disappointed. Especially as she talked about a vacation ending.”

“We tried to reason with Ethel and Jake, but they stayed firm. Ethel especially. They eventually let the Atorian guards restrain them and they all walked away. The Empress seemed almost sad as she thanked the Director, Ava, Katherine, and Alice. Whatever she had hoped would happen that day obviously did not, and it showed clearly. I believe may have been part of why Jake went along with Ethel.”

“That was it. We haven’t seen or heard from them since. The Atorians left with Jake and Ethel. That was about six months ago now, and we’ve heard nothing since.”

Ashmadiel and Aaziakel

Ashmadiel and Aaziakel

Garrick found himself within a familiar rocky desert landscape with a swirling dust storm marking the boundary of this imaginary space. Ashmadiel appeared in the edge of that storm and walked into the calm area. Seven feet tall but thin and wiry, and fully armored from head to toe in the suit which Garrick could call upon himself. Wings of a brilliant metallic-silver caught and reflected non-existent sources of fire as they sat folded back and unused. Ashmadiel walked forward, a sword made of fire held comfortably in one hand, until stopping in front of Garrick.

ASHMADIEL VISION

“Well met again, Garrick Faulkner,” Ashmadiel said. “I was saddened to learn that time has not tempered Aaziakel’s ambitions as it has tempered mine. I cannot thank you enough for your actions, and those of your friends, in removing his influence from that woman. Still, I cannot find myself hating him. After all, we were once partners in the fight to protect humanity.”

The scene begins to shift and the wispy outlines of the previous vision fill the space for a moment. Ashmadiel and Aaziakel, fighting side by side against an army of shadowy, black-armor clad figures which surround them. The vision ended almost as soon as it began. “You already know of this,” Ashmadiel said to Garrick. “Aaziakel and I were partners within the Shining Legion. Each of us was an outcast, but together we found acceptance and purpose.”

“Our differences complimented each other well. I was a warrior – a scourge upon all our enemies. I mastered the flames of my sword to cut down our foes swiftly and decisively. Aaziakel walked a different path. He self-studied the mystic arts, becoming a magii to support us with powerful magics. Together we defended humanity over and over.”

The wispy shadow memories played out around Garrick and Ashmadiel as the story was told. The memories showed the two angelic beings fighting against black-armored warriors, shapeshifting monstrosities, and demonic horrors. Always as before, Ashmadiel was a blur of swordplay while Aaziakel concentrated on mixing magic with the strikes from his diamond sword. Each scene came and went swiftly. The last scene was of Ashmadiel practicing sword forms while Aaziakel sat reading, a stack of scrolls in a pack next to him.

“Over time, we both found ourselves dissatisfied with the shape of the conflict. We each agreed that something new needed to be tried. I lusted to take the fight to its source. To defeat our enemies in a massive invasion of our own. He sought to strengthen the barrier between our dimensions, thus preventing any further incursions.”

“Time and again I presented my tactic to our Celestial commanders. But always my impassioned ranting was ignored.” Ashmadiel’s eyes begin to burn with a divine fire. “So I began to seek out like-minded compatriots amongst my sistren and brethren. I was not the only one disenfranchised with our leaders and who wanted to go on the offensive. Aaziakel was not among them. He pursued his own idea, one which the Shining Legion similarly ignored. Unbeknownst to me, he was also amassing a loyal contingent of mutineers.”

“Neither of us mentioned to the other what we were doing. We did not wish to implicate the other in our own treachery, you see. So it was with surprise that on the day my followers and I made our move to usurp our current leadership, so too did Aaziakel make his move with his followers.”

The story pauses there. Shadow memories appear again all around. Two small armies of angelic beings filled the vision as far as the space could allow. One was led by Ashmadiel. The other by Aaziakel. They are each surprised when they see the other. Then angry. With shouts they call for their armies to advance upon each other. The conflict is powerful and terrible. Ashmadiel and Aaziakel’s swords clash repeatedly throughout the war, even as their armies kill each other around them.

“I thought he had betrayed me. He thought I had betrayed him. Our plans were in direct opposition to each other. We fought each other, mindless of the devistation our war was causing. Neither of us gave the other any quarter. Eventually our armies fell and we were the last two standing. We had weakened each other severely. A fact the commanders of the Shining Legion used to their advantage to subdue and capture us both.”

“We were tried swiftly. The two of us had decimated the ranks of the Shining Legion. Because of our actions our kind no longer had the numbers to stem the tide of darkness as we had for all those years. As punishment we were each bound, body, mind, and spirit, into weapons created specifically in the likeness of our personal manifestations.”

The sword of fire in Ashmadiel’s hand flashed, and in its stead was the sword Garrick wielded. The sword disappeared and appeared in Garrick’s hand. “I have had much time to reflect over the years since.” Ashmadiel removes the helmet and it disappears, along with the rest of the armor. Now standing before Garrick was a bronze-skinned woman with fiery red hair that writhed and flowed as though a constant wind were blowing through it. Her eyes burned with a divine fire for a moment as she looked at Garrick.

In a now much more recognizably feminine voice, she said, “My decisions led me to this existence. I no longer trust them. This is why I am glad to trust you with this power. For though I am limited in how I can affect your world on my own, I can withold this power from those who are not worthy of it. I wasn’t sure when you first encountered me. But when you returned, I sensed a compatability between us. But not because of how much like myself you are. I think now that, for as much of myself that I see in you, I see much of my old friend, Aaziakel, as well.”

Garrick didn’t know when, but he was fully clad in the armor now. Sword in hand, he looked ready for battle. “Be careful you don’t tread down my path, nor his. I hope in time you can find the balance we each lacked.” At those words the sandstorm increased in intensity, swirling to fill the space where they both stood. Ashmadiel smiled as she was swallowed by it. Once it hit Garrick he woke up, back in the same place he was when the vision started.

 

 

 


All art by Adamantium_Art
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