Eye of the Beholder
by: David McFarland
“Can’t give a guy a break can ya?” The Rikti soldier
slapped Sky Burn after this remark and gurgled
something in its native language to its companions.
Two of the Conscripts of the group made a noise that
substituted for a laugh.
One of them attempted to talk to him in English that
they had learned from records and files. “You scum.
You will have pain. Much pain. We experiment on
you.” All of them shared a look of happiness and
From what he had taken in, the Chief Soldier of the
group knew the importance of keeping Sky Burn, whereas
one of the gunners wanted to kill him on the spot.
That was all part of the leap of faith he had taken.
It had all been Chillbain’s plan. Right now, Sky
Burn wanted to kill him. Since he was relatively the
most powerful one in their Super-group, Ryan was to
fake a defeat at the hands of Rikti. He went into the
area zoned off that was called the “Rikti Crash Site,”
since a Rikti Cruiser been taken down and drove into
the ground at a lop-sided angle.
This posed problems for heroes. One, the Rikti used
this as a base to retreat to when needed. Two, the
shield generator still worked, so Heroes nor the
Military could infiltrate it.
Sky Burn had jumped into a group of Rikti that were
harassing some soldiers, taking a few out. Once a few
shots washed over his armor, he fell the to ground to
make it look like he had been defeated. The Rikti
group saw their chance, since the soldiers now could
overpower them with their lessened numbers, and took
their retreat dragging Sky Burn in tow.
As Ryan was begin held backwards in between two of his
enemies, his feet making lines in the dirt, the only
Rikti Communications Specialist in the group talked
into a communicator. Several seconds later, the
soldiers that had been attacked who were now trying to
get a ride from a passing tank on patrol, were swarmed
by a flock of Rikti Drones. None made it alive.
With a blazing tank in front of him, gaining distance,
and the approaching of the Rikti ship, the plan was
going into full swing. The goal of the operation was
to find a way into the ship and take as much Rikti
technology as possible while eliminating all Rikti in
Of course, Chillbain’s plan involved authorization of
the Vanguard. In fact, they liked it so much, minus
the expense of Sky Burn, that they provided technology
and several dozen heroes-on-call, and asked the U.S.
Marines for four companies of Marine Raiders to help,
but only three could be supplied.
Originally, the plan would be to follow the group
dragging Sky Burn to the entrance of the base and go
in. Now, because of teleportation technology, they
could track his location and teleport in at an
appropriate time. Ryan Tanter was afraid that the
time might not be when he needed them to teleport in.
But he had a feeling, a rather good feeling, that he
would live through this ordeal.
The drones that had destroyed the tank quickly caught
up with the group of Rikti with their captured hero,
and they grouped closely together to make a flying
raft of sorts, which Ryan was placed on and was
strapped to several of the drones. He was guarded by a
few more, along with the Chief Soldier. Sky Burn’s
back ached after a while because one of the drones was
directly under his spine and was pushing it up, while
the ones restraining his arms seemed to fly low, as
well as the ones holding his back. He felt like
Christ on the cross before they lifted him up, only
his legs were spread apart more.
Soon a large beaten down apartment building loomed
before them, a draft wheezing in and out due to
disturbances in air pressure. They all moved into it
and had to take Sky Burn off of the Rikti drones in
order to get him in, but the drones followed to keep
him in check. The building looked like a normal,
run-of-the-mill abandoned apartment building. That
was, until they went through the next door.
The second the door creaked open machinery was herd
toiling away. From gears to electronics, the place
was noisy. The walls fell below the earth’s surface
and were covered in glowing green lights. Rikti ran
about, and several stopped and looked at the human who
was being carried by their comrades. Some grabbed
their weapons in case he sprung to life and attacked.
Ryan was slung into a vat-like chamber, similar to
ones seen in Hollywood movies that a clone is
developed it, or something is being contained in a
type of fluid. Ryan was somehow being supported-and
restrained- by a gravitational field though. When his
captors were out of sight he tried to see if he could
break free, but nothing. He was stuck. His original
idea was to just break free of any restraints by sheer
force, something he could have done while they were
dragging him here.
“He’s stopped moving. Ok guys, suit up and give ‘um
Hell.” Chillbain moved from the device tracking Sky
Burn’s movements. Before him was a vast group of
heroes. About thirty or so. Knife Edge, Fiery Ice,
Blaster Jockman, Olympian Tank, a new recruit who had
previously arrived from Chillbain’s home planet of
Zodia to take Chillbain back but was forced to stay,
who found a weakened Khledian, and in an effort to
save it’s life, had it merge with him, and Chillbain
himself were leading the teams. They were assigned
four other heroes each to lead, and a sixth group of
four was to be placed under Sky Burn’s command once
the assault was under-way. The other dozen or so
members of the Xtreme Warriors were not even
considerably skilled enough-or had a high enough
security level- to fight the Rikti.
The several hundred Marine Raiders would be
parachuted into an area cleared of Rikti by several
attack helicopters, then have to fight their way into
the Rikti ship.
Several miles above the tops of the War Walls
surrounding the Rikti Crash Site, ten MC-130 Hercules,
nicknamed the “Herky Bird,” lowered their back ramps,
and within seconds steady streams of Marine Raiders, a
division of Marines since World War Two that was known
as even more elite than the Marines themselves.
Master Sergeant Harrison was among them. He was the
first out of his squad, and his parachute was the last
to open of it. He wanted to be the first one on the
ground so he could cover for the rest of D Squad,
Bravo Company. As the parachute opened it yanked him
back with a force he had experienced before. Below
him several AH-64 Apache Longbows started to move out
of the way of the parachuters, with their guns blazing
at the Rikti who were starting to flood into the area
to try to destroy the helicopters. As he neared the
Earth, Harrison did as he had been taught during
Airborne school. He turned his front 90 degrees to
his path of descent, started to bend his legs to
absorb shock of the hit, and a few seconds before he
hit he flared his parachute.
He thumped into the ground and the wind carried his
parachute a bit, but because of his direction this
also helped him stand up and get his rig off. His
sixty-five pound rucksack was still intact, and his
M-4 assault rifle was strapped to his chest. As his
parachute that was now free of its cargo floated a bit
more it fluttered to the ground. The Master Sergeant
unslung his assault rifle and popped-off the barrel
plug that had done its job of keeping dirt out for
when he hit. He looked around and the second person
of his squad had just hit, his squad’s leader, a 2nd
Lieutenant. Harrison ran to him to help his with his
“Finally. I thought you would never get here.” Sky
Burn said to Chillbain who had just teleported in with
the rest of the heroes.
“Quiet. The Rikti are probably watching this room.
They will be here any second.” Blaster Jockman
smashed the generator to Sky Burn’s restraint system,
but Sky Burn still hovered there. He had used his
ability to fly to keep him from falling to the ground
unprepared. A punch at the vat they had enclosed him
in shattered it, and Sky Burn stepped over the broken
pieces. He rubbed at his wrists through his gloves.
Underneath them he wore the energy cuffs of the dead
hero “Captain Indomitable.” They allowed him to
further channel his energy without using so much of
“Well. I don’t care when they get here, I just want
a fight.” Sky Burn wondered why the floors they were
standing on weren’t slanted like the ship. “Its
artificial gravity generator must be intact.” He
whispered to himself.
“Because you have a security level of fifty doesn’t
mean you can brag about it.” Chillbain retorted.
“Hey, Knife Edge is fifty, too.”
“Shh…” Knife Edge drew his sword and his squad
gathered around him, ready for whatever was coming.
There were three entrances to the room they were in,
so two squads each walked down one. After going
through a slide-door, they each found around a hundred
Rikti troops and drones. They had been watching the
room, and they had planned on the heroes staying
longer and were trying to ambush them while they were
still in the room. It didn’t take long for blasts to
start flying from both sides. From Sky Burn and Fiery
Ice’s squads, whom were together, a total of two
tankers and two scrappers waded into the battle,
cutting down foes and getting them to focus on them.
While defenders dished out heals to hurt teammates,
the controllers sent holding powers out through their
enemies. Every once and a while, Fiery Ice would jump
into the middle of her foes, lay down a glacier of
ice, which froze them, then jump back out before her
enemies knew what was happening. Her Jack Frosts were
also in the middle of the fray alongside the scrappers
Meanwhile, Sky Burn knelt down, attached a rocket to
the end of his assault rifle’s barrel and then hovered
into the air. There was a large pocket of Rikti that
had been untouched. The LRM rocket quickly took care
of that, taking down most of them in one shot. For
those that it hadn’t taken down, Sky Burn fired a
sleep grenade into their midst, and the gas was
breathed in by the Rikti, putting them into a deep
sleep. His friends had an easier time after that,
selecting which ones they wanted to go after.
“Lets move!” Sky Burn ran off, turned on his stealth
and peeked around a corner and motioned for them that
he saw five Rikti and motioned for them to slowly come
up the way a military Lieutenant would. They all
looked at him confusingly like he was insane. Sky Burn
smacked his forehead with his palm for forgetting that
they didn’t know what all the motions were that the
He jumped out and hosed down the Rikti that were
there, and the others got the picture. A few more
blasts took them down.
In the distance, echoing off the halls more gunshots
“Looks like the Raiders are having a party.”
Chillbain said as he and his group approached,
followed by Knife Edge and his group. All six squads
had made it to the point they were at. “Let’s go help
Chillbain looked around the corner and watched as the
Raiders charged through the Rikti across the room.
Before them lay hundreds more of Rikti. The soldiers
were falling, but so were the Rikti.
“Ok. Lets move.” Chillbain said to his comrades.
“On it.” Sky Burn, a former Marine himself was more
than eager to get into the fight. He bent light around
himself slightly to make himself more stealth then
rushed into the fight.
“Not again…” Chillbain led the twenty-plus heroes
after him and they waded into the fight, trying to get
Sky burn was already in the middle of the Rikti, his
energy fists smashing into one after another after
another, sending them into the dust. He jumped at a
Chief Mentalist and snapped its neck with a swift
kick. From behind a blow sent him to the ground.
Ryan Tanter turned over to see a Chief Soldier stamp
his foot on the heroes chest.
“You will die human.” The Rikti , that apparently had
learned English for such taunting, charged his energy
rifle and aimed it his head.
“Ya know, this would be a horrible cliché death… if I
couldn’t do this.” While still on the ground, Sky Burn
held his hands above himself and forced himself to
meld into energy, phase shifting himself.
In a look of disbelief, the Rikti’s foot went through
the now intangible hero’s chest. Sky Burn stood up
and shook himself off. Still in awe, the alien being
raised his charged rifle and fired it at Ryan. It
passed through the phase shift and washed over another
Rikti, melting its torso.
“Or this.” Ryan continued his sentence as he formed
energy around his still phased fists and drove them
into the soldier, who knew what he planned to do.
“No!” It screamed as Sky exited his phase shifting
with his energy enveloped hands still inside the chest
of his enemy, melting and destroying its internal
“Sky, watch out!” Chillbain let loose an ice blast
that impacted and froze a Conscript aiming for Sky
Burn. He followed it up with a blast thrown baseball
Fiery Ice jumped into the middle of the fight near
the two and ice rose up from the ground around her,
freezing a large group of the aliens, which were cut
down by one of the Marine’s .50 caliber Machine Guns.
Not long after the Rikti’s bodies lay strewn about
the floor, being either shot, sliced, or burned into
The heroes and the still remaining several hundred
Marines met up in the middle of the room. A Major saw
Sky Burn and Chillbain and walked to them. “Nice
“Same goes for you.” Chill returned the compliment.
“We worked from the center of the ship and went
around. There shouldn’t be any left.”
“Good. We have a tactical nuke with us, we are to
place it in the center of the ship.” The Major
smirked. “Their shields should hold out long enough to
protect the city from the blast. We did calculations
Chillbain called over a few friends for the major to
give the bomb to so they could arm and place it.
“Knife, Olympian Tank, get over here.” Knife Edge
walked over, still using a cloth to wipe off the green
The two were given the several hundred pound nuke and
they took it to a given spot and armed it, then
“Lets get out of here. It’s set for a remote
detonation.” The Major watched as the two returned.
His radio started to fill with chatter. “Crud.” He
said as he listened to it, and turned up the volume so
a few around him could hear.
“…. I repeat, the LZ is hot, we gotta pull out.” The
Blackhawks and Apache Longbow helicopters were their
only way out of the zone.
The several hundred Marines filed through several
doors along with the heroes and continued the long
walk out of the ship.
“Not again…. more Rikti, everyone spread out!” The
clatter of the boots of the Rikti could be heard
through the ship’s corridors. “I need ten snipers by me.
” The Major followed up his command.” Sky Burn
super-sped around the corner for a second, and a few
drones fired at him, but all missed as he returned to
the haven of the adjacent hall.
“This isn’t good. I couldn’t see the end of ‘um.
They have to have a thousand or two. That corridor was
wide, and I know they had to have a lot more than I
could see. As many as were in that hall don’t make
that much noise.”
“Great. We can’t beat two thousand. How are we going
kill ‘um all?”
“Major, how many packs of C4 do you have?”
“Fire in the hole!” Four heroes with superspeed ran
around the corner throwing numerous packs of C4 at the
charging Rikti force. The explosive putty rained down
on the aliens along with their detonators. When the
heroes were out of sight of the Rikti, the Major,
called Jenkins, pressed a button on a pad that looked
like a remote control. A signal was sent to the
detonators, and massive explosions sent several dozen
Rikti flying. The charging force finally started to
go around the corner, with several Marine machine
gunners and heroes waiting for them.
The resulting battle was a massacre. Several Head
Gunman teleported behind the defending force and
blasted away at the Marines, who managed to take them
down eventually, not without heavy casualties.
Several superheroes were cut down by Conscript’s and
Chief Soldier’s swords with ease, the ship’s shields
and equipment interfering with the medical
teleportation grid. These Rikti had been warned and
had time to prepare for the heroes and Marines
Raiders. Apparently, these were more the tactical of
their race, with much more combat experience.
Sky Burn, Chillbain, and a tanker launched themselves
into the group. Chillbain slashed at the heads of his
foes, Sky Burn flew at them with his hands out ready
to bowl over anything that got in his way. The tanker
lit himself on fire and incinerated scores of the
Rikti. In an attempt to save the Marines, the heroes
all followed suit. The remaining sixteen heroes waded
into combat with their foes, which spelled death for
The Marines, on the other hand, kept firing. The
snipers only needed one anti-tank sabot-round to bring
down any of the Rikti. Unfortunately, there were
thousands more Rikti awaiting their demise.
The raiders were running out of time, ammunition, and
hope. Nevertheless, they kept fighting.
“We have to get the Marines out of here!” A hero
“No sh-” his comrade was cut down before he could
Master Sergeant Harrison was now the leader of his
squad. His Lieutenant had been killed by a blast of a
Head Gunman, the one that Harrison had just killed by
beating in its skull with the butt of his rifle. The
sergeant fought with his M-4 in one hand and his K-bar
knife in the other, slicing the ones that got too
close and shooting the ones that tried to.
They had been fighting this group for half and hour,
and were down to one hundred fifty Marine Raiders and
Knife Edge, Fiery Ice, Chillbain, Sky Burn, Olympian
Tank, Blaster Jockman, Burning Barrier, Night
Summoner, and two other heroes were left. The first
seven were Xtreme Warriors, Night Summoner, a master
of Illusions and healing, simply one of Sky Burn’s
Fire, Ice, and blasts of lead kept slamming into the
Rikti, but hundreds remained.
It would take a miracle to save those who remained to
fight for the freedom of their world.
And a miracle is exactly what they got.
A rocket slammed into a pack of Rikti that contained
a number of their leaders.
“Nice one, Sky!” Fiery Ice yelled.
“Wasn’t me!” Sky Burn said back to her as he punched
a Conscript into death.
“Well then who was… no.” The ice controller stopped
herself as a Malta Gunslinger teleported himself
beside her and shot a Rikti. Several more followed and
helped in the fight. From a doorway, thirty Hercules
Titans and ten Zeus Titans funneled in, along with
several Tactical Operations commanders and Operations
Volleys of missiles impacted more Rikti, devastating
them. Chillbain’s ice sword sliced down the last three
of the aliens and then it vaporized back into the air
it came from.
The Marines and super-heroes had a new problem. The
Malta Group. However, neither side attacked.
“Hold your fire.” Major Jenkins, still alive, gave
the order to the remaining hundred Marines.
“So, Sky Burn, it’s good to finally meet you.” A
gunslinger holstered his sixes into their pouches and
walked up to meet the hero he mentioned.
“Who the heck are you?”
“I was known as Colonel Davis Chapham. Now my
associates call me Junket-Five-Oh-Three. I was a major
Malta Commander in the Cold War. As you know, we used
to be a government funded group to fight Communism,
and after the Cold War, Malta went awry.”
“Yes. I am aware.” Sky Burn fingered his assault
rifle’s trigger, not trusting the man talking to him.
“Well, as you also know, there was a group that
wanted to restore Malta to its former days went it
would have been viewed as ‘good’ by the public, if
they had known about it then.” The leader said.
“And I suppose your some group that is another branch
off of the one you just mentioned and you want to help
us or something so that we can help get Malta the way
it used to be?” Chillbain butted in.
The gunslinger smiled behind the cloth that covered
his mouth, but the look in his eyes showed it.
The next few minutes involved talk of trust. More
specifically, the Malta troops trying to prove to the
heroes that they were on the side they claimed to be.
“So your telling me… that the rest of Malta thinks
your with them?”
“And that you can get help us by getting us
technology, and we can help you by fighting the
Finally, the heroes were convinced by the newcomers
and accepted them, but never really kept their guard
down. They walked out of the ship and were ferried
out of the Rikti Crash Site, unbeknownst to them that
a few Headman Gunman had already teleported to and
destroyed the tactical nukes that the heroes had
placed to blow up the ship.
Whether or not they failed their mission was a
decision to be made by the eye of the beholder.