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Stories # - L | M - Z | Authors
Return to Darkness
Part 2 – Welcome to Striga
By Eli J. Litzelman
A Council technician looked at the life readings in
front of him and yawned. Besides the fact that he did not sleep
very well last night, he had gotten up at five o’clock in the
morning and was not very thrilled to work in the cell shift. He
rubbed his head and looked at the surveillance monitor: the
prisoner was regaining consciousness.
RoboZon peeked through an eyelid. He then
opened his other eye and glanced around the room. Attempting to
stretch his muscles while wearing handcuffs, he stood up. From
the look of it he was in a makeshift cell within the interior of a ship.
From behind a large crate approached four
troopers. They stopped in front of the cage and the commanding
officer pulled a key from his pocket. Using the key to unlock a
hidden door, the officer signaled for the metal master to follow.
RoboZon was now situated in-between four leading
officers with his hands tied behind his back. He followed along
for ten feet to let them stray beyond the cameras and then made his
move. Stopping abruptly, the hero put his right leg back, causing
that guard to trip over it. He then came up with this same leg
and kicked the man forward. The man to the front-right of RoboZon
turned but was tripped from beneath and smashed his face on the steel
After the kick, the metal master landed on his front
foot and switched to straddle-stance. He then performed a
side-kick, hitting the man back-left to RoboZon’s original
The remaining man began to unload his P-90 sub-machinegun.
Anticipating this reaction, RoboZon leaned back to
avoid the rounds. He then, by kicking upwards, slammed the gun
into the soldier and completed a back-flip. Seeing the man he had
side-kicked earlier was still in action, the hero positioned himself
for a roundhouse. But instead of hitting the man, RoboZon wrapped
his foot around the villains head and, by propelling himself, lifted
his other leg. He kicked repeatedly before throwing the man to
the ground with his first leg.
RoboZon dropped to the ground. He then went to
the man who had unlocked his cell and took the key. As he
suspected, it was also the key to his cuffs. By searching a crate
in the corner he found the rest of his costume and put it on. He
then went back and began to put police transponders on all the villains.
“You don’t want to miss your jail appointment, do you?” He mumbled.
But just before he put the transponder on the last
member, he noticed something: an alarm; the button was
pushed. RoboZon worked quickly. He tore off the
communicator and positioned it against his head.
A voice that could be defined as neither male nor
female spoke through the earpiece. “Sharpshooters, you may
fire when ready.”
A bullet struck RoboZon square in the chest. A
sudden chill rushed through the hero’s body, slowing him.
Although decelerated, he was not immobilized and he demonstrated this
by flying toward the snipers while dodging bullets. He did a
back-flip to the top of the crate and vanished.
The menacing sound of ice bursting echoed in the
hull of the ship, but soon was replaced by a dreaded silence.
The Council soldiers were crouched, their guns to
their shoulders, ready for attack. One slid his gun into a
holster and went into fighting stance. They were ready for
anything… or so they thought.
Forcing all of his power forward, RoboZon kicked a
trooper off the crate. He then ducked down low and spun in a
circle with his leg extended. Two more fell and were quickly
subdued. The one who had holstered his weapon earlier was the
RoboZon lunged forward but the man stepped backward
and continued to block. Even though the young man was putting up
quite an effort, the hero soon got in a punch that ripped the
soldier’s mask off, revealing the familiar face of Ronny:
RoboZon’s old bunk mate.
RoboZon then grabbed Ronny’s head and smashed
it down into his knee. “…Nice seeing you too.”
Seeing the commotion above, a Council member decided
to test the action on his mini-gun. RoboZon performed a
cartwheel, grabbed the edge of the crate, and swung himself into its
Instantly troopers filled the entrance. They
received a single command: “Light ‘im
up.” A single man stepped forward. He reached over
his shoulder, pulled a flamethrower back over, and poured flame into
the large metal box. He chuckled softly: the hero was
toast, literally. Suddenly, he was thrown off his feet and flew
RoboZon had jump-kicked the Council member and
continued over until he had landed behind the villain. His robes,
cape, and hat were on fire. The blaze reflected off his visual
sensors creating an eerie effect. He then thrust his hand forward
so hard it launched a fireball forward into three troopers. The
troopers went flying back into a far wall, slid to the ground, and lay
on the metal floor, lifeless.
The other men in the room took a step back, but they
did not run - after all, they were trained solders. Advancing on
the hero did not seem like a wise choice, but disobeying an order was
completely out of the question.
RoboZon jerked his upper body to the side, causing
his cape to swoosh up and around the head of a soldier. The hero
then grabbed the end of his cape and snapped down, breaking the other
man’s neck. He moved with the viciousness of a tiger, the
effortless ease of a heron, and the preciseness of a hawk - the
movements flowing together as smooth as silk or, perhaps, flowing water.
RoboZon finished the last trooper and grinned.
Taking a knee, he confiscated an electronic device from the body of a
“Come on, baby, find me an exit.”
He muttered as he pressed buttons on the mechanism. He then
tapped the screen. “Got it.”
Leaping up into the air, the hero flew left for
awhile before vaulting to the top of a balcony. He grabbed the
door handle and forced back the bolt. Behind the door stood
Vandal. He kicked RoboZon so hard it caused him to flip over the
rail and twenty feet down into the steel floor. He then took a
right and walked down the corridor. “The Legendary
Mechanical RoboZon…” His posture was straight, his
hands behind his back, his boots making soft clicking noises as he
walked. “Champion of the weak, conqueror of evil, savior of
the city, indestructible they say…” He started down
the stairs and smirked. “You are about to be the most
wanted villain alive. How do you feel?”
RoboZon stood up. “Like a father about to correct a small child.”
Vandal cracked his knuckles, leaped over the rail,
and dropped five feet to the ground. “You are the one who
is to be corrected, for you are gravely mistaken.”
RoboZon was tired of all the chit-chat and ready for
action. He lunged forward through the air, kicking three times as
he moved. The arch-villain blocked all three kicks. As the
hero landed, Vandal double-fist-punched him in the solar-plexus,
sending him sliding backwards. But the hero’s stance did
Vandal screamed a battle cry and charged
forward. The metal master blocked the lunging punches and kicks
and returned in kind. But each missed their target.
At that moment they became a single unit. Two
men locked in combat, a lethal fight that could mean life or
death. They moved in a single rhythm, complete focus, and
absolute calm. Their minds were free, nothing existed, and they
were acting on a second nature. They were moving in the expert
art of “empty-hand” fighting. Dozens of punches and
kicks came forth, but all were blocked with the same rhythmic, almost
slithering motion. Time seemed to slow, and then stop as the epic
One kick: that was all it took. It hit
RoboZon in the ribs, adjusting his hips and bending his stance.
He lost rhythm; it was for less than a second, but then again, that was
all it took. The flurry of punches that came next was
disorienting. RoboZon tried to get back into rhythm, tap back
into his primal instincts, but it was too late. Soon he lost
count of the blows he was taking. He struggled to stay upright,
but to no avail. The sound of him crashing to the floor echoed
through the ship.
Vandal stood next to the gasping hero and shook his
head. He then kicked the metal master in the side of the
head. RoboZon was out cold.
RoboZon woke up standing. He had a cuff around
each bicep to keep him erect. His hands were locked behind his
back and his feet were chained to the floor. He was in a giant
cylinder the walls of which were made of a clear substance.
Outside the liquid walls, technicians scurried back and forth. In
the middle stood Vandal, looking at his prize. Seeing that
RoboZon was awake, Vandal ascended the short flight of stairs to the
tube. Sliding a panel to the side, he stepped in.
“You’re dead, Vandal,” RoboZon spat the words.
“Indeed.” The arch-villain walked
around behind RoboZon and grabbed his right arm. “You know,
I remember making this arm. It was made to serve me, and serve me
it will. But soon it will be non-functional and you will be
dead.” He strode back around and now stood in front of the
hero. “I told Requiem that you were the only option.
In truth I could have used any hero but I wanted to get back at you for
the humiliation you caused me.” He walked to the panel and
let himself out. He then pulled a small device out of his pocket
and pressed a button on it.
Electricity surged through RoboZon. He
screamed in pain and struggled to get out of the metal clutches that
held him in place. Shear, unbearable agony tore his mind from his
body. Suddenly, his screaming stopped. He stood up straight
and stiff. He tried to move, to scream, to do anything, but his
body refused to comply. Soon the surging stopped. Vandal
slid the glass aside once again and stepped in. RoboZon’s
cuffs dropped to the floor. He tried to lunge forward, to make
Vandal pay for the pain he had just caused. But instead
he… saluted. He struggled to pull his arm down, but with
the same result.
“Now for your assignment,” Vandal
smirked, enjoying every minute of it. “First, you will need
to get your new costume from the box in the corner so you don’t
look suspicious.” He then shook his head and chuckled to
himself. “Next, I want you to go to Atlas Plaza and eliminate Ms.
Archer of Ramesses woke up from his sleep just
before sunrise. The feeling he had last night still hung to him
as he walked to the kitchen. He opened the refrigerator and
studied its contents. Finally selecting an apple, he decided to
take a walk. He disappeared from site and reappeared
outside. Taking a bite from his apple, he started at a slow pace.
His mind wandered as he walked, his feet taking him
someplace unknown. He had the vague impression of the sun rising
to his left. He walked around skyscrapers, through dark alleys,
and up flights of stairs, while his mind wandered elsewhere.
Occasionally, he took a bite from his apple. He strolled from the
highest of overpasses to the deepest, darkest pits for over half an
hour. The feeling held with him the whole way, irritating his
mind to no end.
He suddenly looked down. He had eaten the
entire apple and his hand was now empty. He was aware of techno
music playing and looked up.
He was standing under the giant statue of Atlas.
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