Time Out of Mind
Shaking with effort, the Remarkable Red Sniper rose from his knees in front of his dilapidated, humble home. His eyes and teeth were clenched with the effort it took to keep the voice in his head from taking control.
“I’m here to help you Dave.” The voice spoke, sounding concerned at the prospect of defeat. “It’s your friends who are out to get you.” The hissing, gravelly sound of the voice made the hairs on the back of Red Sniper’s neck stand on end.
“Leave me alone, I am not your tool.” I’m sick. I need help. But what if I’m wrong? What if the voice is real? What if my friends ARE using their hero status to perpetrate evil ends? The battle raged within the hero’s skull. Doubt upon doubt kept Red Sniper guessing continually, for every though there was another question.
“I assure you, you are not sick. Your team mates, as you refer to them, would tell you that. But I think if you look deep within, you will find what I have told you to be true.” The voice was incessant, consuming. For every question Red Sniper had, the voice came up with an answer. “And what did I tell you about talking to me out loud?”
Gaining his feet, David Hallsworth took the last, few stumbling steps which separated him from his hearth.
* * *
In his wake, he left countless bodies. There were some who seemed more dead than alive to begin with. Others were mere constructs, without the power to withstand his onslaught. Mortals roamed the corridors beneath the city, threatening the overlord of destruction with their weapons. Had mankind forgotten their place? No weapon of man can bring about the end of the Destroyer.
His hulking body, apparently made of stone, was proof enough against physical assault. The power that burned beneath it was far more deadly. Abbadon had spent countless eons beneath the surface of the earth; he was weary of caves and longed to see the light of day. He longed to see it wiped from the memories of mankind, hidden behind smoke and dust.
Gathering energy to him, his form began to glow softly blue in the dim light of the Paragon Sewer system. His brutal figure rose off the ground in a flash of speed and fury. When he reached the ceiling of the cavern, Abbadon did not stop, he did not even slow. The faint blue light flared and exploded. Had anyone in the chamber still been alive, they would have been blinded by the blast. The hole he left behind had filled with dark, acrid smoke. Slowly leaking from the gash in the sewer ceiling, the dark tendrils allowed a pale light to flicker through. Despite the thickness of the earth between the sewers and the surface, Abbadon had blasted his way, nearly effortlessly, to the surface.
In a shower of rocks and dirt, punctuated by a blinding flash of light, several trolls witnessed the re-surfacing of Abbadon the Destroyer. Not realizing the importance of what they were observing, Tuk and Grimm saw only that an invader was breaching their turf. Boomtown, as the Trolls referred to it, was theirs. Trolls claimed the decimated section of town as home, challenging anybody to defy them.
Gnashing their teeth and issuing a wild cry, the two trolls charged the invader. Tuk reached the monster first, throwing a mighty punch, giving even a veteran crime fighter reason for caution. With minimal exertion, and blinding speed, Abbadon caught hold of the troll’s arm. Reaching out with his other hand, he grabbed the hapless troll’s other arm. The cold, pale blue light in Abbadon’s eyes examined Tuk with a look of curiosity mixed with distain. Then, with a flash of light and a twitch of earthen muscle, the poor troll fell to the ground, armless. Grimm stopped in his tracks at the sight of his friend torn apart so easily, he watched the monster d rop Tuk’s arms and turn to walk away with no more thought than a man might give to stepping on an ant.
The howl released by Grimm could be heard for over a mile. The attention of all the trolls in the area was now drawn to the scene. Soon, they would be here, and soon the trolls would have their revenge.
* * *
Red Sniper sat back, slouched in what remained of his favorite chair. He took another pull from the beer in his hand, it was warm, but it helped. Combined with the joint he held in his left hand, it aided in clouding his mind enough so that whatever was in his head could no longer reach him. The more clouded his mind became, the more things returned to normal.
His meager home had never been clean, but it was never so destroyed either. The illusion placed on his home began to lift as the marijuana and beers took effect. Red Sniper knew full the effects that the drug and alcohol should have on a normal person, so he used just enough to get his mind free of the outside influence. He was not afraid of over use leading to poor judgment; he had done this before, and knew exactly how much he needed to keep his mind from being invaded for several hours.
Once his mind was sharp again, Dave opened the secret compartment in his floor and pulled out his secondary armament.
Though not as high tech as his regular gear, it was designed to replace his equipment in just such an emergency. His targeting visor and hypermesh were replaced with night vision goggles and a gas mask. He removed what was left of his body armor, and instead donned a red and black, armored racing style motorcycle jacket. Though not as up to date as his primary firearm, the assault rifle he pulled out next had enough firepower to
Now all he needed was to reach his friends. Cursing himself for leaving his cycloptic targeting visor, with built in communicator, behind; Red Sniper pulled a basic hand held unit and switched it on.
When Eric Bell’s phone rang for what seemed like the one hundredth time, he answered.
“I get the idea,” his voice came over the line, “you want me to help out.”
“You knew your phone was ringing?” Red sniper could not believe his teammate would let his friends’ calls go unanswered for so long.
“I’m kinda busy here,” Medik protested.
“You’d better be fighting a horde of…” Dave struggled to find something grand enough to merit his partner’s absence, “of something really awful and really bizarre.”
Eric sighed into the line.
“Ok, where do you need me?”
“I’m sorry Molly, I have to go,” Medik apologized to his wife.
“Work?” Mrs. Bell was outraged that her husband would be called in yet again on his day off. “Why can’t you tell them no, it’s not as if they pay you extra for all these overtime hours you put in.”
“I’m sorry honey,” Eric apologized to his wife. “I’m needed, what else can I say?”
“You can tell them you have a wife and a life out side of your stupid software job. Grow a backbone.” Medik closed his eyes and took a deep breath at the insults his wife hurled. He only had himself to blame for her not knowing where his “overtime” hours were spent. She couldn’t help but be frustrated with a man who wouldn’t stand up for himself at work.
“I’ll call you when I know what’s going on, and when I know I’ll be home.” Eric gathered his wife in his arms, kissed her goodbye, and was gone. Within five minutes he had returned home and donned his white costume with the red cross emblazoned on his chest. Clasping his comm. helmet on his head, he activated the communicator. Once again, Medik was on the case.
* * *
“About time,” Fixit growled into his phone.
“We need to talk about this,” Medik started, but he was cut off.
“Something’s wrong with Red. On top of that; I’m chasing some kinda monster through the sewers, I’m dragging a dimensional visitor with me and it looks like I’m gonna be a father. Get over to the shop, meet up with Red, and I’ll tell ya where we’re goin’ as soon as I know.” With that the conversation was over; Fixit had hung up.
“I sometimes really don’t know why I still do this.” Medik sighed.
The trail in the sewers was easily followed. Structural damage and strewn bodies made a path for the two men following the beast. Once again, Fixit’s phone rang out in the silent sewer.
“Hey you,” his tone was more subdued, less tense.
“Hey yourself, where are you? Have you seen the monster yet?” Psirene’s voice was as beautiful to his ears as ever, especially in this dour place.
“Just followin’ him still; bastard’s fast, I’ll give him that.” Talking as he walked, Fixit and Brinkman reached the spot where Abbadon had ascended.
“I have some time,” Psirene spoke, “can I lend you a hand?”
“I think we found something, I’ll call you right back.”
A plan was beginning to form in his head. Having Red Sniper and Medik triangulate his position via his communications locator, Fixit was able to find out he was beneath Baumtown. Soon, his two teammates and Psirene were all converging on his location. Now that he was going to be above surface, his friends could track him while he was on the move. Fixit helped Brinkman through the gaping hole to the surface, and then leapt through himself. Neither man could have possibly been prepared for the sight laid out before them.
The sound of gunfire split the air; Trolls howled in anger; even a faction of the Outcasts had joined in the fray against the otherworldly intruder to “Boomtown”. Never in his career as a crime fighter had Fixit witnessed such a gathering of gangs and villains. More over, he had never seen two groups fight side by side so completely. Even more impressive, was the single combatant fighting them all. He not only stood his ground, he seemed to be winning.
“Abbadon,” Darr whispered.
“You know that monster?” Fixit couldn’t believe his ears; his companion had a name for it.
“That is what I was fighting when I got dragged out here.”
“You’ve got bigger balls than I gave you credit for.” Fixit looked again at the scene. The groups of Outcasts and Council members were fairly small compared to the Trolls that dominated the field. “Any idea on how to beat him?”
“Legend has it that Abbadon is more god than man or monster,” Brinkman whispered to his companion in reverence at what he was seeing. “It is said that he can not be defeated by any living mortal.”
“Great, that helps.” Fixit was wracking his brain trying to find a way to beat an immortal god. “Let’s stay put till reinforcements arrive.”
The fight between Abbadon and the gangs was, in a word, brutal. Elemental powers aimed at him were bent aside and re-directed toward other opponents. Any Troll foolish enough to get into close quarters combat was literally torn apart by either stone muscles or blasts of pale blue power.
As time wore on, it seemed that even the shadows were aiding the Destroyer in his battle against the gathered hordes. Slowly, the field thinned. Blood covered the ground; the stink of the dead filled the air. The shrill racket of pitched battle came to a sudden halt as an enormous silhouette came over a pile of rubble.
“Who’s that?” Brinkman squinted at the shadow that brought the battle to a halt.
“I think…” Fixit’s eyes opened wide. “This is gonna be good, that’s Atta; king of the Trolls.”
Atta was held in such high esteem and dread by all members of the battle field that everything stopped at his arrival. Even Abbadon seemed to know that this was a foe worth fighting.
The two combatants wasted no time with introductions. With unbelievable speed and power the titans clashed. Atta’s glaring green eyes met with Abbadon’s flaring blue. Power poured from the two as they stood toe to toe, trading blows. The demi-god’s body seemed to emanate the pale blue light that he had flung at foes earlier. When Atta struck Abbadon, small flecks of stone fell from his body. By the look in his eyes, all present could see that the Troll had hurt the seemingly invincible oppressor.
Abbadon struck back with so much force that the Troll king was sent flying into a nearby structure. Rising and dusting himself off, the Troll returned by hurling a several ton section of the same building at the Destroyer. The rocks never hit their target; instead, they were blasted mid-air by the same pale blue energy that had slain so many on the field.
Red Sniper, Medik and Psirene all arrived at Fixit’s side simultaneously.
“You really love making trouble don’t you?” Medik could not believe what he was seeing.
“Plan?” Psirene was already assessing the situation. She immediately recognized the dark, shadowy power that answered Abbadon’s will. “Atta’s tough, but I don’t think he can win this fight,” a quick scan confirmed her fears, “and he knows it.”
Almost on cue, Atta rushed again at his foe. Clasping both hands over his head, he brought both down together, in a blow that would bring a building down. The powerful blow landed right on Abbadon’s head; but it did not have the desired effect.
The god’s head rolled with the attack, then straightened. Angry energy poured forth from his eyes. Abbadon drew his enormous right fist back, gathering energy as it cocked. Dark energy rose from the demolished ground beneath the combatants, entangling Atta. He struggled against his dark manacles momentarily; then, realizing what was coming, he raised his head again; just in time to see the large fist. The energy that surrounded it was so intense; Abbadon’s knuckles were completely lost in white, hot light, surrounded by pale blue.
There was no explosion when the fist hit as everyone watching the spectacle had expected. Instead there was a subtle pop, and Atta’s body fell limp to the ground, his head turned at an unnatural angle.
The survivors of the earlier battle fled without sound or delay. Only five superheroes stayed to watch the remaining Trolls get down on their knees and bow to their new king; a title earned by right of combat.
TO PART 5 >
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