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Trapped in Dark Astoria
Part Two – Into the Darkness
City of Heroes Fiction

By Eli J. Litzelman


    Not wanting any unneeded attention, RoboZon suppressed his outward display of flame as he descended into the cave.  The two guards waiting for him were taken care of swiftly and silently.  He scanned the room and took in the details:  a single brick hallway reaching down into murkiness.  Unlit torches lined the walls followed by an occasional faded crystal hanging from the ceiling.  “Circle of Thorns,” RoboZon murmured.  From the way everything was darkened, it was apparent this cave had either been deserted or forced from them.  The hero guessed it was the latter. 

    He stepped over a pile of rubble in front of the doorway and pressed into the depths.  After awhile, he stopped and listened.  At first he thought it was nothing but after a moment he heard it again:  the unsteady footsteps of the living-dead.  RoboZon slid into a large indentation in the wall and waited.  A grumbling noise echoed through the lair and the first zombie passed the hero’s hiding place.  He was average height, missing an eye, and limped heavily on his left leg.  The first zombie was followed by another.  This one was slightly bigger than normal, carried a World War II rifle, and wore a military helmet.  The second spotted RoboZon.  The undead soldier roared a battle call and veered his gun toward the legendary hero.  RoboZon swung his foot in an arc and knocked the firearm into the back of the first zombie.  The rifle discharged a round and sent the recipient flying forward.  The hero then planted his foot in front of the other, jumped in the air, and spun in a full circle.  As each leg passed it struck out and hit the villain.  The first blow only turned the zombie’s head, but the second separated it completely from his body.  The metal master then pivoted on the balls of his feet and elbowed a third zombie.  Forcing power into his leg, RoboZon drove his knee into the villain’s mid-section.  The undead trooper crashed into the ceiling before falling to the ground.

    A loud laugh boomed through the cavern and RoboZon turned to the noise.  A Death Shaman approached.  “Very good.  You may find my troops easy, but you’ll find they get harder with numbers.”  The mystic stopped ten feet from where the hero stood.

    RoboZon walked forward.  “You’ll find I'm not so easily dealt with.” 

    “Maybe… or maybe not.”  As the villain finished speaking, a zombie dropped from the ceiling and landed between the rivals.  Before the hero could react, he was hit by a club and propelled backward.  He crashed through several objects before hitting the ground.  Looking up, he saw that he was completely surrounded by the living-dead.  The hero jammed both elbows down into the villain beneath him and thrust his legs forward.  He flew through the air and smashed his feet into the zombie in front of him.  Landing upright, the metal master positioned his feet firmly on the ground.  This was going to be rough.

    For the next eight minutes, chaos reigned.  He could take on many undead at once, but everytime he took care of one, it was instantly revived by the Shaman.  In this way, he found himself fighting an endless wave of invincible troopers and his energy was running low. 

    RoboZon slid his left foot up to his right, lifted his right leg, and snapped his heel out into a zombie’s chest.  Just as he was setting his foot back down, however, he was shot from behind and sent sprawling onto the ground. He coughed blood into the front of his helmet and gasped for breath. 
               
    The Death Shaman shook his head and looked at his pitiful victim; that was too easy.  “I am disappointed.  No matter; my brothers will be pleased with having you.  They think you are a strong warrior, but I have seen you for what you are:  pitiful.”

    RoboZon lifted his head and rose to his knees.  “Really?  I think your ‘brothers’ will be most displeased when they find you dead.”

    The Shaman gritted his teeth and shot a bolt of netherworld energy from his fingertips.  The blast caught the hero in the face and knocked him onto his back.  The villain pressed his attack and yelled, “Fool!  Do you think that you can challenge fate itself?!?!  No! We looked into the future and saw your death!  There is nothing you can do about it, now or ever!  Welcome to your doom!”  A single line of energy flowed from the mystic to RoboZon, who screamed in agony.

    The legendary hero jerked back and forth on the ground in spasms and clawed at the earth with desperate fingers.  His pain was worse than the experiments Crey had performed on him, the beating Statesman had given him, and even the control-eliminating machine Vandal had dreamed up.  It not only tore at his physical body, but his mind.  Horrid visions of his past crashed through his head.  The death of his father came first.  Every image was clear and crisp in his mind’s eye: both his and his father’s flesh being torn by glass and flame.  Both their voices shouting for mercy, but none came. 

    Next, his mind flashed to the fatal fight between himself and Archer of Ramesses.  Each blow being delivered with direct precision and force.  Their feet weaving in and out as if they were being controlled by some predator of the wild; maybe they were.  Then came the lethal blow.  The sword cutting directly into the heart of his mentor, his friend.  Blood pouring from the archer’s mortal wound, onto RoboZon’s thrusting hand, and dripping to the tile floor.  RoboZon knew his friend would later revive from the dead, but seeing his fault again made the hero’s chest tighten and tears stream down his face.

    After his past had been viewed, his visions turned to his future and he saw it:  his ultimate doom.  He was tied with magic to a giant pillar that rose high into the air.  Bound to the bottom left column of four, he struggled to get free.  Directly ahead was Daughter of the Wood.  She gritted her teeth and swore harshly under her breath.  To RoboZon’s front right was Archer of Ramesses.  The ancient Egyptian looked peacefully up at the sky and uttered some soft words from his own tongue.  RoboZon then looked right and saw a young girl in her early twenties.  She was wore tight jeans and a short sleeved tee-shirt.  Her worried eyes desperately reached for his and he tried to reach back.  But there was something strange about her. Although clearly scared, she showed surprising strength and readiness.  She was prepared for what lay ahead - for the unknown.  RoboZon found himself taking more hope and courage from her than any fright or anguish which existed within himself.  Just then the head shaman finished his ritual and reached to the sky.  Energy enveloped them and tore at their very souls.  He watched as each and every one of them died until only darkness remained.  Then from the depths came a monster.  Covered in flame and glowing with power, the being seized all control over the world under the will of his masters.  Countless died and were revived as undead slaves.  The sky went dark and all vegetation left the earth.  Our planet became a barren wasteland of fire and rock.  Time passed and soon no one even remembered the bright world.  Nothing was left but the beast and the undead.  Darkness then consumed RoboZon’s mind and he slipped into the void.

    The Death Shaman observed the unconscious hero in front of him.  He then motioned to his minions and said, “Take him.”  One of the zombies grabbed RoboZon by the feet and swung the hero over his shoulder.  Together the group moved ever down into the depths of the world.   



TO PART 3 >                  




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