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The Spider's Laugh:  By Tundara

The world was spinning and filled with the deep screeching of energy blasts
from the maces of Bane Spiders.  Overhead spotlights swept the pitted
platform, the shrill noise of diving rockets turning into the deep rumble of
explosions.  Through the spiralling jumble of rockets a white streak darted
towards the source of the rockets.   Zip lines dangled twisting and dancing
as men in heavy armour slid down them.    Booted feet hit the steel plating
of the platform small charred fragments grinding under their heels as the
armoured men quickly unclipped themselves from the lines.

Purple markings on his shoulders showing him to be a lieutenant, one of men
checked the read-out display on his wrist for the tactical situation.  
Behind the nano-carbon combat helmet he wore sweat trickled down from his
brow and licked his lips.

“She’s moving in from the north, quick get into-“

The men under his command reacted too late, too slowly.  Jensen was the
first to fall, shot in the back by one of his comrades.  Screaming he fell
to his knees then face the rank smell of burnt flesh drifting from a small
hole burned through his armour.  Screaming madly Jensen swung his mace
towards the Lt., thumb squeezing the trigger for the maces energy blast.  
The Lt. spun on his heel narrowly avoiding the blast.  Burning ozone filled
nose as he quickly activated his own mace, a full burst of brilliant red
energy striking Jensen on the face and chest sending the man spinning from
the platform.

Before the could recover tall men shimmering composed of a ghostly light
appeared in the middle of them, long blades of fire and ice in hand.  Mace
blasts were fired in rapid succession, but the ethereal men were either
immune to the energy or didn’t care they were being struck by it.  Two Bane
Spiders fell in the first moment, struck down by the elemental swords.  A
third reeled back clawing at his helmet shrieking with the mad intensity of
a man who looks upon the plains of Pandemonium.   Ripping off his helmet he
scrambled backward, eyes wild with animal fright.  Babbling he curled into a
small ball against a short wall.

Spinning the Lt. looked for the source of the apparitions and confusion that
was wiping out his squad.  He found her hovering overhead, a slight frown
playing with her face, wings of the purest white feathers gently beating the
air to keep her aloft.  Raising his mace he pressed the trigger, smiling
behind his helmet as the red beam reached out for the heroine.  She didn’t
even try to move as the deadly energy slammed into her.  The Lt. let out a
whoop of victory, but it was cut short as the heroine vanished, replaced
with the distant circling form of an Arachnos Flier. Yelling in protest all
he could do was watch as the beam cut into the side of the Flier right where
the pilots sat.  Men began leaping from the doomed machine, fire licking
from the open doors in its sides, falling the hundred feet to the ground.

“I am sorry, but we do what we must, and you chose your side in this war,”
whispered in his mind a voice like the haunting last breath of a summer

She stood there with wings folded; the tattered and battered remains of his
squad littering the ground behind her.  Kissing her fingers she placed them
on the trembling Lieutenant’s helmet.  A primordial scream flooded out of
the man, and then he fell, collapsing deep into unconsciousness as the deep
tremble of the Flier he shot filled the battlefield.

Speaking into a communication device on her wrist the winged heroine took
back into the air.

“The Fliers have been removed.”

“About freaking time Archon,” a loud spicy voice snapped.  “What were you
doing, playing around with them?  We need your help here at the towers.”

White Archon didn’t respond to the prodding of her teammate, it wasn’t her
way.  Instead she flew over the battlefield towards her friends.  Beneath
her strewn among craters and the mangled remains of a half dozen Fliers, the
forces of Archnos lay defeated.  Only small pockets remained, desperately
trying to get away from the intense fighting happening in the shadow of Lord
Recluse’s tower.  Ducking beneath the spider arms of the giant gaudy statue
to the self styled dictator White Archon saw how the field had changed in
the few minutes she had been gone dealing with the Archnos reinforcements.

She smiled at the scene playing out before her.

One of the ‘Towers’, the cause of the entire expedition into Grandville, had
been destroyed.  It was lying on its side in a pool of oil and twisted metal
small electrical fires belching from dozens of holes punched into its thick
armour.  Around it were the bodies of the men assigned to defend the tower.  
A short distance away a second tower stood, dark orange flames eating at it
from the spread hands of General Firebomb.  Firebombs cape and loose pants
trembled from the rushing heat of the inferno being summoned.  On the other
side of the tower from Firebomb was Boresight Girl in the middle of another
squad of Bane Spiders, all of them showing the purple colour of Recluse’s
elite scouts.

Boresight was a lithe woman, spinning and kicking anything within her reach.
  She didn’t bother trying to avoid the deadly energy blasts the Bane
Spiders sent at her, instead relying on her extreme regenerative abilities
to heal herself.  Leaping into the air in a corkscrew motion she kicked one
scout in the head, the unfortunate man flipping over backwards.  Even as she
landed Boresight was twirling into a sweeping leg movement that knocked down
all the scouts around her.  A mace blast caught her on the back sending her
tumbling out of the packed group of scouts.  Cursing violently Boresight
kipped up onto her feet and ran strait at the scout that had shot her.

White Archon folded her wings and dived towards the tower.  Sneaking up
behind General Firebomb was a group of Arachnos technicians and scouts.  If
the techs got to the tower they would repair it in a matter of moments with
their nano-repair tools.  Noticing Archon’s arc, Firebomb dropped into a
crouch and looked over his shoulder.  Tutting softly to himself he threw a
pair of molten fireballs into the group of men scattering them before Archon
was close enough to use her mind altering abilities.

“You got ta be faster, love,” the General laughed returning to his burning
of the tower.

With a final shrill moan the towers supports gave out, the contraption
toppling over with a resounding crash.

“Half-way home now, love.  Hope the others are having as much luck.”

“They seem to be holding their own,” White Archon replied landing beside
Firebomb to watch Boresight finish dealing with the last scout.  “But I can
not see Recluse himself anywhere.”

It was true, the arch-villain himself was no-where to be seen.  Everywhere
his minions were either defeated, or attempting to make some sort of counter
attack on the heroes at the third tower.  Like how Firebomb had destroyed
the second tower while Boresight battled the majority of Bane Spiders
guarding it, the third tower was being attacked be Canadian Honour, who kept
the Arachnos soldiers off her partners Doctor Indomitable and Lilith
Firemane.  Over at the last tower the Archnos soldiers were either digging
in or hovering on the verge of running away.  But no sign of the last two
members of the team Statesman had charged with stopping Recluse’s plans for
world domination.

“Where are-,” Archon started to ask, but was cut off as a massive explosion
tore a gapping wound in the side of Aeon Crops skyscraper.

Leaving a trail of smoke and wreckage the massive bulk of the Giant Canuck
skipped across the square scattering the last remaining Arachnos soldiers.  
The Giant Canuck was true to his name, a massive man that stood over ten
feet with shoulders you could rest a Buick on.  He wore only a thin tank top
and pants that, as Boresight Girl was fond of commenting on to Canuck’s
eternal embarrassment, bulged in all the right places.  The Giant Canuck
stood slowly.  Archon could tell from the way he stood that the massive man
was tired and on the verge of collapse.

Through the thick smoke Recluse himself appeared, striding confidently
towards the Giant Canuck.  At the sight of their lord the remaining Archnos
soldiers rallied, war cries rising from hoarse throats.  The side of
Recluse’s helmet had a dark dent in it from where the Canuck had landed one
of his powerful fists, but if it had hurt Recluse at all the lord of
Arachnos did not show it.

“Quick, we got to get the last tower down!” General Firebomb shouted to
Boresight Girl and White Archon leaping into the air on jets of flame.

Boresight charged after Firebomb, but Archon hesitated.  Canuck needed her
help more then they did.  Running towards where the hero and Recluse stood
Archon called up her ghostly servants, sending them to distract Recluse.  
Recluse just laughed at the servants as the attacked him, sweeping his
spider-like arms to send them flying away.

“Tsk tsk, I was expecting more of a challenge,” Recluse chuckled, his
gravely voice echoing behind his helmet.

“Archon, stay away from him,” the Giant Canuck said, a small trial of blood
dripping from the corner of his mouth.

Turning slightly away from the Canuck, Recluse backhanded him sending the
giant skidding across the ground again.  Yelling the Canuck’s name Archon
thrust a hand at Recluse a thin trial of green energy flowing onto and
around him.  On a normal man the magic would have left him weak with
delirium and hardly able to fight, Recluse shrugged off it’s effects like a
stone splashed by a wave.  As the terrible lord of Arachnos strode towards
her Archon sent a second spell, a powerful curse designed to steal away
strength and vitality, at him.  Again there was no visible effect.

White Archon spread her wings to try to fly into the air and escape the land
locked Lord Recluse.  She had only gained a few feet when he closed the
remaining distance, one of his gauntleted hands circling her throat.  
Gasping and choking Archon struggled against the metallic grip, buffeting
Recluse with her wings.

“Why do you heroes even bother, I can not be defeated!”

The metal coated spider arms of Recluse stretched above Archon.  She could
feel darkness, so familiar and so frightening, slinking up the corners of
her awareness.  Recluse was laughing, the deep rumble filling her with
dread.  In the corner of her eye Archon spotted a figure cloaked in dull
grey robes. Dimly she recognized him as if he was from a half forgotten
dream.  The world was spinning faster and faster, than there was a terrible
squelching noise, like a fruit being crushed, followed by nothingness.

“Archon!” Boresight called from the top of the dieing tower.  “Recluse,

Whatever Recluse was parished in Boresight’s throat as he charged like an
enraged boar strait at her and General Firebomb.  Boresight jumped from the
tower strait for Lord Recluse.  She had no fear, it had been stolen from her
by Crey Industries when they made her, a common background for more then a
few heroes.  Recluse and Boresight Girl were mere moments away from crashing
into each, an exchange Boresight had little chance of winning, when through
the thick smoke clouding the battlefield a form covered in crackling blue
ice smashed into Recluse from the side.

“Tundara?  Where have you been? Recluse-,”

“I know,” Tundara shouted back even as she shattered a massive sword of ice
against Recluse.

Recluse staggered back a half step, but otherwise like with ever other
attack was left unharmed.

“Didn’t I already bury you once?” He chortled turning his full attention
onto Tundara.

“Yeah, well, I dig really well, what can I say?” She snarled back while
summoning another sword.

The air was filled with the brittle crackle of Tundara’s ice and a thick
numbing chill flowed from her that had Boresight’s teeth chattering.

“You can’t defeat me, I am a unstoppable!” the lord of Arachnos laughed.

Tundara and Boresight both gave thin bitter smiles.

“That’s where you’re wrong Recluse.  You see, we’ve bought the others enough
time to finish off your little devices.”

“What?” Recluse stopped laughing swinging to look at the scattered remnants
of the towers, the other heroes all running strait at him.  “Bah, it doesn’t
matter, I will finish you all here and now!”

The heroes all just gave grim looks to each other and on an invisible signal
rushed the lord of Arachnos as one.  The ground cracked and the air was
shorn.  They would make Recluse pay for the loss of their friends.

The End.

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