The Kid fell from the sky, aflame.
A black energy coruscated and trailed from his unconscious form. He fell limply, silently, helplessly. His explosive impact drove shards of concrete into the air and an exploding crater released a tower of flaming gas as his powers ignited an underground fuel main. People retreated into whatever cover they could find as automobiles fell from the explosion and the searing heat melted plastic, rubber, and other soft metals nearby. It was hell on Earth.
What followed him moved slowly at first. It was in no hurry. It savored the world into which it found itself thrust. The first two days here, there was no resistance and the creatures were soft, edible, pliant, with mild and crunchy centers. Then a few new ones came, and they were armed with stinging tools, primitive and less effective than nothing. They and their tools were tasty with a slight iron flavoring. Some articles of their clothing were less than tasty, tough with a fibrous consistency. After eating six or eight of them, it decided to peel the rest of the blue guardians and eat only the flesh and bones.
Then they came. The special ones. Most looked like the main food of this world, small, delicate, crunchy, and like the blue guardians, they were armed with tools. Their tools were fantastically more effective than those of the blue guardians. No matter. Nothing of this world can harm me. Nothing at all. Even the fire-star is too weak. I shall enjoy this one, and I shall not share it. Not a morsel will the others get.
“The Kid is down.”
“He’ll get up. He’s just like his old man was. Stubborn.”
“Any ideas of what we’re dealing with?”
“With the rash of magical threats we have been seeing lately, I think someone has just upped the ante.”
“Oswald, I think we are going to have to hold the line until the big guns get here.”
Thornton Oswald the Third stood looking over the city and realized that the Shrike was right. With The Kid down, Gunner on sabbatical, Kali was coming from Metro City, and Shango out doing whatever magical Protectors of the Crossroads do in their spare time, they would have to hold this thing until reinforcements arrived. But it took The Kid. After Kali and Shango, The Kid was as tough as they come. He lacked his father’s fighting experience, but his durability under fire was unquestioned.
“Shrike, I will need a minute. Can you keep him entertained while I transform?”
“Sure thing, he’ll never see me coming.”
The Shrike, Walter Scott, depressed the studs in his gloves and his suit’s jetpack came online. Extending his arms, large metallic wings with serrated edges extended from them, increased his wing span to twenty feet. “Don’t be late.” With a boom, the Shrike took to the air and dived to attack the creature who stood easily twenty feet tall.
Thornton proceeded to draw a circle of containment in the rooftop gravel. As his cane drew through the rocks, they lit with an eldritch glow. Hearing the boom of the rockets as they roared away, Thornton focused his mind on breaching the boundaries between worlds. To a particular world, a world of feral beasts used by dark magicians and ancient gods, to the Fan-run-dhar-durak – Land of Forgotten Beasts. Once the realm became clear to him, he sought for a particular beast, a creature whose unmistakable might would be tested tonight. He sought the beast called Grimmamon, mightiest of the Beast Lords.
The Shrike swooped fast and his onboard computer, linked directly into his brain, had already plotted the course he needed to strike five times in two passes. His wings comprised of Promethium, a rare alien metal, allowed him to transfer and magnify his kinetic energy, so the longer he flew, the stronger and more dangerous the metal became.
But fly too long and the energy became uncontrollable without a release. So the longer he flew, the more he was forced to fight. Only touching the ground would bleed that energy from him. It was always the delicate dance of fighting and being tougher, but blowing out from not releasing enough energy or returning to his default state where he was weakest just before recharging.
Having flown here, he had already expended a good portion of his energy against the creature. He had damaged this black material called skin and even had drawn blood. But it seemed unaffected and knocked The Kid into next week. If he had been just a second slower, it would have been him. He doubted he would have survived that impact with the ground.
—gonna be fast, be loose, feel the air, float with it, snap the wing, strike, strike, beat the wing, turn, beat the wing turn, snap, snap, strike, strike, strike, away—
His blows were fast, blurs to the naked eye, and each tore into the nacreous flesh with little effect. Once, his wings had sliced through bank vaults back in the days when he was a villain in Metro City.
—Come on, Kid, we ain’t friends or nothing, but right now, I could use the sight of your overconfident face coming out of that fire. I hope Oswald is having more luck than I am.
* * *
Kali was streaking through the sky on her cloud, heading to Paragon City where she received the distress call from the Shrike and the Sorcerer. She was making good time and would arrive in about ten minutes. From this height, the suburbs of Paragon City seemed peaceful. She could see the smoke from the burning buildings ahead, a path of sheer destruction. The old Kali would have liked that; the new Kali was repulsed by such mindless waste.
“Kali Yuga, I have need of you and your darkest aspect.”
“I hate when you call me that, Shango. Where are you?” She really did hate that name; it invoked a violent and destructive past where she was a destroyer of all that she surveyed.
“I am at The Crossroads. There has been a breach and creatures are pouring through. I am attempting to seal it, but I cannot as long as the creatures prevent me from reaching it. I need your help.”
“Asking for help? That is not like you, Thunderer.”
“Nor is needing help, warrior-goddess, but here we are.”
“Can you make the gate? Or shall I follow your whining to the Crossroads?”
“Suffice it to say, you are earning that spanking.”
“Put it on my tab. I will be there shortly, husband.”
Kali focused her will, and her two arms became four. Each of them was armed with a knife of pure spirit. She began a sword dance designed to take her to the Crossroad between Worlds, a magical nexus connecting nearby realms of existence. A particularly puissant sorcerer or other magical being could use it to reach across space and time to other worlds altogether.
As she whirled faster and faster, she began to weave open a doorway, using her spirit blades and her connection to her husband’s god-force. The Shrike would call it a paired quantum connection, but she preferred the magical concept of contagion; once two things are bound together, nothing can keep them apart. She was beginning to feel the connection strongly and could see into the nether dimensions the Crossroad inhabited.
She could sense Shango before she could see him. He was covered by a horde of dark skinned giants. The Crossroad was in the presence of three giant red suns shedding their ruddy light on the scene. Shango was, for a moment, unable to be seen, but then lightning exploded from the ground, and the creatures were thrown back, and for a moment he was clear.
“Woman, what part of your Kali Yuga aspect did you not understand? I need you in your most terrible guise or we are doomed.”
Once she transitioned into the Crossroad, she was behind Shango, and he used his double-headed axe to create a barrier of lightning.
“Good to see you, too. Before we invoke that bitch, do you think we could see what we can do here, first?”
“Do you see that portal? That is where we need to be.”
The distance was only about the length of two football fields, but it was filled with these creatures, each the height of two men, with near human physical attributes. Their heads appeared to be more like an octopus, and their hands instead ended in tentacles. There were hundreds of them.
“Make ready, husband.”
Shango dropped his barrier and released a bolt of lightning, driving a wedge between the creatures, incinerating two dozen of them instantly. In the second it took his lightning to cross one hundred meters, Kali had already slain thirty of the monsters. She stepped through time and space and was everywhere and nowhere. She appeared and disappeared, and each strike laid a creature low. Her face was serene and peaceful as her four blades struck at once. Her superhuman strength made each blow cut deep into their flesh, severing meat and bone like a hot knife through butter.
Shango concentrated his powers and created a series of strikes before her; each of them she slew her way through to the next. When he was too busy to support her, he lent her his lightning and she kept the area around her cleared with her flashing blades and lightning strikes. His double-headed axe flew around him with a cloud of electricity arcing from it to every creature near him. But the creatures were relentless and without fear. As soon as he would clear the area, more would appear.
He looked out and saw Kali was within fifty feet of the portal. He called lightning once more, and as it arced from him toward her, the creatures around him opened their mouths and sharp bones shot out and speared him in his chest and arms. He looked in disbelief; his flesh had the strength of steel. He laughed off high caliber weaponry like rain. What were these things that they could do this?
A searing acid began to burn his flesh, pumped through their ceramic probosci. He howled as his mighty flesh began to burn. Without warning, the creatures blocking his line of sight were cut in half, and two other blades slashed the demons’ tongues. The blades whirled around him and returned to Kali, who had not stopped her dance of death and retrieved her weapons amid flight and continued killing.
Shango, now enraged, drew his power to him, focused his pain and rage and became a thing of pure lightning. The creatures strove to grab him and died instantly, burned to death. As they cleared away, powerful arcs leaped from him to them, and they continued to die. He moved forward slowly, and Kali cut them down as they passed through the portal. He reached her and caught her hand as she struck out at him.
“Enough, my wife. The portal is silent. Perhaps we have earned our invitation.”
“Then let us not be rude to our hosts. They did set forth such a feast for such as us.”
They stepped through the portal.
* * *
Meanwhile, Thornton Oswald III completed his summoning ritual with the King of Netherbeasts. Grimmammon took the form of a great cat of immense size.
“ Grimmammon, I invoke your service as in the pacts defined by my ancestors.”
“Bah, mortal, why should I bother with your family’s ancient pacts? You have been notoriously lax in your relationship to us. Where are the rituals of blood and souls as in the past?”
“Spare me your pathetic bargaining, hell-beast. Without me and mine, you and yours would have passed into your final existence decades ago. Our world stopped worshipping your kind hundreds of years ago. Look around you. Ask where Lord Arioch and his brethren have gone. Provide your services and enjoy the benefits of our continued relationship.”
“Show me why you summoned me.”
“Look, oh Great One. Tell me what you see.”
Grimmammon looked over the edge of the roof, and his demonic mien grew more stoic. “Our pact ends at the edge of this world, sorcerer. That is an eldritch being from beyond our world.”
“And evidently frightening enough to remove most of your bluster. Tell me more, Great One. Who or what is that creature?”
“A Chaos god from before the time of Arioch, from before time as you measure it.”
“You lie. There were no gods before that time.”
“Silence, pup. There are secrets even the gods keep. These creatures were imprisoned here in an age before yours. You are not the first masters of the Earth. Did you think you were? Ha.”
“By the First People. They could not destroy them, but they could lock them beneath the Earth, or the Sea, or in Fire. It is said even the very Air imprisons one. I will have no truck with that one, no matter what the price you offer. Its powers likely dwarf mine, the same way mine dwarf yours.”
Oswald thought about what Grimmammon told him, and realized they were out of their depth. Even if Shango and Kali were here, this was a threat greater than they could manage on their own. Since neither of them were here, it was likely they were working on this menace in their own way. So we will do what we can until they arrive. “I know you can see the boy in that conflagration. Bring him here; deposit the flames on the creature. Then you can take your leave. We would not want you to be injured before I can make use of you again. You are weakening with age; perhaps I shall call your rival Shunmaburan instead.”
“As you request, so shall it be. But if you seek to wound my pride, you will find no demon has pride when its survival is at stake. But by all means, if you wish to call Shunmaburan today, and he were not to survive, I would be in your debt. Farewell.”
The old demon stood at the edge of the roof and the flames rose from the crater in the street. The flames swirled as if they were a fire vortex and flew from the crater to surround the otherworldly invader with the terrible fires. The Kid disappeared from the crater and appeared on the roof next to Oswald. Oswald saw the daemon link the fire to the creature, and realized the fire would only last a few minutes before exhausting its fuel. Once surrounded, the creature stopped moving forward, and this bought them some time.
Grimmammon turned away from the roof’s edge. He looked at the boy and said, “Tough, that little one is. A parting gift.” And with that he nodded and stepped back into the gateway in the floor of the roof.
Oswald was not happy with Grimmammon’s parting words. No good comes from gifts from demons. Looking down at The Kid, he saw the boy’s amazing recuperative powers rebuilding him, and in less than two minutes, he sat up, looking angry.
“Wait. We need to talk. There are things you need to know.”
* * *
Carolyn Von Putten was having dinner on the other side of Paragon City when she saw the news. She was finally having the date she had taken a vacation for, and she was determined to enjoy it. She was wearing a black Versace dress with less than modest pumps, showing off her well-muscled body.
She spent days hunting for this dress and wanted to stun Elliot Cole, investigative reporter, right out of his socks. And the dress had the right effect, too. Cole was barely able to speak and the evening was going so well. And then this.
Cole looked at her. “Well?”
“I know you can see that television over there above the bar.”
“And? It’s on the other side of town. If those heroes can’t handle it, we’ll just cut our dinner date a bit short.”
Cole leaned forward and whispered, “What about Gunner? You do realize I know who you are?”
“Don’t try to kid the kidder. I have known for some time. I am the ace investigative reporter in Paragon City. Now I know you should be going, and they certainly look like they need you. I don’t see Shango or Kali. Moving fire means the Occultist is there, and that flashing of silver probably means the Shrike, and I have not seen The Kid yet, so I am guessing thirty foot tall monsters warrant your attention?”
“Do you know how long I have waited for this date?”
“And I promise we will get another shot at it, pardon the pun. Now go. Besides, I have a scoop to get.”
“Need a lift? My car is on its way.”
“Nah, you have an image to uphold. Guns blazing and all.”
“See you in a bit.” Carolyn grabbed Cole and kissed him fiercely on the mouth. “Just in case, you’re late to our next date.” She turned and ran out the door. Turning the corner, a midsize SUV pulled alongside and opened the side door.
“Your suit’s in the back. Nice dress. “ The grizzled man driving the car pointed his thumb backward. She hopped up into the back and started stripping. “Get me there, fast. Set up some distance for heavy weapons. Put me on the radio.”
“Shrike, can you hear me?”
“Gunner, enjoying your vacation?”
“Can it, I need you to get some distance and come in hot. I will be there in less than five minutes. Move out and I will come in with explosive ordinance. You follow with a Cannonball.”
“Roger that, fearless leader.”
“Where is The Kid?”
“I have him. He has been hurt. He found the creature first and alerted us. He held it until the Shrike and I could help.”
“How is he doing?”
“Tough as nails, ready to go back.”
“Any word from Shango or Kali?”
“None, but I can sense they are not in this world, or at the Crossroads. So they may be involved at another point in the battle. We will have to do what we can.”
“Our goal is to stun and control. Keep it where it is. Can you get the rest of the people out of there?”
“Once the Kid is up, tell him to wait for my signal. Ten seconds after my signal, he should see a Cannonball. I will need him to grab the Shrike. I will work long range pushing the creature back. Is there anything else you can tell me?”
“My contacts tell me it’s not like anything we have ever seen. We better hope Shango and Kali are having better luck than we are.”
“My contacts said the last time these things ruled the world, they destroyed the previous inhabitants.”
“That’s not gonna happen.”
“Hope you’re right.”
“Stand by for my signal. Get those people out of there.”
* * *
Shango and Kali stepped through the portal and fell to their knees. The gravity was intense, eight times what they were used to on Earth. The air was thick and heavy. Even with their superior senses, they could barely see through the soup-like atmosphere.
They could hear a chittering sound, something that clicked, popped, sputtered at a variety of distances. Each set of sounds was distinct and otherworldly. Kali stood and began to move her hands in magical gestures.
“The spiritual flow here is weak. Something binds its movement.”
“Draw the god-force from my axe and complete your spell.”
As Kali finished her spell, she looked exhausted, but now she could understand the voices.
“What is it? Why has it come here?”
“It has disease; it comes from elsewhere. Nothing comes here.”
“Make it leave.”
The three voices had a chorus of others that answered them.
“This does not bode well, Kali. I think I liked it better when I didn’t know what they were saying.”
“That can be arranged. What do we do now? I was hoping there would be something to hit over here.”
“It wants to hit us. Why? What did we ever do to it?”
“Kill it. It trespasses on our world. We would never allow that in the past. We have eaten all before now.”
“No haste, visitors are rare; find what they want, first. What do you want, germ invaders?”
“I am Shango the Thunderer and this is Kali Bhavatarini. On our world we are gods. I would see whom I address.”
“Gods, you say.”
“Hahahahahahaha! Such tiny gods.”
“You must come from a tiny world.”
“Show yourselves, braggart,” Kali shouted out to the darkness.
“Pull back the darkness.”
“We’ll rip your tiny minds apart.”
“Shroud is for your protection.”
Shango raised his axe and began to emit lightning, pushing back the darkness. Kali called her spirit blades and touched them together, increasing the light and dispelling the shroud around them.
“Evil germs want to see what we are?”
“Germ gods can’t listen.”
“So be it.”
The shroud of darkness peeled back slowly like a fog being dispelled. The scene was one of carnage as an alien landscape with the remains of a city all around them. Broken buildings toppled into the streets with all the great structures damaged in one way or another.
In the sky swirled a great mass, where the shroud emanated. Tendrils of both darkness and blackened flesh reached from it. They were immense, and the creature filled the sky with its horror. The pressure on the minds of Kali and Shango increased as its spiritual monstrosity overwhelmed them.
Both warrior gods, both having slain tens of thousands in battle, were not prepared for the horror of a creature that had slain billions, entire worlds, holding their souls enslaved within its flesh, the spiritual screams overwhelming them.
Their shields diminished, pushed back to their very persons. They stood together to support each other, and held the horror at bay, but it lapped at their shields, tongues of darkness trying to lick them, taste them, just seconds from overwhelming them completely.
They had never seen anything like this.
“Germ gods, you do not see all there is to me. I dwell at the center of the Universe. I lived before your world was even a swirling in the cosmic miasma. What would you know of godhood? You are only a little more evolved than the worms of your world.”
Shango laughed loudly and contemptuously at the alien being. “Your living quarters are foul, oh great Universe-dwelling deity. Where are your worshippers? Where are your spires of beauty, showing off your power to your enemies? A poor deity that fouls its nest!” Kali looked at Shango disapprovingly.
“Imprisoned by the creatures here. Unable to enter, unable to leave, I sensed an awakening and strove to find it at the Crossroads of all Realities. But before I could find it and leave, the portal was closed. Wretches bound me to this spot. Hate them I did. Killed all of them. They now serve me as my advance guard. Now I seek my kind everywhere. Only they can free me.”
“What would you know of this creature? He roams my world, free. His power is like yours, dark, an evil before time.” Kali presents a psychic image of the creature in Paragon City.
“He is one of us. Betrayer. He taught them here how to bind me to this spot. In exchange for his imprisonment somewhere else, away from me. Send me to him. I would have my revenge.”
“We cannot send you to him. We cannot break the bindings that lock you here. But we could make it possible for you to bring him here.” Shango looked at Kali, disbelieving what she was proposing. “Trust me, my husband.”
“Oh yes, I would have him here with me.”
“How would you make this possible?”
“You are, after all, insignificant in power even to one as puny as he.”
Kali spoke to the tendrils of the creature tearing away at her shields, seeking even a momentary doubt to penetrate and strike. “Open your portal again. We will make a portal to our world. You reach through both and pull him back to you.”
“How can I trust you? I trusted him and he deceived me. I trusted these creatures and they enslaved me.
I cannot trust anyone now. Only one of you can go. The other stays here.”
They look at each other disbelievingly. They are the last of their kind on their world. Without them, their respective pantheons would lose their last anchors to Earth. Shango readied himself to say something, and Kali touched him on the lips.
“You go. Your powers on Earth make you the more suitable choice to create the gate and to drive him into it. I will stay here and play hostage.”
“I will be back for you, my wife.”
* * *
The Kid, using his super-speed, ran through the legs of the creature and launched an attack at its chest. His haymaker rocked its footing. Rebounding off its chest, he flipped and landed thirty feet away, just to the right of Gunner.
Gunner in her red and black battle gear held an X-25 rocket rifle, firing a series of explosive grenades into the tentacled face of the beast. The Occultist rained fiery spheres down from the sky, each wrapping a limb in a flaming embrace.
Fire had the most effect on the creature, preventing its continued movement. But that was all they could do. Between The Kid and his speed and strength and the Shrike’s Promethium attacks, they could keep it off-balance. But whenever it moved or flailed about, buildings fell.
Nothing they did caused any permanent damage and they were beginning to tire.
Suddenly the sky darkened and the wind whipped up. Lightning began to swirl at the edges of the skyline.
The Kid, looking up, slowed down the flow of time and saw lightning charges building up right above their heads. Grabbing Gunner, he sped out of the line of the lightning discharge with seconds to spare. His big grin showed this was what he lived for, that last second save that no one but he could pull off. “Got ya, boss lady. I think the cavalry is here.”
“What?” Gunner hated when he did that. He saw something seconds before it happened. Then the lightning strikes began. Each rained down as a driving wind directed them into the face of the creature. Right where she was standing a second ago.
“Occultist,” boomed the voice of Shango from the heavens, “we need a Gate to the Crossroads. Something big enough for our guest.”
“Shrike, where are you?” Gunner extricated herself from the Kid’s very tight and strangely arousing grip.
“Coming in at Mach two. Tell me we have a target or I am going to explode right over you guys. Less than a minute.”
“Come down West Street. We are trying to push the creature to the Crossroads.”
“What good is that? He’ll just come back.”
“It’s what Shango wants.”
“Good enough for me. Fifty seconds.”
The Occultist teleported himself to the ground behind the alien monstrosity and began to form his gate. It was hard to concentrate over the barrage of lightning, and he had to erect a barrier to protect himself. Holding his cane above his head, he warded off the lightning and driving rain pushing the creature back toward him. His incantations steady, he sensed the gateway to the Crossroads opening. And then he sensed it, a creature of the Outer Dark awaiting on the other side!
He balked, holding the spell before completion. Shango is impetuous, stubborn, and sometimes downright irresponsible. But since I don’t see Kali, I have to assume she is somehow involved in this. In the end, this is about trust. I have to trust they have a reason. He completed the spell.
The Shrike, covered in the kinetic energy of his Promethium armor, saw the gateway open up. Diving down, he targeted the creature and saw lightning striking it, as well. Lightning strikes so powerful, the very air seemed aflame in a light so bright, the creature could barely be seen. Never saw Shango like this. Glad we are on the same side now. Four, three, two, one…
The release of the Promethium had to be done at point blank range. It had a release range of less than ten feet. He could turn at this speed, but just barely. To be sure of the effect this time, he would have to cut it closer than he was comfortable with. If I had known this hero gig would be so dangerous, I might have just stayed a villain. He activated his force field a second before impact, bracing himself for the energy release, it would be the equivalent of a Tomahawk missile. The explosion blasted him into the sky as he rebounded from the armored skin of the creature.
Flight controls are gone, diagnostics lights are on everywhere –we’re done. This had better be worth it. He felt his vector changing as he fell downward. Still trying to reboot his armor, he suddenly felt the wind was knocked out of him.
Suddenly drapped over the shoulder of the Kid as they bounced off a building, arced through the air and landed on the ground nearly a hundred feet away.
“One day I might miss you.” The Kid laughed and put the Shrike down on the ground, clapping him on the back.
“Don’t remind me. Thanks for the save.”
“Armor systems online.” The Shrike’s powered armor reactivated.
“You might want to work on that reboot speed.” The Kid smiled and streaked away, faster than a Corvette down the street back toward the creature. He plucked hurtling chunks of building out of the air, like flowers, that might strike bystanders as he re-entered the fray.
The combined explosions of the promethium wave, Shango’s lightning strikes, and Gunner’s mini-missiles pushed the creature into the edge of the gateway, but not quite through it. Before anyone could make a further effort, a tendril of blackness reached through the gate, and as it touched our air, burst into flame. It grabbed the monster and pulled it back into the Crossroads. The last thing heard was, “I finally found you, Nyarlethotep. Revenge is ours.”
Without warning the gateway snapped shut.
Shango dropped like a rock from the sky, attempting to cross back into the gateway before it closed. The speed of his landing cracked the concrete. He roared like a madman and began to whirl his axe to create his own portal. The air was aflame with his lightning, but no portal formed. The Occultist walked up behind him and placed his hand on Shango’s shoulder.
“Enough, old friend. The creature from the Outer Dark has temporarily sealed the passage from our world to the Crossroads.”
“It has Kali.”
The gathered heroes fell silent.
* * *
Kali summoned her spirit swords and began the ritual dance of power. Tapping the energies unique to this plane, she bound its power to hers. She felt the lives of The People, and their rage at the creature that destroyed them. She felt their need to lash out, but also their impotence since they are deceased and can no longer affect the world. Her dance said that they could.
The portal had been open for some time. She remained peripherally aware of it as the spirits of the dead came to her and followed her dance, each lending its tiny essence to what she was, a goddess of destruction and creation, a goddess of Time and Space. They sensed her kinship to all things in creation, and were at peace.
The portal was rent asunder as the Other suddenly arrived, and the two power-mad creatures tapped the energies of this plane and dozens of others nearby for their conflict. They ignored her and closed the gateway while their battle continued.
“Our deal is done. Release me.”
“Germ gods are in no position to make demands. We have our quarry, and we will use you to get back to your world once we have had our revenge.”
“You will stay with us.”
“We will be free of this place. We taste your world on him. It is to our liking.”
Their conflict was so terrible, nearby shard realms of existence were destroyed as they moved their battle through dimensions. Kali realized this creature never had any intention of letting them go home. That was why she told Shango to leave. She had no intention of staying.
Turning to the gathered spirits she raised her arms and shouted to them, “You seek revenge. Only Kali Yuga can give you that. So I release her to you. Gain your revenge!”
Kali’s dance moved faster, her four arms became eight, and she directed the energy of her death magic through the souls of those damned to be in this place, and they reflected her.
Her spirit blades appeared in their hands . And this happened again and again until there were hundreds of her and the contagion continued, spreading until there were thousands. Each shone with a dark energy that disrupted the very air around them. Slowly they rose into the air and their spirit blades sang out their song of retribution and revenge for their unjust deaths thousands of years before. Tiny stars of black fire began to arc through the air.
The gathered spirits by the thousands turned their energy toward the ancient gods locked in battle. They were not aware of the dark stars surrounding them. Each deity was consumed with its hatred of the other. The crazed tentacled god bound his brethren in a smoky embrace. The dark invader sliced away tentacle after tentacle, even as new ones replaced them. Their struggle destroyed the remnants of the great civilization around them as if they were nothing more than tissue in the path of a hurricane.
Then lead by Kali, the People exacted their revenge. Each hurled itself at the Great Old Ones. Their fiery trail slashed through tentacles and Dark God alike, and their screams of rage were palpable. Once ignored by the Great Old Ones, but no more. Now their rage was given form and a world quaked as bound spirits rose up against their slayer.
Kali Yuga smiled and continued her dance as the sky lit up by the fiery stars of souls enraged. And the Dark Gods knew fear.
* * *
An hour later, a portal opened in the wreckage of the street. Shango stood exactly where the last portal had closed. He knew if she was going to appear, it would be where the walls between worlds was weakest. He could sense it coming, a tell-tale rippling of the space-time at the Crossroads. When she came through she was in her Kali Yuga aspect, her demonic eight armed form was disheveled, battered, barely conscious but still alive. Even in this state, her power was evident, a wave of fear swept the street and people shuddered unconsciously.
Shango reached her in a single step and grabbed her. She slumped into his arms and her Yuga aspect was dispelled. And it was a good thing too. She had a hard time telling friend from foe in that state. He did not know what happened over there, but if she took on this form, she didn’t make any friends.
Ever the optimist, Shango picked her up and laughed. “Look at that! They sent her home, after all. She really doesn’t make for a good hostage.” It wasn’t the first time Shango questioned his wife’s incredible powers. The gathered heroes turned to the wreckage and could hear the sounds of attack helicopters and other military vehicles approaching the scene.
The Shrike looked at Shango, his visor opened, “I know this part. Skipping out from the police was my specialty, remember? We aren’t on the side of the angels anymore. We’re fugitives. That means we run.”
Gunner looked at the Occultist who was already weaving a teleportation spell. “Only for a little while longer, then we are going to fix this. I am tired of running.”
As the military approaches, the people of Paragon City streamed out and quietly blocked the path of the oncoming forces, slowing them significantly.
Gunner looked on, saluted them and with the spell completed, they faded from view. The bystanders quietly dispersed. The military commander breathed a sigh of relief. Gunner was an American hero. She and her team had saved the world a half a dozen times, at least. He had to follow orders, but he didn’t have to rush.
“They got away again, sir.”
“Don’t you hate when that happens, Lieutenant?” The old colonel smiled, lighting a cigar.
Darkstar Rising © Thaddeus Howze 2011, All Rights Reserved