Circle of Justice
A JLA-style alliance of big-name heroes facing big-name threats.
The Circle of Justice is NOT a supergroup, but an informal alliance of roleplayers who get together occasionally to play Justice League style epic adventures. Heroes do not need to leave their supergroups in order to participate or call themselves a member. The Circle of Justice operates under the CORP banner, and most members are CORP players, but it is open to any RPer who's willing to buy into the premise and take it seriously (Astron is an example of someone who usually doesn't play with CORP but who frequently joins).
If, universe aside, your character would not look out of place on the Bronze Age-era Avengers or the current Justice League of America comic books, he or she would be a good member of the Circle of Justice. If the character would be a better fit in the Authority or in a Vertigo book, chances are that hero wouldn't be a good fit for COJ.
The guidelines for the get together are:
1. You're playing a big gun. High level main characters are preferred. Bring out your marquee characters, not your latest alt.
2. The tone is Bronze Age/post-Iron modern age. A campaign shouldn't try to be all things to all players.
It's not all "lightness and puppies," but casual killers are not welcome. It's okay for a few members to be "pragmatic" — conflict adds spice — but the tone of the team is heroic and generally "killing is a big deal." However, sometimes the villains are very gruesome, particularly in supernatural/horror scenarios.
3. Characters need to be able to access all zones, so the RP will be limited by as few environment restrictions as possible.
4. Some familiarity with game lore is nice, as the COJ runs try to use characters and organizations present in the PnP game that have not yet made it into Champions Online.
5. Things happen on a big scale, and sometimes a willing suspension of disbelief is required (the adventure where Invictus changed American symbols and Zorasto cast an illusion that affected everyone in Millennium are two such examples). The GM will do his utmost to return the campaign to a usable status quo by the end of the adventure. (which also means you need some tolerance for the occasional pushing of the reset button).
The lineup of the team varies: to date, no member has been available for every session.
RP combat in the COJ is usually text based. Some conflicts may be solved by PvP or by a PvE attack against an Open Mission boss (who may be a surrogate for some other villain), but the vast majority of combats in COJ will be text-based.
Groups are usually divided into groups of three. On their turn, any one of that group may write their turns. When all three have gone (or when it becomes really clear one of those three is AFK), the next group gets their attack.
In addition, if a villain launches an attack against you, you get an immediate response, except in special circumstances.
You can insert a short line of dialogue at any time, where appropriate. COJ is not heavy RP: OOC remarks are fine, if labelled as such. However, if the GM asks you to get back to IC, please do.
If the story features mobs of agents or minions, special Minion rules may be enforced. If they are, your hero may automatically defeat one group of minions with a narrative attack.
Our Story So Far
Most COJ runs are episodic, but we have had an ongoing storyline throughout the series.
Issue 1: Ice and Stars
Guest Stars: Celestar, The Mighty Canadians (cameo)
Villains: Kigatilik, the Ice.
Date: December 9, 2010.
Craig Carson, Celestar, had wondered for awhile why his old teammate Lonnie Lawrence, better known as Celestar, did not personally attack Kigatilik after his return. He lerned via Ravenspaeker that Celestar was charging his powers for a massive attack on Celestar, hoping to breach into the dimension of the Frost Tomb and rescue his team, the Mighty Canadians, who'd been imprisoned in the Tomb in 1985. Unfortunately, this would further widen the opening into the Frost Tomb and plunge all of Canada into an endless winter. Realizing he was no match for Celestar alone, should they come to blows, Craig recruited a team of his friends, including folks like Blue Bruiser and Lunatic End, as well as Kastor. The team fought their way past Kigatilik, entered the Frost Tomb, and raced against time to retrieve Celestar and retrieve the breach. It wasn't until Celestar's old teammate Kivioq told him to let them go that Lawrence was peersuaded to retreat. The Ice, the malevolent spirit ruler of the Frost Tomb, attempted to trap our heroes, but by combining their powers, they managed to keep from freezing to death and escape.
Thundrax seems pleased by the impromptu group's performance and promises to call them again if needed. He sets up an emergency channel to facilitate this, and the Circle of Justice is born.
Issue 2: I'm on a Boat
Team: Thundrax, Kastor (Please add your name if you appeared in this issue).
Villains: Magnus Aignur, Rakshasa, D-Soldiers, VIPER, Frank Wilkinson.
Date: January 10, 2011.
Thundrax learns that Magnus Aignur. formerly a technician with Albert Zerstoiten and ARGENT, is planning to retire and is auctioning off an artifact of Doctor Destroyer's to finance it. Gathering at a yacht in the seedy Carribbean nation of Costa Azul, where the auction is taking place, the team gets involved with some seedy characters and Trauma finds himself involved in a bidding war he can't possibly win. In the end, Rakshasa, disguised as a lounge singer, stabs Aignur and tries to steal the box; the ensuing battle (largely due to Sergeant Alloy) sinks the boat, The box turns out to be a Galaxar Box, a perfect storage container that Destroyer found, originally crafted by a cosmic entity. The heroes open the box and discover information on a second Destruga, the Island of Dr. Destroyer, which was a part of Zerstoiten's old planetary defense network.
Issue 3: Destruga Rising
Villains: Doctor Destroyer.
Date: May 18, 2011.
UNTIL finally finishes decrypting the data from the Galaxar box and determines the location of Zerstoiten's second Destruga. The location is keyed into a second installation on the moon, a base that once belonged to the supervillain Revenger, which Zerstoiten later altered to his purposes. Determining they need a code from the long-dead Revenger, the heroes approach Lewis Frey, owner of Club Caprice, who once partnered with him in the 1960s when he was the supervillain Masquerade. Frey says he can calculate the base's coordinaates with a decryption box from a Mega-Destroid. After confronting one (which was fortunately rampaging in downtown Millennium), Frey tracks the base's location to the vacinity of Atlantis.
With the permission of Prince Marus, the heroes get permission to enter the "Forbidden Depths". The encounter a giant mutant cyborg kraken, but defeat it handily and make their way to thebase. The computer recognizes Thundrax and Kastor's technology and treats them as allies. It reveals Zerstoiten is not dead, but survived the battle of Detroit and remained active until he travelled to a parallel dimension and disappeared in 2009. The base agrees to let the heroes control the base, and asks if they want to jumpstart the ascension protocol to bring it to the surface. Realizing that in doing so, they risk causing a suboceanic quake that could wipe out Atlantis, they decline. UNTIL decides to send them to explore Revenger's moonbase, and makes preparations for the mission.
(Note: This issue was meant to foreshadow the events of the Resistance Adventure Pack, where the original Dr. Destroyer was freed from imprisonment in Multifaria.)
Issue 4: Secrets of Revenger!
Team: Thundrax, Keioseth, Manhunt, Kastor, Ice-Heart, Arc Thunder (Please add your name if you appeared in this issue).
Guest Stars: Pete Langford, Dr. Hippolyta, the Slumberer.
Villains: Doctor Destroyer, Revenger.
Date: June 15, 2011.
Delayed slightly by the events of the Resistance (Adventure Pack), UNTIL makes arrangements with the Star*Guard. Thundrax calls a group of his friends: there's tension between Kastor and the Emissary over events related to the return of the Dark Templars, the team of extradimensional marauders that Emissary led before her reformation. The team is halfway to the moon via StarJet when a missile launcher decloaks and fires on the ship. Pete Langford, the Star*Force Marshall who's piloting the ship, identifies the technology as belonging to the interstellar criminal Mordace; it's a hunter-seeker designed too track on Star*Guard technology. The heroes disembark to destroy the missile launcher, and the damaged but still functioning StarJet lands near the moonbase.
The heroes find a concealed hatch and enter the base only to be captured by seven foot tall blue-skinned Amazon women, once followers of Revenger. Capturing them in force field bubbles, they intend to sacrifice the men to their moon goddess, but the Emissary breaks free just as their leader, Dr. Hippolyta, arrives to free them. She escorts the heroes to the base's power source, a sleeping titanic colossal being. It's a Galaxar, cosmic exemplar of abstract concepts. In this case, the Galaxar is the Slumberer, who wanders the galaxy looking for good places to sleep. The galaxar is covered in a network of devices, built by Destroyer to tap into the sleeping titan and use it as an energy source to power the weapon. Kasor's attempt to cybernetically access it causes the giant to stir, and it lashes out by making people's monsters from the subconscious come to life (including a fiendish version of Rezz from Nightwave's fantasies), the heroes defeat them and put the giant back to sleep again. Dr. Hippolyta gives her life to break the web, believing Destroyer's weapon enslaves her people. The heroes persuade the Selenites to help the Amazons find a refuge elsewhere, then Kastor blows up the facility, burying the Slumberer and Destroyer's base.
To The Moon, Malice! is a coda to this adventure.
Issue 5: The Song Remains the Same
Guest Star: Bruton.
Villains: Invictus, the Song.
Date: July 2, 201/1.
Thundrax notices that he can't remember the words to the American national anthem, and that others are having trouble remembering too. He receives a visit from Bruton of Batlor, of the realm of eternal struggle in the Briah, informing him that some power is attempting to transform the icons of America into symbols representing tyranny and military might, a process that would alter American history. He summons the COJ who travel to Vibora Bay to visit the Trimagistus Council for answers.
The Council is being attacked by a coalition of ccultists and Trey Kings; the cultists turn out to be members of the CenturyCorps, a secret society founded by former hero and politician (and now disgraced villain) Invictus. His cultists are summoning the Song, malevolent Braihic enties: once summoned, they will sing Invictus's dark anthem and the transformation will be complete. The clues lead the heroes to a ritual being conducted at the Vibora Bay train station. The heroes defeat the summoners but are unable to keep them from summoning the Song, however they combine their powers to disrupt their song while Arc Thunder and Cosmic Glory, prompted by Spectre (who, living in two dimensions, remembers the correct anthem from the other dimension), restoring the Star Spangled Banner to its rightful place. The Song fades, though in the process, they've retconed Invictus's history so he was never disgraced.
Issue 6: Destroyer Legacy
Team: Thundrax (add your hero's name if he appeared in this story).
Villains: Tormentor, Takofanes.
Date: July 23, 2011.
On the 19th anniversary of the destruction of Detroit, heroes gather in a ceremony of remembrance. They are attacked, seeemingly by Dr. Destroyer, but in actual fact, it's a brainwashed individual in faux Destroyer armor. There are other reports of fake Destroyers around the city, setting the populace into a panic about the return of the real Dr. Destroyer.
Tracking the mental trail left by the controller's telepathic powers, our heroes track the real villain, a telepath named Tormentor, to the Battle of Detroit museum. Tormentor reveals that he had gained superior powers thanks to the magic of Takofanes, who would gain from having primed the people of Millennium City to panic during the next Bloodmoon. The heroes defeat Tormentor after a brief struggle, and Tormentor is sent to Hot Sleep. There is some conflict between the heroes over the seemingly ruthless behavior of Kastor that seems to belie some of the nobler sentiments that the heroes made during the memorial service.
Issue 7: Heavy Metal Overture
Guest Stars: Queen Mara, Thammus, Ndana.
Villains: VIPER, the Duchess, Istvatha V'han, Commander Brino.
Date(s): October 8, 15 2011.
After Thundrax was replaced with a clone and his survey of rare earths was stolen by VIPER, Craig went to Atlantis to ensure that the Atlantean deposits did not fall into VIPER's hands. Queen Mara had agreed to accept bids from "Landers". Travelling to Atlantis in a small mini-sub, our heroes were waylaid by shark-riding barbarians associated with the Atlantean barbarian chief, Gundhar. The barbarians attempt to plant charges on the sub, but the heroes dismantle them. Blue Bruiser is badly hurt by a sonic javelin that impales his shoulder, and Albino Bat and Thundrax are also hurt. After pushing the javelin through Blue's shoulder and bandaging him, the heroes are met by an escort led by Brino, third in command of Atlantis's armies (Prince Marus and General Glaucus are at the United Nations) that brings them to Atlantis.
The heroes wander the streest, finding wonderment in the faces of the children, and resentment on the faces of the adults, who mutter against Landers and their greed for Atlantis's miracle metal oricalchum. The arrival is a mixed experience for Vagabond, who came from the Atlantis of another dimension, one which was destroyed by Dr. Destroyer.
The heroes arrive and are formally greeted by Queen Mara and her councellors. There they meet the other bidders: Argent, a man named Rudolf Ingoll from Duchess, who are accompanied by two replicants Adam-1 and Eve-13, and two members representing the Tiger Squad, Hundred Hands and Blazing Inferno. During the introductions, Thundrax mysteriously collapses. Queen Mara calls a recess.
The heroes tend to Thundrax, who has blood drawn for analysis by Atlantean scientists. ARGENT's helpful offer of analyzing a blood sample is declined. Ursun's magical healing attempts seem to acerbate the condition, so Ursun and Tomonari hold back. After analyzing the blood, the Atlantean scientists determine that Thundrax had been infected with a "smart flu", a bug designed specifically to develop ways to beat Thundrax's immune system.
Blue, suspicious of the Tiger Squad members, finds them having a long conversation with the Tiger Squad members in Mandarin.
The heroes decide to abandon the mission and get Thundrax back to the surface. They return to Queen Mara to give their regrets (except for Blue, who stays behind to guard Thundrax) when Brino makes a move, surrounding the heroes with a small force of guards loyal to him, and the Tiger Squad members, also traitors to their cause, present an ultimatum from their true master: Istvatha V'han. V'han offers to let Mara rule Atlantis as her vassal and agrees to spare the city if she bows to her. Mara replies that she didn't bow to the Nazis back in the day, and she sure as hell wasn't going to bow to her. Kingsnake, grinning broadly now that a fight has actually started, opens fire.
The villains complete their ritual, and open a gate to one of V'han's sea monster dimensions, and numerous sea creatures rush through. The heroes, the Atlanteans, an Atlantean guest named King Jupiter, and even the Argent guards team up defeat the monster, including a monstrous shark that would rival Megaladon. Astron uses his cosmic powers to close the gateway. Brino is taken prisoner, as has Blazing Inferno, who lost a hand in the fight (Hundred Hands was eaten).
Brino sent guards to finish off Thundrax, but Blue beat them, snapped their necks, and dragged Craig away from the city. Mara thanks the heroes for their help; as a gift, she gives Vagabond a necklace belonging to her daughter, Stingray. In the meantime, the Duchess personnel steal the sample of Thundrax's blood. The heroes leave the city, meeting up with Blue, and escort Thundrax back to Millennium City and Mercy Hospital. The news that VIPER was developing bioweapons specifically to take out specific supers is not well received.
Issue 8: Time of Dark Champions
Team: Thundrax, Blue Bruiser, Tomonari, Razira, Wolfgirl, Chivalry, Redeemer, Keioseth;
Guest Stars: The Champions.
Surprise Guest Stars: PSI (Psimon, Medusa, and Mind Slayer; Franklin Stone.
Villains: The Dark Champions (Assault, Occult, Ironhame, Bloodgem, and Execution), Zorasto.
Date: November 26, 2011.
The heroes are summoned to the ACI blimp, where they receive a warning message from... Psimon! The Mind Inc./PSI head comes to warn folks about the Dark Champions, a group of demons that rose up when the Champions disappeared to Multifaria. They have a reputation for ultra-violence and ruthlessness, yet the people love them. However, once Kyle Foster, Imaginary Friend, sets up psionic blocks, the heroes see them for what they are: a team of demons, hoing on murderous rampages. Franklin Stone shows an image on his APad of Occult (the alternate version of Witchcraft) transforming children into demons and making them "deputies" in their quest for "justice", sending them into MacDonald Park to kill and eat the Mind Inc. operatives that are gathered there. Their parents beam proudly at seeing their children turned into bloodthirsty monsters. The heroes realize they've got to take immediate action.
Dealing with the thirteen transformed children in the park proves easy, though Blue Bruiser's pummelling of one raises an eyebrow. Sweeping over the city, Kyle discovers Occult is at city hall, gathering a mob and priming them for a ritual. They arrive to discover the Dark Champions there, Assault claims that they can kill every criminal in the city simultaneously -- all they need is for the crowd to give their assent three times. After the second "yes", Chivalry intervenes and the battle is on immediately.
Halfway during the fight, as the tide turns against the villains, due in part to Blue Bruiser's spinning piledriver maneuver, which (thanks to Glory's teamwork) takes out Execution and Ironhame at once. As the bad guys are reeling, their master appears to turn the tide -- the demon lord Zorasto. Tapping into the power of the crowd, Zorasto uses a black lightning bolt to steal Thundrax's powers, however, the combined efforts of Tomonari and Lightwave manage to retrieve them, and the team's combined efforts batters Zorasto so badly that he's forced to retreat through a portal back to Hell.
The spell over the crowd is ended, and only those who blocked it earlier will retain a memory of it. The heroes address the crowd and they peacefully disperse.
Issue 9: Invictus Day
Guest Stars: The Visitors
Date: December 17, 2011.
Invictus, who's publicly believed to be a hero (even though many of our heroes remember his attempts to take over the United States in July) us attacking the tree in Ren Center, burning it to the ground. When the heroes arrive, Invictus expresses outrage about the holiday and attacks Cosmic Glory. A short melee ensues, in which the heroes discover that Invictus has been augmented by additional defenses on his already impressive frame, but the team, working together, manages to pierce them. Glory in particular is outraged: "You can't take away Christmas!" she says. "It means way too much to people! It represents faith, hope, and the goodness of everything. Not selfish stuff... like you!" ,
"DOES IT?" a voice echoes in everyone's minds. "HOW... INTERESTING..."
The group, including Invictus, are teleported onto an alien ship. Keio, who doesn't have a high tolerance for being teleported, vomits. The alien are three energy beings known as the Visitors, cosmic tourists. They sense that earth is of unguessed imoportance to the galaxy, and that Christmas has a special significance to muchj of the plenet. The ship had been damaged in an assault by an unknown party. Invictus had rescued them, and received a power boost in return, but the infusion of power had driven him temporarily bonkers: he would never have attacked the tree had been in his right mind. The heroes explain the significance of Christmas to the aliens, though Invictus emphasizes its negative qualities, and Craig, a practising Christian, goes into its significance from a believer's point of view.
The Visitors thank the heroes, especially for the eggnog and brownies that are magically summoned for them. Invictus makes a move to depart, and when Canadian Iron tries to stop him, he points out curtly that he didn't commit any crime of his freewill and they know it. The heroes let him go. The Visitors depart -- but not before warning of the impending arrival of a Galaxar named the Warmonger to earth...
"Book of the Empress" Special Issue: All is V'Hanity
Villains: Chuvon the Well-Meaning, Rexxi, Captain Brunt, the Unfathomable Abomination, DimensionFold, Kigatilik.
Date: January 18, 2012.
Thundrax is in Japan investigating the apparent murder of his friend Lightwave when he receives an alert from a private source of dimensional energy being detected in a botanical garden in Ann Arbor Michigan, fifty miles west of Millennium City. Unable to come himself, he asks people on his Circle of Justice hotline to check out the location. Eight heroes arrive to find a foppish man in modified D-soldier armor adjusting a device and firing it at trees. He's trying to set the "Botanicon" to a world-wide setting, but gets an error message. When approached, he says that he's trying to create an army of walking trees to conquer the world for "August V'Han", aka Istvatha V'han, Empress of a Billion Dimensions. Vagabond grabs the device away from him, much to his annoyance. An aide teleports the man, Chuvon the Well-Meaning, to the location of his next plan, while the heroes deal with an assortment of walking, attacking trees and a small army of about thirty D-soldiers. Peacemaker pockets the Botanicon away for further study.
Meanwhile, in Millennium City a giant force field/energy structure is being erected outside of Dynamic Technologies. The heroes arrive via Eldritch's mystic teleport (which causes Keioseth to vomit wildly) and confront Chuvon and his aides, Rexxi (who seems to be the only one with half a brain cell) and Captain Brunt. The field is DimensionFold, a gateway that will expand to encompass the earth and shift it into a parallel dimension where V'Han's troops can easily conquer it. ("DimensionFold planetary gateway is activated. Thank you for choosing DimensionFold for your interdimensional planetary transport needs.")
The situation soon escalates, with DimensionFold gating in "an Unfathomable Abomination" (which bears a striking resemblance to a sabertooth tiger cub, except that its mew induces confusion). Canadian Iron and El Hijo Del Extraordinario, who, with his female compatriot Brujo IV, is filling the much-needed vacuum of luchadores in the COJ) attempts to clobber Chuvon, only to knockout Captain Brunt instead. Rexxi grabs Chuvon and teleports him to the location of their third plan, while DimensionFold continues to grow.
DimensionFold attempts to open a portal to the prison dimension of Duress and send Ice-Heart there, but Canadian Iron tosses in Captain Brunt instead. The portal closes behind him. The Unfathomable Abomination receives a dressing down from Peacemaker, who tells it to go to its room. The Abomination slinks away, tail between her legs. El Hijo rescues Brujo IV from an energy instability at the base of the structure, and the heroes team up to destroy DimensionFold (with Vagabond demonstrating a new energy conduit power that she didn't previously realize she possessed). DimensionFold goes offline with a snark: ("DimensionFold does not appreciate these actions. No thank you for destroying DimensionFold. Have a terrible day.yyyy.yyy..." *click*)
Thundrax finds a third dimensional incursion around Canada, in the Lynx's Fold. With the people at Steelhead distracted by an invasion of ice demons, Craig teleports there personally, and the rest of the COJ join him. Chuvon has given Kigatilik a device that can expand his ice powers to a world wide scope and freeze earth, allowing V'Han's ice soldiers to pluck the human race out and dethaw them at her leisure. Kigatilik laughs and tells Chuvon that he will indeed freeze the earth -- for himself. Even Rexxi saw *that* one coming. Thundrax leads the COJ into an attack on Kigatilik. Fortuitously, they are joined by the might of Astron, who returning from space, helps turn the tide. After a long gruelimg fight, the heroes manage to down the demon-god and destroy the device. Brujo IV demonstrates her bizarre power of dying and reconstituting a new body for herself four times in the fight. Chuvon is crestfallen that his plans have failed -- now what is he going to get V'Han for her birthday if he can't give her the earth? The team insists that he agrees to leave earth and never return... sulking Chuvon agrees and teleports away. A voice on a comm says "DimensionFold backup service access activated. Emergency fee added to your bill" Chuvon wonders what else could go wrong as he teleports back home.
The triumphant heroes return to Steelhead, which is cleaning up from the ice demon attack, and discuss other issues. Ice-Heart tells them about her investigation of Lightwave's situation: she is neither dead nor alive, but her body is being used by an ancient nemesis. The heroes vow to combat this. The Visitors' warning about the Warmonger is brought up, and they ponder the troubling question of how long it will be before he makes an appearance on earth.
(Note: This adventure was created to celebrate the success of the "Book of the Empress" kickstarter project.)
Issue 10: Terrible Swift Sword
Guest Stars: Pete Langford, the Justice Squadron, the Champions, Eidolon.
Villains: The Sirians, the Sword of Dissent, the Warmonger, the Dream-Beast of Mars.
Date: March 3, 10, 17 2012.
NASA called it a routine blackout from Marsbase Ares I. They lied.
After a consuiltation with Gateway, Thundrax sends out an alert to allied heroes. Teleporting them to his moonbase, Craig discovers that both the Justice Squadron and the Champions went to Mars to investigate. Both teams went silent, though the Champions mentioned a jamming field about 2/3 of the way to earth. Assuming that this was the prelude to an invasion, Craig mentions the various threats active around Mars, including recent invaders like the Roin'esh, as well as the Sirians (who used Mars as a base for their 1938 invasion) and the ancient Martian civilization, which vanished 1.5 billion years ago.
The team's transport to Mars is decidedly low tech: a cargo transport belonging to the superhe transroine Victory, who can fly in space. Astron more than ably takes on the role of rocket engine. The flight to Mars is uneventful, until they encountrer the jamming field. They reacg Mars without further incident, but are halted by Pete Langford of the Star*Guard before they reach Mars orbit. Langford is flying a Star*Jet; they are accompanied by the Justice-Star, the starcraft built by Amazing Man III for New York's Justice Squadron team.
Boarding the Star*Jet, our heroes meet Pete and Bravo for a briefing. The Star*Guard base on Europa is in chaos: a normal day was interrupted when the Star*Guard commander, Major Alcmena, accused his alien underlings of treason, and one of them accused Alcmena of incompetence in the capture of the inteerstellar criminal Valak. Alcmena sent Langford to earth for renforcements, but Langford realizes something is wrong. The source of the jamming field is the Star*Guard base.
The Justice Squadron, mibus Drifter, will head off to Europa and prevent any crazd Star*Guard gtom launching an attack on earth. As they received a transmission from Marsbase indicating something was wrong at Ares I, the Champions and Drifter went to the surface of Mars to investigate: they went silent minutes later. Grimoire makes telepathic contact with Witchcraft, who indicates they're trapped in nightmares.
The two teams part ways. Langford agrees to drop the team off by Marsbase before heading to Earth. The team spots five Sirian tripods heading for Ares I, after a long battle, the heroes destroy the tri[ods. The Justice Squadron neutralizes the jammiing field -- in time to receive a self-destruct signal from the base. In 45 seconds, Ares I will blow sky high...
The heroes hurried to Ares I, tracking down the signal to Trojan, the communications dome. There, a German archeologist named Fritz has gone insane and is making sure the self-destruct device is not blown to smithereens. While Grimoire warped time to slow the countdown, Metal Maiden surrounded the device in a force field, and Chivalry knocked the German into the arms of Black Sigil, who blasted Fritz with a stun pistol. Ares I, like the Star*Guard base, was divided, this time along national lines: American vs. non-American.
The team disarmed the autodestruct, but discovered Thundrax and Astron, who went to the main dome, had been taken prisoner by Major Schad and Ares I's American contingent. Damn Canadian socialist, and with a mullet to boot!
Grimoire cast a spell to dispel the mind control --which promptly triggered a very nasty telepathic counterpunch: our heroes were overwhelmed by the sight and sounds of battle. Fortunately this effect did not last long; when it passed Major Schad and the others were finally freed from the telepathic influence.
The heroes were joined by Schad, several technicians, Thundrax and Astron. They discussed what had happened to cause the strife: it been an ordinary day on Mars, when suddenly a meteor appeared overhead and everyone went nuts. Checking the personnel, the team discovered that one of the archaeologists (a Russian named Yuri) had fled to the ruins of the old Martian civilization. The team decided to rescue him. Before they could depart, a technician replayed the meteor strike: and a close-up showed it wasn't a meteor at all.
It was a sword, elaborately carved, gleaming with cosmic power.
Backchecking its trajectory, the tech determined that the sword did a fly-by past every planet between Neptune and Mars (including Jupiter and Europa, where the Star*Guard base is located). Chivalry notes the appropriateness of a sword landing on a planet named after the God of War.
The team is determined to head to the ruins, but there's another interruption: a War Giant, twice the size of the previous tripods that attacked Ares I. Our heroes ventured forth to confront it, and after a much tougher battle, succeeded in destroying it. Out of the wreckage came a device that projected a hologram.
The figure displayed was a tall green Sirian, holding the sword of dissent. He vowed to win his war with Earth by using his secret weapon. The image pulled back to reveal a huge rocket, which was pointed at earth. Attached to the sides of the rocket were the comatose Champions and the Drifter. On the nose cone was a payload containing a creature that was an almost incomprehensible to look at: the Martian Dream-Beast.
"This weapon, armed with the ancient Martian dream beast, will be aimed at Earth!" the overlord boasted. "When it impacts, the psionic force will trigger an explosion that will destroy your world!"
"That's monstrous, overlord, and you know ink!" Chivalry proclaimed. When did you even want to destroy Earth?"
"Please do not do that!" Metal Maiden added. "Think of all the kittens you would destroy!"
"You fool!" another prisoner shouted. "If the dream-beast leaves the Martian atmosphere, I won't be able to contain it. It won't reach earth... it will travel the galaxy, plunging world after world -- into the realm of nightmares!"
The heroes head off for the ruins. They see Yuri speeding for the site in a Marsbuggy: he radios Marsbase and tells them he plans to kill "the alien". Grimoire flies over to him and puts him asleep with a spell. The heroes converge on the rocket, where the Great Green martian, 10' tall, stands with a handful of greens and a host of shabbily armed Grey Sirians.
" My people!" the Sirian leader shouts in an unnatural roar as he waves the sword. "Earth's greatest champions lie defeated at our feet! Today, the earth is ours... and tomorrow, we shall have Malva itself!"
"My emperor!" one of the Greys says, pointing skyward -- at you. "More intruders!"
The heroes rolled their eyes and battle was engaged. Astron spends a little too much time staring at the Dream-Beastand and is suddenly attacked by a pair of Orithians, his father's people, who placed a "cosmic collar" around his neck, and unceremoniously dragged the now-powerless hero across the surface of Mars. Meanwhile the Great Green used the sword's power to telekinetically outfitted the Greys in advanced space marine body armor!
Metal Maiden and Black Arc worked together to contain the Grey army, joined by the Drifter while Grimoire's magic wrestled telepathically with the Dream-Beast. She was joined by the mysterious man who warned the Great Green against shooting the Dream-Beast into space, a telepath named Eidolon. Together, their powers managed to subdue the Dream-Beast enough for the Champions to wake up.
Meanwhile, Arc Thunder and Thundrax struggled against the Great Green, trying desperately to wrest the sword from his grasp. He summoned a huge pistol and aimed it directly in Arc Thunder's face, but Chivalry collided with the Green and knocks him enough that he shot Thundrax instead, driving the huge Canadian many meters across the Martian surface. Fortunately at this moment, Astron managed to break free of the Dream Beast's spell and joined the fight against the Green, and the sword was knocked out of his hand by the heroes' combined efforts. The Great Green shrunk to four feet in height. He pulled out a control mechanism and pressed a button to activate the rocket's self-destruct countdown.
Chivalry felt a strong urge to pick up that sword. In his mind, the goodly hero perceived a deep and comforting reassurance that he knew it can be used for justice, for righteousness! "What a weapon it would be in your hands!" it seemed to say. Deep inside, he sensed the sword was NOT evil,
"At least not in the hands of a pure heart. A pure knight."
Despite the warnings of his compatriots, Chivalry carefully clasped his fingers around the hilt of the cosmic blade.
The sword suddenly burst into life. A huge, 14' tall red-skinned humanoid figure, bearing an unbelievably large axe, naked except for shoulder pads and a high tech loincloth appeared. "This is a suitable species," the Warmonger observed. "Militarily capable, sound tactical mind, courageous. They will make excellent soldiers for my campaign against the universe."
Chivalry stood up, staring at the Warmonger. "What-"
Grimoire gave the Warmonger a long suffering look. "This is not something I wanted to deal with right now. God. Damnit."
The Warmonger image turned to Moira. "You would like me to damn what?" he says.
Chivalry peered at the sword for a few moments then up at Warmonger "This is yours, then?"
"I will take my blade back," the Warmonger acknowledhed. "Its purpose is served.." With that, the cosmic blade vanished.
Chivalry glanced at the small Green beside him "The Sirians did not live up to your standards..."
The Warmonger nodded. "Their tactical errors in attacking Malva and using the ancient..." Here he pointed at the Dream-Beast. "...disqualified them. You, on the other hand..."
A shudder went down the heroes' collective spines.
"I will come for you as well. Resist if you must. The survivors will become my shocktroops."
Grimoire cursed. The Warmonger smiled. "As I said, you want me to damn what?"
" How 'bout yerself fer starters." Arc Thunder muttered.
The Warmonger observed Arc, a smug expression etched on its face. "Admirable spirit... insubordinate nature. A good combination at this stage."
"Thou useth these people like pawns simply to uncover soldiers?" Chivalry said.
"Since the beginning of time, the universe has been survival of the fittest. I play the great cosmic game to win." the Warmonger stated.
Chivalry looked at the image in a mix of wonderment and horror: "Who ARE you?"
"I am called by many names. I am War, Conflict, Strife. I am the Survivor. I am the Struggle. You may call me... I believe Warmonger will do."
The Green grovelled on the ground. "The humans are unworthy to be your servants," he said. "Take the Sirians, so we may ascend to greatness once more!"
Moira slumped against a rock, sitting down on the Martian surface, holding her head in her hands. "I really need a smoke right now." she said. The Drifter, pulling a pack of glowing cigarettes from his pocket, offered one to her. Moira blinked, taking one of the cigarette slowly, before lighting it with a finger and taking a deep breath in. "Thanks." she said.
Stepping down from the rocket, Ironclad roared. "Ha!" he proclaimed. The Sirians are the joke of the galaxy!"
Chivalry turned to Ironclad "Yet with this Warmonger's blade they made short work of thee and thine, Sir Ironclad. And this was but an artifact..."
Eidolon shook his head. "It was the Dream-Beast mostly." he tells Chivalry. "We need to put it back in its rest spot."
Stepping down from the rocket, Metal Maiden addressed the Titan. "I believe humanity would like to forge its own destiny without a firm outsider hand." she said.
"Good," the Warmonger replied. "The more spirited the stallion, the better they will be when they're broken."
"No one's becoming anyone's servant. I've had enough of this, Warmonger. Leave now, and you'll be unharmed." Astron's eyes began to shine a bright blue, as if signaling that he's ready for a fight.
The Warmonger sneered back at Astron. "You will not be given a choice to join me. Because of your mongrel heritage, your obliteration is assured. For now, however, I will take my presence elsewhere. I will come for your world soon. Let the strong prepare... and the weak pray." With that, the image of the Warmonger faded.
"Some of us can multitask," Thundrax said to himself, in response to the two options.
Metal Maiden turned to the team: "This does not make me happy," she said.
Thundrax sighed. "We suspected he was on his way. This changes nothing." Craig noted.
"We'll be prepared for when he comes." Astron promised.
"Good riddance." Arc Thunder spat, and they turned their attention to the rocket, the telepathic entity on top of it, and the rogue Sirians, who were now begging for mercy.
Metal Maiden, with help from Defender, disabled the autodestruct. Eidolon took the Dream-Beast back to its resting place in the Martian ruins. After considerable debate, the heroes place the fate of the Great Green and the Sirians in the hands of the Star*Guard.
The Justice-Star soon returns from Europa, where the Star*Guard base has now settled back to normal. The three groups of heroes return to earth, sobered by the realization that the Warmonger is coming.
Issue 11: The Borealis Effect
Guest Stars: Starforce, Celestar, Kid Invisible.
Villains: Borealis, Augury, the Landsman, H.E.C.T.O.R.
Date: April 28 2012.
Several days after one of the largest sunspots evere, there's a spectacular display of the Northern Lights. The Canadian archvillain Borealis, who draws his power from the Northern Lights, was using that power to launch an attack on Toronto. Taking over a Hunter-Patriot base, he effortlessly took over the base and pressed into service nearly fifty armed men and cyborgs. Entering the CN Tower, he and his latest henchman, the battlesuit clad electronics genius H.E.C.T.O.R. rigged up a cosmic energy collector in the CN Tower. Here he would increase his power and use his mental powers to control every person in the city. He was confronted by Starforce and Celestar, but defeated them easily.
The heroes make their way to Toronto, and find an access point at the bottom of the CN Tower. Bursting into a revolving restaurant which Borealis had turned into his base of operations, Thundrax is immediately encapsulated in a force bubble. Borealis is mobbed by over a half dozen heroes, but holds them off almost without effort, blasting even Astron off with a cascade wave of force. Wolfgirl tries to conceal her movements with a smoke grenade.
"Americans and their smoking," Borealis quips wryly. "Take it back to Carolina, dear."
"Do you have any idea how stupid you sound, buck-o?" Wolfgirl snarls back.
Peacekeeper, in a somewhat uncharacteristic display of violence, grabs Borealis by the throat. Borealis shakes his head. "You're formidable, I give you that. But today is not your day." he says as he overloads Peacekeeeper's armor with an EM burst. Peacekeeper falls, unconscious and hurt. Borealis hurls him at Astron, who catches him and puts him sagely aside.
Also, a previously unknown Toronto teenage superhero, Invisible Kid, tries to disable the cosmic energy collector, but falls prey to a booby trap.
Azunai and the Landsman get into a mud wrestling match, while Keio plays a game of tag with a back and forth blast of electricity with H.E.C.T.O.R. keio's teammate Sunspot goes after Augury. H.E.C.T.O.R. sends the electrical blast into Ice-Heart, hurting her, but Keio manages to blow apart his armor. Wolfgirl, Astron, Lightwave, Sky Ranger, and General Freedom concentrate their efforts on Borealis, and finally take down his armor, especially after Lightbrand through Thundrax's prison globe at Borealis.
Azunai wins the wrestling match with Landsman; weakened without contact with the earth, he eventually shatters into pieces.
Throttlerocket attacks Augury, and although she knows precisely where he's going to hit hem, she's still unable to counter his superhuman speed. Sunspot hits her with a taser arrow, and lodges an explosive arrow behind her, but Augury draws it from the gropund, ties a note to it, and throws it at Sunspot's feet.
"You must be the one," she says. "You don't look like a worldsaver, but looks aren't everything."
Borealis is agape at the comment, wondering why Augury arranged for him to launch a major assault on Toronto just to deliver a note. With that, Augury teleports ahead in time, escaping the situation. Borealis, trapped on the ground with Wolfgirl on his chest, erupts with a huge wave of concussive force before transporming into a light beam and vanishing.
"Everyone loves a dramatic exit." General Freedom said with a grunt, rubbing the back of his neck. "An' all this was some way to deliver a message," he glances at Sunspot. "People need ta learn to pick up a damn phone."
Sunspot opens the poster and frowns. "It's mumbo jumbo to me... unless this means anything to any of you?" she says as she shows them the poster for a gun show in Indiana. "People's Party presents... the gun that shot Abraham Lincoln." she reads. The gunshow is scheduled for later that week.
"Connie was always a very special girl," Thundrax replies. He explains that Augury was his ex-teammate on the Northern Guard who went crazy after a trip to a parallel world. But she is a powerful precognitive.
Ice-Heart notes that an item of strong historical significance like that may hold mystical power for the right rituals. Craig wonders if the "People's Party" is planning to assassinate the President. Throttlerocket takes Peacemaker to the hospital, while the heroes plan their next move.
Issue 12: Guns! Guns! Guns!
Team: Thundrax, Lightbrand, Keioseth, Sunspot (Aeva), Miko Westworth(add your hero if he or she participated here.)
Villains: The Warmonger, Piers Wagner, The Ultimate Gun.
Guest Stars: Invisible Kid, Rudolf Ingoll, Adam-1, Eve-2, Victoria Sadler, Arthur Drake III, the Emissary, Cosmic Glory, Marshall R'haogo.
Date: May 12, 2012.
Thundrax and some of the heroes from the Toronto incident (Azunai, Wolfgirl, Aeva, Keio, Lightbrand, and Ice-Heart) gather in an Indianapolis hotel room to review plans for infiltrating the gun show. Aeva leaves her gear in Gabriel's substantial pockets. She is also surprised to see Craig in his true form, the body of a skinny, balding, 43 year old man.
Heading into the gun show, they discover it's surprisingly upscale. There are tables with collectables: Keio is fascinated by a working replica of Scaramanga's gun from "The Man With the Golden Gun". Craig is not happy to see Rudolf Ingoll of Duchess Industries in attendance (along with his repluicant bodyguards Adam-1 and Eve-2, nor Victoria Sadler of Dynamix (an ARGENT front).
The host of the gathering, Piers Wagner (accompanied by three burly bodyguards from Bastion Security) greets the guests, giving everyone a disturbingly thorough scrutiny. He gives several guests, including Keio, an envelope inviting him to a special showing in the Odyssey room of the hotel.
The heroes are ushered into a large ballroom where Wagner is on stage giving an elaborate presentation. Reciting the text of the Second Amendment like the pledge of Allegiance is a bit of an eye-rolling moment. He talks about his love of guns and how he started collecting "great weapons of history".
"Oxymoron," Wolfgirl growled.
Wagner takes a cloth off the display case... to reveal a fox's paw with a toy glove attached, and a note which reads: "GRAB".
The lights go out. Aeva, who can see in pitch darkness, sees Wagner draw a strange looking gun, seemingly out of nowhere, and fire into the audience. She hits a panic button, a sonic device that's designed to paralyze those around her. Wagner seems to be unaffected.
The lights come up and a body is slumped in one of the upper rows of seats. It's wearing a costume, that of Black Claw, the former leader of GRAB who was killed in the 1990s. Some in the audience (those outside the range of Aeva's sonic device) are panicking but Wagner remains perfectly calm.
"Superheroes," Wagner said. "No need to concern yourself. The second amendment has worked as our founding fathers intended it should."
The heroes check out Black Claw's body. He has a number of tools designed for burglary, and patches of a substance which, when applied to the skin, induce a temporary blackout. The heroes are deeply supicious, suspecting that "Black Claw II" was set up.
Another heroine, an UNTIL agent named Miko Westworth tries to pass herself off a press. and get into the gathering in the Odyssey Room. "Sorry ma'am, this is not a press event." one of the Bastion security men tell her.
As the police seal off the area where the murder took place, the invited uests make their way to the Odyssey Room. Keio takes Wolfgirl with him, but Ice-heart performs a spell to make sure he's under continuous observation, using a lock of Keio's hair to scry on him in a bowl of water. Craig returns to his superhuman form.
Wagner addresses the crowd again, this time with an even more theatrical flourish. "Ladies and gentlemen. I wanted to show off my full collection to people I believe would truly appreciate it." he says, and he unveils several cases containing firearms. ". "Behold, the guns that killed Garfield, McKinley, JFK, Gandhi, and MLK!"
"All this and he does not have HItler's suicide pistol?" Ice-Heart remarks as she continues to scry the situation.
"And my favorite... " Wagner said, drawing a small pistol from a pocket "...the gun that killed Archduke Ferdinand of Austria. This weapon started the first world war. This weapon caused more than 35 million casualties. 15 million deaths. The bloodiest war in human history."
Wolfgirl might have disputed that, but it was hard for anyone to take their eyes off the insane, rapturous expression on Wagner's face. "I'm a gun designer by trade. Inspired by these weapon, I created the ultimate gun...."
A large, strange looking weapon appears in Wagner's hand. "Comes into your hand, with a thoight. Undetectable. Automatically analyzes the target, and determines the right ammo needed to kill with one shot, then produces it. And ut keeps you perfectly calm and steady when you hold it."
The heroes scowl. "And to demonstrate its killing power...." Wagner says.. and he suddenly aims the gun at Adam-1 and fires. then Eve-2 and fires two quick shots in a blur of a motion. The two Duchess Industries metahumans fall, instantly dead. "And now the elemental king," Wagner smiles, training the weapon on Keio.
Keio gulps and moves to dodge, but Wagner pivots and fires on an unseen target instead. It's Kid Invisible, the teenage super who was involved in the battle with Borealis. He falls over dead. "This gun makes me the supreme power on this planet!" Wagnner shouts. "Can't you hear it singing?"
The heroes stationed outside blow a hole in the entrance and storm the room. It's chaos inside. Thundrax attempts to enter the room, but is gang-tackled by more Bastion security. Ice-Heart grabs Azunai and vanishes into her scrying dish in a swirl of snow, appearing next to keioseth with the big man feeling rather cold. She looks up a little strained, "'slbood!" she exclaims. "Why did you have to be so big!"
The gun scan Ice-Heart and in a disturbingly metallic voice it says: "Switching to ionized orichalcum ammo to penetrate magical defenses."
Gabe and Mika growl at Wagner and tell him to drop the weapon. Wagner stares back at them with an incredulous expression on his face. "Drop this? This gift from the the gods? Are you insane?"
"'tis a gift from the warmonger I wager," Ice-heart replied.
As if to emphassize this, the gun declares: "Brothers, assist me!" Suddenly in the display room, hundreds of guns rise into the air, locking and loading. Two policemen who were still investiagting Black Claw's death were gunned down immediately.
The team unloads everything they have on Wagner. The man begins to laugh hysterically, drool coming from his mouth. "I am invincible!" he wails. Sprayfire rains on the group.
"Anyone have a vat of Liquid Nitrogen?" Keio quips. He drew a pistol to fire it. but his gun hand suddenlly wrenched, as it atempted to lodge the gun in Keio's mouth and fire!
"I'll show you invincible!" Azunai snarled and he brought up his huge right fist and drove it right into the crazed man's chest. Wagner continued his hysterics.
Lightbrand put up a force field around his teammates to protect them. "Switching to teleport ammo to circumvent force fields," the gun said.
Meanwhile, back in the lobby, hundreds of guns were entering the room. Seeing the threat, Thundrax threw off the security guards and lodged himself in the doorframe to protect them as the hundreds of weapons fired on him.
The gun trained on Aeva and fired... and she dodged out of the way. "That is impossible!" the gun declared. "I am incapable of missing! Analyzing target..."
"I'll show you impossible," Aeva said, adding a few choice obscenities. She drew a nanotech arrow into her bow, and fired it into the gaping chest wound that Gabe had made. Wagner's flesh dissolved, and he fell to the floor, dead.
Gabe and Wolfgirl gtabbed at the gun and pushing their incredible strength to its limits, they finally broke the weapon in two. Ice-Heart cast a banishment spell on the weapon, sending its broken pieces into another dimension. The gun explodes just as it's banished, propelling everyone backwatf in a shockwave. Out of the explosion, a 14' tall, red-skinned figure emerged.
"Magic," he says, training his gaze on Ice-Heart derisively. "Such a common form."
Gabe, who was at the center of the explosion, gets to his feet. "...The hell is--...Great." he says.
"Kill it with fire!" Keio declares.
"The flames of Fuzon are exceptionally hard for me to muster." Ice-Heart responds.
Wolfgirl, Keio and Azunai immediately charge, but their efforts bounce off an impenetrable cosmic force field. "I have not yet formally declared war," the Warmonger says. "As satisfying as your destruction would be, there shall be no battle yet. You showed exceptional spirit in hurting my emissary. As your Emissary did with me..."
A cosmic portal formed, and out came a woman in a familiar costume with long red hair. She was obviously badly beaten. Her eyes were open wide, but her pupils were like pinpricks. Gabe stopped and looked at Emily's quivering form in horror.
"You harmed my emissary. I harmed yours," the Warmonger stated. "Recirpocity."
Miko looked on in amazement, feeling very much out of her league. "The gun was your emmisary?" she wondered.
"Yes," the Warmonger replied. "I have many gifts for those whose hearts turn to war. The assassination of your president may have started a glorious one."
Azunai's lips turned into a snarl, "So you want to start another world war? Is that it?"
"Yes," the Warmonger answered. "The survivors will be conscripted into my army against the universe. "
Wolfgirl attempted to help Emily to her feet, but her body was limp. "One day, I'm gonna get a chance, and I'm going to beat your face in for this. You son of a bitch." she snapped.
"You are more of an idiot than I could have possibly imagined." Azunai said contemptuously.
The Warmonger seemed to ignore the insult. "A pity my captain did not show, but no matter. The swordmaster is already mine," he said, and he glanced at Wolfgirl. "As are you."
The heroes looked on in disbelief. "I shall go to preside over my casualty. When I go to war... and it shal be soon... you shall know it."
The Warmonger leaves. Azunai curses him as a coward, upset that he hid behind a shield. Mika asks who he is; Thundrax explains about Warmonger and the Galaxars. "Oh, did we mention he intends on starting some kind of war with the universe?" Azunai notes. "As if a third world war wasn't enough."
"It is not what he intends it is what he is." Ice-Heart counters. "You may as well ask a forest fire if it intends on consuming the woods."
Lightbrand flies Emily back to the sickbay of the Silver Age Sentinels for treatment. Ambulances were called for the other dead bodies, including Wagner's. Craig notes with extreme disapproval that ARGENT and VIPER heard everything.
Craig meets with a number of people to discuss the Warmonger situation, including the Star*Guard. It's agreed that the Warmonger cannot be beaten directly, however his lieutenants and emissaries proved to be vulnerable. Remove enough of them, and the Warmonger might leave. Cosmic Glory noted that the Warmonger seemed to bind himself to follow a certain code of war: perhaps that could be used against him, allowing them to dictate terms.
Craig also meets with Marshall R'haogo of the Star*Guard, who suggests, based on his love of confluct and strife. that they should host a fighting tournament.
Issue 13: The Price We Pay
Villains: The Warmonger, VIPER-X, Madame Blue.
Guest Stars: Marshall R'haogo, Proudclad, Architect, Grimoire, Spectre.
Date: May 24, 26, 2012.
A magic ritual is conducted to locate the Warmonger, with the scary result being that he's *everywhere*, having permeated himself into humanity collective conscviousness to best enjoy their violent impulses. Despite discord between the mages and the observers, the scrying ritual works beyond their intentions, as Thundrax's body becomes taken over as a host by the Warmonger. Chivalry attempts to issue a challenge -- a tournament against his champions --but Warmonger dismises him, informing him that the Snake Cult (aka VIPER) has also contacted him, and that he will address their challenge provided that they can find the rendezvous and overcome VIPER. Warmonger leaves Craig's body, leaving a dead Thundrax on the floor. As three of the mages bicker, Ursun manages to revive Craig from death.
Following the clue, two days later our heroes converge on Slither Beach on Monster Island. Several people note, with disappeoval, that Craig is wearing a new costume, a black costume. Thundrax shrugs and notes that "everyone seems to be wearing black these days".
VIPER is drawing on power from a Qularr installatioon to fuel a force field. Before our heroes can engage VIPER, the shield has to come down. Mr. Indomitable, Craig's good friend who's the leader of the Aegis of Justice, has a translator in his phone that's designed to communicate with them.
"Buzz off," the Qularr tells Indomitable.
The heroes are forced into battle with the Qularr and quickly overwhelm them. The shields drop.
The heroes proceed to the rendezvous point, a tower on the beach where VIPER-X, along with a small VIPER army, some serpent mages, and a lieutenant in power armor are conversing with Warmonger. "Ah, our guests have arrived."
VIPER-X is not exactly pleased to see the heroes. The former PRIMUS Silver Avenger notes that the odds of fighting so many heroes isn't particularly conducive to a fair fight. The Galaxar agrees, and upgrades the VIPER's weapons, particularly the battlesuit worn by X's second in command, Lt. Blue. To Kevin Armstrong, VIPER-X, rhe Warmonger gives a.. dagger.
A debate follows where the heroes attempt to convince Armstrong of the folly of accepting gifts from alien conquerors -- VIPER may be scum, but they're human scum. The dagger urges Armstrong to fight and kill, but whatever X's deficiencies, a weak will isn't among them. He says that his duty lies in fighting their enemy -- while sending Lt. Blue a covert transmission to flee the fight with the enhanced battlesuit so VIPER can analyze the Warmonger's upgrades.
Battle is joined. The heroes engage the agents, quickly mowing down most of the mobs, though the Serpent Mages prove problematic, especially when they dispel Lightbrand's protective force field and summon a swarm of deadly vipers (ie. actual venomous snakes) to cover his body. Armstrong stabs people with the dagger, but wills it so that he only causes a stabbing pain without wounding an opponent or even drawing blood -- the VIPER captain realizes that giving into the dagger's bloodlust will put him under the weapon's control. The Warmonger seems surprised by this.
Mr. Indomitable goes to toe-to-toe with Armstrong, attempting to fling him around like a rag doll. Armstrong responds by willlng a dehabilitating poison to appear on the blade and attempting to stab Exington in the leg. "Present for you, rich boy," he says.
Indomitable counters the stroke. "Unlike some, I earned what I have." he says.
Armstrong hits him with a back-handed slap that, powered by the armor and the dagger, hits Jim like a freight train. "Me too," he replies.
Meanwhile Chivalry battles Lt. Blue. showing a distinct viciousness and lack of chivalry in his attack on the female agent.
With the VIPER agents falling like bowling pins and even the mages collapsing before Ultimate and Divael's attacks, VIPER secretly sounds the retreat. He, Blue, and the downed mages are teleported away -- but a second before the teleport, Cosmic Glory's flames of hope cause VIPER-X to drop the dagger. He stares at it as he's pulled away.
In the end, fifty downed VIPER soldiers lay strewn on the beach. Chivalry madly continues to attack the spot where Lt. Blue dug into the earth. Whisper looks over at Chivalry. "Hey, calm down!" she exclaims. "She's not there anymore, plus, that's a little murderous." Eventually Chivalry stops and falls to a knee, propping himself up on his sword and breathing heavily.
Wolfgirl picks up a cracked VIPER helmet and flings it at the Warmonger's feet. "Are you not entertained? " she says with a quiet vitriol.
Warmonger looks over the battlefield with stoic satisfaction. "You have won this battle. Though I note Armstrong and Blue escaped with my upgrades. Let them enjoy such a paltry prize."
"So what about our demands?" Cosmic Glory shouts. "Will you consider them now?"
"This is what I will allow..." Warmonger proclaims. "I will place four of my weapons on the earth. One for a different team of champions. Should your teams triumph, then we will hold one final tournament. Groups of three. The winning team will face my team of three champions. Should you triumph, I will spare the world."
"Spare this world for how long?" Spectre asks.
"For one generation... or until you request my aid." the Warmonger answers.
"One generation isn't long enough," Spectre notes. "You survive eons, we survive a mere hundred years."
"May as well be 5 minutes for him..." Peacemaker adds.
Marshall R'haogo of the Star*Guard, who had been cloaked during the battle, materializes and speak: "Galaxar Warmonger?"
"Yes, servant of Odrugar?" the Warmonger says, acknowledging the Marshall's presence.
"You are on Earth," the Star*Guard notes. "I still do not see why. No offense to the people here, but the people of Earth are... uninteresting on a galactic scale, at the moment at least. I do not understand your interest."
"I sense something in these people that you do not. A fire to be harnessed." the Warmonger answers.
"Could say that about every race, sir." the Marshall replies.
"Have you not noticed how many creatures from so many worlds and so many dimensions have descended on this realm?" the Warmonger explains.
"We hold the best parties, clearly." Spectre says.
"This world is a fire, flames to be fanned and brought to full blaze." the Warmonger states.
Ultimate, the impressive African-American strongman of Sentinel Squadron, interjects. "What do you mean by 'harness'?" You planning on making us into slaves or something?"
"Yes." Chivalry affirms. "He is."
"I hope you realise that we won't let this happen, correct? Both humanity and the Star*Guard." R'haogo states.
"... The human spirit, if pushed right, can also overcome all odds and obstacles that try to enslave it or destroy it." Cosmic Glory declares.
"I have held back my strokes against my brothers over the millennia," the Warmonger stated, "slowly gathering a cosmic army to make war against them. I have needed soldiers capable of being a vanguard force. You, humanity, are a fit vanguard."
Chivalry swallows hard and looks at the Warmonger flush in the face. "Five hundred years and you get me fully serving as your captain for this tournament." he bargains.
"I do not wish that. Chivalry." the Warmonger says warily. "Only when I get this world pressed into my service will I command your full loyalty." He continues to muse the offer. "However, five seconds is as fifty thousand years to me. I will agree to your teams."
"Silver Age Sentinels, Ultimate Guardians, Aegis of Justice, and Sentinel Squadron. Each of you will encounter a herald." the Warmonger states. "Be wary. I am rarely lenient. You would do well to take advantage of it."
Glory stares at the cosmic titan. "I can't just sit here and do nothing as you use Chivalry as your..." Her voice trailed off.
"You won't." Chivalry declares with a sigh. "Well. Try not to beat me up too badly, guys."
"Can I go on record that this is a stupid, stupid idea, Chivalry?" Wolfgirl states.
"I'll do my best my friend." Mr. Indomitable promised.
Chivalry drove his sword into the sand. "Faye. look after my sword," he said, holding his hand out to Cosmic Glory."
"I will..." Glory stated, trembling. "... and I promise I'll get you back." she added.
"Godspeed, brave knight." Peacemaker added.
"We aren't gonna waste the chance you gave us." Miko Wentworth declared.
"Champions..." the Warmonger addressed the group before vanishing -- with Chivalry in tow.
The heroes were left in silence. "Again, Earth is a lucky planet." Rhaogo finally said. "A bargain with the Warmonger and gaining fivehundred years without his attention and in exchange for one soldier. Not terrible. Good chance this can work."
"We have all the four leaf clovers." Trouble Maker noted bitterly. Glory quietly walked over to Chivalry's sword and pulled it out of the beach.
The heroes quietly dispersed, heading back to their respective teams. Whisper took the Warmonger's dagger and kept it for safekeeping... if such a thing were possible.
Challenge of the Warmonger Limited Series
Issue 1: Spear of Influence, starring the Ultimate Guardians
Villains: Warmonger, Arrgon the Liberator.
Date: June 7, 2012.
It was a day like any other in Millennium City until... cosmic lightning fell from the sky, landing mere centimeters from the front door of the tower of the Ultimate Guardians. That fine structure, rebuilt from its destruction at the hands of VIPER two years earlier, had weatheed many storms, but none quite like this one! D.A.N.N.I., the team's AI, began to mobilizethe team when she received a transmission from an outside source, requesting to speak to the team.
"Greatings Guardians," the transmission began. "To your species I am called Warmonger. I trust you have been informed of my coming and my purposes."
"...yes." Sascha, the huge alien bear known as Real Soviet Damage said.
"We have ," Nocran added.
"Aye yae bastard." Ursun amuttered.
Chocolate Chip Chelsea, one of the Guardian's more unusual superheroines, speoke up. "Hi Mister. Warmonguh. You are a mean bully!" she proclaimed.
"I could not have said it better myself Chelsea," Nocran stated approvingly.
"You ascribe a temperament which is beneath me," the Warmonger responded, his tone expressing absolute confidence. "Pointless cruelty is a liability in war."
Friendly Fire, the acting team commander, broke into the comm chatter. "Fire online," she said. "Let's not antagonise the cosmic nasty further, Guardians. Cockiness in check if you don't mind."
"Right, I'm keeping my cocky mouth shut then," Atomic Red replied. "Just point me at what needs to be burnt down."
He did not have long to wait for his answer. The Warmonger explained the terms of the challenge. "The first of my four heralds is come for you. Defeat him, and I will rstrain my attack on this world until after the next challenge. I am giving you and you alone, the data necessary to find him. He is using a cloaked energy deflection satellite belonging to a man named Zerstoiten. I trust you are aware of his technical prowess."
"DANNI, cross-reference database for energy signatures used on Destroids not accounted to Shadow Destroyer." Sascha instructed. "Scan the city for similar ones.
That will not avail you, Bear." the Warmonger explained. "The energy belongs to a weapon I devised long ago. How it came to this world is a mystery even to me... but I have reactivated it and given it a suitable wielder."
The Guardians spread over the city to find the herald as quickly as possible. D.A.N.N.I. triangulated the point of origin at the same time it's spotted by hyperbearean. A man on a penthouse roof with a golden high-tech spear.
"I've got a bad feeling about the spear," Ursun said, regarding its brilliant tip with a keen eye.
"Aside from looking like a hot rivet, what's so weird about it?" Hyperbearean asked.
Rufus, who was well-schooled in things cosmic, recognized the weapon. It looked identical to one used by the Golden Hunters of Malva in the Elder Worm War, about 270,000 years ago. " Well...You know those elder worm things?" he said, looking towards Hyperbearian. " They got their ass kicked by those."
"Guardians!" the spear wielder shouted. "Surely you have found me by now! Present yourselves and let me end this quickly, and no others need be hurt."
"Well...that sounds like an invitation," Atomic Red noted, as the team landed together on the roof, thirteen strong against the solitary herald.
"I am Arrgon the Liberator," the spear holder announced. "Alas, you stand between me and my home's freedom. The choice is regrettable, but must be done."
Chocolate Chip Chelsea gave her big teammate a look. "AAwww Sascha. It sounds like this guy being forced to do this. That's sad."
"I will give you a moment for prayer, introspection, or the recording of final messages." Arrgon stated. He raised the cosmic spear, and a battlesong sounded over the city. Battle was joined.
Arrgon amplified the light and sound of the spear and tried to blind and deafen the Guardians, but the heroes managed to cope with various combinations of their powers. The alien aimed a lethal blast of energy at one of Ursuns bears, but he was knocked aside by a savage tackle from Dietrich, missing the animal.
The heroes piled into the herald with a slough of attacks: fire from Friendly Fire, a pillar of ice from Hypebearean, energy spheres from Nocran, and magical spell from Gravijah. The heralf dispeled them all, seemingly without effort. "Impressive!" Arrgon said. "But this spear slew the god of the elder worms. You have no hope!"
"My race slew the Slaver God, " Nocran retorted contemptuously.
Atomic Red nodded to Rufus and then reeledack with both hands and aimed concentrated beam of pure heat at the Herald's chest Sahure came in with a shockwave augmented punch that dented herald's armor. "Comee on, you can't hit me!" she challenged, accentuatring the remark witha wicked grin.
"Oh?" Arggus responded, and he absorbed Red's blast in the spear, added some of the spear's own energy, and ddirected the redirected attack at Sahure. But Sahure's confidence was not misguided, and her teammate Rufus teleported her to safety.
Friendly Fire took advantage of the openng to get behind Arrgon and attempted to incincinerate him, while Tomonari threw a pack of tarot cards at him and Skarlet X shot at him with incidiary rounds. Sascha moved into grapple with him at close range, ignoring most of the effect's of Fire's flames. Ursun summoned a spirit of sluggishness to slow Arrgon down. The agent was almost driven down to his knees, but knowing what was at stake he cried: "Enough!" raised the staff, and blanketed the area with lightning bolts.
Thanks in part to Gravijah's wards, the heroes manage to withstand the lethal attack. The team continues to pound Arrgon with an elemental onslaught, which the beleaguered alien channels into the staff while still engaged in a wrestling match with Sascha, who's being assisted by Chelsea's protective abilities. The building begins to shake, snd the Guardians find themselves -- and the penthouse roof, which has been shorn from the building -- flying upward at several hundred miles per hour!
Undaunting, the team continues their assault on Arrgon. He almost drops, but Gravijah invokes magic of the Deep Darkness, which awakens an inner resolve in the spear. A voice came from the spear, channelling through Arrgon. "I was made to oppose such a force. Don't you know who the Elder Worms served?" Sascha felt a surge of strength almost pushed him off. That the bear was able to maintain his grapple was astounding, even to the spearman.
After charging Atomic Red's swords with atomic lightning, Rufus teleported in front of Arrgon and stuck his tongue out at him. " Bleh! You compensating for something with that spear?" he mocked. To add injury to insult, Atomic Red's swords slice through Arrgon's armor, and the alien liberator yelps in pain. This provided Sascha with the opening he needed, and he suplexed Arrgon through the penthouse floor and sent them both hurtling thousands of feet to the ground with a Heavenly Soviet Buster!
A huge crater formed as Arrgon and Sascha landed in Argent's parking lot. Without the power of the spear to hold it aloft, the roof disintegrates and bombards Argent HQ with debris. Ursun summons some flight spirits to slow down the fall of the crumbling roof, while the others teleport and fly away by various means. They congregate on the ground around the stricken spearbearer and the weapon-herald, which is stuck point-first in the asphalt. Surprisingly, ARGENT hadn't sent anyone to try to retrieve it.
A telepathic signal issues from the weapon, audible clearly to everyone, in a noble and powerful voice. "Hold me, human. There is something I need to say."
The team ignores the request and makes preparations to banish it. "Your ritual will not work," the herald said, again telepathically. "I was built to resist Thane high sorcery. You're only wasting time. I need one of you to hold me so I can surrender."
Hyperbearian scowled and frowned. "Why would you need to surrender? You lost."
"You've only beaten the wielder," the herald replied. "If you've noticed, you haven't even scratched me. I'm not like the others. I'm hardier and impervious to magic. Only my maker is powerful enough to destroy me." The spear paused. "But in my day... I was a hero. A slayer of evil gods. I wish to go on being a hero. Let me save your world."
"You say so, but you came against us, heroes of this land simply defending our world." Gravijah noted.
"Because the hero of the other land was bending me to his purposes," the spear explained. "I was rather caught in a dilemma. I'd rather just help."
Hyperbearian glared at the weapon, his frown deepening "You can do the right thing by giving up. You don't need a weilder to stop. Just stop."
"Unfortunately, the words have to be spoken aloud. Protocol. Rules of engagement. Otherwise he'll twist them. And for that I will need one of you."
"And have Warmonger influence wielder as did all other persons who touch Heralds before?" Sascha said, clearly not buying the argument.
"I am NOT like the other heralds." the spear protested. "I was built for other purposes than the sword or the gun or the dagger or the helm. Or the other three that the other teams will face."
The team still refused to allow anyone to touch the herald, but Sascha got the bright idea of having one of the team's servbots work as a host. Very quickly, a robot came from headquarters to grab the spear and hold it. It twitched and its optics turned rd. "I surrender," it proclaimed. "The Guardians win!" it added before dropping the spear.
Sascha sighed, just as a 14' tall red-skinned figure appeared behind him. "The first of my four challenges is complete. You did not disappoint" the Warmonger said. He seemed to speak to an unseen figure. "Observe Captain, the fallacy of evil. In this case, the struggle was justified for both sides. Not all conflict is bad. Strife is a necessity."
"Sascha have question."
"You may speak," the Warmonger answered.
"What it take to get Comrade Chivalry back to Earthlings?"
The Warmonger smiled. "If you win the tournament, he will have a choice as to his destiny, whether he will remain on earth, or continue in my service."
"Good." Sascha replied. "Then Guardians see Warmonger on tournament.
" Can we keep the spear? And is it on our team then?" Rufus asked, pointing at the weapon.
"The spear is my proprty," the Warmonger stated. "I shall hold it until the time arises when others such as the Worms attempt to bring their form of stability into the wider universe."
Tomonari gave Rufus a long look. "I... don't think you would want that spear..."
Gravijah looked at the Warmonger with a disapproving expression: "A spear with sentient consciousness, reduced to property. I'm sure it enjoys that sentiment."
"It understands, the Warmonger replied.
Ursun motioned at the still unconscious Arrgon. "What's gonna happen tae his world now?"
"He will have to find another way to liberate it," the Warmonger stated. "I played no part in its subjugation. Indeed his liberation struggle interests me."
"Huh, figured a liberyin' war would be sumthin' you'll be willin' tae help with, but guess I was wrong." Ursun remarked.
"I did offer to help," the Warmonger countered. "But he failed. The loss of my spear and my assistance is his penalty for failure. But it is not a fatal setback to his cause."
"Right," Gravijah frowned. "Nice to put a splash of guilt on our victory. "
"Nothing to feel guilty about," Sascha said, addressing Gravijah and the entire Guardians team.
Rufus sighed. "Well. Guess I'll see you on Cosmic Poker Night, Warmonger." he nodded at him, before vanishing.
"And now, I shall be off," the Warmonger pronounced. "Farewell Guardians. Your world stands... this week."
"I feel bad for that poor Herald." Chocolate Chip Chelsea said.
Real Soviet Damage looked at everyone. "Good job today. Sascha proud of Guardians."
"You did good, Guardians," Friendly Fire agreed with a slight nod.
"I'm sorry, but that Warmonger guy is a colossal jerk." Hyperbearean said.
With that, the team began to disperse. Repair crews and the authorities arrived on the site, as did several of Argent's most powerful superhuman servants -- too late to claim their prize. The penthouse that was damaged was Thundrax's; the spear, claimed in 1994 from the Gadroon, had rested without incident in Craig Carson's trophy case. Naturally, the big Canadian was upset, though joy at the victory superceded his personal loss. One down and three to go.
Issue 2: Laying Down the Gauntlet, starring the Sentinel Squadron
Team: (add your hero if he or she participated here.)
Villains: Warmonger, Mechanon.
Date: June 17, 2012.
At Sentinel Squadron's Citadel, the team received a request from the Warmonger for a linkup. Blaze set the frequency and a red portal formed in the command center. The team realized what was at stake. They gathered at the gate and, together, entered it.
The team materialized aboard an alien spaceship orbiting the earth in a geostationary orbit.Its technology -- if that is what it was -- was unlike anything any human (save Chivalry) had ever seen before. A large red-skinned alien turned his attention away from a large viewscreen to greet them. "So this is the second of the challengers," the Warmonger said. "Your reputation is formidable. You will need to be equal to it to survive."
" We will be better than what you have heard," Ultimate swore. "We will exceed your expectation."
"Boast if you must," the Warmonger answered. "Most soldiers do on the eve of battle. The day shall reveal whether they are justified." Satisfied, he turned to discussing the contest. "Heading for earth is a starship. My herald is aboard. Should it reach the planet, the devastation will be... considerable. Stop the herald, and you will have won the battle."
"I'm not one for a constant exchange of dialogue, but tell me something," Adversary, the team leader, wondered, confronting the cosmic giant. "What do you hope to gain outta this? Is your existence solely about combat and conquest?"
"All existence is about conflict. I am simply more cognizant of the fact." the Warmonger declared.
"You won't win pardner." the hot-tempered Taurus said, putting his arms to his side and clenching his fists.
" It is not me that you will need to defeat," the Warmonger explained. "Simply my herald... in this case, a gauntlet imbued with a fraction of my power."
"We gotta beat up a glove?" Buckingham Blur wondered.
The Warmonger nodded. "There are others who will attempt to seize the gauntlet. I advise that you do not allow this to happen. Are there any other questions, strategic or philosophical?"
"Just one," Taurus growled. "Why fight for a living? There are better things then fighting."
"You say that," the Warmonger noted. "And yet... you are here."
"Some folks ain't got a choice. He ain't doin' this as a job. It's who he is." Buckingham Blur explained.
"As to what I hope to gain... I have made a bargain, and I intend to carry out my side. I'm a neutral party in this... today. But your struggles will entertain me." he turned to Buckinhgam Blur. "And yes," he affirmed. "That is exactly who I am."
"A heartless monster with no soul." Taurus declared.
The Warmonger scoffed. "There is no such thing as a soul," he stated. "It's merely a poetic term for metaphysical energy. And poetry is for tombs."
Adversary looked at the distant view of the herald's star sphere, clear as crystal on the monitor even though it was currently beyond the orbit of Pluto. The Warmonger had a small craft ready to take them there. She turned to her team. "Sentinels," she said. "Unite as one... fight as one."
The craft takes the team to the outer edge of the solar system, where a large (25 mile diameter) spherical craft is heading toward earth. The monitor showed a number of smaller craft converging on it: Gadroon, Qularr, an Unidentified mechanoid design, and Q'Rellian.
"I'm not big on dealing with intergalactic threats, but this craft has to have some onboard weapons system," Adversary noted. "Let's man them and have someone take control of the craft while we take out the craft. Anyone here who can survive in the void can go out and better help us."
Kinstor took contrl of the pilot's station and battle was soon joined. Though not conversant with the controls, the ship's weapon systems seeed almost eager to please and the Qularr and the Gadroon were both easily discouraged by the initial volleys. However a swarm of the "mechanoid" ships veered away from the main craft and moved to intercept the heroes. Among this swarm was a very large robot.
"Mechanon Protocol 1" the robot declared in a burst transmission. "All organics will be destroyed in the name of our creator."
Ion, the team's powerful electric controller, teleported from ship to ship disabling them with ionized plasma bursts, while the rest of the team focused their attention on the robot. Ultimate and the robot duked it out, with Ultimate getting the worst of the exchange, however the team managed to finally destroy the Mechanon-enforcer. A swarm of drone robots docked with the ship and carved their way through the superstructure, only to be met, in brutal fashion, by Adversary.
With the Mechanon swarm disabled, there were no other ships in sight, Duck Vermillion, the synthetic hero known to her teammates as "Emma" scanned the craft and discovered some helpful docking bays (somewhat to the disappointment of those who wanted to fight their way inside); Duck pointed out to those who want to disable the herald's craft that there were no obvious engines to attack. The Squadron boarded the huge circular craft.
"Good Gods this place is huge," Ghost Helix said on first sight of the craft's interior.
The Squadron discovered an immense shaft heading into the heart of the craft. The huge corridor was decorated by the remains (and blood splatters) of numerous alien species who had fought in past wars on the craft: a testament to its builder. Duck decided to send a drone down the shaft to investigate, allowing the rest of the team to observe on a holographic display. Eight miles down the shaft, there was a small side passage. The main passage continued on for five miles, before ending at a large sealed door.
Quickly cobbling together her systems, Emma sent the drone down the side passage. It ends at a door, where alien script blurs and reforms into a message in English: "PRISON. DO NOT ENTER".
"Well...so...do we really want to enter?" Ultimate asks.
"I'm not sure I like being told what to do by an evil door," Ghost Helix declared.
As the team debated their next course of action. Duck sent the drone into the room; almost immediately a lou voice screamed "FREE ME!" and the Drone was sucked into a black hole in the center of the room. The prisoner was Xixxon, the Living Black Hole, who had attempted to betray the Warmonger billions of years ago and was now doomed to madness aboard the Warmonger's craft. This was, of course, a mystery to the Sentinels.
"What the hell was that!!!" Ultimate exclaimed.
"....I'm never going to see that drone again." Duck said, lowering her robotic head mournfully.
" I suppose that is what the sign is for." Ion stated.
Duck's second drone continued to monitor the end of the main hallway. In response to Xixxon's cry, the door opened and two alien troopers emerged. Ion, Adversary, and Ultimate recognized them. Breach troopers, belonging to the Squadron's arch enemy, General Zamion!
"What the...why the hell are they here!!!" Ultimate exclaimed. "I mean did they do this to the species that inhabited this ship?
"I doubt Zemion even knows that they're here or doesn't even care. He's more obsessed with finding that fragment of the Star Key." Adversary said. The Star Key was a major cosmic artifact that had been central to many of the Squadron's past adventures.
Adversary immediately moved into action, instructing the team to head down the corridor and engage the Breach. A long run was followed by a fierce, chaotic battle. The team manages to overwhelm the Breach and force their way into a huge spherical central chamber, but it was only a diversion. The breach commander stood on the dias of the control room, placing a gauntlet on his left hand."You're too late, fools!" the commander shouted. "With this gauntlet, nothing will stop my general from obtaining the Star Key!"
"Boss?" the mystic Virfortis asked. "What's the permitted level of force?"
"The permitted level will be inadequate, boy!" the commander declared. "Long live General Zamion!"
Adversary looked at her team "Fight as one. Helix and Kinstor, take positions and provide us some cover fire. You two, Emma. The rest of us will move in and face him head on."
After the barrage dented the commander's defenses, he glared at Adversary and screamed: "I've had enough. Fight as one? No, you shall bow as one!" The man raised the gauntlet above his head, as a mental compulsion washed over every member of the Sentinel Squadron. "Fall to your knees and swear loyalty to my general, now!" he commanded.
A tremendous telepathic attack emanated from the gauntlet, trying to force the Squadron to their knees. Ion's eyes glowed red as he gripped his perch with his tail and grabbed his head. Ghost Helix screamed -- he was hypersensitive to telepathy. Ultimate fell to the ground while Kinstor, further away from the attack, struggled to bring his rifle to bear. Blaze collapsed off the platform where he was situated and freefell to the floor. Adversary strained against the attack and nearly buckled, then her body began to be surrounded with a fiery golden aura. She was building up a resistance to the attack.
The commander focused the gauntlet's mental energies on Adversary, almost dropping her, but her heroic resistance will not allow her to bend her knees, and the team drew strength from it. Whether it was their leader's determined will, or sheer stubbornness, it was hard to say. "No!" the breach commander shouts, looking at the glove in disbelief.
Shaken, the team had their shot, and those who were able to unleashed a volley on the Commander. Adversary and Ultimate landed almost synchronous punches from opposite sides, their impact rattled the leviathan craft. The Breach Commander fell, the gauntlet toppling from his hand.
General Zamion would be so diappointed.
The gauntlet began to thrash on the floor. "It's creeping me out!" Ultimate said.
It's only a disembodied gauntlet thrashing about possessed by evil. Nothing to be afraid of...." Emma said.
"Nobody touch it," Adversary instructed. Ion, seemingly recovered from the herald's telepathic onslaught, leapt down from the platform and observed it curiously.
Telepathic messages began to issue forth from the herald. It suddenly occurred to each of them how much good they'd be able to do if they just put it on...
"No-- nobody touch it!" Ghost Helix stammered. "It's sending a compulsion of some type. Psychic---"
What a silly idea, everyone thought. Gloves can't send out compulsions. Honest.
The team frantically began to debate how to dispose of the herald. Why should villains get all the cool toys? You deserve to treat yourself, the gauntlet continued to try to seduce them.
As the team fought the compulsions, Ion took Adversary's cape, covered it over the gauntlet and pulled it toward himself.
The team debated the wisdom of throwing the gauntlet into the black hole, but the issue was soon decided for them. Ion slowly stood with the cape in hand as his eyes flared a red glow, he droppes the cape showing the gauntlet on his left hand. "Fools.." he grinned, and a burst of electricity comes from him as he sprinted down the corridor he came from.
"...The IDIOT!!!" snarled Ultimate.
"I will blow this place up, get Ion and hold him in the ship," Kinstor said, probably not thinking through the logistics of blowing up a twenty-five kilometer craft constructed from a technology beyond even Albert Zerstoiten's understanding.
Adversary snapped "Dammit!" and immediately gave chase, knowing just how difficult it would be to catch Ion -- he was the most powerful member of the team even without the gauntlet.
"I want the record to state that the synthetic offered to carry the gauntlet and nobody took it up on the offer!" Emma protested, following.
Kinstor activated a tracker in Ion's comm and tried to link his location to the team, while Ghost Helix searched for the gauntlet with his psionic senses. Ion sent a massive wave of electricity down the corridor to fry his teammates. Ghost Helix managed to deflect the brunt of it with an impromptu force field --barely.
"Advie what should we do? I dont wantto have to hurt Ion." Ultimate said.
"Ultimate, if you don't hurt him, I'll have to," Blaze answered. "We take him down like any other villain, alive if we can.
"We just may have to," Adversary noted. "I've seen Ion like this before and everyone tried to talk him back to his senses. It won't work. Believe me. That's not Ion we're dealing with. That's the gauntlet and a side of Ion that hasn't been seen in two years now. I hate to sound harsh...but that ain't your friend."
The team pursued Ion to the edge of the craft. Whatever he had become seemed to enjoy the power he now possesed.
"It's over!" Ultimate declared. "I came to bring to the pain!"
"Shame..." Ion replied, turning to Ultimate. "Are you a religious man, Richard Price?" he asked.
"I want my friend back and i am willing to die to do it," Ultimate answered. Ion held up the gauntlet and another wave of mental attacks forced them to their knees.
"And I looked, and behold a pale horse..." Ion recited.
"Pale Man!" Adversary stepped from out of the shadows, her eyes burning with the fiery golden glow. "That is enough. Let them go!"
Ghost Helix attempted to tackle Ion and grab the gauntlet. Ion responded by using his momentum to roll him onto his back, tasering him with an electrical surger. "...and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him!"
"I said let them go! This ends now." Adversary insisted. "I once promised a friend that I wouldn't let this side of him ever resurface and endanger anyone's lives, even if I had to take his own. I made that vow to that friend. Don't make me have to fulfill."
Ion ignored the request and began to dismantle the team one by one. Ultimate grappled his teammate and wrestled him. Ion looked to Adversary even as Ultimate lifted him upward. "You're not talking to your beloved Ion, girl. I will take what ever means needs to have my vengence on your pitiful species!"
"Zane, the world saw you as a freak and a monster, but you showed them otherwise." Adversary said. "Now, you're just gonna take your revenge and prove them right?"
The remaining teammates fired en masse at Ion, who cleverly interposed Ultimate between them. Ultimate was downed by the attacks, as Ion teleported away. "Now we shall Dance the Devils Dance..." he shouted as he teleported, taunting them.
"Ion! Just give us back the gauntlet already!" Emma protested. "I want ot go home and watch late night infomercials!"
Adversary assessed the situation and sighed. "Everyone...stand down." she instructed. "We're not leaving, but we're not going to fight him either. Just listen to me on this and don't question my order. Fall back."
As the team looked at their leader, Adversary stepped forth into the open. "Pale Man," she said. "Here I am." She tossed the Blade of Wrath to the floor and stood with her arms out. "You won't try to destroy us as a group, so I'm offering you something better. Come and destroy us individually, starting with me. Come take out the leader. The heart and soul of the group first. But I'll say this...your decision will clearly show whether the Ion we know is still within you somewhere or if all that remains is the Pale Man. So how about, huh? Come on and take out the Adversary, herself. I'm right here. Don't worry. None of the team will interfere. It'll be just you and me."
Then she shifted back into her Kendrea Lennox persona. "Come on. Do it."
Ion appeared and plunged his clawed hand into Kendrea's stomach, then raised his gauntleted hand to deliver the killing stroke, stariing back into her eyes-"My name is Death and the end is here..."
Adversary smiled, and delivered an uppercut that sent Ion hurling into the ceiling. "Your name is Ion and you're our friend...but I'm about to seriously beat the fuck outta you." she said as she shifted back into the Adversary.
Kinstor advanced with one of the energy weapons of the Breach and severed the arm containing the gauntlet. Adversary plunged her sword into Ion's chest as he tried one last desperate time to electrocute her. Ultimate, still groggy from their earlier battle, literally knocked Ion's head off his shoulders. The battle was over -- though Ion was an regenerator, and would get better over time.
Meanwhile, the starship was not idle, and the team saw it approaching earth. Remembering with horror the Warmonger's earlier warning about the devastation it would cause if it reached the planet, the team realized its time was up. Despite Emma's misgivings, Kinstor grabbed the severed gauntlet arm, raced down the passageway and hurled the gauntlet into the chamber.
"FREEME!" Xixxor's voice shouted again. "YES!" it added as it noticed the gauntlet tumbling in... only for the gauntlet to be crushed and destroyed before it reached the event horizon.
The Sentinel Squadron had won.
Utimate picked up Ion's limp body and head and carried them to the ship. "Let's move!" he shouted.
"Sentinels, unite and haul ass. Right now." Adversary ordered.
"This place might blow up any second." Kinstor added.
"Well," the Warmonger said, appearing behind them with his hands clasped behind his back. "Victory is yours. And my vessel does not come equipped with a self-destruct. The theater of war will remain as it has for billions of years. I will provide you with transport back to your Citadel. It will be faster."
"Well, that's convenient." Duck Vermillion said.
"The quicker you heal, the quicker you shall return to battle," the Warmonger stated. The Galaxar formed a portal with a glance. "Earth," he pronounced, "is spared my wrath for another week."
"We've had enough of you and your games. You've had your entertainment. We've won." Adversary rebuked him.
"Indeed. But this is far from over, Adversary. Let us hope the other challengers are as successful." Adversary stopped at the portal and glared at the cosmic titan.
"Other challengers? We're playing for the fate of our planet?" Duck Vermillion asked. "Why?"
"It's fun and games to him, Emma. That's why." Adversary answered.
"It is a microcosm of life. A test of your species' mettle." the Warmonger stated dispassionately.
"There are various species that call the planet home. To test one to determine the worth of it isn't right." Duck noted.
"I agree with you, Emma" Adversary said. "Thing is that he don't see things like that. Everything is a contest of conflict."
"I see things as they are, when stripped down to their fundamental nature. A dance of conflicting forces." the Warmonger stated.
"It is not a dance, sir. It's the struggle for a peaceful life." Emma said, and she walked through the portal, shaking her head.
"We need to get back to the base. Ion needs to be put in the medbay chamber. Let's move out, Sentinels." Adversary stated, and giving the cosmic entity one final glance, she led her team back to Earth, where she hoped to put Ion together -- body and soul -- together again.
Issue 3: Maces and Monsters, starring the Silver Age Sentinels
Team: Sparrowhawk, Elena Hall (add your hero if he or she participated here.)
Villains: Warmonger, Akna the Subterron, Entombus, Ambergrist, Quagaton.
Date: July 22, 2012.
Rune gets a call from a former colleague, Dr. Milos Stoddard, an archeology professor at MCU. One of his graduate students has sent him curious photos from a dig site in a recently unearthed cave in Arizona: a cave drawing. It's a pictogram of native Americans worshipping a great red giant. There is writing in English. "Come, Rune, Sentinels. -- W" The pictogram has been dated to about 8000 years.
Rune immedately calls for backup from available Sentinels. "If it's Warmonger, we'll need all hands on deck that isn't already dealing with the Bloodmoon."
"Understood," Ms. Majestic, the female powerhouse, responded.
"The Warmonger," Platino, an alien bounty hunter of enormous power, responded.
"Elena," Rune turned to two compatriots, the psychic Elena and the female detective Sparrowhawk. "I hate to involve you, but your ability to see into the astral could prove invaluable.
"I could change into something more durable," Elena said. The five heroes left a message for anyone who could join them, in case the Bloodmoon ended during the operation, and headed for the Arizona cave indicated in the file. The heroes marveled at the size of the caves. Rune found the pictogram painted on a stone table.
"Not a great likeness," a huge figure said, appearing near a group of stalgamites. "But the criticism of art is the Shaper's interest, not mine."
"Warmonger!" Rune exclaimed.
"This form is merely a mental projection for the benefit of your species," the Warmonger stated. "My true form would leave even the hardiest and most stoic entity of this world trembling in fear."
"I've heard that one before," Rune scoffed. "For now, we'll let it slide. What do you want with us?"
"You know of my agreement with the other heroes. Each of four teams would meet one of my heralds in battle. Succeed in defeating him, and I will spare your world my ravages." He smiled. "You are the third. The previous two teams succeeded... barely."
"Do we get to set the ground rules?" Rune asked.
"These are the rules," the Warmonger stated. "My herald is a weapon, which I gave to the people of this world 8000 years ago. It can be found... motions toward a long shaft leading downward. Find it and deal with it, and I shall move on to the Aegis."
"And here I was hoping for a competition match of Twister," Rune stated.
"You would lose." the Warmonger replied in a matter-of-fact tone.
"I'm pretty flexible." Ms. Majestic stated.
Sparrowhawk rolled her eyes. "Please do not flirt with the world destroyer." Platino instructed.
"I'm not flirting..." Ms. Majestic replied.
The Warmonger and the heroes parted, and the heroes proceeded into the cavern.
Issue 14: Vanguard
Guest Stars: Vanguard, Captain Chronos.
Date: July 23, 2012.
Following the 20th anniversary memorial of the Battle of Detroit, the sky over Millennium City briefly flashes a pitch black and there's a burst of thunder. Shortly thereafter, someone attacks the fountain in Memorial Park, where a figure who looks very much like the deceased hero Vanguard is tearing apart the fountain (where the holographic projection of Dr. Destroyer's helmet emenates.
"Menton!" he shouts. "You pulled this exact same illusion on me last month!"
The heroes who arrive are confused, but refrain from attacking the figure. Vanguard accuses them of being Dr. Destroyer's lackeys, then decides if this is an illusion, they could be innocents overlaid on top of superhumans, and he heads into the museum instead. He immediatey starts ripping the portrait of Dr. Destroyer.
"It's just a museum, Mr. Vanguard," Cosmic Glory said.
"A museum to Destroyer does not deserve to stand," Vanguard answered.
"It's not a museum -to- him, It's a monument to those he killed!" Wolfgirl insisted.
"Having a picture of Zerstoiten in a museum to his victims makes as much sense as a picture of Hitler in a Holocaust museum!" Vanguard insisted. Even some of the heroes had to insist he had a point.
Arc Thunder cleared his throat, stepped forward and spoke with a commanding tone. "Please step away from th' Battle of Detroit Memorial, pal. If ya give us a minute I'm sure we can explain this, sir."
Vanguard's shoulders sagged a little. "Okay... you're talking about history. Zerstoiten killed a lot of people. Just how the hell did that happen?"
The heroes explained the battle of Detroit and the casualties. The news hit the titan like a meteor in the gut. "I've got to stop it..." he said.
"You DID stop it," the American Dream insisted.
They asked Vanguard what he remembered. He said it was July 18, 1992, and he was in New York City fighting the Ultimates.
"We need Captain Chronos," Druid sighed.
Arc Thunder, also feeling exasperated by the situation, glanced up at Vanguard. "Sir, I'm a Captain with UNTIL, perhaps I could take ya ta th' HQ so we can properly brief ya. I'd appreciate it if ya did, sir."
"You want me to go to Canada?" Vanguard wondered.
Arc Thunder pointed to the west. "It's about a block that way, sir." he said.
"After the Battle of Detroit, The US opened up its borders to UNTIL. Extra protection against supervillainy." Druid explained.
"Fine!" Vanguard told Arc Thunder. "Let's go to the UNTIL base in Detroit. Lead the way."
A procession of over one dozen heroes walked the block to UNTIL HQ. Vanguard stopped at the sight of an UNTIL sign on American soil and stared. "Holy crap." he said.
"I don't think anyone expected to see this twenty years ago." Mika Westworth noted.
"I sure the hell never did," Vanguard admitted. "I felt we should've done that after the Gadroon attacked. Congress didn't listen. Stupid Reagan."
Arc sent a message to the officers inside, and a technician came out to meet him. UNTIL knew the reason why Vanguard appeared out of the past. "It was us." the technician admitted. "We were trying to return Mr. Carson's brother to the past and was doing a test run of the machine we'd impounded." Two years earlier, a time tear had opened up and several dozen people from the time of the Detroit disaster were pulled forwards in time, including Thundrax's brother Jack. He had been a virtual prisoner in UNTIL HQ while Thundrax looked for a way to manipulate the timeline so his brother didn't die. The time tear had been sealed by Thundrax's friend, the eccentric scientist Amanda Servo.
Arc Thunder looked puzzled. "Sir? You're sayin'...ya believe he got yanked through? Hrnn..."
"We do indeed," the technician answered. "But this shouldn't happened. The test didn't have enough juice to pull at the tear, let alone rip it."
About that time, the sky turned dark, Vanguard vanished, and Millennium City was replaced by a ruined frozen wastescape. A few seconds later, it returned to normal. The heroes were highly disconcerted.
"SEND HIM BACK NOW!" American Dream exclaimed. " "Time anomalies. Charming," Sparrowhawk added. "Vanguard... did you see us blink in and out?"
"That..." Miko summarized, "was probably a glimpse of what the future will be if Vanguard isn't put back in his proper place in the timestream."
A sneering voice from behind you snickered at the heroes. "Of course he has to go back now. How unfortunate that I am the gatekeeper."
"YOU!" Cosmic Glory, the teenage superhero, exclaimed, recognizing the figure.
It was Zorasto, Thundrax's demon lord archenemy, the man who claimed the souls of the entire Carson family for seven generations. He sauntered on the steps near the entrance, ignoring a pair of agents who trained weapons on him. He eyed the assembly, now over thirty heroes, with great amusement.
"I am the one called Zorasto the Defiler," Zorasto stated theatrically, "and here is my peace. The second born Carson will surrender his power, now, as promised by ancestral pact. Then I will keep your world from dying."
"I...I'd like to call in a lawyer on his behalf!" Bigfoot, a sasquatch superhero stammered.
"It's been to arbitration," Zorasto quipped. "I won."
"You seriously think we'd do that!?" Cosmic Glory said. "We can always find another way to get Vanguard back! We don't need you!"
The heroes debated the issue, but Vanguard, fists clenched, said: ": I say we take him down and find some other way to open that tear after we kick his ass."
The heroes agreed, and about fifteen heroes brought their collective might to bear on the demon lord. Zorasto screamed and threw an amulet on the ground. His body disintegrated, leaving behind a pentagram shaped pile of ashes.
"...that was too easy. Even with the numbers we had." Razira noted, remembering how difficult their fight with him at City Hall had been.
As the heroes debated the ease of the fight and the fate of the amulet, Druid began casting a spell. "I am trying to magnify the apparent potency of the "Time-Tear" with a magical storm,' he explained. "It's a long shot, but it might be possible to actually turn it into a beacon for those that have time travel capabilities."
A flash of electrical, blue light heralds the arrival of the shining silver suited Captain Chronos who looks around at the gathered heroes. "Oh wow," he said, "this is awkward."
"And now, showtime," the American Dream stated.
The heroes began to explain the situation to Chronos, who was too busy fanboying with a very confused Vanguard. Sensing the Dream's exasperation, An UNTIL officer offered to stun Chronos for her.
Chronos examined the rift with a wrist instrument. "What you have there is a Class Five Temporal Rift," he explained. "And WHO'S been poking at it with evil hoodoo?"
"Zorasto." Glory explained.
"Chronos!" The American Dream shouted. "Concentrate! If we don't get him back, Dr. Destroyer WINS. And the future, YOUR future, gets all mucked up."
"...Or some other hero saves us." Nyte-Strike muttered.
"Shut it, Nyte," Dream retorts.
Captain Chronos turned to Vanguard. "Alright, this is going to sound silly, but I need you to fly as fast as you possibly can. In..." He licked the top of of his glove and put it to the wind. "Mmmmthat direction."
Vanguard nodded and took off.
Chronos instructed the heroes to fire off all of their powers simultaneously at the top of the UNTIL building when he completed an orbit. A few minutes later, he gave the instruction. The sky crackled with a sudden burst of bluish lightning, thin and spiderwebbed as the energy collided. It was almost as though the sky was cracking like glass. Vanguard hit the energy portal and returned to his own time -- fated to die.
"Thank you," Sparrowhawk said slightly under her breath "Good luck, Vanguard. And thank you."
Arc Thunder muttered to himself as Vanguard assumingly nears. "It was good ta see ya one last time, big guy."
Thundrax arrived on the scene and was crestfallen to learn that Vanguard, his chldhood hero, had come and gone before he could get there. Wolfgirl was upset that they couldn't have found a way to save him.
Captain Chronos asked for everyone's autographs, which people happily oblige. "Great, that's perfect! You've all been marvelous and thank you for not trying to arrest me." he said before vanishing.
An UNTIL agent comes out of the headquarters carrying a stack of packages. They're thank-you notes from Vanguard, written shortly before his death and held twenty years for the moment to hand them out. The pathos of time travel.
(Thanks to Sprawler for playing Captain Chronos!)
Issue 15: Everybody Talks About World War 3, But Nobody Does Nothin' About It!
Team: Lightbrand, (add your hero if he or she participated here)
Guest Stars: Spectre
Date: August 6, 2012.
After an encounter with the Moonlighters, Warmonger informs the heroes of earth of the time and place of his arrival. A large army of heroes descends on Redsnake's dojo in Vibora Bay. The heroes mill around to discuss the situation when Warmonger appeared. "Well, a veritable army of the planet's finest superhumans. This pleases me." He paused and surveyed the crowd. "May my champions come forth!"
The heroes caught the sight of Wolfgirl, Azunai, and lastly, Chivalry, who slogged in dragging a sword behind him.
"..Holy..crap...Chivalry?" Sunspot wondered.
Cosmic Glory's heart sank to see Chivalry. "...Oh my god... What did he do to him...??"
Chivalry and the others remained silent.
"These shall be my standard bearers in my campaign of conquest. Do not fail me." the Warmonger said.
The standard bearers remained silent as their friends gaped in horror. "Sarah?" Lycan wondered aloud. "W...When did THIS happen!?"
"This is suddenly much, much worse then I thought." the American Dream stated.
"We will decide our champions and they will face yours. Enjoy the entertainment Warmonger. I hope you choke on it," Thundrax said, giving Wolfgirl a sympathetic look. "We'll get you all back, I promise."
In the first match, a team led by Nyte-strike, Miko Wentworth, and Bareacade handily defeat a game squad led by Lightbrand.
"Impressive," Warmonger said. "They will make an excellent addition to my cosmic army."
"You're not getting JACK, Warmonger!" Peacemaker yelled.
"There are 19,672,301 individuals named Jack on this planet. And I will take them all." Warmonger stated.
After a long tournament, Nyte-Strike's group go on to defeat the Warmonger's champions. Earth is free!
The Warmonger offers each of his three champions a chance to join his team permanently. They all refuse, Wolfgirl with contempt. The victorious heroes continue to taunt the cosmic titan, except for Spectre, who wonders if everyone has gone mad trying to piss off an entity who's capable of incinerating the planet. But the Galaxar maintains a stoic demeanor -- as he reveals a twist.
"I will depart, but your decision is unfortunate," Warmonger had said, not hiding his contempt while looking at Avro in that crowded dojo. "Especially given that fool Blank's failure in the warehouse. When you heard me and that gang member discussing the orbs, you did not think to inquire what they were. About this planet, I have scattered orbs of aggression. In twenty minutes they will go off, triggering madness across the planet. The conflict will rage across your world. When you fail... perhaps in five hundred years, when I return, your species will be primed to become my soldiers."
The heroes curse and scramble to find the device. Using Real Soviet Damage's starship technology, the heroes find a master control device attached to the ACI blimp. To their horror, it's a telepathic alien, a living deadman switch. It's maintaining the deadman switch with a psychic scream, but any attempt to tamper with it would kill him.
Eventually, using the Qularr beacon at Champions HQ, Spectre teams with Defender to create a signal that mimicks the deadman signal so the alien can be safely removed. Peacemaker then sends a pulse that deactivates the bombs. The world is safe.
Unfortunately, the heroes receive one final transmission from the villain. "Well played," the Warmonger says, "but consider this. I promised to spare the earth. But someday soon, your people will leave this planet and enter my domain, and become mine. Think on that champions of earth. Your future belongs to the Warmonger."
The heroes celebrate their victory, but it's somewhat marred by the emotional damage sustained by those who had been Warmonger's victims, especially Chivalry.
Issue 16: Boreal Summer
Villains: Borealis, Augury, Landsman, Mike the Sasquatch, Bobcat, Manitou.
Date: August 22, 2012.
The temperature in Chatham Ontario, some sixty miles north of Millennium on Canada's Niagara peninsula, drops alarmingly. Our heroes race to investigate and discover it's Borealis up to his old tricks. A Cree shaman is sitting in the center of a field performing a chant. Our heroes arrive on the scene, only to discover that, thanks to Augury's prophetic powers, Borealis is ready for them. The Landsman, who had recovered from his seeming disintegration at the hands of Azunai, grabbed Thundrax and pulled him underground, where a seimic wrestling match took place.
Our heroes advance and parley with Borealis, who explains that he's attempting to counter the warming of the planet by opening strategically placed microdfissures to the Frost Tomb, flooding earth with supernatural cold to counterbalance the forces of global warming. The heroes believe he's mad. He informs them that he has Augury along to monitor the situation and warn when the fissures need to be sealed. Our heroes remain unimpressed. He tried to throw the "what are you doing about it" argument in their faces, but our heroes are still not buying it. Nytestrike complains about villain soliloquies, though it's pointed out that it was a dialogue, not a monologue, and the heroes initiated it.
Issue 17: The Beginning Place, Part 1
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