Monday, 31 December 1990

Anglo-Force: The Formation & The Return Of Saruman Chapter 9

A lone figure stood on the hills surrounding Loch Shiel. He gazed into the distance, deep in thought. He knew that a great crisis threatened mankind, and he knew that he would have a role to play. But when would he make his entrance? And would it be a major role? Only one man could answer these questions, and that man was Connor McCloud, the Highlander.
    The identity of the enemy still remained a mystery to Anglo-Force and their allies. They did know, however, that Kong was at their disposal. Jock Muir, minus his Stingray costume, had returned to the building site of Anglo-Force’s new headquarters. It was now essential that the building and all the equipment be completed. Arthur Pendragon’s mansion was a nice enough place to live, but it did not have the equipment they would need.

    From many miles away, the leader of the “Brotherhood”, Saruman the White, observed the goings on from his Sylvanian fortress. He stood, gazing into a portal, and he seemed amused. His other allies, Morgana Le Fey and Mother Nature, entered the room.
    “Magus flatters me!” said Saruman. “He has gathered a mighty force, but still, I am unknown to him!”
    “When do we make our first move?” asked Mother Nature. “The Black Squadron is not used to just sitting around, doing nothing! What is out first goal?”
    “Our first goal will soon become apparent, my dear!” Saruman replied. “Whilst Kong diverts their attention, you and your Black Squadron will be given a mighty task, to collect the greatest prize known to man!”
    And with that, Saruman left the room. He ventured deep into the bowels of his castle, into the dungeons. He strode through dimly-light corridors, until he came to a huge cage. The bars were made of adamantium, the strongest metal known to man. Saruman peered into the cage. In one corner of the cage sat the mighty Kong. The mighty beast sat dejected. Saruman smiled.
    “Soon, mighty one, soon!” he said. “Your mighty power will be unleashed on the world again. Soon, you, and others like you will be the backbone of my army!”
    Kong stared at Saruman. His huge eyes narrowed, as if he was showing anger at his new master. Saruman walked away from the cage, to meet Morgana.
    “Think, Saruman.” she said. “If we had more than one beast such as that! We would be unstoppable!”
    The wizard smiled. From his robes Saruman produced a copy of The Times.
    “We can have what we want, my dear Morgana!” he smiled. “And all thanks to the efforts of Jock Muir and Magus! Read that!”
    The front page bore a banner headline. It read as follows;
    MONSTERS TO BE CONFINED
    The Japanese government confirmed today that Ogasawa Island on the southern Pacific has been selected to house the monsters which have in years past terrorised the world. They will be electronically confined on the island by a system designed by Muir Industries and funded by the billionaire philanthropist Dr. Phineas Magus. Creatures to be housed on the island include Gorgo, Mothra, Godzilla, Spygon, Anguillis, Barogon, Gorosaurus, Rodan, Ebirah, Titanosaurus, Manda and Megalon. Further facilities are planned to house creatures such as the Gillman and the Frankenstein monster.
    Saruman smiled broadly.
    “As I said, they have brought all we need together!”
    They laid their plans to steal the creatures from Ogasawa Island. It was a simple matter for a mage of Saruman’s skills to use the portals to steal them away.

    Watt rushed into Mr. X’s office, brandishing the newspaper report, hot from the fax.
    “How much longer do we have to wait?” he asked. “We know they have Kong, now Godzilla and the rest!”
    “Easy Jim!” said Mr. X. “Magus is in charge of this one!”

    Two days later a Hercules transport aircraft landed at a private airfield near Istanbul. Three trucks drove up and a cargo door opened. Theophilus looked out.
    “I never cared for desert terrain.” he sneered. “Why would Saruman not send one of his orc raiding parties?”
    Morgana Le Fey joined him at the door.
    “You know full well why we were sent here, Theophilus. The Holy Grail is a great prize, countless people have sought it, and failed. It almost fell into German hands in the late thirties…..if it had, Hitler would now rule the world.”
    “Then we would replace him.” smiled the rogue psychiatrist.
    “Follow me.” said the witch. “I have the map which shows us where to go.”

    They had been monitoring Sylvania. Still nothing could be detected, owing to the strange veil which had been drawn over the country.
    “It reminds me of the Girdle of Melian.” mused Magus. “It enclosed the land of Doriath, on Middle Earth. It was only breached twice, by Beran, whose doom was greater than the power of Melian, and by the wolf Cracharoth, whose rage was fed by the power of a silmaril.”
    “Then we need a silmaril.” said Stingray.
    “As far as I know, they are all lost. They may be retrieved at the end of the world.”
    “While you’re reminiscing, Magus.” interjected Chameleon. “I’m picking up an energy reading like that force field, in Turkey. Istanbul to be exact.”
    “I once travelled there on the Orient Express, with a friend of mine, a chap named Poirot.”
    Then, an emergency came through from Scotland yard. Paul Solo appeared on the view-screen.
    “Magus.” he cried. “The stolen monsters have re-appeared. Kong and Godzilla are attacking Washington, Gorgo and Rodan are in Moscow, Ebirah and Megalon are in Tokyo, Manda and Mothra are in Johannesburg, Barogon and Anguillis in Sydney, Spygon and Gorosaurus are in London!”
    “It’s a diversionary tactic, Inspector.” said Magus. “But one we can’t ignore. Our enemies mean to locate and use the power of the Holy Grail, but want us distracted elsewhere. I’ll get Mr. X to organise squads to deal with the threat. I must organise a squad to deal with the threat in Turkey.”
    The screen went blank.
    “What do you mean, the Holy Grail?” asked Chameleon.
    “There are three sacred objects which hold great power.” said Magus. “The Ark of the Covenant, the lance which pierced Christ’s side at the crucifixion, and the Holy Grail. For many thousands of years the Grail lay concealed in a secret site in Turkey, guarded by a crusader. Then, in 1938, Dr. Indiana Jones re-discovered it. The story is too long to go into here, but the Grail, suffice it to say, was lost once more.”
    “But it’s just a cup!” said Stingray.
    “Not just a cup.” replied Magus. “The cup of Christ. It must not fall into enemy hands!”
    Then, Mr. X entered the room.
    “We must act, Magus.” he said.
    “Listen carefully.” said Magus. “I’m putting all the equipment here on automatic. I will need brains rather than brawn with me. I’m taking Magician, Stingray, Chameleon, Tiger, Changer and Marvel Boy.”
    Mr. X then organised the rest.
    “Captain, Beastmaster, Star Man, you take Washington. White Knight, Woodwose, Axe Kid, Moscow. Cosmic Kid, Johangas Khan, you take Tokyo. Lug, Johannesburg. Jet, you’re with me. You’ll find help in the cities.”

    Destinations were soon reached. As the Captain, Beastmaster and Star Man reached Washington they could see Kong atop the Washington Monument, Godzilla was heading toward the White House. As they landed they were greeted by the American heroes, Supercop and Mighty Man.
    “Any news as to why these creatures have appeared?” asked Supercop.
    “They’re being controlled from Sylvania.” said Watt. “But we haven’t been able to get into the country yet.”
    Watt, Star Man and Supercop then jetted off to join the battle. Burns then turned to Mighty Man.
    “We’ve known each other for a few years.” he said. “Do you trust my judgement?”
    “Always.” said Mighty man.
    “I want to try and establish telepathic contact with Kong, to see if I can break the control over him. Godzilla’s mind is too reptilian. I’ve never come across one like it, but I can communicate with Kong. Can you fly me near him?”
    “Sure can!”
    The battle was not going well. Supercop and the Captain had managed to contain the monsters in one area, whilst Star Man put out the fires caused by Godzilla, but despite their combined powers they could not defeat the monsters. Then, Mighty Man and the Beastmaster appeared in a small jet. Burns wore a thought magnification helmet on his head. Godzilla looked up as they approached, blasting flame at them. It was deflected by a blast from Star Man.
    “Hurry!” cried Burns. “I can’t hold out for long!”
    Mighty man held the jet steady. Then, he manoeuvred toward Kong. Supercop and the Captain circled around the great ape. Suddenly, a bemused look came over the simian’s face. His eyelids began to droop, he rocked back and forth. Then, he plunged from the Washington Monument.
    “Catch him!” yelled Burns.
    Supercop and the Captain swooped down, getting the cast bulk of the Gorilla. Gradually, they slowed it down. As they set it down a blast of flame from Godzilla smashed into them, knocking both way. The great lizard bent low over his fallen ally. A blast from Star Man struck Godzilla, sending him feeling. A triple punch from Supercop, Mighty Man and the Captain knocked him out.
    “Now what?” asked Supercop.
    “We have to get these two back to Ogasawa Island. I may be about to find out who our enemies are from them.” replied Burns.

    Magician stood on top of a high building, overlooking the busy market traders in Istanbul. He was deep in thought. This would be the first mission he had been on without his mentor, Dr. Magus, and he was worried. Then, a familiar figure materialized next to him. It was Chameleon.
    “How’s it going, Tom?” he asked. “I couldn’t get one piece of information while I was down there.”
    “Nor I.” said Magician. “It is as if someone is clouding their thoughts with some sort of mystical cloud, something which I can not deal with at this time.”
    Chameleon placed his hand on the youngster’s shoulder.
    “I don’t know much about magic.” he said. “But I do know that these things take time.”
    Then, Cosmic Kid flew overhead.
    “Anything?” asked Chameleon.
    “There is an aircraft in the desert three miles south of here.” he replied. “And two sets of tracks going east.”
    “The Grail!” said Magician. “They are definitely going after the Grail!”
    “Go and find the others.” said Chameleon. “Tell them to get back here!”
    A few hours later, the six stood in the rocky hills east of Istanbul. Tiger was the first to notice something.
    “Look’s like there’s has been some sort of battle here.” he said. “Look at that.”
    “A battle that took place sixty years ago.” said Chameleon. “Look at the markings on that tank! Nazi!”
    Magician placed his hand on the ground.
    “They have been here.” he said. “But how many, I can’t tell. All I can tell is that there is a mystical presence here, one much more powerful than myself.”
    “Can you detect anything?” asked Chameleon.
    “Only that they are four hours ahead of us.” Magician replied. “We must hurry or all will be lost.”
    Marvel Boy leant against the tank.
    “Can we rest for a moment?” he asked. “I need a drink! The heat here is unbearable!”
    Then, to his amazement, a glass of ice water appeared in front of him, followed by a hand, and then, the rest of Dr. Magus.
    “This should cool you down, young man!” he said.
    “Where have you been, old friend?” asked Stingray.
    “I’ve been to see an old friend of mine.” Magus replied. “Dr. Henry Jones Senior!”
    Magus took a small book out of his pocket.
    “This is his diary.” said Magus. “This book contains everything we need to know. It gives us an advantage over our unknown enemies.”
    “And what of the monsters?” asked Chameleon.
    “They are being dealt with as I speak.” said Magus. “Ogasawa Island will be their home once again. Now come, we have no time to lose.”

    Many miles ahead, Morgana Le Fey stood, looking at the cliff face. Mother Nature came up to her.
    “I still don’t see why Saruman would want it.” said Mother Nature. “He was many allies. Why go after an ancient up?”
    Morgana stared at Mother Nature.
    “You are a fool!” she said. “With the Grail, the forces of Saruman the White would reign supreme!”
    “So how do we get into this cavern?” asked Mother Nature. “It would take us days to remove these huge boulders. Even Trull couldn’t shift them quickly!”
    Morgana raised her hand, and began chanting. Mother Nature snorted. Even someone of her intelligence never understood the magic arts. She could not believe her eyes when the huge rocks began to move, seemingly by themselves.
    “You still doubt my power?” asked Morgana.
    “There are better ways of doing this.” said Mother Nature.
    “Enough!” said Morgana. “Gather your minnows. You will enter the cavern, and find the Holy Grail!”
    “How will I find it?” asked Mother Nature.
    Morgana opened her hand, and a piece of paper appeared.
    “This is a map.” she said. “It gives the exact whereabouts of the Grail. Now go!”
    “What about you?” asked Mother Nature. “Aren’t you coming with us?”
    “No.” Morgana replied. “I must study these markings. I can learn much from these.”
    Mother Nature signalled to the others, and soon, they were all in the caverns. As soon as they were in, Morgana raised her hand once again, and the huge rocks were in place once more. She raised her other hand, and the cavern filled with light. She then kneeled on the floor, and began to examine the markings. She began whispering to herself, and then a smile appeared on her face.
    “I don’t like this.” said Theophilus. “She’s up to something!”
    “I feel it too.” said Mother Nature. “It’s as if she’s trying to double-cross us and Saruman!”
   
    Outside the cavern, there was a shimmer, and a portal began to open. It was unlike any of the other portals which Saruman had used. Then, it became clear. Out stepped Magus, followed by Magician, Chameleon and the others.
    “The presence is very strong here.” said Magician. “I can feel a very powerful force here.”
    “You should do, my boy.” said Magus. “The Holy Grail is somewhere in this cavern, and from what I can tell, so are our adversaries.
    “Any idea who they are?” asked Stingray.
    “They are still being cloaked.” said Magus. “There is a strong presence in this cavern behind this wall, and a lesser one deeper in the cavern.”
    Magus walked to the entrance of the cavern. He placed his hand on the rocks.
    “These rocks have been moved recently.” he said. “And obviously put back into place.”
    “When?” asked Chameleon.
    “Within the last ten minutes.” Magus replied.
    “Impossible!” said Tiger. “There is only one man capable of doing that quickly, and the Captain is in Washington!”
    “These rocks were not moved by the hand of man.” said Magus. “They were moved by the hand of magic!”
    “But who?” asked Chameleon.
    “That is what I am about to find out.” said Magus. “Thomas, you come with me. The rest of you stay out here.”
    “Can’t we just blast these rocks out of the way?” asked Stingray.
    “No.” said Magus. “From what I can tell, the element of surprise is on our side! Come, Thomas!”

    Inside the cavern Morgana continued to study the inscriptions on the wall. Then, she heard a noise from the entrance. Sensing danger she phased into the wall. Magus and Magician moved into the cavern. Then, Morgana realised her mistake.
    “There are no torches or other illuminates here.” mused Magus. “I sense that this light has a magical origin.”
    “I feel a strong presence here, Doctor.” replied Magician.
    “As do I, a presence I have not sensed for many years.” He looked around. “Let the others in.”
    Magician turned to the entrance, and the boulders began to vanish. When the hole was large enough, the others walked into the cavern.
    “So what’s the S.P.?” asked Chameleon.
    “Our adversaries are in this cavern.” Magus replied. “But I fear that they may have been ill informed!”
    Before Magus could say another word, a loud cry of pain could be heard from deep inside the cavern.
    “What the hell was that?” shouted Stingray.
    “They’ve reached the main chamber!” said Magus. “They may have found the Holy Grail! Follow me, time is running out!”
    Quickly, they ran into one of the tunnels. As they left the cavern, Morgana re-appeared.
    “Excellent!” she thought. “Everything is almost complete!”
    She then walked into the tunnel.

    The sight that greeted Magus was not a pretty one. They came to the site of the first test that was mentioned in Dr. Jones’ diary. Two razor sharp steel blades now stuck out of the walls, and on the floor lay a body.
    “It’s Celsius!” said Tiger. “It’s the Black Squadron! They’re here!”
    They continued on their way through the tunnel.

    The Black Squadron were far ahead of them. They now stood atop a high cliff.
    “You know what to do, Reaper.” Mother Nature ordered.
    A small cloud of smoke began to form around their legs. Slowly, it began to lift them off the ground, and carry them to the other side of the cliff.
    “We are nearly there.” said Mother Nature.
    They continued into another tunnel.

    Magus and the others were soon at the cliff also.
    “This part should be no problem.” said Chameleon.
    “Thomas.” said Magus. “You carry Tiger.”
    Magus then took to the air, followed by the others.

    Mother Nature was the first to enter the final cavern. Her first sight was that of many goblets. Then, she saw the old crusader, who had been guarding the Holy Grail for hundreds of years. A shocked look appeared on the old man’s face.
    “The clothes are indeed getting stranger.” he remarked.
    “Which one is it, old man?” shouted Mother Nature. “Which cup is the Holy Grail?”
    “You must choose the cup yourself.” said the crusader. “And for your sake, I hope you choose wisely!”
    Mother Nature turned around, and pointed at Dr. Theophilus.
    “You.” she said. “You choose!”
    The Grim Reaper pushed Theophilus forward. He walked over to the cups, and picked up a wooden one.
    “Now go to the water.” Mother Nature ordered. “Drink from the cup, now!”
    Theophilus walked over to the font, and scooped some of the water into the cup. He moved the cup toward his mouth. He was about to take a sip when Magus entered.
    “Stop!” he cried.
    But before he could do anything, Theophilus drank from the cup. He stood, motionless, waiting for something to happen. Nothing did.
    “You chose, wisely!” said the crusader.
    A slight smile appeared on Theophilus’ face.
    “Quickly!” he said. “We must use this to save Celsius!”
    Theophilus scooped some more water into the cup. But before he could do anything else, Morgana Le Fey materialized in front of him. She snatched the Grail from his hand.
    “This will not be used to save anyone.” she said. “Soon, Saruman and myself will have ultimate power.”
    Then, as she held the Grail, it began to float away from her grasp. She was shocked. She had not noticed Magus when she materialized into the room.
    “Damn you, Magus!” she cried.
    “You are ill informed, Morgana.” said Magus. “I would have thought that even Saruman the White would know that the Holy Grail can never leave this chamber!”
    Morgana raised her hand, and unleashed a mystic bolt at Magus, who counter-acted with one of his own. It was then that the others entered the chamber.
    “You fool, Mother Nature!” screamed Morgana. “Don’t just stand there! Get them!”
    Realising that she no longer had any say in the matter, Mother Nature ordered her remaining forces to attack their foes. A mighty battle ensued. Trull attacked Changer, who turned himself into a mighty gorilla. Mother Nature became frustrated when she had no effect on Magician. Vampira tried to hypnotise Tiger, but her powers only worked on human eyes, not the eyes of a cat. Theophilus was still basking in his new found immortality when Marvel Boy hit him with a telekinetic blast. The Grim Reaper became incensed when he could not find Chameleon. He was easy prey from a sting blast from behind. The battle of the mystics between Magus and Morgana continued.
    After Marvel Boy had knocked Theophilus to the ground, he turned his attention to the main battle. This made it possible for Theophilus to pick up the Holy Grail, and fill it with water. He then ran as fast as he could to the body of Celsius. He poured some of the water into Celsius’ mouth, and then into his wound. There was a hiss, and then the wound began to vanish.
    “It works!” smiled Theophilus.
    The battle continued in the chamber. Neither side could gain an advantage, although it seemed that Morgana had more than met her match in Magus.
    The Grim Reaper continued to be confused by Chameleon. Just as he materialized behind him, he was attacked from behind. A fire-blast from Celsius sent Chameleon reeling.
    “Morgana!” cried Theophilus. “We have the Grail!”
    Magus’ attention was diverted long enough for Morgana to hit him with a powerful mystic blast, which knocked him to the ground.
    “Black Squadron!” Morgana shouted. “Gather behind me!”
    Mother Nature and her hordes broke off their attack, and gathered behind Morgana.
    “The Holy Grail is ours!” she cried.
    Morgana raised her hands, and a bright light began to appear. A still groggy Magus looked up.
    “Thomas!” he said. “The Grail!”
    Magician knew what he had to do. He ran toward the light, raised his hand, and with all of his youthful power, tried to pull the Grail from Morgana’s grasp. His power was not working.
    “Too strong!” he cried. “Her power is too much for me!”
    Then, Stingray walked over to Magician. He remembered something that had happened many years ago. When Magus needed more power to attack a foe one time, he took the power from Stingray.
    Stingray held out his hand.
    “Here, laddie!” he said. “It worked in the fifties, so it should work now!”
    Magician grasped Stingray’s hand. The young wizard’s power was increased greatly. But time was running out. The light from the portal that Morgana had opened was beginning to fade. Then, to her amazement, the Grail began to move away from her grasp. The strain began to show on Magician’s face. Slowly, he was prising the Grail away from Morgana’s grasp.
    “Hurry lad!” cried Stingray. “She’s nearly gone!”
    The portal was nearly closed. With one final, huge effort, Magician pulled the Grail away from Morgana’s grasp. Before she could do anything, the portal was gone. Morgana Le Fey and the Black Squadron were back in Sylvania. Magician, totally exhausted, slumped to the ground. The old crusader, who had watched the battle from a distance, walked over to the fallen teenager.
    “You are indeed a brave young man.” he said.
    Magus, now recovered from Morgana’s attack, helped his fallen student.
    “I know of you.” said the crusader. “You are the Magus, are you not?”
    “It has been many years since we last met.” said Magus.
    “It is now obvious to me that the Grail is no longer safe.” the Crusader said. “They will, no doubt, try to take it away from this place.”
    “Not as long as I have a say in the matter.” said Magus. “I can create a mystic force-field so that no man, mortal or otherwise, may ever set foot in this chamber again.”
    “I will be eternally grateful.” said the crusader. “Without your assistance, the Holy Grail would have fallen into the wrong hands.
    “Yes.” said Magus. “And now we know who our enemy is. A man that I have not encountered for nearly a thousand years, Saruman the White!”