Monday, 31 December 1990

Anglo-Force: The Formation & The Return Of Saruman Chapter 14

Magus’ calculations were off slightly, probably because his mind was on other things. The Warriors had reached the point they were told to go to by Magus. They expected to see hordes of rampaging orcs. Instead, all they saw were footprints. Magician stood over the tracks.
    “I’ve never known Dr. Magus to be wrong before.” he said.
    Axe Kid kneeled next to the tracks, and touched them.
    “There have been orcs here.” he said. “But that was hours ago!”
    “Could Mr. Muir’s equipment be faulty?” Magician asked.
    “It is possible.” said Cosmic Kid. “But it is also possible that the equipment has been fooled by an outside source.”
    As they spoke, Changer, Lightning Kid and Marvel Boy came rushing back.
    “We’ve found something in the forests about thirteen miles from here.” said Changer. “I just hope you’ve got a strong stomach, because it’s not a pretty sight.”
    “Axe Kid, Changer, Marvel Boy, you three stay here.” ordered Magician. “Lightning Kid, Cosmic Kid, you’re with me.”
    The three youngsters took to the air. Within a few minutes, they were at the point Changer had told them about. As they landed, Magician put his hand over his mouth to try and stop himself from vomiting. As Changer had said, the sight was not a pretty one. Six orcs hung upside down from the trees. All of them had been skinned. All of them were dead.
    Magician quickly turned away. The sight was too much for his stomach. Lightning Kid kept an eye on him as Cosmic Kid walked over to the corpses.
    “Interesting.” he said.
    “How so?” coughed Magician.
    “No animal on Earth could have done this.” Cosmic Kid replied. “Not even your rhino or elephant could withstand an attack from one orc.”
    “What do you mean?” asked Magician.
    “I’ve seen something similar on my own world.” replied Cosmic Kid. “In the last days of the Talician Wars, many soldiers were killed in this manner. But I can’t be sure this was the same attackers. But I can tell you this; we must be extremely careful.
    Axe Kid, Changer and Marvel Boy soon joined them.
    “Anything else?” Magician asked.
    “I can’t tell a thing.” replied Axe Kid.
    “We’d better follow this trail then.” said Magician.
    Soon, they reached the main road, south of Moscow, that led to the city. The road was chaos. Nearly fifty vehicles, be it cars, lorry or motor cycles, were speeding out of Moscow. Naturally, with that many vehicles travelling at such high speeds, accidents happened.
    “What the hell is going on here?” asked Marvel Boy.
    “Look!” cried Axe Kid, pointing to Moscow.
    Heavy black smoke billowed out of Moscow’s city centre. Quickly, they flew to Moscow. The streets resembled a battle grounds. The bodies of innocent people lay everywhere. They soon found Red Square. The smoke was coming from a fire in Lenin’s tomb. In one corner of Red Square they could see almost fifty orcs, standing as if ready for combat. They all looked around shiftily, as if they were expecting an attack from anywhere. Then, the attack came. Something landed in the middle of the orcs, which sent them fleeing. Some of them flew through the air as if they were struck by an invisible man. Others were cut down by a razor sharp flying disc. Then, it seemed as if more of the invisible men attacked the orcs. The orcs are known to be mighty, if not dim, fighters. But against opponents they could not see, they were more than useless. The only thing they could see were slight ‘shimmer’ as if their opponents were using some sort of cloaking device.
    The Warriors, having landed on the roof of the Kremlin, watched the battle.
    “Is this what we are meant to observe?” asked Axe Kid. “Total carnage?”
    “We have our orders.” said Magician. “There is nothing we can do.”
    “To hell with orders!” said Lightning Kid.
    “I agree.” said Cosmic Kid.
    Cosmic Kid pointed his hand at one of the ‘empty spaces’, which was attacking the orcs. There was a small explosion. A few of the orcs scurried away. As the smoke cleared, the empty space was not there anymore. Instead stood an alien-like creature, a mighty warrior. A look of horror appeared on the normally solemn face of Cosmic Kid.
    “What is it?” cried Magician. “What’s going on?”
    “My fears are correct.” said Cosmic Kid. “They are the same as those who killed my parents.”
    “Who?” cried Magician. “Who are they?”
    “They are known as Predators.” said Cosmic Kid. “They are drawn by conflict, and they live for battle!”
    The Predator looked up at Cosmic Kid. He had only one thought in his mind, to destroy the one who had attacked him. Showing great agility, the Predator leapt from the ground to the Kremlin roof. Cosmic Kid looked horrified. The Predator connected with a blow to his face, which sent him flying. Axe Kid entered the fray, hurling his boomerang axe at the Predator. The native American was shocked when the alien caught the axe in mid-flight, and snapped the axe in two. Lightning Kid threw one of his lightning bolts at the Predator. Again, the alien warrior caught the bolt, and sent it flying back at the Warriors, quickly dispersing them as it hit the side of the building, causing an explosion. A telekinetic blast from Marvel Boy sent the Predator reeling slightly. The Predator raised his arm, and fired a laser blast at Marvel Boy. The blast struck Marvel Boy in the should, but he was still strong enough to send another telekinetic blast, this time aiming at the Predator’s brain. The alien grasped his head, and rippled off his helmet. He let out a huge cry of pain. While this battle took place, Magician just stood and watched. He was still following Magus’ orders to the letter. But there were still doubts in his mind.
    The Predator was still reeling from Marvel Boy’s telekinetic blast. It was then that Changer took his chance. He rushed toward the Predator, just stopping in front of him. Then, a slight glow appeared around the young Belgian, as he began to alter his form. The Predator, although quite intelligent, was now confused, because where once a young Earthman stood, now stood one like him, a Predator. Changer had altered his atoms, so he was now an exact copy of his foe. The Predator was caught off guard, as Changer connected with a blow to his mid-section. Another blow to the Predator’s head left him very dazed. So dazed that he staggered around and soon lost his footing. He fell heavily off the roof, crashing into the ground below. The other Predators had been pre-occupied with their battle against Saruman’s orcs, but the sight and sound of one of their number falling to the ground changed that. The orcs were confused, as their adversaries looked skywards towards the Kremlin rook. They saw the Warriors, and put two and two together.
    It was then that Magician made his move. He realised that with nearly twenty Predators on the ground, the Warriors had no chance of defeating them. He raised his hands, and a small portal began to open.
    “Quickly!” he shouted. “I can’t hold it for long!”
    As quickly as they could the Warriors stepped through the portal. After they had all gone through, Magician himself stepped through. A second later, the portal was gone. This did not please the Predators.
    On the outskirts of Moscow another portal opened. A few seconds later, Axe Kid, Changer, Cosmic Kid, Lightning Kid and Marvel Boy fell to the ground with a thud. Then, Magician flew out of the portal before it closed.
    “Good work, Tom!” said Lightning Kid. “You’ve managed to take us about five miles away from them!”
    “My power is still very limited.” said Magician. “And if we had followed orders, none of this would have happened!”
    “No time to argue.” said Marvel Boy. “Look!”
    Marvel Boy pointed to the road. At least one hundred orcs were fleeing for their lives. They were followed by the twenty Predators.
    “We cannot withstand another attack!” said Magician.
    The young wizard raised his hand, and a shield appeared around them. Then the orcs and the Predators had passed, the shield dropped.
    “So what now?” asked Marvel Boy.
    “The aliens are pre-occupied with the orcs.” said Magician. “We will return to Vasaria.”

    Magus was briefing Anglo-Force on what to expect in Sylvania.
    “You may be rest assured that once you step across the border all manner of foul creatures will be seeking for you. Not only all the beings he has assembled but foul beings from the Time of Legends.”
    He led them to the frontier.
    “Go. Return quickly.”
    As they stepped over Magus returned to Vasaria.
    They noticed the change as soon as they crossed. It was a warm day in Latvia, in Sylvania, even though the sun shone it was as cold as ice. Mr. X stepped back into Latvia, then re-crossed the border.
    “It is colder here.” he said.
    “We’re not alone, either.” said White Knight.
    Two huge wolves sat, three hundred yards away, watching.
    “We’d best press on. Saruman’s castle is to the east.”
    They set out. The rocky waste of the borderlands was soon replaced by a long, straight road, through woodland.
    “It’s not a good idea to use this road. We’d be an easy target here.” White Knight noted.
    They moved into the shrubs, just in time as a Dalek patrol swept into view.
    “I’ve an idea.” hissed Watt to White Knight. “As to how we can get into the castle.”
    As the patrol passed Woodwose leapt out and seized one of the stragglers. With one might heave he had wrenched the Dalek in two. Hearing it’s cries of distress the others moved to the rescue. White Knight carved their leader in half. Star Man, Chameleon and Mr. X soon despatched the remaining three. Watt took a quick look inside one of those which still remained intact.
    “It’ll be cramped, but we’ll be able to fit.” said Watt. “Woodwose, you’ll have to be the prisoner.”
    Climbing into the now empty shells they headed off. The two wolves still watched.
    Saruman’s castle rose about the Sylvanian countryside in a similar manner to Craigmillar upon it’s island. But there the similarity ended. This castle was a cheerless place. The five ‘Daleks’ approached the gate. Two orcs were on guard. They stood to one side to let the patrol and it’s prisoner pass.
    They moved into a dark courtyard and left their shells.
    “What next?” asked Woodwose.
    “We split up.” said Mr. X. “You, Star Man and White Knight go to the dungeon, the rest of us will seek Winthorn’s remains.”
    They divided into two. As the other group moved away, Mr. X produced a stone from his pocket.
    “What is that?” asked Watt.
    “A plantir. Magus gave it to me. I can only use it once to communicate with him. Now is the time.”
    He gazed into the stone. Magus’ face soon appeared in it.
    “I have consulted Winthorn’s remains are being held in Morgana’s chambers. You should also know that there is dissention brewing between Morgana, Saruman and Davros. We may be able to….”
    The stone clouded over. The face of Magus was gone.
    “That has made our task easier.” said Mr. X.
    Woodwose’s group was making good progress. Secure in his arrogance, Saruman had moved his orcs away. They came to a row of doors. The first two cells were empty. White Knight carved through the third door. A ragged figure sat on the bed, looking up.
    “The Highlander!” smiled White Knight. “We’ve found him!”
    The Highlander was too weak to speak. White Knight walked over to the bed, and picked him up, draping one of his arm over his own shoulder.
    “This man doesn’t look that old!” said Star Man.
    “Don’t just stand there.” said White Knight. “We’ve got to get out of here.”
    As the three of them turned round, they found an obstacle. Panthor, with three orcs, stood in their way.
    “It was only a matter of time before you came.” said Panthor. “A pity that you will not leave!”
    Woodwose was the first to act. He brushed past White Knight, and picked up two of the orcs. He tossed them to one side, as if they were nothing. Panthor entered the battle. He leapt through the air, toward White Knight. A boot to the chest knocked him off his feet. The final orc went after Star Man. He was no match for him. The orcs fought back slightly, but they could not handle the combined attack of Woodwose and Star Man.
    White Knight continued to battle Panthor. The renegade Voltanian showed great agility against the swordsman. Before Star Man and Woodwose could help their comrade, they were besieged by more orcs.
    As the battle went on, the Captain was racing through the corridors of the castle. He knew that orcs would soon be attacking Mr. X and Chameleon, trying to draw them away from their main task. That is why he went on ahead. He went through several rooms before he came to the chambers of Morgana Le Fey. He quickly saw what he was looking for; the brass urn containing Winthorn’s ashes. He grabbed it, but as turned to leave the chambers, something blocked his path; Saruman the White.
    “You are a foolish young man.” he said. “You and your friends will never leave my castle alive!”
    “Don’t count on it!” said Watt.
    Quickly, Watt tried to fly past Saruman, but the wizard created an invisible wall that blocked him. This knocked him to the ground, but he still managed to keep hold of the urn.
    “Now, Captain.” Saruman hissed. “You will die!”
    Saruman raised his hand, and it began to glow. Then, Saruman began to fade slightly. He grasped his chest, as if he were in great pain. He then slumped to the ground. Watt did not know what was happening, but he knew this was his chance. As Saruman lay doubled up in pain, Watt rushed out of the chambers. He quickly joined his team mates. He raced through the hallway, knocking Panthor and the orcs off their feet.
    “I have it!” Watt shouted. “I have the remains!”
    Panthor could not believe his ears. As he stood motionless for a second, White Knight punched him, sending him flying.
    Watt then grabbed a piece of the floor, and ripped a huge chunk out of it.
    “Everyone on the floor!” he cried.
    The others did as Watt said. Seconds later, they were out of the castle, and near the border.
    “We must return to Vasaria quickly!” said White Knight.