Friday, 25 November 1994

The New Age - Chapter Six

Outer space could be a lonely place, especially if you were flying through it without the aid of a spacecraft. But sometimes people desire loneliness. One of these people was Cosmic Kid. The youngster had agreed to help the Istari in their war with Darkmagus, and he was now on his way back to the moon of Titan, where he had spent much of his time during the last year. Titan, of course, was famous as the home of the former Avenger Starfox, and the late Mar-Vell.
    As Cosmic Kid left the Earth’s atmosphere his thoughts were on the meeting at the Anglo-Force mansion. He wondered how big a part he would play in this way. In the back of his mind something told him he hoped it would be a small role.
    Soon Cosmic Kid was approaching Mars, the red planet. His thoughts were still on the impending conflict, his flight path and speed being controlled by his sub-conscious. It was because of this he failed to notice a structure on the surface of Mars. He also failed to notice when an energy beam came his way. The energy beam soon struck him.

    He did not know what had hit him. Stunned, he began to fall to the surface of the planet. There was a cloud of dust as he crashed into the surface. A few seconds later and he slowly dragged himself to his feet, dusting himself off and looking round for the place the energy beam emanated from. In the distance he then caught sight of the massive structure. Strange, he thought, because he hadn’t seen it before, and he had flown past Mars many times. He then began to walk towards the building, but when he was fifty feet away he was suddenly flung back ten feet. Again he found himself dusting himself off. Obviously some sort of force-field protecting the building he though. But why would the inhabitants of this building attack him when he was only passing Mars on his way back to Titan. Getting to his feet he soon raised his hand and fired a cosmic bolt at the shield. The bolt struck the shield and seemed to cause some damage, but not enough to disable the force-field. He again raised his arm, and soon another bolt of cosmic energy struck the shield. This bolt had the desired effect. But as soon as the force-field was destroyed he found the skies above Mars filled with small spacecraft. Each one of them seemed to be carrying weapons, and each one of the weapons was aimed at the youngster.
    “Surrender!” a voice boomed. “You have breached the fortress of Darkmagus! You must surrender!”
    Raising his arm Cosmic Kid fired a bolt of cosmic energy at the spacecraft, causing great damage. Before he could launch another attack however he found himself covered by an energy shield. The shield seemed to drain his power somehow. He knew there was no way he could escape.

    An old fifties Corvette sped along the road to Glasgow, carrying two passengers. One of them was the car’s owner, Connor McCloud. The other was Phineas Magus, and he was less than happy to travel this way.
    “It would have been much easier, and far quicker, for me to teleport us to Scotland.” said Magus. “I can’t understand what you and Poseidon are so hesitant about.”
    “The Prince can swim a lot faster than this car can go.” said McCloud. “And I was always a great believer in what I said. I still don’t believe that a man’s atoms should be scattered all over the place.”
    “One day, Connor, that form of transportation will become commonplace in our society.” said Magus.
    Magus stopped speaking when they passed a road sign indicating that they were now in Glasgow.
    “We should be at the Muir Complex in a few minutes.” said McCloud.
    “I just hope Frank’s train arrived on time.” said Magus. “It’s a pity they couldn’t get down to London for the first meeting.”
    It was five minutes later before they pulled up to a huge industrial complex, a complex belonging to Muir Industries, and their chairman, inventor supreme Jock Muir, known as Stingray in the original war-time Anglo-Force.
    After getting through the security checks they were greeted by Muir and Doctor Frank Burns, another member of the original Anglo-Force. Warm greetings were exchanged, but then there was some confusion.
    “Has Poseidon arrived yet?” asked Magus.
    “I haven’t seen him since the battle with Saruman.” said Burns.
    Then, in the sky above, they could see a man flying, approaching them. His face could soon be seen. It was Poseidon. He soon landed near them.
    “Good. I see that we are all here.” said Magus. “Is there anywhere we could speak in private?”
    “The boardroom is as good a place as any.” said Muir.
    The five old friends then made their way into the building.
    “Tell me, Phineas, how is Colossus doing?” asked Muir.
    “I haven’t seen him much lately, as you know.” Magus replied. “But James has given me a glowing report about him. He seems to be fitting into Anglo-Force quite well. I also understand that he is helping Doctor Reid in his study, something to do with Bell’s Theorum.”
    They soon came to two huge oak doors. Muir opened them to reveal a huge room, with a large oak table in the middle surrounded by countless chairs.
    “Here we are lads.” said Muir.
    They walked in the room and were astounded by it’s size and splendour.
    “Tell me Jock.” said McCloud. “Is this what your home looks like?”
    “Lord no.” said Muir. “It’s much grander than this.”
    Muir walked over to the cocktail cabinet.
    “Would anyone like a tipple? Whiskey perhaps?”
    “I hope it’s proper whiskey!” said Magus.
    Muir took out the bottle and showed it to Magus. Magus smiled.
    “Ah, nothing but the best!”
    Muir poured him a glass.
    “Please, make yourself at home.” said Muir.
    They each seated themselves at the table.
    “I think we all know why we are here.” said Magus.
    “It has something to do with Darkmagus, doesn’t it?” said Muir. “I thought we had heard the last of him since we helped Fire-Flash out.”
    “It is much more than that this time, I’m afraid.” said Magus. “This time it is much more. As Merlin and Gandalf aren’t here to explain it to you then I will.”
    Magus was about to continue when he suddenly noticed the blank looks on the faces of his friends. Getting up from his chair he waved his hand in front of Muir’s face, and the Scotsman didn’t even blink. He did the same to McCloud and got the same result. Suddenly McCloud got to his feet and drew his sword. He then turned to Magus. Muir then got to his feet, raised his arms, and was soon covered with a glow. A few seconds later his street clothes were gone to be replaced by his Stingray costume. Then Burns and Poseidon got to their feet. Slowly they began to walk towards Magus. The wizard began to back off.
    “Gentlemen, are you alright?” he asked.
    There was no reply. They continued to have blank looks on their faces.
    “I sense an outside force at work here.”
    Then McCloud attacked. Magus dodged out of the way, into the path of a bolt from Stingray. Poseidon aimed a sledgehammer blow at him, once more Magus dodged. As he skipped form side to side Magus scanned their minds. All was blank, save for a malevolent controlling force.
    The battle reached a stalemate, Magus could not attack his friends for fear of harming them, and they were unable to catch him. Seeking a temporary refuge Magus passed through the wall into the corridor. The door to the room opened and the others rushed out. Once more Magus swiftly scanned their minds. Now he could feel another presence within each, as their own wills struggled with that controlling them. Magus reached out to the mind of Connor McCloud, soon he stood, a blank look upon his face. The others, sensing a change in McCloud, turned towards him. Magus saw his chance, blasting all of them with a mind blast. They collapsed, unconscious.
    “What happened?” asked McCloud.
    “Some force had taken over your minds. As the only other immortal being here you had more control over what was happening than the others. I was able to free your mind, then, in the confusion caused while our attacker tried to regain control over you I released his control over the others.”
    “My god, Phineas, I could have killed you.”
    “Connor, in 1897 you cut my head off by mistake and I am still here. We all know that I can only be killed by an enchanted weapon, and our mysterious friend knows this too. This was intended to scare us.”
    “Will they be okay?” said McCloud, gesturing to his friends.
    “They will have a slight headache, that’s all.”

    Guy’s Hospital in London was hardly a place you would expect to find a red and yellow clad superhero in, but there was one in this hospital. It had been some time since John Clark, the man known as Jet, had battled the men from the future, the troops of the Galactic Empire, a battle in which he had sustained serious injury. But ever since that battle he had been under the car of Doctor Leonard Sadler, a resident at Guy’s. Indeed, Guy’s was the first place in years he had spent any amount of time. Jet continued to live the life of a loner, but now he realised he needed help.
    Sadler sat in his office, his window wide open, when there was a sudden woosh. Papers went flying. Sadler scrambled around, trying to keep others from flying off his desk. When he looked up he saw the smiling face of Jet looking at him.
    “Sorry about that Doctor.” he said. “I’m also sorry I’m late for my check up. I had a little meeting to attend.”
    “Yes, I heard about this little gathering at the Anglo-Force mansion on the radio.” said Sadler.
    Sadler began to reach into his desk.
    “You see, Mister Clark, I have a problem with this meeting you’ve just had.”
    “What are you talking about Doctor?”
    Sadler suddenly pulled out a gun and pointed it at Jet.
    “You have no choice. Either pull out of helping the Istari and their Acolytes or I will kill you!”
    Jet was dumb-founded. Over the past two months he had looked upon Dr. Sadler as a friend, one of the few he had, but now it seemed that Sadler was in fact working for Darkmagus.
    “You look surprised Mr. Clark.” said Sadler. “But there should really be no need to be so. You see, I have been watching you for years upon the instructions of my master. He knew from the day you were born that you would someday gain mutate powers as a result of an accident. I tried to treat you then, but you were whisked away by that brother of his.”
    “But you’ve been treating me for the past two months.” said Jet.
    “That was no coincidence.” said Sadler. “Darkmagus told me that you would be brought into the casualty ward on that day, so I made sure I was on duty that day to treat you. I had to make sure you were in my confidence, Mister Clark. Now do as I say or I will use the power Darkmagus has given me to destroy you!”
    “What power? A gun? I can outrun a speeding bullet, as the old saying goes!”
    “Not just the power of a gun!”
    Suddenly Sadler raised his hand and fired a burst of energy at Jet. He was not expecting this and he had no time to avoid it. The energy caught him square in the chest. Pain flowed through his body as he slumped to the ground. Sadler then got to his feet.
    “I never thought it would be this simple!”

    The Land of the Gods could be a most wonderful place, and a most peaceful place. On this day, however, the peace was disturbed with a dimensional portal opened. It was a gateway that was used between the planet Earth and the Time of Legends. On this day it was being used by the Celtic God, Lug. He had been summoned to Earth by Magus, and he had agreed to take part in the war against Darkmagus and his forces.
    After arriving Lug walked through the forests until he came to his dwelling. The building was tall, befitting of the Gods. As he stood at the doorway he felt something, as if another of the Gods had come to visit.
    Lug soon entered the building, and after walking through the splendid entrance hall into what could be termed as a study he soon saw that he did indeed have a visitor. He could tell who it was just by looking at him from behind. His huge girth was easily recognisable. As soon as Lug entered his visitor turned round to face him.
    “Dagda!” said Lug. “His visit is most unexpected. I had not thought that the leader of the Celtic Gods would visit me on this day!”
    Even though Lug respected the Dagda greatly he could not help his stomach wrenching whenever he saw the Dagda’s coarse features. Dressed in his short tunic and rawhide sandals the Dagda hardly looked like a leader.
    “You have just returned from the world of mortal man?” the Dagda said.
    “Aye, I have.” Lug replied. “They have asked me to participate in a campaign against the evil of Darkmagus. I have agreed to their request. I have been without a battle for too long.”
    “It is that I wish to speak to you about.” said Dagda. “I must ask you to take no further part in this crusade.”
    “What reason do you have for asking me this Dagda?”
    Dagda turned around and stared Lug straight in the eye.
    “I ask you on behalf of Darkmagus himself.”
    “Can it be?” shouted Lug. “Has the Father of All been corrupted by evil?”
    “I do not wish to harm you, but if I have to I will. I ask you one more time, leave this mortal man’s crusade or you will die!”

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