Friday, 25 November 1994

The New Age - Chapter Three

    High in the French Alps stood a castle that had not been used in years - at least that was what the nearby inhabitants thought, for in the early hours of the morning this castle was bristling with life. In the main hallway stood what could be termed as some of the most evil men and women who had ever lived - and they were growing a trifle inpatient.
    Near the huge door Felicia Martins, the companion of Darkmagus. The immortal stood near the doorway as if she was waiting for the postman to arrive. Nearby, seated in a chair, was a man who could be considered one of Darkmagus’ oldest allies. Like Darkmagus he was an immortal wizard, but unlike Darkmagus he could not use his mystical power to disguise his ugliness. The man in question - Xusia.
    Standing near Xusia was a man who looked like he would be more suited to the Time of Legends rather than the French Alps. The man was short in stature, but had a beard and carried a sword on his waist. This man was indeed from the Time of Legends. He was the dwarf Kon, the leader of his people.
    Near to Kon was what some people would say resembled a gorilla, except that his body did not resemble that primate. This being hardly spoke, either because he couldn’t or he didn’t want to. He was last seen hurtling down a great chasm with Gandalf during the Ring Wars. This was Anthog, King of the Balrogs.
    Then came a man who was also a resident of the Time of Legends, but unlike Kon this man stood nearly ten feet I height. It was because of this that this meeting was being held in the main hallway. This powerful figure was Grunt, leader of the Giants.
    Near him was what could be considered one of the most vicious creatures to ever be born on the Time of Legends. Some thought it unwise that Darkmagus should choose such an ally, but it seemed that Darkmagus was the only one capable of controlling him. He was Gore, one of the most vicious wolves to ever have lived.
    Lastly, and by no means least, came two people, a man and a woman. For some reason the woman, with her long, flowing red hair, always had a scornful look on her face. Perhaps that came from being an immortal mystic. Her companion, the man, also had long hair, brown hair. He was considered one of the most evil men to have ever lived. Not bad for someone who had been killed by his brother some one thousand years previously. These two were Zachary and Beatrice, and they were not pleased.
    “Where the hell is he?” Zachary cursed. “I’ve taken a year out of my life for Darkmagus. He could have at least the decency to turn up on time!”
    Martins stared coldly at Zachary.
    “Don’t worry. He will be here!”
    There was suddenly a loud crash of thunder outside. This startled those gathered slightly. Then there was another crash of lightning, but this time it was inside the main hallway. They had to shield their eyes until the light died down. Then, when it did, the lurking form of Darkmagus could be seen in the centre of the room.
    “At last!” said Beatrice.
    “I see you are all here.” said Darkmagus. “That is good.”
    “Get on with it!” said Zachary. “We haven’t got all day.”
    “Very well then. But you must learn to be patient.”
    Darkmagus walked over to Martins, and she took off his robes.
    “For over a hundred years I have contacted you, and made you part of my invincible force. Also over that period of time I have sent sleeper agents to every part of this world in the hope that I can stop those who may prove…troublesome to us.”
    “Why now?” asked Kon. “Why have you contacted us here, today?”
    “Because there are men and women in the world who will threaten us!” Darkmagus continued. “No one know their identities yet, but once revealed they must all die! The key to their deaths is the destruction you can unleash upon the heroes of this world, the destruction I am unleashing you do to tonight!”
    Even though Darkmagus was not speaking to them directly each one of them knew exactly what he was talking about.
    As Darkmagus spoke to his comrades he did not know that a lone man was making his way through the French Alps. Duncan McCloud had just returned to France the previous day, and now he needed to get to a place where he could think, think about recent events in his centuries-spanning life. Normally when he needed to do this he would come to an old castle in the Alps where he could be alone with his thoughts. It was when he was less than half a mile away he sensed something, as if another immortal was near. Taking his sword out of his rucksack he quickly ran up the hill until he came to the castle. His suspicions were even more aroused when he saw lights emanating from the castle. After a few minutes he soon made it to the wall of the castle. He looked up, and the light from the window was brighter than ever. Tucking his sword into his belt he began to climb the wall, gaining a foothold on the stones and bricks. He was soon at the window. He peered in, and what he saw did not please him. He soon recognised Felicia Martins because the two had tangled many times in the past. He also recognised Darkmagus from their encounter in Berlin fifty-six years previously. He then caught sight of Zachary and Beatrice. Upon seeing them he knew that something big was about to happen. He continued to watch for a few minute, but after those few minutes he found himself tugged towards the ground - by what he did not know. After the initial stun of the impact wore off he looked up and saw three men standing over him. They were clad entirely in black, but wore blue masks over their faces. Springing to his feet and drawing his sword he prepared himself for battle.
    “Spying upon the master, were you?” asked one.
    “So what are you going to do about it?” asked McCloud.
    “Kill you!”
    McCloud raised his sword and brought it down upon one of the men. He was most surprised when the sword did not damage and there was a loud metal clanging noise. McCloud was not fighting men of flesh and blood, he was fighting men or iron and steel - androids.
    The androids decided to take advantage of McCloud’s surprise, and one of them connected with a blow to the Highlander’s jaw. McCloud tried to fight back but his effort was in vain when another of the androids attacked him from behind, knocking him off his feet. McCloud looked up and wiped the blood from his lip.
    “It’s going to take more than you three to put me down!”
    McCloud spoke too soon as suddenly all three were on top of him. McCloud may have been an expert in unarmed combat but he was no match for three of these machines. The last thing he saw was through a haze, it was a black-gloved fist coming down towards him.

    After the exertions of the previous day, and the successful capture of the leader of the Black Squadron, the members of Anglo-Force decided to do what they had not been able to do for a long time - enjoy the facilities of their mansion headquarters. Some members decided to spend their free time in the pursuit of intellectual activities, like those of Daniel Reid, others, like Colossus One, used the time to read books on the human condition, which was still something this android did not understand. Perhaps it would take an eternity for him to do so. Others, such as Watt, Red Sun, now in the guise of Katrina Velichev, Arthur Pendragon and Ultare Amarus decided the time was right to make use of the mansion’s pool. After all, it had only been used twice before.
    Watt and Katrina sat on the edge of the pool, watching as Pendragon and Amarus raced each other.
    “I sense Ultare’s unhappiness sometimes.” said Katrina. “He really hungers for his home world of Traxxor.”
    “I know.” said Watt. “Magus is the only one who could return him, but we haven’t seen him in months!”
    Suddenly the blazing sunshine was replaced by dark clouds which began to swirl in the skies above them. Thunder and lightning then began to crash.
    “What’s going on?” called Pendragon. “The weather forecast made no mention of rain today!”
    The alarm then sounded from the monitor room as a strange energy reading was detected in the sky. Then, as they began to run into the building to get away from the pouring rain three figures appeared in the sky. One was a man with a long white beard, wearing white robes and a white hat. The second was a man with a brown beard with a metal skull-cap on his head. The third, shorter figure was a man very familiar to them all. Each of them carried a cane. A few seconds later the three man appeared on the ground. As soon as they landed the rain stopped, as did the thunder and lightning. The clouds then dispersed. A smiled appeared on Watt’s face when he saw who had just landed.
    “Magus!” he called, rushing out to his old friend.
    “I’m so sorry at disturbing the fine weather.” said the wizard.
    The two old friends shook hands and then hugged as only old friends can do. A few seconds later the other members of Anglo-Force soon joined them near the swimming pool.
    “Where have you been you old devil?” asked Watt. “It’s been months since we saw you.”
    “I trust everyone here knows my companions from the Istari, Gandalf and Merlin.” said Magus.
    “It is certainly good to see you in the flesh Merlin.” said Pendragon.
    “Indeed.” said Merlin. “But Gandalf and I have not come to this world to socialize. We have come to spark a moment in it’s destiny!”
    “What do you mean?” asked Watt.
    “There are men and women on this world whom we need, James.” said Gandalf. “They will face unparalleled danger once we contact them.”
    “We shall protect them!” said Katrina.
    “Indeed you will, young lady.” said Merlin. “But it will take more than Anglo-Force to protect them. The man who seeks to murder the Acolytes is one of our oldest foes. He will stop at nothing in the pursuit of his evil ends. He may well have begun his operation. Ladies and gentlemen, I speak of none other than Darkmagus himself!”

    It was the early hours of the morning, and three black-clad androids dragged the limp form of Duncan McCloud across the tarmac of Paris Airport.
    “Quickly!” said one. “The blue lights show where the next aeroplane will land! We must hurry!”
    The androids soon found the runway they were looking for. When they did they dumped McCloud’s body on the tarmac. They were shocked when they heard a groan.
    “He is still alive!”
    “There is no concern here. His bones are shattered, and his body is bruised and battered. He will die when the 747 lands. No one will suspect anything. They will think he is drunk and that he wandered onto the runway in a drunken haze.”
    Leaving McCloud on the runway the androids walked away. As they walked away they did not notice McCloud beginning to stir. The first thing he felt when he came to was the pain from his legs. Both of them were broken. He looked up and saw a Boeing 747 approaching for a landing. Slowly he managed to pull his upper body from the ground, but not without even more pain. Then, mustering up his last ounce of strength, he slowly dragged himself away from the centre of the tarmac. But this was not enough. As the aircraft landed it clipped him, sending him spinning across the tarmac and onto the nearby grass. For all intents and purposes Duncan McCloud was dead.

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