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Legionnaires

Issue #13

"Buried Treasure"

by David Marshall


Roll Call
   Garth Ranzz       Imra Ardeen        Rokk Krinn        Luornu Durgo
   Salu Digby        Tinya Wazzo        Lyle Norg        Querl Dox
   Reep Daggle       Brin Londo        Thom Kallor       Jenni Ognats
    Jan Arrah         Drura Sepht       Veilmist

Earth, The Dehli District

The clean-up crews worked diligently, both human and robotic ones, to terraform the debris from the recent earthquake back into a livable city. Before they left, the Legion convinced folks to identify the dead rather than burying them in mass graves. The new Legionnaire named Drura Sepht cleansed the area of deadly pathogens, but also advised the terraformers to work on any pools of standing water first, as mosquitoes carrying the deadly Dengue Fever and Yorbiaan Plague thrived in those bodies of stagnant water. But the Legion was long gone this day.

“Hey! I found something!” cried a man operating a terradozer.

The other men dropped what they were doing and rushed to the spot where the heavy machinery turned layers of soil. Something solid stopped its turbines from spinning. It appeared to be a large stone-carved cube that looked like a safe. The strata surrounding it laid neatly in one direction indicating that the shifting of the tectonic plates had driven it up through layers of Earth from far beneath its surface.

“What could it be?” one of the men asked.

“I don’t know,” another answered. “But I’m willing to bet there’s a fortune inside. I’m telling you fellas. It’s our lucky day.”

“Maybe we should call the university. Perhaps someone there may identify it. After all, it may be an ancient relic of some sort,” said a third. “We wouldn’t want to damage it.”

“It’s already cracked!” another argued. “See there on the eastern face?”

Others offered their own theories about the unusual object before the majority decided it just had to be a treasure. After hasty deliberation, it was decided to open the cube and examine its contents.

Small sonic wave generators were placed near the crack on the cube’s eastern face. “Three... two ... one! Let ‘er rip!”

At first nothing happened, but as the sonic wave generators intensified, the crack split open further. At last it opened enough to allow light inside.

“Almost there!”

Suddenly a blue luminescence shot out in beautiful rays from inside the cube. Then a hand appeared from the shadows.... and finally the Dark Lord himself.

“Free!” cried Mordru the Merciless. “Free to exact my revenge on this rebellious world! Never again will I be buried like a common beggar beneath the dirt of this orb! I am Mordru and I will rule the cosmos once more!”

The terraforming crews attacked the Dark Lord but he quickly overpowered them. He toyed with them as he slaughtered them - ripping limbs from their torsos and even their heads.

“Mayday! Mayday! We’re under attack!” said one of the men into his wristband communicator. They were his last words.

Within minutes the Science Police showed up and opened fire on Mordru to no avail. They called for backup. More and more Science Police officers filed into the area and opened fire against the Dark Lord.

Mordru showed no worry. With a wave of his hand, half the Science Police officers turned on their comrades. A blaster fight broke out between the two factions as Mordru looked on and cackled.

The faction under Mordru’s influence outnumbered the others and quickly overwhelmed them. All but two. They sought refuge in the nearest structure - Mordru’s tomb.

“No!” Mordru cried. “This will not do! Drag them out of there!”

The mind-controlled Science Policers responded to Mordru’s orders and delivered the two officers at Mordru’s feet.

“Shall we kill them, my lord?” one of the men asked.

Mordru shook his head. “That is not yet possible. Follow me.”

Medicus One

Garth Ranzz was happy to see Dox - even if on a holocom. He wasn’t keen on Rond Vidar and Nura Nal treating his sister with unproven methods. They seemed pleasant enough, he even felt bad for his initial reaction to them, but trust them? Maybe Dox could shed some light. “Rond’s theory seems sound,” said Dox. “I’ve postulated at least a ninety-percent chance of the patient’s survival in all but two scenarios.”

“Ninety-percent?” Garth asked. “This is my sister we’re talking about! I demand better odds.”

“Garth, your sister should be dead by now. I can personally vouch for Vidar. He’s one of the most brilliant men this side of Colu. Myself excluded, of course,” said Dox.

“But she’s not dead, Dox,” said Garth. “I’d like to keep it that way.”

Nura Nal entered the room. “So would we hotshot.”

“Ms. Nal... I was just...”

“... checking up on us? I would expect no less of you. Can we talk?” asked Nura.

“Who’s that?” Dox asked.

“It’s Rond’s research assistant, Nura Nal,” Garth answered.

Nura brushed Garth aside and smiled wickedly for the holocom. “Hiya, Doxie.”

Dox looked stunned. “What... what are you doing there? With Rond?”

“Now wouldn’t you just like to know?”

“Dox, is something wrong?” Garth asked. “Anything I need to know about?”

Dox rubbed his green hands through his yellow-blonde hair and sighed. “No, Garth. It’s nothing, water under the bridge. Both Ms. Nal and Rond are fine scientists. You can trust your sister with them.”

Nura winked at Garth. “He still gets that cute shade of green whenever he’s flustered.”

“Nura! That’s enough. I...” Dox stammered.

“Medicus One, out!” said Nura. The holocom flittered and Dox’s three dimensional image disappeared.

Garth studied Nura carefully, unsure what to think about her. “I wasn’t finished speaking with Dox.”

Nura covered her mouth and giggled. “Oops, I was!”

The holocom fluttered on again. “Garth, it’s Jan.”

Jan Arrah’s image appeared on the viewer. “We’ve got a situation in the Delhi district.”

“More quake problems?”

“No,” Jan replied. “Someone claiming to be an immortal sorcerer has slaughtered hundreds of innocents, mostly Science Police. The United Planets is requesting our assistance.”

Garth wanted to lead his team into battle, but knew his most important duty lay on an antigrav bed in the west wing. “Take an experienced team with you to investigate. I... uh... Check that. Take who you need. Ranzz out.”

Jan’s image faded and the holocom blanked out once more.

“Keeps you busy, huh?” Nura asksed. “Responsibilities will do that.”

“What’s this about, Ms. Nal?” Garth asked.

“Rond needs you. He wants you to absorb the excess electrical energy your sister has taken,” Nura answered. “There is some risk involved for you as well. You will be fed her excess energy, but Rond believes he can minimize those risks with some dampeners. Are you game?”

“Sounds like it might work,” Garth answered.

“Oh, you think? You’re a scientist now?” Nura asked. “I’m impressed with how quickly you’ve assimilated the knowledge required to pass such a judgement. Keep this up, Mr. Ranzz and I just may let you take me to dinner tonight.”

Garth felt his face flush. Why would a woman of such obvious intelligence insist on hiding behind a facade of flightiness? “Come on. Let’s go.”

Delhi, India

Jan Arrah studied the scene below him. It was worse than he feared. Bodies littered the landscape. Some were dead and others required medical attention. Emergency crews tended those on the outer fringe of the action, but were either too afraid to reach those closer to the wizard or unable to do so. He wasn’t sure which. Delhi’s Science Police force fought valiantly as they could, but their malevolent foe was toying with them. Jan wasn’t even sure what to call some of the weapons the SP’s used, but even the brightest of the fireworks displays failed to halt the sorcerer.

With a wave of the sorcerer’s hand, he blew apart several of the armored vehicles that fired upon him.

“What the sprock?” Rokk asked. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Even when the Khunds invaded Braal.”

“Attention, Science Police of Delhi. This is Jan Arrah of the Legion. Stand down as per your orders and allow us to handle the threat. Please tend the wounded.” Jan studied the ring on his finger. Such a wonderfully useful device.

The Science Police retreated into a perimeter and ran evac teams into the fray under cover of blaster fire.

“What’s this? You send children against me?”

“We’ve been spotted,” said Jan.

“We’re hardly inconspicuous,” Rokk replied. “What now? Jan?”

“Hit him hard, Legion,” Jan answered.

Below them, Mordru laughed heartily. “Yes, Legion. Hit me hard!”

The Legion landed and Thom Kallor lashed out at the sorcerer first, bathing him with his gravity powers. The sorcerer struggled to maintain his menacing stance.

“Impossible,” said Mordru. “It’s as if you’ve placed the weight of the world on my shoulders. What have you done to me, child?”

Red-hot beams erupted from Mordru’s eyes and shot toward Thom.

“Thom! Lookout!” Jenni raced to her teammate and gathered him in her arms an instant ahead of the beams. When she slowed, Thom was unconscious from the unexpected jolt of superspeed on his body.

“No!” Mordru cried. “I will have your head for a trophy little girl! You dare deny me the joy of a kill?”

Jenni looked up. She was a pretty girl with caramel-colored skin and a perfect complexion. She was rather petite and maybe a little underdeveloped for her age. She laid Thom to the ground gently but stood like a warrior. “I dare!”

She raced toward Mordru, a near invisible blur. An instant later the sound of her fists exploding against his jaw exploded and filled the air with sonic concussions with each blow. If Thom’s anti-grav powers rendered Mordru an immovable object, Jenni’s blows had the opposite effect. They sent Mordru flying. He crashed into one of the piles of rubble that had once been a majestic Bhuddist temple. What little of it that remained standing fell on her opponent.

A very angry Mordru arose from the rubble but before he could a speak a plastisteel beam in the debris bound him like a snake within its coils. The sorcerer fought against the beam to no avail.

“Hard to stand against Earth’s magnetic field?”Rokk asked.

While Mordru struggled against Rokk’s magnetic power, Brin Londo launched himself toward the sorcerer and connected with a series of flying kicks. Jan was impressed with not only Brin’s athleticism, but his raw strength as well. Mordru’s head snapped with each blow. Still the sorcerer somehow managed to stay on his feet.

“You hold him and I’ll convert the metal to inertron,” said Jan. “That should hold anybody.”

Jan focused his power on the metal. The debris held the reeling Mordru tight while the Legion surrounded him.

The Science Police rushed in to retrieve the injured. The SP captain found Jan quickly amid the confusion.“We appreciate the assist but let’s not make this a habit.”

“I don’t understand,” said Jan. “Should you not be thankful we were able to apprehend this madman?”

“Sure,” the captain replied. “We love being shown up by a bunch of kids. You just make sure that prison holds that fruitcake.”

Mordru burst from his captivity filled with rage. In the time it took between breaths the Science Police captain was gutted by a horrendous worm-like creature with a stinger at its tail that appeared from thin air. The dying captain struggled against the stinger with sheer horror on his face. Suddenly roots exploded from his mouth and anchored him to the ground. Within moments he was reduced to breeding ground for more of the hideous magic creatures. What looked like billions of the creatures erupted from his mouth and spewed into the air. They disappeared through the cloud cover.

“You dare mock me?” Mordru cried. “I am Mordru! The Dark Lord! All will bow before me now!”

No matter how hard Jan fought against the urge he was compelled to prostrate himself before Mordru. Then reality itself shifted around them. The debris collected itself into one spot and took the form of a magnificent palace. It stretched for miles encompassing what was once the city of New Delhi - at least a quarter of the Indian continent. Even the areas not affected by the Earth’s temper tantrum were not spared. As easily as he commanded the palace to appear, Mordru called subjects to himself from kingdoms he’d conquered throughout the eons. An army of barbarians with swords, clubs, axes, and spears appeared and went from one Science Police officer to another beheading them.

Finally one of Mordru’s subjects stood over Rokk and raised his axe.

“Halt!” said Mordru. “I know the ilk of these children! I’ve battled their kind in the past. They are champions. Their people put much faith in them. Let them go that they may tell this pitiful orb of the power they’ve faced and the futility of standing against Mordru, the Dark Lord! But mistake not this gesture for mercy!”

Jan stood freely and ordered the Legionnaires to attack a second time. “He’s given us a chance, Legion. Take him now!”

The Legion rushed the malevolent sorcerer once more. Mordru showed no fear standing before them. In fact he seemed to grow larger. He waited patiently, wearing the most sinister, wicked grin imaginable.

Jenni was the first to disappear. Jan tried to call a retreat but it was too late. He felt his own atoms being disassembled. Then came the sickness and disorientation and then the nothingness. It was as if Jan was consciously aware of the fact that he ceased to exist.

Then everything swirled and he was once more disoriented. The sickness struck once more and finally his atoms were reassembled. Once the process was complete he was lying on the floor of the Ready Room of Legion Headquarters surrounded by his teammates who accompanied him on the failed mission.

“Anyone get the number of that Battlewagon?” Brin asked.

“I feel cold,” said Jenni. “Like a part of me is missing.”

“I feel it too,” Jan replied. “We can only hope it’s the darkness of Mordru’s spell. We need everybody on this.”

The doors to the ready room hissed open. Imra Ardeen rushed to her fallen teammates. “Thank Io you’re ok. We were watching on the holonews. I felt your minds when you arrived. The others are behind me.”

“Is everyone ok?” Jan asked.

“Looks like Thom is still out cold, but everyone else is no worse for the wear. A few bumps and bruises, but fine otherwise,” Rokk answered.

“Get a medic in here to tend to Thom,” Jan instructed. “The rest of you convene for an emergency meeting in ten minutes.”

 

“Computer increase the rate of metabolism in the terrabots,” Dox commanded.

He hoped his idea would work. In theory it seemed plausible but nothing like it had been attempted before - at least not in a human species. His patient was the unknown young man rescued from the belly of the Energy Beast. Dox already identified at least thirty-seven different forms of known radioactive particles incorporated into his cellular structure.

The identification was a major breakthrough. It allowed Dox to engineer a special breed of nanite that could quickly reprogram itself at the subnano level to absorb the radiation by preventing the ionization of the orbital electrons at the cellular level. But he needed to know what was happening inside the boy’s body in real time. And someone had to deliver the special weapon once the nanites cleared the way. That’s where his helper came in.

“Are you sure you can do this Salu?” Dox asked.

“I’ve gone subatomic before,” Salu replied.

“And the controller?”

“It’s fine too,” Salu answered. “I’m going to take the terrabots in now. Wish me luck.”

Dox struggled for the right words with which to reply. Luck wasn’t in the vocabulary of science. An experiment worked or it did not work. “I wish you... success.”

The scientific process was usually a labor of love for the brilliant young Coluan but the pressures exerted on him by his Legion responsibilities were taking their toll. Bgtzl. The young man on the table. Constant requests for weapons and defenses. Monitoring the experimental computer system he installed at Legion Headquarters. And as much as he enjoyed it, exchanging theories with Rond Vidar about how to help Garth’s sister. It was a bit much. That’s why he told Jan he would have to handle the Mordru situation without him and Salu.

He tried to prioritize projects, to block them into neat mental files within his brilliant brain but that proved unsuccessful as well. An accelerated rate of cellular decay forced Dox into finding a solution for the young man immediately. Carefully laid plans and hours of preparation were once again washed away like mighty waves erasing footprints on a beach.

More than anything else Dox hated the waiting. His race was renowned for their patience when pursuing projects. His was a long-lived people. Tales of a Coluan working on a single project for hundreds of years weren’t uncommon. But Dox never felt that way. He was used to immediate solutions. And the waiting revelation was painful.

“Dox, we’re in. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to ride shotgun on a nanite?”

Dox ignored Salu’s attempt at humor. “Your bio-hazard suit should withstand the radiation for another ten minutes. Get the genetic bomb in place and get out.”

“Salu out.”

The genetic bomb was a device Dox engineered to stabilize the stranger’s cellular structure. If he could “teach” the young man’s cells to draw from the radiation as a power source rather than wilt before its power, he may have a chance at a quality life.

“Dox, I’m having some trouble in here!” said Salu. She sounded frantic.

“What’s happening, Salu?”

“Antibodies are attacking the nanites! The radiation levels are increasing! I’m afraid the bio-hazard suit won’t last ten minutes,” Salu replied.

“Hold tight! The nanites will alter their programming. Keep a watch on the radiation levels though. If they go over 100 rads I want you out of there stat!”

“Will do!”

The next few minutes were agonizing but at last Salu emerged from a pore on the young man’s skin and grew quickly to her normal size.

“How did it go?” Dox asked.

“I’m not sure,” Salu replied, “But I think everything went according to plan.”

“We’ll know in the next few hours,” Dox replied.

Earth - Legion Gravity Shuttle

Brin Londo wanted another shot at Mordru. He tried his best to listen to Jan Arrah, the Legion’s Deputy Leader but all he could think of was how easily the sorcerer dismissed them earlier. And now the reports on the holovids showed Mordru’s kingdom supplanting thirty-first century civilization at an alarming rate. Centuries of advancement on Earth’s Indian subcontinent was being undone by the whims of one being.

Earth was much different than his home planet Zuun. One could travel for miles over the Zuunian terrascape without encountering as much as a village. Only the Dregs lived out in the Expanse, the wild untamed lands that stretched for thousands of miles between the great city-states. At least that’s what Brin was taught until he found himself living there. He would often go for weeks at a time without contact with another living being.

Even the Zuunian cities were nothing like the great cities of Earth. The planet was stripped of most its natural resources in one of three Great Zuunium Rushes, the rare energy metal used to power several classes of space cruiser. Zuuniun cities were isolated, fortified city-states who were often as not at war with one another over claims to its remaining resources.

Brin’s father and mother divorced years before when his father became a proponent of aggressive ecological policies to fuel the development of artificial life forms who could work the barren Expanse at little or no cost. His mother was a social activist who stood against her influential husband on the grounds that the policies were an ecological nightmare waiting to happen and against the unethical abuse of artificial life. Following a bitter divorce she was cast out to wander the Expanse among the Dregs.

When the Khunds came to control Zuun’s rich mineral deposits, Brin’s father exposed him to the same Zuunium ray that powered the androids he was creating to work the Expanse. The manipulation of Brin’s cellular structure enabled him to survive in the wild and because the experiments left Brin disoriented and in a rage, Mar Londo claimed his son was a renegade AI and had him cast to the Dregs. By the time Brin attempted to return home it was under siege by the Khunds.

Mordru was much like the Khunds who swept over Zuun. He would stop at nothing to subject others to his rule. In him Brin saw every Khund who violated his world. One day he would return home to liberate Zuun, but today it was Earth’s turn.

“Can we use lethal force?” Brin asked.

“According to the Legion Constitution? No,” Jan answered. “My personal feelings on the matter are that death is just another change, but as Deputy I defer to the bylaws I’m sworn to uphold.”

“We’re coming up on New Delhi, Legionnaires,” said Rokk. “I’m cloaking the shuttle. Prepare to depart.”

“Veilmist take us in over the palace,” said Jan.

Veilmist complied and teleported the group in position above Mordru’s palace.

“Any readings on Mordru?” Jan asked.

“Not on Mordru per se,” Lu answered while checking a enviroscan. “But there is a tremendous source of power eleven kilometers southwest of our coordinates.”

“That would be our man,” said Jan. “Let’s go Legion.”

 

Jan transmuted the wall of the palace and opened a gaping hole in its southwestern face. Brin was the first one through. He was the closest thing to invulnerable the Legion had. The team struck paydirt. Mordru was seated on a throne at the end of a vast chamber.

“So your Legion pays me another visit?” Mordru asked. “Splendid! And it looks like you brought along more playmates this time!”

Despite not being in charge Rokk took the point. “This is a United Planets world, Mordru. You will leave our space at once!”

Mordru answered with a wicked grin. “Poor naive child! You will learn that Mordru does as he pleases. Now bow before your master once more!”

Brin watched as Rokk’s knees buckled. Again Brin felt compelled to fall to his knees before the sorcerer too, but no man was meant to bow to another in such humiliating homage. Brin fought against the urge with all his strength. Even as his teammates’ knees hit the ground he summoned all his will and strength and refused to fall.

“You fight your destiny, boy? Such foolish bravery will serve you well. I will give you the honor of being the last of your group to die,” said Mordru.

Brin dropped to one knee. He refused to allow the other to touch the ground.

“Not on this day,” said Imra Ardeen. “No one dies.”

Imra closed her eyes.

Brin could feel the waning of the magic pushing him to the ground. Finally he was able to break free of its grip and hurled himself at the sorcerer. Snarling like a wild animal, he grabbed Mordru by the neck.

It appeared even Mordru was surprised by Brin’s ferocity.

The advantage didn’t last long but it allowed Imra access to Mordru’s mind and she was able to sever the link between him and his arcane energies long enough to free her teammates.

Mordru shot Brin across the throne room in retaliation. “You dare lay a hand on Mordru a second time?”

Brin prepared himself to roll with the impact but before he hit the wall he was slowed and came to rest on the ground.

Thom used his gravity powers to slow his teammate’s fall.

“Thanks, Thom,” said Brin.

The Legion wasted no time mounting an assault. Mordru was hit with everything from transmutation to the common cold. Even the heroes whose powers weren’t useful against Mordru were able to provide support for those who could hit him. He was not easily beaten though.

Mordru shot up in size and continued to grow until he burst through the palace roof. In the place of a seven foot sorcerer now stood a sixty foot giant. He laughed with glee as he crashed his fist into the throne room.

The Legion scampered away from the impact of Mordru’s fist. Brin swept one of Luornu’s bodies out of the way.

Soon the palace was filled with the same stinging worm creatures that attacked before. This time they were encased in floating bubbles.

“We need a plan,” said Rokk.

“Imra. Rokk. Drura. Thom. You’re with me,” said Jan. “Everyone else keep these things away from us.”

Brin wasn’t sure how useful he could be against Mordru, but felt very confident fighting Mordru’s drones. “They have stingers on the ends of their tails. Don’t let them touch you with them.”

He was surprised Luornu handled herself so well. She seemed so delicate, but was an excellent hand-to-hand combatant. He wasn’t sure what the vicious fighting style she employed was called, but it was certainly effective. The Durlan, Reep Daggle, confused the worms with his shapeshifting ability. He mimicked their form to get close to them and then attacked. Tinya Wazzo avoided their stingers by switching to her phantom form and solidifying only the parts of her body she used to fight with. Lyle Norg used his invisibility to sneak up on them. Jenni’s super speed allowed her to take out many in the time Brin blinked. The Legion was gaining the advantage.

The Legionnaires’ imminent victory was short-lived. Mordru’s grotesqueries were soon joined by his army and the Legion had its hands full. But the attack squad was efficient at their job. They kept Mordru’s minions away from those whose powers were more suited at handling the sorcerer himself.

“So the five of you stand against the rightful ruler of the universe?” Mordru mocked. “Such pitiful odds. For you.”

“We’ll take our chances,” said Rokk.

“Arrogant whelp!” said Mordru. “This age of technology makes you insolent and secure! But it also makes you naive! Five children against the power of a god?”

Imra didn’t wait to hear more. She attacked Mordru with a mental blast that knocked the sorcerer to his knees. Thom was next. He enclosed the fallen sorcerer’s head in antigravity, pinning him to the ground. At his size it was child’s play for Rokk to latch onto the metallic minerals in the sorcerer’s body. Jan busied himself with converting the air around Mordru into inertron. With the sorcerer unable to move, he was able to refine the impregnable metal more than the last time. Meanwhile Drura bombarded him with all manner of exotic disease.

“I command you to release me now!” said Mordru “And I will make your deaths swift.”

“Big talk for someone wrapped up in an inertron cocoon,” said Rokk.

“Talk? You think Mordru the Merciless is nothing but talk?”

Again Mordru broke free of the Legion’s powers and stood once more. “We end this now!”

Brin wasn’t sure what happened but he found himself hanging upside down from a hover pod like a bat in a cave. His Legion teammates hung beside him. No matter how hard he struggled against his bonds they wouldn’t budge.

“So the first of you awaken?” Mordru taunted. Brin couldn’t see the sorcerer but he sounded close.

“I wouldn’t waste my energy if I were you. Your bonds are sealed by my own magic and thus unbreakable."

Mordru was right. The magic holding the Legion was immensely powerful and maybe even unbreakable, but that wasn’t the team’s only chance. He swung his body from side to side, hoping to slam into the Legionnaire to his left - Imra Ardeen. Perhaps if she was awake they could signal for help.

“Trying to rouse the telepath?” Mordru asked. “A commendable plan, but fruitless. She is bound with a telepathic dampener. She cannot awaken until I will it. One of the advantages of being a Lord of Chaos is that I can disperse my minions throughout the universe to gather information on my foes. This girl from Saturn’s moon Titan is a formidable telepath, but of no help to you now.”

“What do you want?” Brin asked.

Mordru’s laughter filled the chambers then Brin saw him approaching. The sorcerer grabbed Brin’s hair and pulled him up to his face. His eyes burned with fire as he locked his gaze upon Brin. “Everything!”

“We’ll stop you,” Brin replied.

Again Mordru laughed. “My legions are scouring this galaxy and feeding me information about all I’ve missed these centuries. My knowledge of this age increases by the second.”

“We have our Legion too,” Brin shot back.

Mordru backhanded Brin hard across the face. “Yes, your pathetic Legion will learn the wrath of Mordru is far more terrifying than a few pathetic Khunds. Even now Khundia falls before my drones. Your Legion! A handful of idealistic yearlings unfit to even bow before me.”

“I’ll never bow before you of my own free will,” Brin argued.

Mordru released the magical bonds that held Brin’s ankles to the ceiling. He fell hard to the floor. “Get up so you may bow your knee!”

Brin wasted little time. He launched himself toward the sorcerer. Within moments a swift kick found the sorcerer’s head. Before the sorcerer could recover the savage young man once more ripped at the Dark Lord’s throat. “Release my teammates!”

It felt like a wave of energy pried Brin loose from Mordru’s throat and threw him across the chamber. He tumbled to the floor and rolled to prevent hurting himself further. Again he leaped, this time howling like a wild animal.

“You are an amazing physical specimen for a human, but my kingdom needs tending! When I am done this entire galaxy will be remade in my own image!” With nothing more than a flick of the mage’s wrist Brin found himself suspended from the ceiling once more.

This time he was bound so tightly he couldn’t move.

Medicus One

Garth Ranzz hurled a bolt of lightning at the grotesque worm in the floating bubble. Rond Vidar, Nura Nal, and Dr. Gym’ll huddled behind him, but were ready to protect their patient with their lives.

The bolt of lightning exploded against the worm’s pale yellow mystic bubble with no effect.

“You’re not harming my sister!” Garth yelled to the worms.

“I don’t believe they’re after your sister per se,” said Rond. “They seem more interested in you.”

“I concur,” Nura added. “They’re focusing their attention on you.”

“Fine with me,” Garth replied. “Get Ayla out of here.”

“Impossible!” Dr. Gym’ll huffed. “To remove her from the medistation now could prove fatal!”

Another searing bolt erupted from Garth’s hands. “Then I’ll end this now!”

Lightning danced over the worm’s orb, but fizzled into nothingness.

The main monitor flickered to life. Dox’s image filled the screen. “Garth we’ve got trouble! Big trouble!”

“It’s not exactly a Klordny Festival up here either,” Garth answered.

“I see you’ve met Mordru’s minions already,” said Dox. “They effect seems universal. They’re overrunning planets across the galaxy. Even some of the Khundian worlds are asking for help.”

“Jan’s team?” Garth asked.

“Presumed captured. We hope.”

“You hope?”

“As opposed to dead,” Dox replied.

“They’re not dead,” Garth answered. He hoped he was more assuring to everyone else than to himself.

“We’re in orbit around Medicus One,” said Dox. “Awaiting permission to dock.”

Dr. Gym’ll waved five of his arms in the air and used the other to point at Dox’s image. “Impossible! This is a medical facility not a war refuge! I will not authorize a landing.”

At that moment an alarm blared to life.

“Sprock!” Garth cursed. “What now?”

“That would be my doing,” Dox replied. “I hijacked Medicus One’s non-medical systems and authorized the docking myself.”

“I’ll see you behind bars, Coluan!” Gym’ll shouted.

Garth turned to the spry, little being. “Please, Dr. Gym’ll. This is an emergency.”

“I knew allowing a Legionnaire aboard would be trouble,” Gym’ll replied, but he seemed resigned to the fate of the situation. He turned back to Ayla Ranzz and continued working on her.

Garth continued his assault on Mordru’s drones. One of the drone-worms dropped its protective field. It fell to the floor with a squishy thud and raised up like a striking cobra. It bared two rows of razor-sharp teeth and lunged at Garth.

Garth barely evaded its attack and quickly took advantage of its lack of defense. He fried it. “Now we’re getting somewhere!”

“Garth, behind you!” Nura cried.

Garth whipped around in time to see more drone-worms breach Medicus One’s hull. They floated ominously before dropping their protection. This time they spread out and went for everyone.

“Keep them away from the patient!” Gym’ll ordered.

Garth managed to drop some of them by hurling enough electricity at them to power the North American continent for a month. Still the others crept slowly toward them.

Dr. Gym’ll hopped up front with Garth. The doctor was hardly imposing, but Garth admired his tenacity in defending his patients. For the first time since he’d arrived on Medicus One, he knew his sister was in good hands. If Dr. Gym’ll trusted Rond Vidar and Nura Nal with Ayla’s recovery then he could too.

More and more drones phased through the hull. Most dropped their mystical shields. A few however remained protected. It was one such drone that Dr. Gym’ll attempted to block access from Ayla.

A large stinger emerged from the worm’s tail and hooked toward the doctor. It impaled him before Garth could even raise a hand.

“Dr. Gym’ll!” Nura shouted. She started toward the fallen doctor who struggled with the stinger through his body, but fell to the floor like a dead woman herself. She appeared to suffer a massive seizure.

Garth wasn’t sure what was wrong with her, but he knew he couldn’t let it end this way. The doctor’s part was to do his best to heal Ayla and to protect her from danger. He performed his duty admirably. Now it was Garth’s turn to do his job.

Rond rushed to Nura’s side and tried to drag her from the path of harm. “Not now, Nura! Your timing stinks!”

Garth wasn’t sure what Rond’s comment meant, but he kept fighting. He fought admirably, despite the advancing army of Mordru’s minions. But it wasn’t enough. They closed in on him and those he protected. He had failed. Only one option remained. He gritted his teeth and swore he’d take out as many of them as he could before dying.


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