Thursday, November 26, 2009
AS INSPIRED BY THE david anthony kraft ERA (1976-1978)
OF Marvel's 1970s magazine THE DEFENDERS
OR: A wonderful alternative to publishing DEFENDERS #76,
or a concurrent mini-series over the summer of 1979.
A green dune buggy roars down highway five in the Southern California afternoon, spilling sand from its beachside trek. Its occupants: a firecracker Bay Area girl in red tresses, with a hint of jasmine and seawater, hanging out in her home state, showing the palm-tree studded sites within the shade of coastal mountains, to her blonde, half-smiling Norse friend, every inch the Valkyrie, melting just a bit in the easy going company, the newly clothes, the silver Marc Antonio high heels she took off to feel Ocean Beach, pulled up to the seat.
“Patsy, do you think we are abiding the speed limit?”
“Oh, sure, Val! Whoo-hooo!”
“I only ask because a speeding ticket would cramp your style.”
“Yeah! They hate it when I don’t have a license!”
Patsy Walker shares a common secret with her friend: another name, another life. Every since the day a housewife drop out made a deal for a prowess enhancing costume, she plays the adventurer, Hellcat.
The name suits the lady.
Her friend smiles despite herself.
“Not nearly as comforting as riding my winged Aragorn, but a rush...” she thinks.
“Ready to go off road? Pumpin’ some Sublime, catching a wheel in the desert---you can say you partied down, Val, in the style of So Cal!”
“Warrior maidens did not go for spin-outs in Asgard.”
“Couldn’t be heaven without a way to fly! But does your tummy tickle in the realms celestial? Like it will when we catch air off this dune? Owww!!!!”
“It’s a little (uh) like training a pegasus, I guess.”
“Woo-hoo! Mom used to bring me down to Malibu to model, and I’d beg her to let me see the ocean. As soon as I could, I started sneaking down the coast for the weekend! Charm schools never teach ladies a spin out like THiS! “
VRROOM! rrrUNunanunnanunna Vrooooom! SWahhsshh!
“Woooo! Hech-keff! Having fun
“Just remember I’m a good deal more indestructible than you, Patsy!”
“Hahah! I thought those guys were going to strain their necks watching you at the beach. Golly, everybody!”
“How is it again you say this is a good thing?”
“Look, Val---you are almost six feet tall, blond hair, powerful from the inside out, shapely as a statue---you are going to get looks. I get my share, too, and I tell you why that’s okay. They’re giving (
“Sometimes I find the leers less than flattering!”
“Yeah, but look! At least you don’t threaten to run them through with Dragonfang so much anymore! Take what they offer for yourself, asking nothing, and taking nothing you don’t want. I don’t feel like an object, really. It’s just beauty, and I play my part in its appreciation! They are connecting with something, and I have my own understanding of that something---and I let it serve one, big bad purpose...”
“To make you happy.”
“Yeah, you know it! Gimme a hug, girlfriend! You’re gonna figure out this crazy world yet.”
“I will always be an outsider, I think. The Defenders give us a common cause, even if we are not a team... but it seems to have given me something I’ve not felt since my exile from Asgard...”
“Aww! Oh, that’s my phone! Hillie, baby, que onda?”
A young man is depicted with short brown hair and piercing but jovial eyes, holding a cell phone.
“Nada mucho, Hellcat! I can’t believe you’re really out here!”
“When you saw me on Dollar Bill’s home page and added me as a friend, you didn’t know what you were starting, huh? Hah!”
“All set to meet me at Castles in the Sand Bar and Grill?”
“Sure! Say ‘hi’ to Val, Hillie!”
“Uh...hello! Cool! How are you?”
“I know the feeling! So Patsy, am I going to meet all you Defenders?”
“Easier said that done, kemo sabe! There’s no membership set in stone, it’s really just whoever can show up when there’s trouble. So if you’re around when That happens, hang onto to your director’s chair!”
“I’m the master of no-budget cinema---I’m sure I’d find some way!”
“If you meet our pal Kyle, though, let’s just say he had a reality tv-type disaster, last time our pal D- Bill shot a documentary...everyone this side of Captain Ultra stampeded his Riding Academy for a membership drive...so you might not wanna, you know, bring up the idea...”
“Oh! Hahah, if I can just have a drink or two with you ladies in peace, that would make my month! All I do is edit these days!”
“Well, all work and no play, man...”
“Right! Think you’ll be there around 7?”
“IF we can keep the beach bums from turning our heads, we should arrive in good form! When you hear the royal flourish, roll out the red carpet, okay?”
“You bet, Patsy! Later!”
A woman, standing cloaked, looks up as though from the midst of a great fissure opening so far beneath the earth the sky is but a sparkling crevice.
I cannot identify my location, but only trust my intentions, from when I did knowingly cast my last spell on Earth, to send with the Slave Box we banished the one quality it could never contain: hope! Where, then, is my love, Nicola? I feel you all around me! That is only an answer of sort to one critical piece.
Where, Solskin, my brother? You sealed the Slave Box from Man, but I sense a gulf, like a thousand circles’ journey in every way beside the sun! We are as near as dreams to that world long after we did walk, though fell we there into the mountain’s maw only moments before...if I am near again to the Earth, then, too, my lost brother, what of the temptations and powers within the Slay Box? If already we have given three lives to rid our world of its influence, would that I had but one more with which to strive, with a conceptual force which humanity has never understood...lurking, connecting, drawing once more the power mad pawns and monsters.
“World, where are you in time? No moment for surrenders!
Earth, I cry to end this crime:
Who Call You Now, Defenders?”
“Ripped Open Dreams”
written by Lue Lyron
Featuring art by Lue Lyron, with Marc Kane
Hellcat, the Valkyrie, Doctor Banner, Kyle Richmond, and Machine Man are all trademarks of Marvel Comics. Gnomlins appear courtesy of Danny Johansson, from his upcoming domain, SEMIECARDIA, copyright 2009 Dark Poet Trees; Remus Sharptooth and Corpse Flower created by Cody Guinon and Lue Disharoon, copyright 2009 Cody Guinon; all other characters and photographs copyright 2009 Integr8d Soul Productions. Edited, produced by C. Lue Disharoon
A man and woman sit, eyes closed, hands clapsed, middle of the woods. He appears dressed in silks and a cloak and hide boots like a Viking; the woman is dressed in a smart variation on the flapper skirt with a playful yellow and orchid pattern, and bangles, suggesting the Roaring Twenties. A supernal darkness seems to imbue every living thing with an eerie luminescence, as the Viking snaps his eyes open and says...“I could hear her...she senses me, but she sees me not...”
His face is filled with a mournful sadness, but the grief washes away before Emma Johansson’s eyes, as he looks earnestly into them. “She senses this world is where the peril of Slay Box has fallen. She believes, if we could only locate her brother...did you see?”
“I believe I can sense who we are looking for,” she replies. “The energies of the spell, similar to those of you, its one survivor...”
“And I, but a shade at that! Your mercy provides me my one hope, that we see this banishing through...” He reaches out to brush her cheek. “I do not know why you have been called to summon me to consciousness, Emma Johansson. All I can promise you is a glimpse at madness, and magical dangers that provide such dangers as my thousand year leap from one side of time’s channel, to another!”
“It doesn’t matter if I understand,” she replies. “All I can do is promise to help you find your partner...and pray that together you can summon the power to subvert this otherly intelligence that precedes you from the Dark Ages.”
“And pray, also,” she thinks, “ I do not foolishly lose my heart by your side, for you love another...”
Deep in the woods, outside San Diego County, California:
A National Guard soldier and a Canadian Royal Mountie are situated around a fallen tree. As night descends, the Mountie has switched on his flash light.
M: And now, to liven up our mixed unit guest wild fire patrol for the golden state of California---
Pvt. Holt: Beats sitting in my tank, tho...
Mountie Dave raises his voice and places his hand beside its glow, to effect a primitive puppet.
performing live for American and Canadian audiences...Joyous!
Holt: You sound like Mickey Mouse, dude! Okay, I’m game. What...eees...the strategy! For the Hobgoblin volley ball team, in the second half?
“Joyous”: well, they really need to bomb them in the back court!
Holt: What! Eeees...the plan to use gliding?
“Joyous”: Here is Hobgoblins Captain: we are going to see sparks fly! The gliders are our best defense against their spikes! We’ll have them climbing the walls!” Thank you, Hobgoblin Captain!
Holt: Joyous, What! eees .....(dismayed) what the---focus THAT?!?
The Trome(a misshapen being, not a meter tall, with massive hands, approaches on hairy feet and spiked bracelets, its inhuman face obscured by a miner’s helmet-style flashlight on his head): Hob? Narr? Sniffer? Anomaly? You Gnomlins need to get back to the ...Hutch...! (voice trails off, subdued by sight of humans)
Pvt. Holt: Dave, it’s...it’s a gnome...
Mountie Dave Blancley: Or a troll...
Both: It’s a Trome...
Pvt. Holt: And it’s running away...
Mountie Blancley: That’s okay with you, Sgt. Holt?
Pvt. Holt: Okay by me, Mountie Blancley. What if it starts a fire?
Mountie Blancley: Sure, then you report it---here.
*yes, he calls him Sargent, like Sgt. Rock, it’s their joke---don’t bother me. Editor
Holt: Let’s just be cool, finish up the patrol...
Blancley: How do you go about calling this in?
From the dusk, two orbs, red-laced with yellow, glow fiercely from the countenance of a human face, resolved by its inner light. The machine man steps forward...
Machine Man: I’m not trying to be a smart ass...
The soldier and the Mountie look stupified.
Machine Man: But have you seen anything weird come this way?
Listen...if you want to open fire, when it comes to soldiers and me, that’s about par for the course.
Holt: ...depends...is it necessary?
Machine Man: Huh! Not for me.
Blancley: Oh. Then we’re good.
Holt: I do reserve the right, though...if that’s cool. And I do have a tank.
Machine Man: Look, there is an escalating upsurge in energy levels about 475 yards north, as well as minor seismic activity, for which you may need the National Guard, the Mounties, the Geological Society, and maybe every Marine at Camp Pendleton. But I’m going to check it out and hopefully there will be nothing but souvenirs when your brass gets there. Say...what is a Mountie doing in the California woods with a National Guardsman?
Holt: Being grilled by a really nosy robot? Did I say that out loud?
Machine Man: Ah...fire rescue & recovery project--- online feed. Well, if you were killing boredom, I sincerely hope you will have lots more; I don’t know WHAT these guys are or what they are up to...and I sense you are about as reluctant to get involved as I WANT to be...I am sending a distress signal to bring the rest of the local constabulary to the perimeter...and I hope the rest of my dealings with the military will be as courteous as these, gentlemen.
Blancley: Okay. Now, you know when we say we were grilled by a really nosy robot, all bets are off.
Machine Man: Well...”just remember only You can prevent forest fires.”
heard in background, as Patsy's social network gives her a quick spill..
“What the heck?” says Patsy, with some disgust. “This is my friend’s girlfriend, I think. ’Please be good to him, I hope you can make him happy?’ Is this a joke?!?”
“She thinks you are together?”
“All we do is chat about his projects and my...well, whatever you call what I get up to! We’ve never even met face to face before tonight! I think it’s because he put me up as his Special Someone on the Avatar Alternalife thing! “ Brrmbumbumbum....
“It plainly says I’m his dern friend!!! I’m like, 17 people’s Special Someone, from Play Granny to Faerie to Play Daughter to Twin---I just make friends like ants make hills. I just listened, helped him with whatever he was going through. I offered to be her friend, too. Just ticks me off (click) ‘cause she could do the same thing but all she hits him up for is...oh!” ba-doomp.
“This is the place Val!”
“Castles Made of Sand Bar and Grill.”
“Yeah! Kicky name, huh? Let me get this tweet before we go...oh, cool! Kyle says
that friend of his from Sri Lanka---the refugee housing consultation he took when he visited there?---he’s like practically around the corner, staying at the brownstone we passed coming in, and could he walk over and crash our party?”
“Righteous. Okay, now we gotta find my friend Hillie...”
“Feels like everyone is looking at you like they know you.” “Ah- heh! Maybe I just...look like a lotta people’s friends? Hopefully not one that owes them money! Did I tell you about that?”
“He’s the one waving?”
“OH, totally! Hillie! C’mere, boy!”
“Hey, Patsy! You smell like the ocean! And honeysuckles!”
“Yeah, I kinda ran into a bush earlier.”
“Hillie, this is my buddy Val.”
“Wow! You’re striking.”
Hellcat nudges Val, and leans over smiling to say, “Lucky for you, not literally!
Val blushes. “Ahem...perhaps I can get someone to clear us a table?”
“Sounds good!” “Yeah...I didn’t know how many our party would be.”
(Hellcat inaudibly leaned over to Hillie, while Val walks up to the hostess to say,
“We’ll be four, please.”)
Hillie: Oh! I’m disappointed. I’m sorry, Patsy...I’ve really been pouring everything into the success of my projects, my web-commercials, finishing things I’ve worked on in some cases for years...the thing that bothered her in the end was that I am so married to my work at this point, then you popped up in my documentary work.
Shayde’s a talented actress, I’d be happy to shoot something new for her...first, I thought I might cross the line taking from real life and making people uncomfortable...but I kept believing I could make my ideas relevant, fed with the concentrated moment!
A sad young man, his spirit so low he nearly disappears before the eye, so low is his sense of self. (Looks down into beer glass quietly) I’m not one to shed a tear in his beer, like the Hanks sang...I thought she’d lost interest, in things that take every available minute or they feel like they’ll just stop moving forward...if that happens, I feel like it’s, you know? Going to explode inside me! Normal people live lives of quiet desperation...
Patsy: Golly, a little sprinkle of normal’s like an occasional bowl of chocolate ice cream! But I understand, finding your own vision for yourself, and living it through.
Hostess: The dishwasher’s coming out now; here you go...it’ll be juuust a minute...
Val: That busser is terribly familiar...
Hostess: David just started here two weeks ago...kinda gentle, contained dude.
Val walks back over to Hilly and Patsy, as she gives him an auntie type hug at the bar.
Val: Pardon me...Patsy, do you recognize the fellow clearing our table for us?
Patsy: Waitaminute...’scuse me, Hill, this guy looks just like a dear bud of ours...
Val: you seem to have caught the attention of this fellow approaching by mistake...
The gentleman in question, about Patsy’s height, with Indian features and contemporary clothing and aura, walks up to shake the hand of Patsy walker.
“Ah, hello, you might be a friend of a friend I’m looking for...”
“Oh! Oh, yeah, hey man! “ she replies, quickly giving him a full on embrace. “Uh, you’re Bali, from around the corner, Kyle’s friend?”
“Yeah!” he replies, shaking his head vigorously with surprised, benevolently bugging eyes.
“That’s Val and Hillie, my friends,” she says, pointing. “Sorry, I’m trying to get a look at this fellow here before he ducks back into the kitchen! Be right with ya, good to meet ya, ho-ho-hold on!”
Bali turns towards Hillie and Val, unable to suppress a glee that escapes as a private giggle.
Suddenly, a voice booms drunkenly out of the booth next to the busy busser:
“A toast! A toast, then, to the children who cannot smile today. Never forget’em. I want them to LIVE through me...I wanna remember them. I want ER’y One to remember ‘em...!”
Startled, Hellcat turns in the same direction as the glances of the entire section of the dining room.
From the booth, a distraught, angry, sad young man has bellowed his toast, while across the table from him, a sturdy hand comes across to touch his arms. His companion, with steely eyes and a friendly smile, turns quickly to Patsy, in whom he sees sympathy. “Well, we two must have the reddest hair in this whole place, do we not?!?” he offers cheerfully, in an Oklahoma accent.
Patsy plays off his nonchalance, while the brooding fellow takes a deep sigh. “That we do, that we do! So how are you doing there, Oakie?”
“Oh! My accent’s telling on me!” he laughs. “Where I’m from? They would say I don’t have one!”
“You do out here, my fellow carrot TOP!”
“We have a big space here if you and your friends would care to share?” Oakie says.
By now, Hillie’s watching Val move up behind Patsy, as Bali’s eyes follow Val wistfully with intimations of Love at First Sight.
The busser breathes in a cleansing fashion, as he lifts the tub full of used dinner ware to his chest, then cocks his hat back and swiftly heads back towards the kitchen entrance beside the bar back door. But he shoots a smile back towards Patsy Walker, who recognizes her friend Doctor Banner, relieved by the return to early evening din and classic rock.
“Hillie, would you put some John Denver on the juke box? It’s for a friend of mine,” Patsy says, as she passes a dollar to her friend. “We’ve got a pretty big party, Oakie, with more to come...but you Are hogging one of the bigger booths, you know...”
“Oh, I DO know!” says the Oakie. “Room for everyone, ain’t that right, Teddy Bear?”
“Sure,” he replies quietly, calmed now by the energy supporting him.
And so, we leave Bali sliding in across from Val so he can watch her talk, as she sits beside Teddy and Patsy pulls up a chair for herself to sit on the end and leave the booth open for Hillie to sit down next to Oakie...to fly as the crow flies, into the woods just out of reach of the revels of the Castles Made of Sand Bar...
Emma Johansson, surrounded by a glow, now sports a distinctly 20’s hat with flat feather-type triangles of fabric poised in green above her dark bob hair cut, as she gathers the edges of her faded orange trench coat to step barefoot across a patch of dried grass beside a breeze blown hickory sapling.
I reach out with my perceptions, and make my walk my meditation...I put aside my feelings---how can one love a spirit? No, how does one Fall in such love? His feelings, his heart’s stirrings---they are the empathic thread that pulls at me, weaving me deeper into the woods before the sun prepares its setting...
She touches her brow.
Such an array of impressions from nature...but in the middle is this anomaly...
Emma cups her hands to her mouth like a megaphone.
“Oh, Ann-Omm-aLeeeee! Come out, come out, wherever you...are!”
Emma looks pleased with herself.
“Hah! If only it’s that simple...”
So she continues stepping over a branch stealthily and weaving beneath a mimosa bloom along a dirt path into the darkening twilight...
...unaware that there is ONE who has answered her call, after all...
“You...want’ed meee? “
Foreshadowed, forlorn, is a sad-eyed, yellowish-green humanoid cross between a goblin and a gnome, with some form of human clothing---coveralls---standing over a yard. There is a smile, though.
“Some one...or some thing...wanted ....me.”
By now, distracted, ahead...EMMA:
There’s more than one presence, but what they think with just barely passes for minds, or maybe
It’s just a cross-species thing---I’m 25, I have discovered I do not know Everything, but I will probably realize Everything in time nonetheless. Shut y’self up, now, what’s this? The other stuff seems like...alien bodies...but This! It’s a mind, and a human one, at that, if I’m reading it right...but where’s the body? I don’t sense a flesh and blood brain! What kind of creation of the future are you, my friend? I think perhaps I will bring up the rear of this strange little party...and hope that Nicola will find whatever he’s looking for in the dangers of the forest of which I can but guess.
Even in this darkest of veils, I have a light, provided me by my unseen love. I draw closer now to the world that needs my aid, and should we now find Solskin...
Curious. I sense the mind of a defender such as we Dragon’s Line might need...yet puzzling almost as much over some communication with a woman as the mystery of the aliens before him! I see his turmoil: he thinks, but not in the body of a man. He is an idol come to life; the spells and plans and directions of his making expand my mind into a world changed much from the lifetime that seems only a few hazy steps ago...His thoughts are carried over huge lore of information, moved by people the world over with other machines, yet no machine so alive as he!
Clearly, curious...I observe what I now may, for Knowledge is my only ally, and Time, I know not what side on which you shall draw your line in the sand...
The waves! They emanate, ripple through the valley of humankind, heralding the dreams locked within, ideas dismissed in a cold, damp devotion to the only life they know...
...but soon, the choice to ignore their dreams ripped open will be theirs...no longer.
Brother! In my heart, ever I knew where you could be found, and always, near enough that we might save one another, and many soldiers’ steps did I, sister secretly to all but you and the prince my darling, take into the unknown corridors of the mind and straights of the sea. I plunge my hand into misunderstanding once again, and...
No! Now sense I three other defenders, but I become quickly as torn by these emotional currents as they!
The people gathered here are privy to one anothers’ ghosts’ returned, paranoia--- given surface, and the elation at discovering themselves suddenly beneath one the other’s skin collides now with the subconscious, suppressed visions, absorbed helplessly by each and every patron!
This man, dropped to his knees before the shambles of his dish pan: in him, I sense, dwells a raging spirit.
And now, too terrified to articulate, a mob begins to see the aura of death about the Valkyrie, a true one such as never have I seen so in the flesh! I sense that is what she must be, for there is a special connection to the world beyond that is hers, that has not yet become understanding to these victims of highly advanced magic!
And this last one, her best friend: she must act quickly, or someone will be hurt!
She thinks about the pain in the head of this one here, this man...she has been gifted with powers of extra-perception, in the past, and now, if only she could... short-circuit the crowd (these strange new ideas).
I will help you, beautiful one, with latent potential energies ambient to those who would support you: you open your limited abilities, now, and connect with the chronic pain in your new friend’s head...
And we will..”broadcast pain live”...so much more than they are used to! Their consciousness---snuffed like a candle upon a boat prow in open seas...those awake still, crippled, dazed by the blow this man endures within his own skull! Perhaps I can devote a touch to healing him; these common people, as the prince said, are the true fountainhead of heroic deeds, truly less selfish than those heroes frozen in deeds of another time, who have given already their all for the life in which they return to us.
(and on the floor of the Castles establishment)
Oakie: My ...my damn headache knocked everybody for a loop! It’s...
Patsy: Are you all right???
Oakie: Heh! That’s one time... it was good for something...like...however we were all, er,...
mixing up with each other’s private perceptions, I guess ...my chronic pains were the ingredient that burned out the blender!
Patsy: Sounds right to me. Listen, I dunno what’s going on, and I don’t like that one bit. Call this cell phone number---okay? I might need to call and ask what’s going on, or tell what I find---in which case we might need someone persuasive enough to initiate a sanctioned evacuation of the area, if there’s anywhere to run.
Bali: Ouch! You could very well be talking about me...
Patsy; great! Uh, Hillie, looks like you get to tell your ex-girlfriend a) don’t try to blame me for her ignorance of you, and b) you got to see me change outfits!
Hillie: Uh...oh well:-)
Val: Now Doctor strange would be a great assistance.
Patsy: Texted him automatically! But I think he’s on some occult history of America tour---in real American History! I’d hate to see the bill for messaging to the year 1776!
Banner: I might as well be with you...whatever’s causing this, I have that feeling there’s nowhere to run, and I’ve kept control thus far with your “knockout” in there...I might be indispensible to
Patsy: Don’t have to sell me, Doc! Cop a squat, we’ll take Della Dune Buggy as far as she’ll go; she’s no specialized super-wagon, but skreeech!
she can off-road better than a Bat-Mobile! Vrrhrhhrrnnn!
Hillie: I know we will get killed probably, but is there anyone...?
Oakie: Way ahead of you, there, man! Ted, pull round the pick-up for four, would ya please?
Bali: It’s green, a dune buggy!
Teddy: Should be able to hear that sucker! Shot gun, me!
And not too far away, Hellcat’s dune buggy has run out of trail to pass, beginning a footrace...
Hellcat: It feels like another wave of mind-bending is just---pulsing there in the woods beyond, at the foot of the mountain!
Valkyrie: Better we Defenders face the peril, without submersion in the confusion of others.
Hellcat: It was wonderful and terrible at the same time---but it’s like throwing people who are afraid to swim in water with some who have just learned!
Valkyrie: Indeed! A’fear’d of creatures that may lurk in waters of others’ minds---the fear of being forced to share the head space of another without warning or remedy! That, I would spare any being---if I but knew where to begin!
Banner: You won’t be too startled then when I say: I think the beginning is shuffling our way!
Ann Alma Lee the Gnomlin steps forward, coming just above Valkyrie’s knee, with hands wide open.
Ann: People with you?
Hellcat: Uh, hello!
Valkyrie: Small one, why do you ask?
Ann: Be! (shakes head, then asserts:) BE people with you?
Hellcat: OH! Oh, Sure! (leans down, catching Valkyrie’s steely, watchful eye) What’s your name? What are you called?
Ann: Ann...A gnomlin...nom-ul-LEE?
Hellcat: Ann! Okay---Cat! Okay, Ann?
Ann: Oh, kay.
Hellcat: Ann, would you take us to your home?
Ann: Take people...to the Hutch! Awf, grof! Sneerdie, Sneerdie-woo!
Ahead in the encroaching starlight, at the Hutch, Machine Man settles into the brush, where with telescoping eyes he observes...
Machine Man( thinks) : Is this some kind of ball game? They’ve been building something in this location that, from my energy readings, probably hasn’t been cleared with the zoning commission, to say the least...
They’re using what I guess is their building tools to improvise a game! They’re not completely stupid...maybe grotesque by human standards. But who am I to assess?
Better slip into their little shanty garage and have a peak...If anything, I’m glad tracking these creatures has taken my mind off---I won’t even think her name---why do I think I can talk to human women online and ease them into the idea that they are chatting with a robot? Where is the window to That discussion? “Do u have webcam?” they ask. “Oh, I have one built inside me! I can probably come over and fix your drivers, girl, by having a nice cup of tea with your hardware!” Anonymous contact for fun, what could go wrong?
Blast! I’ve gotten too good at this human-style self-absorption! There’s something volatile brewing here, even if I haven’t figured out its purpose...and here comes the crew...
A voice booms from within the recesses of the Hutch...
Gnomlins! The time has come for the finishing touches! Why do you delay?
Narr, a jackass-looking Gnome/Goblin person of yellowish complexion tinged with green:
Hoopty-blarp! It’s gonna blow when it’s done building up, there’s little else we can do, Nyirogongo!
The voice: More coal to the steam portion of the chamber, Hob! The cosmic radiation filter needs polishing, too! Inexcusable! Where’s Sniffer?
Sniffer is a serpentine, lithe yellow creature smaller than Hob.
Behind him, Gnoll the Trome opens the back of a large exo-skeleton/ construction device.
Sniffer: I was just about to climb into the vent and see if that delicious sulfurous oxide has reached critical! But there seems to be a robot clogging it a bit.
Gnoll the Trome (in armor that makes him bigger than a person: steam-release valve on the shoulder, flaming furnace in the chest, a great waldo clamp hand on the right and something akin to a tig welder on the left arm): I didn’t lose any robots!!!
Nyirogongo(booming voice, from inside other room): That! Is the department of that...Anomaly!
Sniffer: Probably off making contact with the humans! Remember the “yard sale”?
Narr: You know, I am afraid this is going to blow sky-high...but I can’t wait for it to blow up! But I’m afraid!
Sniffer: Such a conflict happens to creatures of mixed nature, I imagine. It happens to gases, too!
Gnoll(in clunky armor, employing the grip of his helpful waldo): I’ve got it.
Machine Man: So what are doing with it? Maybe I could simply join in? How do I apply?
Gnoll: I’m not sure I understand, but can we please first take you apart?
Sniffer: Does he explode? He doesn’t smell like anything I know.
Narr: What if he explodes? Yay!
Sniffer: Careful! He might explode!
Narr: Oh, Nooo! Well, here’s the welder...
Machine Man: What is this place for? Quit attacking me, why don’t you?
Sniffer: Well, the point of it is to quit working and explode!
Gnoll (rolling forward on tread; a furnace belches smoke from the chest cavity): He’s got a flame, too! Hot enough to melt my armor!
Narr: How does he move? I wanna get under the Hood of this baby!!!
(Narr uses his arc welder on Machine Man’s head to little affect except to damage his face)
Machine Man( shrugging off Gnomlins, extending his hand towards the control panel on a tube telescoping from his wrist) : That does it! If this whole place is nothing but an elaborate bomb...!
Narr: He’s gonna explode!
Sniffer: Yay! I mean, NOOO!! It’s all going to explode any minute!
(The battle crashes noisily through to a previously concealed chamber, where the last gnomlin, their foreman, sits high atop a stool over looking all, before a type of patched-together megaphone.)
Nyirogongo (the tiniest Gnomlin, lizard-like, has lifted off his heels screaming):
I!! AM! ! GOING TO...EXPLODE!!! Blrbbllrrrb!
Narr: Anomaly! What are you doing with humans, you witzbold Gnomlin?
Hellcat and Valkyrie come in to the sight of Machine Man being smashed through the floor by Gnoll the Trome in his armor, which is being outfitted on the left arm with a cannon, of the field artillery type, cobbled together by the Gnomlins.
Hellcat: Cheese and crackers...is that the Machine Man that fought in Times Square? Val!
Trome quickly opens fire close to point blank on the Valkyrie, catching her square in the chest.
Gnoll: So! They laugh about the Trome, the only one of his kind! No Champion, no Philosopher---no couple to birth his race! And snigger when they whisper of how Gnoll came to be! But I shall be my own Champion! My own Philos—
Valkyrie stands up, looking very perturbed,
and hacks into the joint of his cannon and arm with Dragonfang, her sword, using a double handed over head cut.
...I will not abide the crisis of your existence at the harm of my own!
Behind all this, Doctor Banner has ducked into the guage register area, where he has fathomed:
Incredible, the way they jury-rigged this place to be one massive energy collector---from pressurized gases beneath the earth to siphoning pipelines---probably of the local energy companies! It’s mostly old-fashioned, by Earth standards---like some crack pot Thomas Edison built it! But there’s clearly no effort to extrude any of these energies...they build without relief! And not only are the extraction devices about to stop working...this entire place seems primed to---no!
But some two miles away...deeper into the recesses of the mountain...the spirit of Nicola holds the hand of Emma Johansson, as she tells him:
Emma: This is it, my ghostly prince...your empathy for your friend’s spirit has guided us to this cave.
Nicola: Now you must wait here a moment, my friend Emma...there is still something
uneasy, though I feel Solskin so strongly, our magicks are activating our inner selves...I am beginning to manifest as my partner Abril, who is Solskin’s sister...
Emma watches, amazed, as the Viking prince before her shifts form amidst a warm, egg-like glow; then there is a purple flame burning all around the figure, as it resolves into a smaller, robed figure---a woman, who pauses, and speaks.
Abril: A ward, then, for the quenching of my suspicious nature...
(thrusts her fingers in a gesticulation off to the side),
walks over and then touches Emma’s hands and says,
No matter what, thank you for everything.
Then she walks deep into the cave, saying this aloud:
The Box seems to be manifesting some further distraction a few leagues away...I nearly missed your manifestation, for it seems in spiritual eyes you reside in crystal, a strange suspension. Have you been alone, my brother? --- gathering strength to return here, when we could meet again to thwart the world’s perils? I have missed you so!
A figure emerges, and by purple torch light frame, appears to be the tall, lanky, reckless and brilliant brother she calls Solskin, seeming to wear a long coat colored by her glow.
Abril: You, who caught me from our dying mother, how could you not speak to me the day we disposed of Slave Box? You have never been so closed in such a time of peril...and such a spell, cast hurriedly when the ice cracked beneath us, risked Slave Box becoming trapped within our magical minds! Such I thought may have been what left you crystallized...
“Solskin”: Well, my sister, I smile, and tell you there will be a new openness...
Abril: By what magic did you manifest here?
“Solskin” (changing form, becoming lupine):
Questions, questions, sister.
Abril: By my heart!
Werewolf: By your heart, indeed! (produces a hatchet, which he plunges into Abril’s astral form)
And by this motion, it is your astral form that no longer moves upon the fifth dimension...
(the woman shatters into a bright white light)
So you are trapped by the wiles of Remus Sharptooth...who must pay homage to the power of
Sulinar Vix, my source for purloining this world! The waves reshape the consciousness of these people, diminishing their ability to distinguish one another’s minds!
From within cave shadows: and amidst this chaos we will emerge like gods! An actual wolf, but with malevolent eyes, flowing with yellow streams of ectoplasm, comes to his side.
Remus Sharptooth: A god, yes, my lovely Corpse Flower...but in a better world...once we’re done! For the energy of the explosion will be mystically harnessed now by the embryonic Fire Dragon, one of the five elements themselves!
And at the site...(Banner rushes out, to a waiting squadron of National Guard reservists, fronted by a fat-necked stocky man and Pvt. Steve Holt from earlier, nervously approaching the Gnomlin built-free standing garage of doom known as the Hutch.)
Banner: Get back!!! There’s about to be a terrible calamity!
Neberhart: Sgt. Neberhart of the Georgia National Guard! I advise you to stand down!
Banner: Please! People are going to die if y---(Neberhart cold cocks Banner with the butt of his rifle)
Neberhart: You have no authority here! We are going to conduct a proper investigation ...
Mountie Dave, who happens to be standing by with a couple of his Royal Mountie brethren:
Geez! Are you all right, guy?
Valkyrie (charges out of the Hutch, flashing her sword and grabbing Pvt. Holt says):
Run! Run, you fools!!!
Pvt. Holt: I—I love you.
Valkyrie heaves the soldier into the trees with graceful might---only to be spewed out of the Hutch in
a ball of flame herself a second later!
The Hutch falls to pieces...and the thing that arises, as the gusts of stinging heat shatter its cradle, is remnant of a promise, that may now be fulfilled---to literally change the face of Earth itself!
Next: The Four Armed Men! Nighthawk! Hulk! Doc Strange... and Corpse Flower’s terrible secret of a future star-searching people, oppressed by the same destructive forces that dwarf the Defenders! The conclusion of our blockbuster, with the offbeat title of the year:
“Remus Sharptooth Regrets...!”
Here's where the Defenders picks up:
hopefully, I will complete my adaptation substituting all original characters over the next month---but this was fun---C Lue