from an alternative world of our own...
Confronted with the emerald behemoth, still towering over the Mountie, the soldiers quickly alleviate the tension when asked: "Soldiers want to shoot Hulk? Soldiers always hound Hulk! The Mountie suggests: Far from it, big guy! My green friend, if you would be so kind as to direct your might towards helping us combat this conflagration!" Private Holt turns to him and says, "Dave, you're nervous." "I know, Steve," he replies. Corporal Dayly steps up and says, "Fire bad? Hulk help with fire?" "Why?" he snarls. Mountie Dave speaks: "the animals in the forest can't survive this wildfire without your help!" The Hulk nods and says, "Yes! Hulk help Bambi!"
Private Holt picks up the conversation, with a sweeping gesture of his arm: "Hulk knocks down trees before they burn! Keep fire from jumping onto trees!" Without another word, the gamma-spawned goliath busies himself with the closest trees directly behind the soldiers, relieved, who rush back to the company of their units.
Prince Nicola Dragonavayne:
(I continue integrating impressions, concepts come to aid the basis of my analytical facilities) Through Song’s power---song, keeping together the material of myself---an aperture appears, creating a heavenly border of transfiguration upon the mountain, emanating like a gate made of stars (superimposed?) with runes, within Ray as he stands vigilant. I am reminded for a second how our brother dear did deride us in the scornful morning after his sister and I were subsumed in magic love making with the priestess Wanda. Wanda had travelled with us as we escorted the exiled Christians from the village where we last set eyes upon the Temple of Inguz, slaying its intruders.
The feelings were too deep to quickly evaporate, and before we could talk, we were committed first to completing our doomed mission, the disposal of the Box before it fell into marauding hands. I wondered that dawn: by what chink in Ray’s armor, by what incivility in intimacy, did Slay Box inculcate its influence? We already understand the deranged manner of those who possessed the Box of Fafnir (as we also called it) We rejected superstitious folly, the skeptics who had seen objects of faith fall with their culture. We accelerated our efforts---there was danger from foes glimpsed, those unseen, and the ominous melting of the ice itself. Whatever fervent beliefs surrounded the object, we knew Nature would have its due course.
Before the break through…the shattered crystalline floor beneath our feet, the plummet into the dark.
Then, within the starry doorframe, I see a scene in the deeper past: Ray, much younger, frightened, worried by the immense occult forces threatening his …adolescent sister, Abril, upon the time of her initiation as the Marc Kane…
I touch the fury and confusion, as I peer into the deep recesses of his heart---for here, emotions and dreams reform the appearance of things, empathy becomes a tactile sense, much as we see through the eyes to a person, as they are fashioned from their source. He is that person inside, and he is like Death personified outside. He raises his weapon high, then brings forward a wicked arc; my face bashes the dirt beside its fall. A new instinct tells me to take the soil of the mountain and thrust it into his eyes, even as I deliver a kick inside his stride.
I make myself one with the earth, the energetic communication inside the planet; a future self pours knowledge, nearly to overwhelm my understanding like a vessel’s mouth, with knowledge of chemicals, names from the Greeks, forms of bonds on a level too fine for the naked eye.
I reach into the cycling rage, I channel it downward along with my sinking consciousness, through the bonding point at which we two shadow men are the same. And now I understand that primal combative streak, a response from nature to defend, to attain his needs and those of his offspring. Children, it seems, he could never have now with Wanda. I share with him, too, the awful moment when he believed his sister’s salvation would depend on her sexual initiation, a moment buried until he was led to discover the Marc, Wanda and I.
Never had we been driven apart by such things before, yet under the subtle curse of the box, Ray decided to speak no more…
Or are there no curses, no blessings, from beyond our understanding? It is one thing to touch the minds of brightened modern man; but the shadows of the heart also must open, unfold, received before the torch of the Marc Kane, whose power inside me illuminates my perceptions in this lucid dream made real.
I see the quest for knowledge, to ferret out facts of the mechanisms of the natural world, by which I best knew Ray; his most hard-bitten battle savagery was behind him when he came to the court of my father, the Dragonvayne chieftain, and became my royal scout to explore the kingdom, rather than lord over the territory someday in ignorance; for leaders ever squander what is not personally their own.
“Before it ends,” says the ebon golem of Awen of Argos, Ray’s eyes seeming mostly human, with granite pupils of blindness. “Before it ends, will…I know…what we’ve managed…to do?”
The Hulk has begun smashing a fire break, crushing trees on the edges of the enormous wall of flame threatening to cause another Southern California wildfire catastrophe.
Suddenly two of the Four Armed Men are upon him, punching and grappling with him, while another opens fire with a type of bazooka. While they attempt to subdue him, the conflagration builds, as the regrouping soldiers prepare to fight the blaze until reinforcements arrive; fortunately they have been equipped for fire-fighting exercises, as they have been training to augment the efforts of the fire fighters.
However, the soldiers start to suffer phantasms: Trans Rupture is coming.
Remus Sharptooth’s form is translucently merged with the form of Captain Ray Awen on the ghostly plane, which is like a darkened stage transfixed with one spotlight. He stands poised with his huge battle-axe above the seated, meditating form of Prince Nicola.
“With this strike,” he thinks, “I herald a better world; a more magical world; a world where the feelings of these creatures shall shine without obscurity, revealed to one another!” By the power of Sulinar Vix, he gathers the power to create an essence of time upon that plane, so that he might achieve a medium for action: the act of execution.
To the side, transfixed in a cage of green luminescence, the Marc Kane sits imprisoned, reaching out magically for aid. She summons a rune, shaped like this: < to her hand, and projects that rune, for opening, a symbol for torch light, which drifts up from the subconscious of the nearby Hellcat. She beckons Valkyrie to follow her towards a cave opening, Now the Valkyrie sees it, too: she declares the symbol’s meaning, and hastens forward, causing it to burn brighter in her mind’s eye. With her sword Dragon Fang, she cleaves out the side of the wall, pulverizing it with her might, and drops below into the throne room, where the wolf sorcerer awakens from his trance, startled. On the astral plane, Nicola’s awareness shifts; he begins to sense the mingled nature of the being who strikes, and rolls out of the way of the blow in the nick of time. Corpse Flower and Remus Sharptooth begin to physically combat Hellcat and Valkyrie.
Outside, the Hulk continues his fierce battle against the Four Armed Men. Meanwhile, Gnoll the Trome emerges at last from the smoldering hutch, forgotten; he decides to salvage his rickety yet formidable armor of scraps, bolts and bailing wire, complete with its furnace-driven engine, belching smoke from its chest. He sallies forth, prepared to win honor and glory as a knight of the new coming kingdom.
From the skies, the red-winged Defender known as Nighthawk arrives at last, punching one of the Four Armed Men that attacks the Hulk from the back.
He hails the Hulk and jests and cheers him on; Machine Man also comes onto the scene, extending a fist on a telescoping arm while blasting another foe with his flame-throwing other fist, and the route of the Four Armed Men is on. However, one of them leaps onto the hillside, scales quickly, and from his vantage point tackles Nighthawk, sending them both careening wildly.
Utilizing the essence of the viking captain to augment his skills, Remus skillfully parries the attacking Valkyrie. Remus tells her she is mad for trying to stop the change of the world; she replies that she does not understand his ends, but the manner in which they are accomplished---endangering innocent lives, imprisonment without proven cause---call her in the present moment to challenge him. Her skill with Dragonfang is nearly insurmountable; to escape, Remus chooses to summon a bolt of power to pulverize the ledge behind Valkyrie. Yet, at this moment when he can press his advantage, Remus Sharptooth is seized with the urge to reach down to help her back up; then he levitates himself out of reach and away.
Using the imminent danger of the wildfire, the soldiers and mounties succeed in uniting for their original purpose: training as an auxillary firefighting unit in a moment of great peril. Meanwhile, the Hulk and Machine Man have knocked the Four Armed Men unconscious in spectacular fashion; Nighthawk’s foe takes the worst of their crash, and though dazed, he becomes aware of the recovering attacker. The being, whose head resembles an anthropomorphized snapping turtle’s, points out that because he is not of their world, he is not affected by the Trans Rupture, “which seems to bring upon a transformation accelerated beyond your ability to cope!” as he puts it. Kyle/ Nighthawk does find the emotional confluence a terrible distraction, yet he cites the control of emotions that the soldiers and Mounties display, and times a jetpack-powered thrust to lift the Four Armed Man off his feet, and into the “loving graces” of the Hulk.
Knocking the Four Armed Man unconscious, Hulk feels a twinge of remorse beneath his battle fury. “Hulk is glad fighting is over!” he says, shaking his head. With the Tranz Rupture swirling the thoughts of individuals into the conscious mind of each person present, Hulk feels the urgency of stopping the fire, the physical threat to everyone. He sees a fire fighter, who calls himself Smoky Dean, beckon him back to stopping the inferno. The Hulk slams together his hands to create a massive wind, blowing down the flaming trees directly in front of him.
Smoky Dean runs the other direction, shouting the Hulk’s praises. As he plunges into another side of the inferno, however, he finds firefighters fallen, and feels their misery. He walks up to one to make sure he is not suffocating or falling prey to heat exhaustion; he immediately feels the grasp of the Voidons upon the emotions of his fellows. “All they need is to revive enough to fight back!” he thinks, but he does not know what to do for them, individually. “Then I’m just going to have to stay strong, myself!” he decides. In setting his intention, Smoky Dean calls upon inner reserves: the love for his wife and child he wants to see again, and his own self-taught determination.
He remembers training for his pack test last month: a walk of three miles in forty-five minutes,
wearing a vest weighing 45 pounds. Running would disqualify him. Only endurance and a steady
certainty could see him through. This emotion begins to spread among his desperately rallying
Aching, Nighthawk takes flight again, overhead. “Interesting how you can lose track of what county you're in in the middle of a huge fire, “ he thinks; “the soot must be unbelievable, gets down into your clothes...my hair’s going to smell like fire a long time!” He begins diving in, taking up fire fighters for air above the smoke. “They can’t even wear a mask---too dangerous!” he reasons.
He also becomes aware of the emotional confluence, you might say, as he whisks fire fighters upwards from the psychically feeding Voidons. “The time I spent conscious without my body, thanks to the Headmen, has given me sort of vantage point of detachment,” he intuits. “I perceive whatever energy field is opening us to one another, and I see it reaching my mind, but also, my choice beneath the miasma of emotions. If the field will take my projection, of my thoughts, into the mix, perhaps it help make the firefighters deal with the physical element of these feeling-void attacks! As it is---I only hope Val and Patsy have got some angle on how to bring this down at its source, or a massive wildfire might be the SMALL problem!”
Hellcat reaches for her cell phone once again, as she swings out of reach of the she-wolf, Corpse Flower. “I don’t know where in the universe Doctor Strange is, but we need him---or Clea---to find the key to whatever’s going on here. Okay, Clea, it’s ringing...pick up before this kitty becomes wolf chow on the hoof!”