“You’re just a bullet! All you know how to do is strike where you’ve been pointed. The question is, who’s holding the gun?”
“That’s where you’re wrong, Tommy -“
“Don’t call me that! We’re not friends! You may think you’re the hero here… but based on what I’ve seen here today, you’ve damned my world!”
“This world was damned years ago, Golden Lad…” William made sure to emphasize Tommy Preston’s “working title” while falling back on his most effective coping mechanism. “But this little drama isn’t over yet. And as I was about to tell you… I’m not just the bullet, I’m the gun, buddy, and I AM THE LAW!”
Though this non-team
(with respect to Stephen Strange’s comic book allies)
had scored yet another victory while convincing a pair of Korean goblins to throw in with them
(though for how long was anybody’s guess)
the fight was far from over. They had yet to penetrate the stronghold’s nerve center and face whatever defenses remain in place there – and there was still the matter of one of the universe’s most powerful and ancient beings, Cthulhu, to resolve.
Oh, and Tommy was melting down. Fast.
Nemesis, however, chose to ignore the lad’s degenerating mental state, choosing instead to take an inventory of his squad’s resources. That meant questioning his supernatural “allies”.
“Appa, Kimchee! What’s the sitrep on the Biggest bad here? He hasn’t squashed us yet… so is he going to be friend or foe?”
But before the diabolical duo could answer, a pained-yet-unmistakably-feminine voice rang out.
“Neither word… applies… to one of the Great Old Ones, William Nemesis,” Madame Strange explained as she battled her body’s urge to collapse once more. “Cthulhu has been enslaved and forced to carry out our enemy’s agenda. There can be no greater humiliation for one of his stature. But as much as he no doubt desires revenge upon our mutual foes… I fear his fate lies elsewhere.” Strange then closed her haunting eyes and began to chant.
“Ooookaaay… she’s trippin’!” Appa declared as he addressed Nemesis.. “I’d forget about both of them if I were you, pal. You better get moving, this place isn’t going to be here much longer!”
“This facility… or this world?” was William’s obvious query.
Once again, Appa and Kimchee answered in stereo. “BOTH!”
Tommy began to crack even further – until fate stepped in. Again.
Waves of barely perceptible energy cascaded across the entire complex. To the average person’s naked eye, it would appear as though they were having a stroke and they were fading in and out of consciousness. However, everyone in this merry little band knew from the feeling of dread emanating from their core that wasn’t the case.
“WILLIAM! WE HAVE TO MOVE… NOW!” Strange shrieked as she struggled to finish her incantation.
The goblins giggled like devilish schoolgirls. “Yes, William… the clock, as you mortals say… is ticking… though not for much longer! Get through that doorway while it’s still standing!”
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you… you double-crossing bastards?” William moved into position, tossing a tiny piece of forest green vitreous silica projectile glass at the high dokkaebi. It landed in front of them, shattering instantly. The endgame, as the aforementioned Stephen Strange would say, was about to begin. “Is the pathway established, Madame?”
Strange shook like a dwarf willow in a hurricane – but she never wavered. “Yes.”
(Though clearly she didn’t have the strength to waste on small talk.)
“Great. Hang on… I’ll be with you in a minute.”
“Easier said than done… you libidinous, dimension-hopping dumbass,” rang through the Madame’s addled mind.
Moldavite is a form of glass formed by a meteorite impact in southern Germany (which created the Nördlinger Ries crater to be exact) that occurred about 15 million years ago.
Fun Fact: Moldavites were discovered by mankind’s hunched ancestors in the Czech Republic and Austria, who used them to make flaked tools. Some of the worked moldavites date to the Aurignacian period of the Upper Paleolithic, approximately 43,000 to 26,000 years before the present.
In this so-called modern world, moldavites are often used, rough or cut, as semi-precious stones in jewelry. They have purported metaphysical qualities and are often used in crystal healing.
The space rock in question was all that remained of a thirteenth-dimensional imp who chose the wrong side in the final battle between The Light and The Dark. Her fossilized remains were scattered across the Multiverse. To those with inherent supernatural abilities the fragments have a number of uses.
Like ensnaring pesky Korean goblins, for example.
Emerald flames circled the two magical malcontents, forcing them to huddle together like two Klansmen stranded in the middle of Harlem. Their beady eyes cut through the supernatural fire and fixated on Nemesis. As you can imagine, he was unaffected by their disdain.
“Don’t look at me like that. You know you were going to double-cross us the first chance you got!”
Madame Strange and Nemesis exchanged knowing looks and the strategy William telepathically put in place earlier began to unfold. The sorceress had formed a link with Cthulhu as the primordial leviathan fought against his arcane chains.
(No mean feat, even for a magic wielder of her prowess. Imagine trying to mainline wet kitty litter.)
Of course, as much as the physical strain was excruciating, she knew her consciousness would be liquified the nanosecond said mental stream started to flow.
(Humans, even those of the superpowered variety, can’t withstand the cerebral voltage an ancient god puts out.)
But that’s where Appa and Kimchee came in.
Another Fun Fact: Goblin brains are surprisingly resilient and make great delivery systems when one is trying to communicate with an ancient cosmic entity.
Nemesis pointed at the doorway separating the ad hoc team from their ultimate goal. Anyone able to do the impossible and tune out the soundtrack of the world would have heard an ethereal orchestra of hushed voices. “Tommy!” he shouted as the static in his own inner world began to rise in intensity.
For his part, the Lad was utterly overwhelmed; in a matter of hours his entire reality – which was already tattered and torn – had been truly ripped to shreds. He was surrounded by strangers, hopelessly in over his head, and powerless. Where was he supposed to go from here?
Fortunately, that’s precisely what Nemesis was trying to tell him.
“Tommy, you need to go through that door… but it’s not going to be easy! I need to do exactly what I say!”
Golden Lad parted his chapped lips to utter a, “You can’t be seriously asking me to trust you even more than I already have! What’s left of my whole world is collapsing because of you!”
But he didn’t have the strength left to resist. he was well and truly done. And so, he answered with what little strength remained in his magically transformed body.
“Tell me what you want me to do.”
“William!” Madame Strange beckoned with fiery passion as hot as the supernatural flames trapping Appa and Kimchee. “Get on with it before I’m reduced to dust – and I take you with me!”
Cthulhu felt the arcane telepathic pathway laid out in front of him
and knew it was his salvation, so he pushed his considerable psychic might in its direction, buckling Strange’s defenses.
“Just speak the truth about what’s beyond that opening, man! But do it before you take a single step!” William directed as he heeded Strange’s warning and started his contribution to their shared enterprise.
“What’s beyond it?”
“Dammit, Tommy, you know! Your friends, man! Your friends are there… they’ve been there all along!” Nemesis hollered as a buzzing in his brain signaled the onset of an aneurysm. “The enemy’s been feeding on their power… but there’s barely anything left… so hurry the hell up!” A numbness radiated across the left side of his face and he was addressing two Golden Lads instead of one.
“He’ll die… unless you let us help, mortal fool!” the desperate goblins implored William. They could feel his blunt telepathy slicing into their other-dimensional brain boxes, splitting them open before channeling their cerebral voltage to Madame Strange’s own mind. She wrapped herself in their collective spiritual energy, using it as a buffer between her thoughts and Cthulhu’s unimaginable omnipotence.
Tommy Preston could feel his world spasming as its place in the Multiverse became less stable by the minute – but he put all his fear and self-doubt aside and spoke his truth plainly and honestly, for probably the first time in his life.
“I miss my friends. Bob, Harold… my darling, Peggy…” his voice trialed off as tears ran down his weathered face. The whispering voices grew stronger as he approached the threshold…
“I felt so lost after finding the Heart, separated from the rest of the world. Even my family didn’t know me anymore… but then I found them, my true family. We were alone together. The things that go bump in the night were afraid of us. Even when everything changed and things got bad… really bad… I knew we could win if we just stayed together.”
The whispers became a demonic glee club, chanting a deafening chorus of taunts designed to drive him mad – but the Lad held his ground.
(While stepping forward, ironically.)
“The enemy made Hitler’s Schutzstaffel look like clowns. We’d never seen such inhumanity. But my family never gave up,” Tommy shouted over the thunderous chanting as he reached a hand through the doorway…
“BUT I DID! I GAVE UP A LONG TIME AGO… BUT NO MORE! IF YOU’RE THERE, EVERYONE… I’M COMING FOR YOU!”
Sigils inscribed on the floor and across the entryway appeared, glowing blood red. They were designed with one purpose: To prevent any superpowered trespassers foolish enough to invade this space from penetrating its inner sanctum. The dark magic used to create the symbols would instantly incinerate any interlopers.
But Tommy Preston, the broken man who was once a child who found the Heart of Gold, an artifact powered by “the blood of a thousand martyred Aztecs”, that granted him the powers of strength and courage, paid them no mind. Seventy-eight years after that fateful day, the seemingly-limitless energy he gained from the sacrifice of an entire tribe had been exhausted. Now he was just a mortal man, albeit one on a mission he had been unknowingly waiting his entire life to undertake.
He advanced with fearless determination and an unquenchable thirst for vengeance, the pain of his tormented life transformed into a shield.
But would that shield withstand what was to come?
You did it again, Mr. Hook. Bravo! I knew Cthulhu would have a better part to play than just an ornament.
I do sometimes add too many characters to the mix, but it’s safe to say Mr. C will be making a valuable contribution to this little drama- and beyond.
I hope to make the spirit of Howard Phillips Lovecraft proud with my interpretation of his creation.