By Steve Ward
He stood transfixed. Cold sweat ran down his cheek but it was not from the heat. It was the same force that froze his legs in place. The cold truth that he was dead and the creature in front of him, with the long dagger like attachments on it’s shoulders and the frozen blood red glowing eyes, each seeming to burn with deep hunger, was his killer. Slowly it filled his vision as a scream came from somewhere else. Then he realized it was him.
He stared at the ceiling. With it’s organic shape and feel, it was the same dream every night. The dream. How long has it been since that night? “Too late for regrets, bzald. What’s done is done.” Although that did not help the burning feeling he had every day, a reminder of what he once did.
He even thought about traveling back in time to that day but he realized that even that would change nothing, just cause a splinter reality to form.
A bright green glow blanketed the room as the black orb came to life. Which was what it was, of sorts, a life. Something else that came from that day. He leaned forward, head resting on his fist.
A vision filled the room. A battle, like so many going on, heroes and villains fighting each other. Then he noticed who was fighting. Tropic, Valya and WillowWind in a pitched battle against several wolves that seemed to be winning.
bzald paused. “Wolves winning against those three?” He first thought it was a joke, then he saw Valya go down and not get back up. Or teleport out of there.
He shifted his focus outside of his place and instantly he was there. The night air seemed charged. He sensed something was wrong and streaked towards the battle.
He was not alone. A set of eyes watched him leave. “He is on his way. All points, he is on his way. Be ready.”
WillowWind dodged yet another barrage from the closest wolf and blasted him full on in the face. The wolf was knocked back a couple of feet and he growled at her. It’s deep ember eyes were set on her, which seemed impossible because with that much power she should have melted the wolf.
“What is going on?” She kept her eyes on the wolf. As she glanced to the left at Tropic, who at the moment, was blasting a wolf as well and Valya who was near death between them, barely standing. And none of them could teleport out.
Just then a bright burst of light signaled his entering. The red cloak and glowing red eyes. Although Willow did not know Bzald long she knew he could be counted on in a fight. But he seemed at times wrapped in a cloak of sadness. And though she chose not to pry she wished he would talk about it sometimes.
She then noticed that the wolves who were ready to pounce on her had stopped. She was glad and worried that they quit.
Then a strange person covered in what looked like some sort of organic living suit stepped out from the side room. “Well, bzzzzald, so glad you could make it. The Spider said you would show. They know what happened and cannot wait to add you to the fold, bzzzzald. Your handiwork on that day is just what the Spider is looking for. I see the looks on the faces of your Supergroup allies. You have not told them. May I tell them then?”
Willow looked at Bzald as Tropic joined her. His eyes glowed an even deeper red as he pointed towards that creature. “You will tell them nothing!”
The creature’s face, even though it was blank or all features, seemed to frown. Then a booming laughter came from that creature which made the wolves cringe. “I see. Does not matter anyways, I have delivered the message.”
He then backed away into the shadows with the wolves and vanished.
Willow turned towards bzald. “What was that about?”
He slowly turned to her. She backed up a little as did Tropic. Such sadness in those eyes. And anger.
“Nothing. You better get Valya to the hospital.” Before she could argue, he vanished.
Sweat rolled down her chest, her eyes sharply focused on the punching bag. The blood stain did not faze her.
She had slept little in the past week. Of course the nightmares of blood stained claws and hairy arms reaching, grabbing her friends and dragging them away did not help. All she could seem to do was look on, frozen in one spot, never fast enough, strong enough to help them. She is the best, not even an Arch-Villain could stand up to her. But those wolves…
To her friends and enemies alike she was simply known as Valya. The punching bag imbedded itself in the wall. “Damn, need a new punching bag.” She had to grow stronger before she faced her nightmare in wolf form.
Her tired eyes scanned the public records. Even her neck hurt from the constant staring at the huge wall monitor. She was looking for any event the names Spider or Bzald were involved in.
So much was not known about him; even teaming with him he remained quiet and usually left after the battle, back to his tower. The three of them don’t talk much about that night. She, Tropic and Valya were trapped by demons in werewolf clothing, unstoppable, unrelenting to the point of focused rage. Then Bzald appeared after Valya went down. “It seems he knew we were in trouble and then ‘it’ stepped out of the shadows and seemed to be glad Bzald was there.”
Who or what he was and what did he want with Bzald seemed to have hit Valya the hardest. She trained non-stop now. There were also the rumors going around, some asking “Is Bzald in trouble?”. Other voices, some from the super group Top Ten, “Did Bzald set the whole thing up?” and others “How could he teleport in when they could not get out?”
She did not have answers nor was she close to one when a soft touch broke her from her trance.
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to make you jump ten feet.” The gold and black threads that showed his Top Ten colors seemed too bright at the moment.
She saw his mouth move but no sound seemed to come out of it. “Sorry, hon, what did you just say?”
The corners of his mouth went down under the black fabric. “Sorry, WillowWind, didn’t mean to bother you.. You seem so wrapped up in your thoughts I wasn’t sure if I wanted to bother you.” Kunai paused as he scanned the screen. “I see. Have you found anything that will help or hurt him, hon?” He averted his eyes as she stared at him.
“What do you mean? Do you think he is guilty of something?”
He put up his hands. “No, no. I’m sure it’s nothing.” The pause seemed to take too long. “Well, how come he was able to teleport in when you were not able to leave? Also, what about the wolves? They just stopped when he appeared. Then this guy that the cameras recorded, who is he? He seemed way too friendly with Bzald.”
It was her turn to avert her eyes. “I know. But if you had seen his eyes…his eyes…”
She was tired, Kunai knew. “Hey, you go get some rest while I take over.” She slowly walked out the door. “Poor Willow. She doesn’t even know she got up.” What about Bzald? Did he even care about all Willow and the others were doing? “Well, if it’s here, I will find it,” although only the walls listened as he scanned the wall monitor. He wondered how Tropic and NoVak were doing. They had been checking on a lead for about five hours now.
The monster stood at least three feet taller than the other Freaks there. It’s hulking frame towered over them as they ran interference for him. The mass of rock did not care.
NoVak looked down at the huge Freak. “Well, Tank, now do you have anything to tell me or should I take it personally.”
The Freak’s eyes narrowed. “Me no know nothing about a Bzald or a black creature.” NoVak prepared his next attack. “Wait! Wait! I remember! A little while back we were paid by a man in black to attack Bzald! That all I know, I swear!” NoVak walked away from the fallen tank.
“So, what did your friend say”
He craned his neck up. Tropic hovered there. “He said that someone paid them to attack Bzald,” he drawled.
“Yes, that was the thing the council said too.”
“Then we better keep looking,” as Tropic shot toward a place called Dark Astoria.
Storm Part Three: Memories
The deluge continued outside. The figure moved his gloved hands over the open mouth of the dragon armrest and continued to follow it up one side and down the other. The black obelisk on the outside hid the truth about what was inside, which could be anything he choose it to be: a desert, an ocean, etc.
Right now it was a command center. His chair was the center of what was going on as several clones and phantasms watched over and worked several dials and controls.
The crimson eyes focused hard on the wide holoscreen in front of him, glued to the screen watching women and children playing in a park. Another screen showed a current battle with Hamidon and another showing a battle of Top Ten fighting an Arch-Villain.
Kunai slowly crept along the wall watching Bzald. A phantasm walked past him and handed something to Bzald.
Kunai slid around the corner. “So, Kunai, are you having fun in my place?” He swirled on his heels, weapons at the ready. Bzald leaned against the wall. Kunai looked back to the console where Bzald had been sitting but saw no one.
“So, Kunai, what brings you here to check up on my place?” His eyes glowed a deeper red. “Well, it doesn’t matter. I might as well invite the rest in. This rain is not good for them, not good at all.”
The last comment brought Kunai to study his face. From what little he could see, the red eyes seemed to dim and soften into a sad stare. A small group of heroes entered the room.
WillowWind stared hard at the face of Bzald as the others looked around the room. Tropic noticed that the room seemed to change as they walked towards where Bzald sat with one blood red glove holding his head up.
Miyaka danced around in a very tight fitting cloth-like material that looked like latex but seemed to allow the material to breathe.
Next through the door was Lord Nikon and Tiger. Lord watched WillowWind closely. After hearing what happened he figured she may end up decking him.
Tropic had been on this plane of sentience for a ling time now and had known of the being Bzald for a while as he was sure he knew Tropic was around as well.
After they had seen what Bzald seemed to fear, fears that seemed to seek him out and hang on to him like a cloud. You could see it in his eyes.
Bzald’s eyes regained focus. “I guess you are here to ask why or what happened.” His head shook from side to side. “It was raining that day, too.”
WillowWind’s eyes seemed to soften. “You cold of told us what happened.”
He stood up then, his eyes ablaze. “How could I cause so much pain, so much sorrow? I killed without pause.”
She flinched backwards almost stumbling into Miyaka.
He slumped back into his chair. Tropic watched him closely. “So, Bzald, what happened? She would not tell us much.”
“Yeah, she’s a lot like that, you know.” By that time everyone was sitting. “Ah, a story,” Miyaka smiled.
He seemed to think deeply. “It started out easy, the truck jumped up and down over the pothole ridden road as the seven of us were riding in the back.
“Everyone wore the same suit, all that you can tell is that they could be male or female. ‘OK, people, we are approaching the target area. As you know, this is a clandestine job,’ she paused.
“The person across from me wore all black from head to toe and was of average build; could be a scrapper. ‘You will not give your real or superhero names to anyone here, so think of it as a super secret id.’ The suit reflected her sense of humor.
” ‘So we are the Red Spiders Group. The being in front of you is your partner, each group will cover a different part of the village that we are going to’
“We headed to the area of the village we were supposed to investigate. As we crested the hill the village was covered in a deep, eerie green fog.
” ‘ Well, that must be the target there.’ I looked at where he pointed. A bright green came from the center of town.
” ‘Look.’ My hand swept around the top left of the village. We could see several forms moving and could hear shouts.
“We were approaching the city limits. A shambling form moved out from the corner of one of the buildings. The dark form suddenly rushed towards us, it’s red eyes burning with bloodlust.
“My partner sped forward knocking the creature to the ground as he hit the creature with the device that we were given as per our use of no super powers at all.
“The creature slumped next to the wooden fern covered wall. ‘Leave the body alone. Let’s keep moving.’ My buddy looked at me. ‘You’re right, let’s keep looking. How far until we reach target?’
“The device came to life at my side. A map appeared near my left eye. ‘At least 20 more minutes.’ We kept moving from house to house. He paused, held up his hand. I stopped. We both rested on our sides of the wall.
“To the right we could hear several heroes talking about the area and how they did not know what the thing was in the middle.
“We kept moving. The fog seemed to crawl and cling to everything it touched as if it wanted whatever it could find.
“We approached an opening but something was very wrong. Several heroes were down, not moving, and some of our group were there as well.
“Then we noticed the artifact in the middle of the plaza. The deep fog melted into the blood on the floor, the shambling feet, the blasts and the fist of the heroes as they fought the creatures.
“Suddenly the rain started pouring down upon the mangled limbs, the twisted bodies, upon the heroes who’s eyes turned red as they turned on their fellow heroes.
“As more heroes came blasting in to help the others, the rain did not care and, at that moment, neither did I.
“We closed on the artifact. I studied it as we approached. A deep, huge, green crystal seemed to be set in a deep, dark cradle-like device about twice the size as a normal human. Where did it come from?
“It seemed to call us as we approached, offered us power and other things. It was a deep intoxicating feeling.
“I looked over. The other person was no longer a person but a red haze that I must eat. ‘Wait! What…?’ ‘You will eat eat eat them all’
“A flash, my hand slamming into another red form and drawing it’s essence into me.
“Another flash. ‘Yes, eat eat.’ I see another red form screaming as I jumped down upon it.
“I awoke. The dreams, the blood, carnage, laughing skulls attached to skin or…something. I heard something then. I noticed the bed. The room was a blend of magic and tech.
“It seemed to have everything in the world in it; prison crystals that kept people from hurting themselves to tech to scan the brain.
” ‘Where…I’m…I at?’ Whose voice was that? ‘Ah, I see you’re awake. I was afraid that we might have lost you.’
“She stood about five to six feet. ‘My name is Azuria. I see that you’re still not yet fully recovered, give it time. You will notice that your body has changed.’
“She was right. The black body armor that I had on before had changed to blood red organic-like armor.
” ‘We don’t yet know why, except that maybe it had something to do with that artifact.’
“After that I was discharged and I am now the being before you called Bzald.” He looked around at them.
“Wow, Miyaka breathed, “so that’s why you didn’t tell us. So, what happened to the artifact?”
“Well…not sure. Amid the confusion it seems that some creature, a different creature, came and got the artifact.”
Bzald studied the room and everyone in it. He noticed that some were watching him closely. He could not blame them…could not blame them at all. “I now suspect that the group that we were part of, the ones who hired us, was a group called Anachnos. As for the artifact, I believe that the one it belongs to is a creature of great power that came back for it, but I’m not sure.”
Bzald focused for a second and a view of the Nerva Archipelago sprang up. “As you may have noticed, this is Nerva Archipelago. The top northwest area is where the temples are on the island. I now believe that is where I may find some answers to my problems.”
“I see.” Tropic was smiling. “You know that that area was just now opened to us?”
Lord stood up. “Well, Bzald, I believe that there is where we should go then.” Everyone nodded their heads as they headed out the door.