1737The Defenders #67
- Apr 13, 2010Plainview, North Dakota.
A block away from the former home of Richard Starkey, the man whose mutant power exploded the city into oblivion, stood the charred remains of a building whose basement door the golden-armored Valkyrie smashed apart with the back of her hand.
The White Tiger entered first, his glowing eyes naturally attuned to night vision even without the enhancements in the lenses of his mask. Water dripped from broken pipes.
"I'm not picking up any living minds," Professor Charles Xavier said, "only the echoes of the departed."
"Yes," Rintrah agreed. The shouted whispers of ghosts were more his domain than that of the mutant leader of the X-Men.
"This was his house," Valkyrie said, "this is where he brought them. I can feel Death in this place."
"Whoever this Cookie Monster is," the White Tiger said, crouching down before the largest puddle in the stone basement, "he is obviously still out there, praying on these children."
"Otherwise their spirits could be at rest," Rintrah agreed. "Be careful; they are vengeful spirits; they want revenge, not justice. They will turn us into murderers if we do not watch ourselves."
"I'm not sure I won't let them," Valkyrie said, her rage building. "Those are human bones, are they not?"
White Tiger nodded in silence, staring in the darkness at the nearest pile of remains. There were a dozen such piles in all.
The mysterious DOCTOR STRANGE! The savage WHITE TIGER! The alien RINTRAH! The high-flying VALKYRIE! Evil-doers tremble at the names--for these four form the crux of the greatest NON-TEAM in history, heroes called together only when the need arises--to battle MENACES that threaten the security--or the very LIFE--of the planet Earth!
Dan Gordon Presents: The Dynamic Defenders!
The Defenders #67
"The Plain View, Part Two"
Guest-Starring Professor X!
Writer: John Flint
Webmaster: Liam Gibbs
Stephen Strange had spent the morning meditating on the top of a mountain overlooking the rest of the isle. He could detect no other forms of animal life, though the vegetation grew in abundance on the island. Whatever it was, it wasn't radiation that kept animals from existing here.
Naked to the world, Strange opened his eyes and his mind and watched as the sun set in the west in the distant horizon, only to rise again in the east practically immediately. He had discovered that time was not nearly so constant on this strange island as it was in other parts of the world.
This island was not of the world, though, he thought, a thought injected into him from something beyond himself. He listened to the voices, intuitions of other powers, random synaptic events not entirely random.
Akhnet. The word drifted into his mind in an instant, and stayed there. He knew instantly that this was the true name of the island, whatever it would prove to be, whether a person, place, thing, or idea.
"Akhnet," Strange whispered into the morning breeze.
He felt a presence, stronger than any he had felt since first arriving on the island, and knew that the spirit of Rune Island, Akhnet, was scrutinizing him, analyzing, sizing him up, deciding whether he was worthy of life or to be struck down in an instant.
Strange closed his eyes calmly and returned to perfect reflection within himself.
The trees swayed in the breeze as the waves crashed against the beach.
[Mooresboro, North Dakota.]
Gary Davis parked his car and walked to his apartment. Crossing the parking lot, he casually scanned the cars, noticing three that were not normally there. He had learned to be cautious even though he had no reason to worry now.
He was in the free and clear.
Thanks to the mutant attack in Plainsview, where he used to live, all evidence of his past indiscretions had surely been destroyed. His apartment was close enough to the epicenter of the explosion to incinerate any and all evidence there. He was free to live without fear.
Gary had moved to Mooresboro to be closer to the cookie factory at which he worked. He had been at work when the attack had happened, thankfully, avoiding a certain death.
He opened the door, palms sweaty. He could feel that dark urge rising up again. He knew he had to resist it, but he wouldn't be able to forever. Maybe this time, he should travel out of state to find a playmate. That way, he wouldn't have to worry so much about being caught. Last time, the fear nearly killed him.
Knock, knock. Someone at the door.
Gary opened it up again and saw a man in a suit flashing his badge. A cop. That was enough.
As heavy as he was, Gary threw his body into the blow, punching the police detective with everything he had. The cop crashed against the wall and Gary hurled himself down the hallway and out of the building, his keys already in hand to open his car and flee the scene.
Rintrah allowed the illusion of humanity fade out and picked himself up. He hadn't expected the Cookie Monster to panic so immediately. There had been no escape, of course, as the amulet of Agamotto ensured that Rintrah would always be able to find him even without the ghosts helping lead the team in the right direction.
`He's fleeing on foot,' Rintrah said into the team's mental link, `Kasper, grab him before the ghosts do.'
Stephen Strange opened his eyes as an apple-like fruit fell from a tree that had not been behind him when he closed his eyes. Taking it as a sign and a commandment, Stephen took the fruit and bit into it.
He chewed the juicy, sweet fruit and felt his mind begin to drift. Everything turned dark for him and he grew dizzy and fell over on his side, eyes rolling up into the back of his head as he felt his heart slow.
His vision returned, hazy, as he looked, unable to move, as men in robes bowed down and worshipped someone on a small altar on the mountaintop. There was a temple behind them which Strange knew was no longer present by his time.
His vision cleared enough to almost recognize the man they worshipped. Though his hair was jet black, he greatly resembled the demon-lord, Daimon Hellstrom. His chest was bare, exposing to the world his satanic birthmark, a pentagram carved violently across his trunk. He wore a blue cape and black pants and laughed uproariously.
The Son of Satan turned his head and met Stephen's gaze, his smile still wickedly wide. His eyes began to burn with hellfire.
The voices of the monks began to chant and Stephen recognized it immediately as ancient Atlantean.
The Son of Satan aimed his hell-forged trident at Stephen and began to speak himself, as Stephen's vision fogged over once more and he closed his eyes, darkness invading and enveloping his conscious being.
Gary Davis stopped cold in his tracks as the White Tiger pounced onto the hood of his car, energy dagger in hand. "Do not move," the White Tiger said, "We have you surrounded."
"Wh-what is this? What's going on? I'm not some costumed super-villain," Gary said, as he saw the Valkyrie walking her winged steed, Aragorn towards him from the right, Professor Xavier on his left.
"There is no use fighting us, Mr. Davis," Xavier said. "I know that you recognize me. I am indeed Professor X, the telepath. It's over, Gary. Give yourself up and we will not harm you."
"It's time to do the right thing," Rintrah said, emerging from the building behind Gary.
"No, I, I," Gary stammered, spinning in a circle around to look at each of the heroes.
"Your mind is conflicted, in turmoil," Xavier said, "I can feel your internal conflict. If you allow me in, I can soothe your confusion, your constant psionic combat. We can help you."
"Yes, please, yes," Gary said, slumping against the pavement.
"It is not what he deserves," Valkyrie said, unsheathing Dragonfang, her sword. "He should be executed for his crimes."
"That is not our decision," White Tiger said, eyes glowing. "Our mission is to bring him to the court for Judge and Jury to sentence."
"You've lived a troubled life, Gary," Xavier said, offering a hand. Gary took it and lifted himself back up to his feet, "but that's over now. You will be at peace for however long you have left."
Suddenly, Gary jerked, spasming, knocking Xavier back. Something insane filled his face, smiling, eyes mad. He threw himself onto Valkyrie's outstretched sword before she could react, impaling himself on it.
`Now, justice is served,' said the ghosts, fleeing the Cookie Monster's body as he twitched and bled to death.
White Tiger felt a chill as the ghosts dissipated. Rintrah helped Xavier back to his feet. "They won't be back."
"We didn't save anyone today," Xavier said, solemnly.
"We protected any more children from dying and becoming bitter souls," Valkyrie said as she pulled Gary Davis off her sword with her foot. "He did not deserve to die by my sword. Dragonfang has smited great foes; it is a heavenly weapon."
"What's done is done," White Tiger said. "Anyone mind if I get out of here? I need some air."
NEXT TIME: THE RUINED ISLE
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