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Woodgod #4

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    http://pinata.no-ip.org/~altmarvel/index.php? page=Series&seriescode=WG&issue=4 Woodgod #4 Mediocre L.A. Nights ************************* Writer: JM
    Message 1 of 7 , Oct 1, 2004
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      http://pinata.no-ip.org/~altmarvel/index.php?
      page=Series&seriescode=WG&issue=4


      Woodgod #4
      "Mediocre L.A. Nights"

      *************************
      Writer: JM
      Webmaster: Liam Gibbs
      Editor: Josh Greer
      Editor-in-Chief: Tawmis
      *************************


      [Los Angeles, California]

      Woodgod flipped through the stack of magazines he'd been given,
      skimming them for anything of relevance. Entire forests had been
      chopped down for this? What a waste.

      Several of them contained interviews with him, under his new name of
      Woody Goldstein. The rest had a few paparazzi snapshots of him,
      heralding him as the next 'big thing' in movies.

      He threw them down and turned on his new television. He leaned back
      in his comfortable recliner, having quickly grown accustomed to the
      lazy lifestyle of this society.

      One channel had a new show on, starring a shaggy man who called
      himself The Abominable Snowman. The next channel he landed on was
      one of the multiple news stations. They were showing footage from a
      helicopter.

      What had once been Chicago was now a giant crater. (1) The rooftops
      of once-mighty buildings now jutted up from the massive pile like
      the larger shards of a broken glass. Lake Michigan was trickling
      into the crater, but efforts to keep it dammed up were almost
      completely successful.

      The reporters filled him in on the generals of the situation;
      apparently, the city had been caving in for several weeks. (2) After
      a massive slugfest between super-humans, the rest quickly came
      tumbling down.

      The fight was reportedly between the fugitive known as Frostbite,
      the Order member Masher, and the Champions member Iron Man.
      Sometimes, Woodgod thought, it seemed as though the creation of
      super-humans caused the world more harm than good.

      Then he saw the super-heroes who were pitching in on the rescue
      efforts. Those with super strength used it to remove the larger
      debris, while everyone did what they could to save whomever they
      could.

      "I should help," Woodgod declared to no one in particular. As he
      stood up, he noticed, for the first time in several minutes, the
      blue leisure suit he was wearing. Apparently, this ugly outfit
      reinforced the notion that he was a star, or something.

      Woodgod began to wonder why he had agreed to make a movie in the
      first place. It was curiosity at first; he wanted to see aspects of
      human society that he had never experienced firsthand before.

      He quickly found that the duplicity and lies that humans were so
      adept at were only magnified in the field he had chosen. He had
      memorized the answers to give to interviewers. He had learned how to
      pose for photos and smile at fans. He wanted to get back to work and
      develop a second generation of Changelings...

      No. He didn't want that. The first generation had only died scant
      months ago. (3) It would be disrespectful to simply replace them so
      quickly and forget about them. He would honor their memory and
      occupy his time with new activities.

      Perhaps it was time for a trip to Chicago?

      [Meanwhile]

      "I heard you guys wanted me," an archer spoke as he entered the
      darkened store room, lighting up his cigarette as he did so, "also
      heard that a goat-boy stomped out your precious little Flame." (4)

      "His name is Woody Goldstein," a fat man cloaked in shadows
      answered, "word on the street is that he's a mutie actor. Yes, we're
      willing to offer you a place in the Maggia organization. Full
      benefits."

      "That including dental?" Jagged Bow bared his teeth, "Super heroes
      like to mess up teeth, and I'm a pretty boy whose mouth needs
      insurance."

      "You'll find that we provide the best dental plan this side of
      Hydra," the man replied. "All you have to do is sign on the line."

      Jagged Bow skimmed the contract, pretending to seriously look it
      over. "Everything looks in order," he said, "got a pen?"

      "Your first assignment," the man leaned forward, revealing a well-
      kept goatee, "is Woody Goldstein."

      [LAX]

      "I'm sorry, sir, but there are no flights landing within fifty miles
      of Chicago today," the woman behind the counter reported, "the
      authorities have to make sure the airstrips are still secure and
      that further cave-ins in the surrounding area won't occur."

      "Well," Woodgod replied, "I'll take a ticket to the closest place
      available, then."

      "Forget him, give that ticket to me," a bouncing voice
      reverberated, "I've got a city to save!"

      Woodgod whirled to see the Abominable Snowman himself, wearing a
      brown and orange leisure suit. Woodgod was still wearing his blue
      suit, but wishing more than ever that he hadn't. He was now in very
      unpleasant company.

      "I've got two tickets to a small airport in Iowa," the woman
      announced, "I'm afraid it's the closest left. With Chicago in its
      current state, everyone with relatives is flying into the area."

      "I'll take it," Woodgod and the Snowman simultaneously spoke.

      One of the security staff turned and walked away, smoothly removing
      a tiny cell phone from his pocket. "The target is here."

      [An hour later]

      Woodgod and the Abominable Snowman sat across from each other as
      they waited for boarding time. They both had their arms folded
      across their chests. They had no specific reason, but had developed
      an immediate dislike in each other.

      "Mutant?" The Snowman inquired.

      "Artificially-created, unique organism," Woodgod answered, "you?"

      "Magically transformed," the Snowman replied.

      The pair then resumed their silent stares. Woodgod saw the Snowman
      as an arrogant show boater, a man who had lucked on special powers
      and used it for his own financial gain. The Snowman saw Woodgod as a
      snooty know-it-all test tube experiment gone wrong, using his
      abnormality towards his own financial gain.

      Sure, one of the reasons the Snowman was going to Chicago was for
      the good publicity that would come of it. In this day and age,
      superhuman celebrities had to be superheroes on the side. But he did
      also want to help out his fellow man. Nothing wrong in killing two
      birds with one stone, after all.

      [Meanwhile]

      An armored vehicle sped down a deserted highway. The highway wasn't
      in much use now that other, more convenient highways had been built
      close to it. That was exactly why the armored vehicle chose this one.

      The headlights shined ahead, showcasing a smooth, animal-free road.
      Until seconds before potential impact, when a slinky man landed
      directly in the van's path.

      The van squealed as the brakes were applied. The man did several
      flips in the air as he went over the hood, disappearing above the
      window without impact.

      The van skid, falling onto the gravel on the side of the road.
      Suddenly, the car came to a complete stop, sending the driver to
      smack his head against the passenger side door, knocking him
      unconscious.

      If he were conscious and looked in the side mirror, he would have
      seen thin strands of web hanging tightly from the man behind them.
      The webs had looped into the tires, causing the sudden stop.

      The man wore a variant of Spider-Man's costume. There was more of
      the blue area and tubes running up his arms from his backpack,
      ending at his wrists. This was the mechanism that he shot his webs
      from.

      He fired the dual web lines at the back doors of the van. He then
      gave them a yank, tearing them from their hinges. Two heavily
      armored men burst out, firing their plasma rifles.

      Blood Spider was thankful that the government hadn't seen fit to
      provide this transport with Guardsmen. That would have made things
      more difficult than this would be.

      Blood Spider hopped into the trees, blending in with the darkness.
      The men fired all around, setting the wooded area ablaze. The man
      they were transporting, still wearing his shackles, slammed his
      shoulder into one of the men. Not expecting the attack, his plasma
      fire went all over, setting his own partner ablaze.

      As the fiery man screamed in agony, the prisoner smiled, a single
      tear forming in his eye. "It's so beautiful, you know... a work of
      art..."

      Blood Spider arrived in front of the other man, kicking his teeth
      loose and effectively knocking him out. "You're one sick little
      freak."

      "C'mon, admit it," Flame laughed, "you thought it was pretty cool."

      "Okay, yeah," Blood Spider admitted, tearing Flame's shackles
      off, "it was. Let's get you back to the boss. He's got some choice
      words for you."

      "I bet he does," Flame chuckled, "did he get my gear back, too?"

      "I think Death Shield is working on that," Blood Spider revealed as
      a helicopter came into view. Blood Spider threw Flame over his
      shoulder and shot a web up at it.

      The pair rode the helicopter away from the fiery scene of
      destruction.

      [Meanwhile]

      Woodgod and the Abominable Snowman found that they had been seated
      next to each other. They groaned, but no other seats were available
      and the other passengers were too grumpy to trade.

      As the pair got settled into their seats, a man ripped himself out
      of a bag in the luggage compartment. "Next time, I expect to go
      first class," Jagged Bow grumbled, "even a decent dental plan isn't
      worth this."

      [To be continued...]



      FOOTNOTES:
      1. See The Invincible Iron Man #19.
      2. Ever since The Order #47.
      3. In Woodgod #1.
      4. Last issue, of course. Don't tell us you didn't read it, or we'll
      revoke your membership in the Merry Altmarvel Marching Society!


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      page=Series&seriescode=WG&issue=4
    • ____
      http://pinata.no-ip.org/~altmarvel/index.php? page=Series&seriescode=WG&issue=5 Woodgod #5 Team Work ************************* Writer: JM Webmaster: Liam
      Message 2 of 7 , Oct 23, 2004
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        page=Series&seriescode=WG&issue=5


        Woodgod #5
        "Team Work"

        *************************
        Writer: JM
        Webmaster: Liam Gibbs
        Editor: Josh Greer
        Editor-in-Chief: Tawmis
        *************************


        Woodgod sat uncomfortably next to the Abominable Snowman. They were
        in an airplane, heading towards Iowa. Once there, they would head
        towards Chicago and help in the rescue efforts there. (1)

        The Abominable Snowman broke the silence. "Ever been on a team?"

        "No," Woodgod replied quickly, "you?"

        "I worked with The Order once," the Snowman bragged proudly. (2)

        The pair looked away from each other. Woodgod stared out at the
        horizon, impressed with modern technology and the form of the Earth.
        The Snowman, meanwhile, followed a stewardess's skirt as she went
        down the length of the plane.

        [Meanwhile, a private airstrip in the West]

        "Nice," Flame smiled maliciously as he slipped his gloves on. His
        employers had seen fit to free him during transport to prison (3)
        and even provided him with his old outfit.

        "As you might already know," Death Shield began, "we are members of
        an elite super villain squad known around the world as the
        Sindicate. S-I-N-dicate."

        "Never heard'a ya," the Flame responded as he unsheathed his fire
        sword, twirling it in the air to test it.

        "Yes, well," Death Shield mumbled, "the Maggia have assigned you to
        help us in an assassination. One that they said you would have a
        personal stake in."

        "Yeah? Who do they want me to kill?"

        "Woody Goldstein, that goat boy who's supposed to be the next big
        thing."

        "Oh, yeah," Flame snarled, "I definitely want in on that." (4)

        [Meanwhile, on the airplane]

        The Abominable Snowman bounced off the sides of the interior of the
        plane, causing it to jerk around in the air. He was dodging boxing
        glove arrows, chosen so that they would not have any chance of
        puncturing the craft and sending everyone to their deaths.

        Jagged Bow continued to fire off arrow after arrow, hoping to score
        a direct hit. The Snowman would prove to be a challenge to subdue,
        with his speed and bouncing.

        Woodgod, however, chose the more direct approach. He stormed
        directly towards Jagged Bow. Jagged Bow almost got out his neuro-
        neutralizer arrow before remembering the 3-D graphics he had seen,
        demonstrating what would happen to everyone inside if the sharp tip
        of the arrow went all the way through a window.

        Instead, he pulled out another boxing glove arrow and loaded it on
        his bow. One second later, with only a quarter second's time to aim,
        he launched the arrow.

        The boxing glove arrow smacked Woodgod in the cheek, knocking him
        back and off his hooves. His upper back snapped the corner of the
        seat behind him off, and the person in the seat jerked to away as
        the seat nearly tore off.

        Woodgod landed on the floor of the room, momentarily dazed and
        disoriented. Jagged Bow pulled out a knife with devilish intent.

        Woodgod's eyes reopened in time to see Jagged Bow sitting on him,
        seconds away from shoving his knife into him. Fortunately, something
        big and furry landed on top of Jagged Bow, knocking him back.

        "Ow," he heard the Snowman yelp as he jumped away from Jagged Bow,
        holding his shoulder.

        Woodgod shook his head as he returned to his feet. He came out of
        the daze fighting mad. With Jagged Bow's attention still on the
        Snowman, Woodgod charged like a bull.

        Jagged Bow turned as he heard the rushing air. Woodgod slammed his
        head into Jagged Bow's stomach, nearly ripping him in half. Jagged
        Bow's back smacked against the back of the room, which nearly gave
        way.

        The Abominable Snowman lifted his hand and observed that his arm had
        stopped bleeding. Beyond the blood stains in his fur, there appeared
        to no longer be any injury there of any sort. Sometimes, he really
        loved being magically cursed.

        Woodgod stared down at the unconscious assassin, Jagged Bow, his
        arrows spilled out all over the floor. "Thanks," he muttered to the
        Snowman.

        "We make a great team," the Snowman boasted, cheerfully, "no chance
        you'd like to be my sidekick on my show?"

        "No chance."

        [An hour later]

        Upon landing, Woodgod and the Snowman presented Jagged Bow to the
        appropriate authorities. In the airport, Woodgod stopped at a large
        television showing the news.

        Chicago was slowly beginning to recover, he saw. Buildings were
        sprouting up like a high-speed film of a tree. The buildings were
        different, though; they now glowed with a bluish tint and
        practically sparked with energy. (5)

        As he continued to watch the constant updates on the situation,
        Woodgod found himself suddenly unable to move his arms. He looked
        down to find that they were stuck by his sides, strapped their by
        several bands of webbing.

        He spun around, expecting to see Spider-Man, though unsure as to why
        he would web him up. What he found instead was a man in a costume
        similar but quite different from Spider-Man's.

        Woodgod was spun back around against his will by a blond Caucasian
        man in an orange and green costume that revealed the majority of his
        face and nothing else. This man threw a quick jab that sent Woodgod
        hurtling through the air, landing on a soda machine and smashing it.
        Cans buried the webbed-up man.

        "My turn," Woodgod heard a familiar voice say right in front of him.
        He also smelled something... was something burning?

        The Flame kicked most of the pile of cans off and hefted his fiery
        sword over head. He kept a foot over Woodgod's neck, holding him
        into place. Woodgod snarled as he struggled to free himself, though
        he was still disoriented from the suddenness of the attack, the
        punch, and especially the flight he had just gotten off of.

        The Flame turned his head to see something happening behind him. It
        was all the time Woodgod needed. He snapped the webbing and grabbed
        at the Flame's legs, sending him to the ground.

        The Flame dropped his sword and Woodgod slapped it away. Woodgod
        then grabbed at the Flame's hands before he could release a ball of
        flame and crushed the mechanisms in his gloves.

        "You," the Flame snarled before Woodgod head-butted him, knocking
        him out. Woodgod dropped the man's arms and rushed to see where the
        other two would-be assassins were.

        He saw the Abominable Snowman standing proud, his chest puffed out,
        as he held one of the villains in the air with each hand. The Spider-
        Man-Lite had apparently webbed up his own ally, helping the Snowman
        to defeat them simultaneously.

        "I told you we made a great team," the Snowman chuckled.

        Woodgod sighed.

        [The end...]



        FOOTNOTES:
        1. See recent issues of the Champions and the Invincible Iron Man.
        2. See The Order #47-52.
        3. Last issue.
        4. They met in issue #3.
        5. See the Champions #21.


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        page=Series&seriescode=WG&issue=5
      • ____
        [Los Angeles] Woodgod, or Woody Goldstein as he now went by, unlocked the door to his current apartment, oblivious to the stylish suit he now wore. He had
        Message 3 of 7 , Jan 2, 2005
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          [Los Angeles]

          Woodgod, or Woody Goldstein as he now went by, unlocked the door to
          his current apartment, oblivious to the stylish suit he now wore.
          He had grown accustomed to this lifestyle now.

          "Can I help you?" He stared through his new, expensive shades at
          the two men standing by the window, chomping on a can of nuts. His
          can of nuts.

          "Woody Goldstein?" The fat one asked. They both wore black from
          their necks down to their boots, but black's notorious slimming
          effect did little to help the rotund man look much smaller around.
          The other man, on the other hand, was practically as skinny as a
          pole.

          Woodgod slowly removed his shades from his face, slipping them
          gently into his breast pocket. The thinner, younger, blond man
          rubbed a bulge in his side, indicating a gun beneath. The heavier,
          older, balding black-haired man held up a hand, signaling to his
          partner that it wouldn't be necessary.

          "I'm Otto," the heavier man explained, bowing to Woodgod, "and my
          trigger-happy friend here is Jon. We are human operatives of The
          Order, and we've an urgent mission to perform."

          "Yeah," Jon nodded, "we need your help. Savin' the world, an' all
          that."


          He wasn't birthed. He wasn't hatched. A genius created
          artificially by scientist spouses, the being known as Woodgod
          travels the world in search of a meaning, a cause for his bizarre
          life to undertake.

          Woodgod #6
          "Goldbug's Calamity"

          **********************
          Writer: JM
          Curator: Meriades Rai
          Webmaster: Liam Gibbs
          Editor: Josh Greer
          Editor-in-Chief: Tawmis
          **********************


          "The Order has superhumans of their own," Woodgod retorted, "call in
          one of them to help you. I'm not for hire."

          "'Fraid we can't do that," Jon snapped, "all o' ours is busy
          stoppin' anudder dimension from invadin' our own."

          "But this battle is to be fought on both sides of the dimensional
          barriers," Otto interjected, "with the use of an amulet of
          persuasion. Any natural being can be possessed by it --"

          "--and you know I'm no natural being," Woodgod understood, "but I'm
          not the only one. I seem to recall hearing that Machine Man was a
          member of the Order..."

          "Currently a prisoner of those other-dimensional baddies," Otto
          sighed, "no mechanical members are available and, frankly, you're
          the artificial being nearest the site, that we're aware of."

          "And where, precisely, is this site?"

          "Museum o' da Supernatural," Jon answered. Woodgod had heard of
          it; most of the locals believed it nothing more than a tourist
          trap.

          [Minutes later]

          Otto drove the van with Jon beside him in the passenger's seat and
          Woodgod in the back, feeling almost like a caged animal. It was
          entirely possible that this was a trick, but if the entire universe
          was in trouble... well, that wasn't the sort of thing he could just
          let happen without trying to help stop.

          "This amulet o' persuasion," Jon explained, "Used ta b'long ta this
          Doc Stranger fellow, 'til 'is 'ouse done got torned down." (1)

          Woodgod did not respond. He continued to stare straight ahead, his
          anger growing. He really wasn't especially sure why he was angry,
          as he had nothing to be angry about, other than that these two had
          broken into his home; maybe it was that his new life was quickly
          growing less and less satisfying.

          [Meanwhile]

          Goldbug laughed as he strolled through the Museum of the
          Supernatural Arts, the guards easily taken care of by his gold-gun.
          He was looking for a certain Transmutation Wand, which he had heard
          was on exhibit here, having been found in the wreckage of some old
          mystic's place. (1)

          Goldbug grinned as he imagined what he would do with the wand. He
          wouldn't just cover things in a golden wrapping; he could make
          everything into solid, pure gold! Then, perhaps he could finally
          fulfill his dream and change his codename to Midas...

          As Goldbug perused the museum, he began to get tired of scanning the
          dark halls. His mind began to play tricks on him; it was as if
          some of the exhibits were whispering out to him, promising him great
          wealth, power unimaginable, all the women he had ever lusted after...

          'Come to me, child,' one fiery voice in particular haunted, 'bring
          me to the Lesser Nexus, and fulfill your destiny. All shall be
          revealed, once there...'

          Intrigued, Goldbug turned and snatched a single, faintly purple
          amulet from its place. The sign beside it called it an 'Amulet of
          Persuasion,' but Goldbug gave that no thought. He wanted to know
          what his destiny was. He could only hope it would be glorious...

          [A short distance away]

          "They built a supernatural artifacts museum on a nexus point?"

          "Not precisely," Otto explained as he slowed the van to a stop, "the
          combination of magical items in such close proximity without a
          Sorcerer Supreme guarding against it, they wound up creating
          something of an artificial, lesser nexus point. In some circles,
          it's known as 'The Lesser Nexus.'"

          "So this inter-dimensional demon wants to access our dimension,"
          Woodgod tried again, "through an artificial gateway to various
          realities?"

          "Yes," Otto nodded, "through the amulet's psionic link to this
          realm."

          "Mama sayed there'd be days like dis, eh," Jon smiled. Woodgod got
          out of the van, choosing not to respond.

          The threesome came to the front doors of the museum. Fortunately,
          with night having already fallen hours prior, only the night guards
          would be in. The plan was to subdue those guards and remove the
          amulet before any of them wound up possessed by it.

          Woodgod grabbed at the doors before his partners could advise
          against it. He strained, but something held it in place. Otto put
          a hand on his arm, "Tearing it off would activate sirens, no doubt.
          We'll get you in, our way."

          Otto pressed a stud on his belt and a metallic orb formed on it, a
          blue glow emanating from within it. Otto pressed a few small
          buttons on it and wrapped his arms around Woodgod and Jon.

          The three disappeared in a flash of blue light, reappearing on the
          other side of the doors. Otto held a hand over Woodgod's mouth so
          he wouldn't shout out from the experience. "Teleportation," Otto
          explained, "only the bosses know how to use it over any great
          distance, quite complicated, but we grunts can always use it to get
          on the other side of a door. Course, if there's an object directly
          on the other side, we might be in for a world of hurt..."

          "Let's jus' find da amulet and be on our way," Jon muttered.

          "Wait," Woodgod whispered, turning back towards the door, "See
          that? Some sort of... gold paste?"

          "The amulet didn't cause that," Otto replied, "I'm pretty sure..."

          "Then what did?" Jon growled.

          "A super-villain," Woodgod snarled, "some super-villain decided to
          ransack the place tonight, apparently."

          "Dis job jus' gets better 'n better, huh," Jon slapped his
          forehead. The noise reverberated throughout the entire, formerly-
          silent museum. "Oops."

          Woodgod noticed something wiggling, most of its form obscured by a
          wall. He rushed over and found one of the security guards, bound
          and gagged. He tore the gag away. "Do not yell," Woodgod
          whispered, "we're here to stop whoever did this."

          "H-how?" The guard asked, "he can turn anythin' to... g-g-gold!"

          "I'll find a way," Woodgod promised, resting a hand on the tray
          behind him. That hand touched the exhibit ever so briefly. A
          slight jolt of electricity coursed through him, enough to stiffen
          him in surprise but cause no physical harm.

          The guard's eyes bulged, "Y-you're some kind of werewolf?"

          "What? No," Woodgod remarked, "whatever makes you say that?"

          "Hey, Woody," Jon walked over, "Otto thinks he heard us, 'ever he
          is."

          Jon stopped dead in his tracks. "Who the 'eck are ya?"

          Woodgod made a face of confusion before whirling to face the
          reflective glass behind him. Then, he saw what they had seen. The
          guard had seen him transform.

          Woodgod was now an ordinary human being.

          [To be continued...]


          FOOTNOTE:
          1. Check out Alternate Marvel's Defenders #17.


          Opinions? Address your concerns, comments, praise, and congrats to
          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/altmarvel-readers/
        • ____
          Well, Woodgod began, isn t that interesting. Woodgod stood before a body-long mirror. He saw that he still wore the suit he had been wearing, but that was
          Message 4 of 7 , Feb 25, 2005
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            "Well," Woodgod began, "isn't that interesting."

            Woodgod stood before a body-long mirror. He saw that he still wore
            the suit he had been wearing, but that was the only thing that
            remained the same. He stood as a human. He lacked any significant
            amount of hair anywhere visible, save the top of his head. Somehow,
            he had become human.

            "Agin," Jon, the blond and rail-thin Order agent inquired, "who in
            heck are ya?"

            "I," Woodgod stammered, "I'm Woodgod, just... not, at the moment."

            "Whuh?"

            "I don't know how," Woodgod put his hand once more near the exhibit,
            reminding him of the brief zap of electricity he'd felt immediately
            before the night guard noticed the change. He picked it up, but
            oddly, felt no charge this time. "It was right after I touched
            this," he leaned in and read the plaque, "Transmutation Wand. Oh,
            lovely."


            He wasn't birthed. He wasn't hatched. A genius created artificially
            by scientist spouses, the being known as Woodgod travels the world
            in search of a meaning, a cause for his bizarre life to undertake.

            Woodgod #7
            "Destiny"

            *************************
            Writer Supreme: JM
            Webmaster: Liam Gibbs
            Editor: Josh Greer
            Editor-in-Chief: Tawmis
            *************************


            Goldbug's eyes bulged at he stared at the small but ornately-
            engraved amulet. It glowed a faint shade of purple as he shuffled
            forward, the amulet urging his legs to move in a preplanned
            direction. For years now, Goldbug had been nothing more than a C-
            level supervillain, laughed at by big-namers like the Red Skull,
            Magneto, the Mandarin, and the like. But no more. Now, the Amulet of
            Persuasion promised him... his destiny.

            "Going to be somebody," he whispered to himself, "I'm finally going
            to really be somebody..."

            "Stop right there, evil-doer!" A voice boomed, confidence
            ringing, "Put the glowy thing back where you found it and you won't
            be hurt... too badly!"

            Goldbug's face slowly moved up, his gaze turning from the amulet in
            his outstretched hands to the man standing several feet before him.
            He recognized the costume immediately as Wolverine's, though the
            belt buckle had a large 'C' on it. Wolverine was an X-Man... was his
            real name Chester or something?

            The man in the brown and orange costume kept his left hand on his
            hip whilst his right index finger pointed at the gold-loving
            villain. "Aren't you listening? You're defying the orders of a
            Champion, buddy!"

            "Champion...?" Goldbug stared vacantly for a few seconds before
            remembering something on the news recently concerning the
            team, "Wait... you're not Wolverine! You're that... other guy!"

            "Wildman," the Champion snarled, "I'm the ambivalent Wildman! And
            you're not exactly one to talk, mister. The Gold Fetisher? Pot O'
            Gold Man?"

            "Goldbug," Goldbug screeched, hastily taking his gun from its
            holster and awkwardly firing it, encasing the Champion in a sheathe
            of gold. "Jerk."

            Goldbug stood silently, his eyes shifting around the place as his
            gun smoked. With no other opponents making themselves known, he
            holstered the gun and reverted his focus to the task the amulet had
            set before him.

            Wildman remained stiff, frozen in place inside a golden lining. It
            would take his brain several seconds to register what had happened,
            followed by several seconds of panic, before he finally applied
            super-strength and burst free. By the time he had done so, Goldbug
            was out of sight.

            [Meanwhile]

            Otto scanned the hallway and tiptoed away from the wall, making his
            way cautiously towards where the Amulet of Persuasion was supposed
            to be located. He recognized the dire necessity of this mission; if
            a vessel of the enemy got a hold of the amulet before Woodgod could,
            all varieties of Hell would be unleashed on Earth. It would be like
            Devil's Night, forever. Not even the superhuman leaders of The Order
            would be able to stop it, unless they succeeded on their end of the
            mission, here.

            He ran his stubby fingers over his pistol. It was The Order's
            standard issue, a gun that could be quickly switched between
            ordinary bullets and an energy blast. Generally, the traditional
            setting was used unless they were up against a creature for whom
            bullets had already been proven useless. At the moment, his was
            already switched to energy blaster. One could never be too safe,
            when in a museum collecting supernatural artifacts.

            "All clear," Otto muttered into his radio, "where are you guys?"

            Otto spun around upon hearing a step. By the time his rotation was
            completed, his hand gripped his gun, aimed straight away from his
            body. The speed with which he moved was impressive, considering his
            pear-shaped form.

            "One of the bug's underlings, I presume?" Otto instantly recognized
            the costume. It was Wolverine. Why the hell would the X-Men be here?
            Unless... they were already under the enemy's influence...

            Otto fired and a thin beam of red energy scorched the lone
            Champion's chest, sending him back, his shoulder slamming into the
            wall as he let out a huff of air from his throat. Otto stood his
            ground, keeping his gun locked onto the X-Man whilst searching
            around for any of his teammates. The Scarlet Witch would need taken
            care of first, with her reality-altering powers. Namor and Colossus
            wouldn't be so immediate a threat, so long as he could keep them at
            a distance...

            "Ow," Wildman complained, "that sucked."

            Otto's eyes widened as he realized this was definitely not the voice
            of the X-Man known as Logan. Just after he remembered the Champions,
            Wildman switched to flight and flung himself forward, knocking into
            Otto with both fists. It was a quick, easy knockout.

            [Elsewhere]

            "Whut're we gonna do, now?" Jon asked, muttering to himself, "d'ya
            still count as an artificial guy? That was kinda the main reason we
            needed ya..."

            "I don't know, okay?" Woodgod sighed, Transmutation Wand in his left
            hand. He only planned to keep it around until he could figure out
            how to get it to revert him to his true form. As it was, he was
            already tired of the insanely-low strength of the human body. And it
            was a killer to learn how to walk with human legs.

            "Bet ya'd be a real hit wit' da ladies, in this form," Jon added as
            he led the way.

            "Right," Woodgod replied uncomfortably before changing the
            subject, "has Otto said anything lately?"

            "Nope, just a lotta static," Jon answered, his right hand sliding
            over his holstered firearm. Woodgod felt weak, vulnerable, in his
            current state. The fact that everyone else had guns around here,
            while all he had was a wand of some sort, didn't help much.

            "I think I read somethin' on that wand," Jon added, making
            conversation, "but I don' really remember much. I think there's
            somethin' on it 'bout how a learner can't consciously control it, er
            somethin'..."

            "Great. Just great."

            Jon stopped and peered over the corner and gurgled, "Uh-oh."

            As Jon slid his gun from its holster, Woodgod questioned, "I beg
            your pardon?"

            "Otto's down."

            Woodgod poked his head out around the corner and saw the overweight
            man in black, lying sprawled out over the floor down the hall. He
            appeared to be in one piece, with no fluids draining out from
            him. "He looks okay. Of course, these eyes aren't as good as my --"

            "Yeah, yeah," Jon interrupted, rushing out into the hallway, his
            head constantly turning for any approaching enemy.

            Woodgod followed and headed straight for Otto, ignoring any
            potential dangers. He checked for a pulse and any breathing. "He's
            stable."

            "We're being hunted, and we didn't even know it," Jon growled.

            "The 'nexus' is that way? Then let's get moving." Woodgod dragged
            Otto into a darkened side room and took his gun. At least now he was
            on almost equal footing with those who had always been humans.

            [Meanwhile]

            Goldbug groaned, his body wrapped into the fetal position. His gun
            was shattered on the floor beside him, the amulet no longer in his
            possession. Or, rather, no longer in possession of him. Drool
            threatened to choke him inside his mask and he shivered from a
            mental cold.

            "My destiny... my destiny... all gone," he croaked, bile rising in
            his throat.

            "Goldbug?" Jon asked to no one in particular, remembering the
            villain from the many files he had memorized for the daily tests The
            Order gave its agents. "Goldbug? The world could go t' Hell becuz a
            this nobody?"

            Woodgod quickly examined him, "it would appear that something has
            driven him mad..."

            "Seein' as how the amulet's missin' from its proper place, an' he's
            actin' like this," Jon deduced, "I'd reckon he had it, an' somebody
            bigger took it from 'em."

            "Not a problem," Woodgod said, eyes squinted fiercely. Then he
            turned to face Jon and asked, "how do I cock this thing? And is
            there a safety I need to turn off?"

            [Elsewhere]

            Wildman staggered forward, purple-glowing amulet in his extended
            hand. His mind was presently vacant of any thoughts other than
            following the amulet's will. Finally, he reached the end of the
            winding halls, where a giant, gray globe levitated on display. It
            burned with red and blue energies.

            "Yes," Wildman repeated the thoughts beamed into his mind
            aloud, "Now, throw me into the center of that globe and my true
            master will wield its faithful servant once more!"

            "I don't think so," Woodgod snarled as he grabbed around Wildman's
            neck from behind, "sorry, Champion."

            Jon fired a shot, smashing energy into Wildman's digits. He dropped
            the amulet reflexively, and rage burnt into his eyes as a result.
            Withdrawal of the amulet drove him near to insanity, and he elbowed
            Woodgod with all his super-strength, breaking several ribs and
            sending him flying back into the wall, nearly breaking his back as
            well.

            Blood began to fill Woodgod's throat as he crawled forward on the
            ground. Wildman reached down to pick up the amulet, whilst Jon kept
            firing on him, keeping him only moments away from his goal. Each
            time, Wildman was able to get just a few millimeters closer before
            being forced back, less and less...

            Woodgod's entire, frail frame felt completely exhausted. His lungs
            burned. His throat constricted. His muscles screamed out in pain.
            Still, he forced himself forward on the ground, knowing it would be
            the end if he did not. He had to do this, even if it killed him.

            Woodgod's fingers brushed over the wand and he stiffened as
            electricity filled his human body. He felt suddenly rejuvenated, his
            muscles reknitting as his lungs replenished themselves and his
            broken ribs reformed. He looked down at the hand holding the wand
            and saw that it was again covered in brown fur. Woodgod smiled as he
            sneered, his head shooting up to see Wildman firing laser blasts
            from his eyes, keeping Jon at bay.

            Woodgod leapt forward like a man possessed, reaching his right arm
            around Wildman and spinning him away. His left arm stretched into
            the air before coming down. With all his might, he smashed the wand
            into the Amulet of Persuasion. The transmuting properties of the
            wand worked in conjunction with Woodgod's own strength, and a blast
            of electricity flashed through Woodgod and the amulet, temporarily
            blinding Jon.

            "Whut's goin' on?" Jon yelped.

            "We did it," Woodgod hissed, feeling primal and relishing it. The
            Amulet of Persuasion was now nothing more than a pile of cricket
            carcasses. "Just one more thing..."

            Woodgod stared at the large, gray globe and pointed the
            Transmutation Wand at it. He closed his eyes. With a savage bark, he
            willed a bolt of yellow lightning from the wand, blasting the globe
            with it. The globe spun, its speed rapidly accelerating, and red and
            blue energy snaked out into the entire museum. The items of
            supernatural origin, and even some of the fakes, dissipated in a
            cloud of smoke.

            "You said the artificial nexus point was formed through the close
            proximity of so many powerful magical items? Now those items have
            all been dispersed throughout the cosmos. Problem solved."

            "Yikes," Jon muttered, his sight slowly returning to him. "Don'
            think the bosses'll be happy with that, but... thanks."

            "I don't have to worry about your employers," Woodgod replied,
            turning to walk away. "If they don't like it, they can come to me."

            Woodgod bent down and scooped Alex Wildman's shivering body into his
            strong arms. "Right now, I've got a friend to take care of."

            "I hear ya," Jon nodded, remembering his partner who was still
            unconscious in the hall.

            [The end...]
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