The Defenders #60
- The rain fell hard and fast outside the warehouse, as the Cobalt Collector, Angel, and the Black Talon stood guard. A dozen Haitian zombies stood nearby, ready to back them up as needed. They watched as the eight distant Defenders came into view.
The Silver Surfer. Moon Knight. The Thing. The werewolf. Topaz. Rintrah. Valkyrie. Luke Cage.
"You're too late!" Black Talon yelled over the occasional bursts of lightning and thunder. "She's already dead! The birthing ceremony has begun! It's only a matter of time now before Dormammu scours the Earth!"
Moon Knight leapt from the ladder to his helicopter, flipping several times before coming to a landing on the ground and hurling several silver crescents, which struck, sinking into the hard flesh of the zombies.
"If that's the way you want to play it," Black Talon said, pointing at the Defenders, as his zombies began to shuffle forward. "Kill them!"
"Remember, Topaz, the Surfer, and myself must get inside," Rintrah said, "we might be able to stop whatever is happening!"
"We read ya loud an' clear," the Thing said, "Ever'body else, pick a partner and dance."
The Cobalt Collector slammed his armored shoulder into the Thing, who felt a strange buzzing sensation when contact was made, the result of his own cosmic radiation mingling with the radiation of the Collector.
"I have to stop you," Cobalt Collector said, "I can't go back to that mirror-world! I just want my old life back!"
"So yer gonna let this Dormammy thing loose?" The Thing responded, kicking him off and then jumping on to hammer him with crushing blows that had seemingly no impact on his body armor. "Not the biggest brain in the bunch, are ya?"
"You don't know what it's like there!" Cobalt Collector said, eyes glowing with energy, as he zapped the Thing hard enough to throw him off.
The Thing closed his eyes, reopening them to see the darkened sky beginning to take on a blood-red color, causing the rain coming down to look like blood.
"Ben," Cage said, as he knocked the Cobalt Collector away from his fallen teammate, "I'm guessin' that ain't a good sign, huh?"
"Sign o' the times, Luke," the Thing said, taking Cage's hand to help him up, "an' you know what that means."
The Thing and Luke Cage simultaneously struck the Cobalt Collector, sending him hurtling away from the warehouse and actually chipping his armor. "It's clobberin' time!"
The mysterious DOCTOR STRANGE! The vibrant TOPAZ! The savage WEREWOLF BY NIGHT! The high-flying MOON KNIGHT! The alien RINTRAH! Evil-doers tremble at the names--for these five 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 #60
"Bad Moon Rising, Month 9: Delivery"
Writer: John Flint
Webmaster: Liam Gibbs
Angel took to the skies, her insectoid wings buzzing. "I took you down easily enough last time, blondie," she said, eyeing the Valkyrie on her winged steed, Aragorn, "you ain't getting past me today."
"I don't need to," Valkyrie said, "so long as my teammates do."
Angel spat acid from her deep in her throat, projecting a steady stream of it through the air in a long arc. Valkyrie steered Aragorn far right, dodging the acid-stream as she continued to approach the warehouse.
"I'm more maneuverable in the air than you are," Angel said, dive-bombing her Asgardian foe.
"Perhaps," Valkyrie agreed, as she suddenly stopped her steed and drew back her fist, smacking Angel in the face and knocking her out of the skies, "but I have far more experience than you, foul child."
Angel struggled to clear her head as the world spun, and she heard the horse trotting around her. "Do you surrender?"
"Hell no," Angel replied, spitting acid once more. She could not see if she hit anyone or not, but she hoped she did.
"Mortal," Valkyrie spoke, "do you really wish to see the world destroyed by Dormammu?"
"I don't care," Angel said, "the world never did me any favors! And they promised me I'd have power over the people who survive!"
"No one will be left alive," Valkyrie told her, "you shall all be carried off to Hel in his wake."
"Then I guess I better make sure," Angel said, "I take you with me!"
Her head cleared, Angel leapt at Valkyrie, who stepped out of the way and struck a knee into Angel's thorax. "You are neither as powerful nor as skilled as you believe yourself to be," Valkyrie told her, "even with Mordo's enhancements."
"It was enough to take you down before," Angel argued, rubbing her wounded regions as she stumbled about.
"Once," Valkyrie said. "And only once. Surrender now, and I will forgive you for it. I see potential in you, mortal; you could be a valued member of the Defenders, and learn to--"
"Like hell," Angel responded, shooting forth further more acid. Valkyrie rolled away, and it burned one of the Black Talon's zombies.
"Very well," Valkyrie said, scooping up a rock and hurling it at her foe. She didn't need to unsheathe Dragonfang to take down the teen mutant. The rock struck her in the temple and knocked her down yet again.
The werewolf stalked the Black Talon, who ordered his zombies to attack the Moon Knight, Topaz, Rintrah, and the Silver Surfer. Before his mind could even register the light-trail, the Silver Surfer was inside the warehouse.
"He can't stop it by himself," the Black Talon said, "he doesn't do magic."
"No, but we do," Topaz said, as she and Rintrah strode forward. Black Talon had his zombies block their path, but then the werewolf barreled through them, knocking them away. The two mages took the moment's distraction to teleport themselves inside.
"No, I must help the baron," Black Talon said, not wanting this entire affair to be a waste of his time. He had come from New Orleans for the promise of great pay and more zombies to be provided for his use.
The werewolf stood in his way, snarling, on all fours. "Out of my way," Black Talon said, slashing the beast with his clawed glove. The werewolf fell to the side, yipping, then jumped onto his back, knocking him over.
Moon Knight, meanwhile, took care of the zombies, methodically taking them down, one at a time. When they tried to rush him in a group, he rolled out of the way, using their lack of speed to his advantage. He threw his razor-edged silver crescents, piercing their eyes so that they couldn't see him. They still seemed to have some sort of sense of direction, mystically attuned to follow their master's commands, and so Moon Knight went to work with his staff, tripping them up.
The werewolf tried to bite the Black Talon, snapping his canines at his neck as the super-villain jerked away in time. He sunk his claws into the werewolf, but this damage did little noticeable harm as the were-beast did not let up.
"Enough," Black Talon said, "Enough! I won't be turned into a lycanthropic beast such as yourself! No payout is worth that!"
The werewolf ignored his comments and continued to snap his sharpened teeth at the man.
A vast, dark, terrible portal opened up around the corpse of the pregnant woman, as Baron Mordo began to feel the power flowing through him and into the earth. "Yes, yes!"
"No," the Silver Surfer replied, standing on his cosmic board above and behind the baron, "No."
"Where's Strange?" Baron Mordo asked, "I was sure he would want to try to stop me himself!"
"You are responsible for my recent death," the Silver Surfer said, eyes narrowed, "I will stop you."
Baron Mordo laughed. "There's nothing more anyone can do! It's happening! The Dread Dormammu is already being born!"
The Silver Surfer shot Power Cosmic, separating Baron Mordo from the whirling tempest of extra-dimensional energy. "You and I shall... conversate."
The Silver Surfer grabbed Mordo by his black cape, throwing him across the warehouse, away from the swirling pool of mystical energy, and put up an invisible screen, keeping that energy from finding the baron's body and empowering him.
Topaz and Rintrah, meanwhile, appeared in a flash of fire and brimstone. They looked at the situation and then to each other. "It's going to take a lot to seal this up," Topaz said.
"Then we had best get started," Rintrah agreed.
"No! They can't interfere," Mordo cried, as he ran smack into an invisible barrier.
"As I was saying," the Silver Surfer said. "You and I must conference. I recognize your energy signature, Baron; it was involved in the myriad spell which destroyed me."
"Get away from me," Baron Mordo shrieked, throwing bolts of mystical energy at the former Herald of Galactus, which easily bounced off, sparking the walls around him.
"The hour of retribution is at hand," the Silver Surfer said, putting a hand down on the baron's head, gently, and Power Cosmic flowed from one to another.
"No!" Baron Mordo cried before the connection was complete. Then, he experienced all the pain and separation from reality that the Silver Surfer had felt all those many months, and broke out in a cold sweat.
The channel between worlds flowed with interdimensional energies, which suddenly stopped. The end had been sealed off, Earth no longer viable, for the moment, and so the energy had to keep flowing somewhere else.
It flowed back on itself, returning towards the Dark Dimension, only to find that that exit, also, had been sealed off.
Clea stood before the portal, calm, serene, a blazing halo of fire over her head. Sorceress Supreme of the Dark Dimension, she had returned to her homeland and severed the consciousness's link to its own land. It could not return.
Unable to go on to Earth, needing to flow somewhere before it would lose its cohesion, the energy smashed out of the tunnel and found itself recorporealizing in some in-between dimension.
"Dormammu," said a voice, "I've been waiting."
"Strange," Dormammu said, looking at his burning hands, "What have you done?"
"I've trapped you here," Dr. Strange's soul revealed, "with me. Most of your energy is still in the Dark Dimension or traversing the length of the tube between dimensions, and most of my energy has been siphoned into this world."
"You seek to keep me here indefinitely," Dormammu said, "of your own sacrifice?"
"Yes," Dr. Strange revealed, "You're too weak and I'm too powerful here; we shall ultimately stalemate. We can never leave."
"You are willing to make that sacrifice? You fool! There are other threats to your Earth! Other dangers to be stopped by the Sorcerer Supreme!"
"None so dangerous as you," Strange replied. "And besides, my Defenders are there. They'll know what to do. I've given them full employ of my resources."
"Then I suppose," Dormammu said, "I will just have to defeat you utterly, human."
"As always, you're welcome to try."
Topaz and Rintrah continued to weave layer after layer of spells, containing and confining the portal, shrinking it.
Energy built up, too little leaking out into the world, and the build up increased exponentially until the portal exploded, the tunnel between dimensions shattering and dispersing Dormammu's vast energies throughout the many myriad dimensions.
The warehouse exploded in a massive fireball that made no noise.
[To be concluded...]
- San Francisco, California.
Bobby Drake drove his rented SUV across the Golden Gate Bridge, admiring the waters below. Not such a long time ago, he could have frozen those waters by sheer force of will, his mutant condensation power allowing him to ice over anything he pleased.
Thanks to the Leech virus, this was no longer the case. (1)
Now, he was just plain, ordinary Robert Drake, spokesperson for human/mutant relations. He worked with the X-Men in cases of public relations and meetings with diplomats. He was no longer involved in any combat scenarios.
This suited him just fine, for the moment; he knew he would have to settle down some day, he just hadn't anticipated that day coming so soon. He had been distraught, depressed, at first, upon losing his powers. Now, he was gradually beginning to accept it as a fact of life, and come to terms with being an ordinary human being with no x-factor gene separating him from ninety-nine percent of the population of the planet.
"Just a normal guy on vacation," Bobby chuckled to himself, wondering what he was going to do tonight. Too bad Hank couldn't get off monitor duty with the Avengers, or they could paint the town
Bobby had to swerve out of the way of the car before him as he slammed on the brakes. Whatever was going on had stopped all traffic. Bobby got out of the vehicle and hopped onto the hood to get a better view.
In the middle of the bridge, a giant scorpion, the length of a semi trailer, was snapping its pincers and wagging its tail at the parked cars.
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 #73
Writer: John Flint
Webmaster: Liam Gibbs
Bobby got back in the rented SUV and rummaged through his bags in the back until he found the one he was looking for. It had the gift from Forge that he had asked for. He hadn't planned on making use of it so soon, but when duty called
In under two minutes, Bobby had slipped out of the normal clothing he had been wearing and had slipped on the cold blue costume that had been in the bag. He slipped the mask over his face to protect his identity as he stepped back onto the bridge, resembling Blizzard more than Iceman of the X-Men.
He iced up a bridge over the cars between him and the giant scorpion, and once he had crossed it he saw that another hero was already on the scene. At first he didn't recognize him as he was also wearing new duds.
"Doctor Strange!" Iceman said as he came to a landing on the pavement, happy to be off the ice-slide which wasn't so natural to him as it had been when his own body made it and his feet were made of ice.
Doctor Strange turned to look at him, eyes scrutinizing the unfamiliar costume. Strange was dressed in a sharp blue suit, black tie, and quickly yanked a silver pocket watch from his pocket, opening it up and shining its blinding light at the Iceman.
"Yikes," Iceman said, shielding his eyes with his arms, "I'm a friend! A friend!"
"I apologize, Iceman," Dr. Strange said, "I wasn't sure just who you were at first. I've been out of the loop of late and I don't know who is wearing what anymore."
"Right, it's cool," Iceman said, "So what've we got here?"
"What we have here," Dr. Strange said, "is a giant scorpion. Frankly, I'm surprised you had to ask."
"Where did it come from?" Iceman asked, watching as the scorpion snapped and whipped about but did nothing to actually strike anyone.
"That's what I would like to find out," Strange said, "he means no harm, of course, but given his size, could do considerable damage if let loose in a populated area. Worse, he isn't alone; where there's one "
Iceman watched as Valkyrie loaded up civilians on the back of her winged steed, Aragorn, flying them over the hastily parked vehicles to get them clear of the bridge. Rintrah wrapped several people up in his levitating cloak, carrying several more as the cloak carried them over the scene to safety.
"I thought the Defenders disbanded awhile ago," Iceman said.
"When the need arises," Dr. Strange said, "now, if you could be so kind as to freeze up our friend here, he won't present any problem as we take him home."
"What? You want me to freeze him up?"
"It won't hurt him but it will keep him from lashing out at us," Strange said.
Iceman obeyed, firing his palm freezer-rays at the giant scorpion and slowly slathering it until it was iced over and had stopped moving. "Is it is he okay?"
"Yes, as long as we get him back quickly," Strange said.
"Everyone is safely away," Valkyrie reported as she returned on Aragorn.
"Excellent," Strange said, "I'm going to need you and Rintrah to carry the scorpion back to its island."
"Lead the way, Stephen," Valkyrie said.
A tiny island poked up its head from the waves, and Dr. Strange hovered above it while Rintrah and Valkyrie, still astride Aragorn, lowered the iced scorpion down onto the island. Iceman followed on an ice-slide, which he repeatedly nearly fell off of.
"Here we are," Strange said, "Scorpion Island."
"Never heard of this place before," Iceman said.
"That's because it was never here before," Dr. Strange said, as he used the flames of the Faltine to melt away the artificial ice and the giant scorpion stirred back to life.
The scorpion fled towards a cave, and the Defenders and Iceman watched as several more scorpions, just as large, poked their heads out of the large cavern beneath the island.
"The island rose above the surface recently due to seismic shifts," Strange explained, "the cave system under Scorpion Island protects them from drowning, but when they found they could leave the caves, well, naturally, this one wanted to explore a bit."
"How did you know all this?" Iceman asked.
"The Eye knows all," Strange said with a smile, slipping out his pocket watch again.
"Okay, so now what?" Iceman asked. "Like you said, they aren't evil, but we can't just leave them here, so close to San Fran."
"Whatever we are going to do," Rintrah said, "we had better do it quickly."
The Defenders looked towards the water. "I can feel it," Valkyrie said, able to detect the movements in the waves. "Submarine?"
"Yes," Strange said. "They're going to attack Scorpion Island."
[Inside the sub.]
The Blue Sabres went to work at their stations, prepared to launch missiles that would return the small island to beneath the ocean waves where it, in their opinion, belonged.
`Wait,' a psychic voice commanded, and everyone halted immediately through the sheer force of the voice's will.
The commander stared into the astral image of Doctor Strange, appearing before him as though it were a hologram. "Out of the way, mutant; we're here to protect humanity from those bug-eyed monsters!"
`They're not monsters, they're living beings the same as you or I,' Strange replied, ignoring the mistake of labeling him a mutant. `They mean no harm; give us an hour to relocate them. We'll move them to an island further out to sea, too far for them to swim to shore, and you'll never have to worry about them again.'
"Uh-huh," the commander grunted, "until the Mole Man or Doc Doom gets a hold of them an' sends them to crush the United States!"
`I won't let that happen, I promise you. Please, an hour?'
"Fine, have an hour," the commander agreed, "then we're demolishing your precious scorpions!"
[A half-hour later.]
Iceman, riding Aragorn, flew through the rip in the fabric of spacetime which Valkyrie tore via Dragonfang, thus moving swiftly from one ocean to another, plastering the sea beneath him with a steady ice-bridge which the giant scorpions crossed, with Rintrah riding the scorpion in the lead, having established a mental rapport with her.
A mile ahead, Valkyrie and Doctor Strange waved to them from the beach. Though still carrying the dimension-splitting Dragonfang, Val now wore a pale yellow bikini, Strange in red swimming trunks. The Eye of Agamotto was in a pocket of his suit of levitation, wrapped over a branch of a nearby tree.
The giant scorpions crossed the ice-bridge to Akhnet, and Rintrah patted their queen's head in silent praise.
Iceman set down on the sand and hopped off the winged horse's back, sliding off his mask to enjoy the salty breeze. "Nice place you've got," he said, admiring the Rune Island.
"And thanks to Stephen, animals can live here once more," Val said as the scorpions began to explore their new habitat, crawling into the massive forests full of lush habitation.
"What are they gonna eat?" Iceman asked, scratching his head.
"Akhnet will provide for them," Rintrah said.
"Works for me," Iceman shrugged and laughed.
"While we're all here, I thought we might enjoy ourselves for the afternoon," Stephen said and motioned with two fingers towards something in the forest. A volleyball rolled out onto the beach.
"I'll do the honors," Iceman said, using his gloves to create an ice-net. "Should last long enough for one game, and I can make another when it starts to melt."
"Alright, then," Stephen said, "Val, you're with me."
Rintrah stepped onto Iceman's side of the net, and the game commenced.
1. See Uncanny X-Men #421.