Tales of the Timeless #10
Written by Warren "Azmodi"
Entros, Edited by E.A. Morrissey
Tales of the Timeless
The Conclusion of: "The Cold Dominion of the Masked Specter"
Please read Issue #9 of Tales of the Timeless if you haven't already.
Go to the POTU Archive Page for more past issues of Tales of the Timeless.
Time did not live in Chronopolis, situated as it was between Limbo and the true flow of events. Yet the dungeon that Kang now stood within had the unmistakable scent of the past, ripped from savage medieval times.
The Conquerors voice was icy, cold as the air itself, as he looked down on the prisoner. Her once rich robes were dirtied and torn, and firmly she was shackled to the cobbled wall.
"Why do you come here, day after day?" she said, her voice little more than a whisper, yet retaining a shade of its royal power.
"Because I wish it, Ravonna. You do not question your master." Kang replied, still studying the former ruler of Chronopolis.
"You are a shadow, one which shall soon be washed away. If The One Who Comes does not destroy you, my husband shall. Guard yourself well, imposter - your life is nearly at an end."
Angry rose up in the armored monarch, yet he quickly suppressed the urge to strike Ravonna. He continued to stare at her, with child-like eyes. Why was he so often compelled to visit the mate of the very man he had overthrown? Was she something he could never have?
He shook his head. No, it could not be that - it would not be that.
Static crackled suddenly, and Kang raised his hand. A hologram crackled to life above his palm, displaying the unmistakable form of Black Axe. The mercenarys voice was calm, yet obviously he was in some type of dire circumstance. His hair was singed and disshelled, and his features were covered with soot and a small multitude of cuts.
"We are under attack, Lord Kang. The generators have been destroyed."
The Conqueror bristled, and the vision of those scarlet masses roaring across Chronopolis came immediately to mind, "Who is attacking you?"
An explosion sounded clearly in the background, along with deep shouts filled with both pain and the rage born of combat, "Doctor Doom, and an army of his Doombots." Black Axes hologram flickered.
"Doom? What is he - "
"It does not matter, Kang. You must begin preparations to bring Century into Chronopolis - it is our only alternative."
Kang nodded, "Yes, yes. I shall do so immediately."
Without reply Black Axe disappeared. Ravonna laughed cruelly, despite her status, "You are the ordered about by your servants. What chance do you have against any of your foes?"
The Conqueror lashed out suddenly, furiously, striking Ravonna with the back of his armored hand. The dungeon rang with the clap of impact, and the princess slumped in her chains, a small trickle of blood running from her mouth.
Kang looked down at her senseless body for a moment, and then stalked quickly from the chamber.
The corridors of what would one day become Castle Doom were filled with thick smoke, clogging the lungs of the small, frenzied group. Wave after wave of relentless Doombots rolled forward, only to be cut down by fire from both Dreadknight and his minions.
Vesling and his troops raced through the halls as quickly as their feet could carry them, looking for an escape. Black Axe took up the rear, easily eliminating any armored mechanism that came too close. Yet even that time-lost mercenarys energy was slowly waning - his armor was cracked and ashen, his limbs slowly becoming crippled with fatigue.
The tide was turning rapidly, the technology of the future no match for the overwhelming forces born of Victor Von Dooms genius. Kangs machines were stripped away, leaving only Dreadknight, the assassin, and their unconscious prisoners.
Yet it seemed that a great deal of those insensate forms were not as they appeared. Communication crackled between the Timeless, transferred by the uplinks built into all their respective armors. Harried as they were, Dreadknight and Black Axe did not notice the interplay.
As the droids which towed their bodies fell to the fire of the Doombots, the Timeless leapt up, even the formerly paralyzed Doom. They turned first to the small army charging behind them, and, for the first time since their formation, acted truly as one. Energy churned out from the six time-travellers, and struck down the raging Doombots.
The air was filled with the sound of sparking circuitry, and the nearing clamor armored footsteps. A second host of emerald-clad machines was already nearing, Little time remained until another legion of Doombots would be upon the small, motley group of chronal-voyagers.
"Doom!" cried Dreadknight, with the voice of a madman. He surged forward, ready to burn the life out of his tormentor. But Black Axe held him back, despite his own fatigue.
"Stop! We cannot escape this place while fighting amongst one another."
"No!" shouted Vesling maniacally, straining against the mercenarys grip.
Black Axe felt his strength quickly fleeting - he would not be able to hold back the lunatic for much longer, "Listen! We must reach the throneroom - Kang has agreed to transport us of this time at those coordinates. But we will never reach our destination if we are overrun by the minions of Doctor Doom!"
Nathaniel Richards nodded, already beginning to stride up the hall, Century following closely behind, "We must put our differences aside if we are to survive. Afterwards our differences can be settled."
Dreadknights struggles faded, and he stepped away from the mercenary, crimson eyes focused squarely on the Latverian. Doom seemed unperturbed by his former scientists glare, instead turning his attention to the far-end of the corridor, from which the sound of booted footsteps were growing rapidly louder. His curiousity and anger were evident, despite his lack of words.
Where had these Doombots sprang from? Was it truly his past self-leading them?
"Not the best time to remiscene, yes?" said Deaths Head, as he made his way up the hall.
The cyborgs every word grated upon him, yet still he was forced to acknowledge the rough wisdom of the bounty hunters words. Reluctantly the Latverian turned, and took up the rear of the unlikely group.
Kang steeled himself as the lithe form of his mate strode coolly into the chamber. Attired in a simple flowing emerald robe, her ebony hair pulled back into a tight knot, she did not appear the exceedingly deadly, ruthless creature she truly was.
"Mantis." he said smoothly, as if carefully stepping about a room full of slumbering lions, "It is good that you have returned here, at last. Was your excursion successful?"
"No." she snapped quickly, and without admiration for the great figure she now took a seat next to. Mantis examined her throne and, as always, found it slightly smaller than her husbands. Her anger smoldered.
"No? You could find nothing that will aid us in the battle against The One Who Comes?"
"I said no, Kang. We traversed as much of the timestream as we could, but were unable to discover anything of value. You will have to defeat your secret enemy using your current resources and your own guile."
The Conqueror scowled beneath his mask, but did not retaliate with a barb, but a fact, "That is not so, Mantis - Black Axe is bringing me Century as we speak. The One Who Comes shall before the might of my own greatest enemy."
The cold woman scoffed at her husbands idiocy, "You of all have the most to fear from Century - you are a fool to bring him here. Better flight than erasure."
Kangs chest grew tight, yet he could not bring himself to lash out at his mate, for fear of reprisal. As he spoke he seem to cringe away from her, as if fearing to be struck, "I will manage, as I always have. I have ruled Chronopolis and this sprawling empire, have I not?"
"Your empire shrinks to a pale shadow, and Chronopolis will soon fall if you do not act carefully and quickly. You and your dominion is one of the few bulwarks that remains between the armies of The One Who Comes and the remainder of the timestream."
The emperors teeth gritted, "My reign will not fall, Mantis."
His words were hollow, and clanged empty in the opulent throneroom.
The great doors would not close, blown backward by the constant assault from without, springing from the surging masses of Doombots. Hot pieces of twisted and gnarled steel burned from the antique doors, spraying the stolid forms of Deaths Head and Peace, as they vigilantely returned fire.
The cyborg turned to his compatriot mercenary and quipped, "They arent paying us enough for this, yes?"
Peaces expression was grimly serious, as he fired back, a Doombot exploding before his concentrated retalitation, "No, theyre not."
A lance of organic power sizzled by, dangerously close to the bounty hunters shoulder. Ripjaks unmistakable voice rang out over the din of combat, igniting sparks that had been only waiting to be ignited, "You wish to fight for pay, not for the lives of your allies? Where is your honor?"
"A solid paycheck beats honor any day. Gotta pay the bills, yes?" Deaths Head replied snidely.
"Quiet, all of you." Doom snapped, as a blast of power died on his armor, leaving a small black scorch-mark, "This is not the time for the discussion of your philosophical differences."
Peaces patience frayed, suddenly, the grime, the noise, the weariness, building upon his shoulders until he could stand it no more, "Yeah, while why dont you -"
The mercenarys thought was never finished, except as a surprised gasp, as his body was gone in a flash, leaving no trace that it had ever walked the corridors of that Latverian castle.
"Peace?" Deaths Head questioned, his return fire dying for a moment. It was a costly hesitation - the door exploded before him, sending the cyborg hurtling back into the chamber. The Doombots charged in, sparying artificial fire all about the room, shattering the viewscreen, reducing the throne to cinders.
Dooms head snapped around, and he regarded Black Axe harshly as they huddled behind the smashed chair, "Why have we not been retrieved yet? We cannot survive much longer."
"I do not know - we can only wait."
"Someone help him!" Ripjak shouted, glancing momentarily at the listless form of Deaths Head, whose body smoldered and smoked.
The Latverian eyed Black Axe dangerously once more, ignored his comrade, and thrust himself into the battle, tearing through the dozens of pale imitations of himself who choked the chamber. With uncharacteristic ferocity Doom smashed the faceplates and torsos of his foes, as if fired by looking upon the creature he had once been. Had he somehow become less than he once was a pale shadow of his former greatness?
In another corner, Century whirled his staff through the legions, eviscerating unliving suit after unliving suit, until up to his knees he stood in sparking circuitry. Nathaniel watched, intermittenly firing away himself, and was pleased.
Space crackled as the minutes of wearying combat dragged on, and the eyes of the Timeless turn to see a great yawning fissure open within the center of the beleagured chamber, beckoning them all to enter.
"Kangs porta1!" Black Axe shouted, stalked hurriedly towards the maw, "Everyone, inside!"
The group did as they were told, even Doom and Dreadknight, and soon the Timeless were freed from the hectic combat of Latveria, leaving the army of automatons to rage impotently in the ashes.
The stars did not seem to shine in the Sol System, and the heavens seemed to weep icy tears. Vangaards silver shape cut through the frigid void, and even his star-tempered armor could not shield him from the bone-chilling cold. The sun seemed far too distant and far too subdued as the herald of the Great Void neared the sphere called Terra - Earth.
Vangaard came to a slow halt in the darkness, looking over the surroundings of the sad globe. Venus and Mars, the mottled orbs closest cousins, seemed to shrink away from their life-bearing relative, as if frightened that its cancer would spread. The weak sunlight shone in pale rays on the Earth, and the great, blackened beast, which had once glowed so proudly, swallowed up the weak strobes.
Sadness swept across the herald of the timestreams paramount master, playing chords in his soul that he had thought burned out of him by the Great Void long ago. Vangaards eyes saw the planet Earth, but desperately attempted to stray from the ruined paradise. He forced them to look, to study the eternally dark sphere, and the great masses of black and blue clouds, which swirled eternally through the planets atmosphere.
Reluctantly, Vangaard stretched his senses out, fingers reaching out towards the cracked orb. He cringed as he felt through the masses of broken humans, millions of disparate, depressed, destroyed people, ground under an implacable heel.
The heralds mental fingers wrapped slowly around a singular force which dwelt upon the strangled world, and Vangaards recoiled immediately, as he felt bile rise in his throat. He roared off instantly, back into the dark depths, trying to escape the influence of that monstrous entity whose presence he had encountered. He had made contact, brief, terrible contact, and felt he would never be able to cleanse the terrible stain which had tainted his mind.
The five Timeless strode into the throneroom of Kang the Conqueror, their wounds recently healed, their armors polished, their stomachs full. Behind them stalked the ever-vigilant Black Axe, attired in smoke-grey tunic and slacks, though his slim axe remained present at his side.
The group came to a halt at the feet of Emperor Kang and his consort, the stern-countenanced Lady Mantis, who regarded them as insects, as would a woman taken of her name.
"What do you want with us, Kang?" Nathaniel questioned.
"I require your help - specifically the help of your comrade, Century." the Conqueror replied, doing his best to maintain a facade of command.
Centurys brow furrowed at the request, and he focused squarely on Kang. Emotions he had thought long disappeared roiled in his stomach, stirred by the sight of the Conqueror. He repressed the feelings which had sprung up, kept them under tight control, and knew they would not explode outward unless he willed that explosion.
"My empire is slowly collapsing beneath the armies of an unknown opponent, one who is simply called The One Who Comes. I cannot defeat this enemy alone - I require help, and Century has already manifested great power all his own. He will be the key to my victory."
"What reason is there for us to aid you?" Richards inquired.
"My empire is all that stands between this invading army and the rest of the timestream. The One Who Comes moves backwards through time, conquering each time period he enters - if my realm falls, he shall be free to bring all the preceding eras to their knees."
Century nodded abruptly, "Hes telling the truth . . . I - I can sense it, a disturbance in the very fabric of time."
Nathaniels white brow furrowed, "You are sure?"
The scientist debated for a moment, and then turned to Doom, "I believe we must stay. What is your opinion Victor?"
"I have no love for Kang, Richards, however, in this case, it seems our needs are best suited by aiding him."
Nathaniel nodded, looking over the rest of the group, "Were in agreement?"
"No." came the response, from both Ripjak and Deaths Head simultaneously.
"This group dynamic just work for me - Im no team player, yes?" the cyborg said, "Its time I was going, and went back to doing what I do best. Theres money to be made."
"I find my heart does not rest with this group, and with it I cannot fight at my best. I disagree with the morals of many of my teammates, and some of the decisions that have been made. I desire to return to my own time, for there remain many issues there which must be resolved."
"I will take you there, it is on the way to my own destination." Deaths Head volunteered.
"This is unfortunate. . ." Nathaniel said, but beneath his caring facade, the elderly scientist did not seem to truly care, "I bid you both farewell and wish you success."
There was no reply from the two former Timeless as they turned and strode from the chamber, not looking back.
I hope you enjoyed the first ten issues of Tales of the Timeless by Azmodi. Look for more Tales of the Timeless by a new author soon. We'll give you more details later ;) Now, be sure to leave comments to Azmodi below or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org Also, check out the Cosmic Unionverse Page and POTU Archive Page for details about the Cosmic Union continuity and the other stories taking place in it, as it begins to shape into a whole new cosmic universe of Marvel characters! And be sure to check out Azmodi's fan fiction saga, Foundations Forged Before Nightfall, the first of many sequels to his Twilight War Saga! Now don't forget to leave those comments and suggestions!
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