Midnight Sun #4
Written by Matt Hamilton, Edited by
Part 4 of "Ebon Dreams and Ivory Prizes"
At that very moment, the Kree's quarry was adopting a fighting stance, as the four men whose hideout he had stumbled upon began to advance. Despite knowing that his body was superhumanly durable, Midnight Sun eyed the crowbar and ball-and-chain with caution. The ease with which his adversary swung the ball suggested that he, too, was possessed of enhanced strength; and there was no doubt that the impact of that ball would rival a blow from the Silver Surfer himself.
"Watch it, boys," said the blonde-haired one in the red and white costume, never taking his eyes off the intruder. "This guy looks like he knows how ta' fight."
The leader snarled. "Stow it! We've taken on goldilocks and we're still around. This guy'll be a piece a' cake!"
Midnight Sun decided at that moment to make his move. With lightning-fast speed he leapt towards the assailant armed with the ball-and-chain, landing his foot square in the man's chest. The kick carried such power that it launched the man and his weapon back across the room, where he landed heavily.
Taken aback by the assault, the other three were slow to react. M'Nai capitalised on the opportunity, somersaulting over the group, and landing a sharp blow into the kidneys of the yellow-costumed foe.
The leader turned and swung his crowbar, narrowly missing the shadow warrior's head. While the man recovered from the wild swing, Midnight Sun finished off his current target with a series of well-placed blows.
The man outfitted in red and white suddenly caught the cyborg off guard, his fist hammering into Midnight Sun's jaw. Such power! The man was obviously superhumanly strong! No doubt all of them were.
"Nice, Piledriver!" yelled the leader, and threw himself at their opponent. Midnight Sun dodged the flying body, and spun a hooking kick into his back. The man landed, and did not get up.
Only the one called Piledriver yet remained. In only a few seconds he was down, as well. He never knew what hit him.
M'Nai felt his jaw as he surveyed the battered men around him. None of them were fit to take him on a second time. He stepped over one of the bodies and made his way to the factory equipment, but stopped as the unmistakable sound of a landing ship filled the air! He had been detained too long!
The Kree had arrived!
Tor-Lann reached across and depressed the button to open the ship's hatch. Behind him, six of his best men stood armed and ready. On his faceplate a small red dot blinked on and off, representing his quarry.
The Colonel in the Kree army had been assigned the task of locating their rogue android, and bringing it back for reprogramming. Though it had failed to defeat the Silver Surfer in combat so many months ago, the android's display of battle prowess against a squadron of Kree commandos had convinced the empire that it was worth salvaging.
Tor-Lann knew that the penalty for failing in this task would be harsh. Demotion at best. At worst, execution. Kar-Sagg, the creator of the cyborg, had already suffered the latter fate. He should have known better than to allow such a valuable asset to leave his research station.
The hatch opened, and slowly the escalator touched down on the grass below. In the distance Lann could make out a decrepit building, within which the android had sought sanctuary. Had he no idea that they were tracing him? That his every move could be monitored as surely as if he were under a microscope?
No doubt this would all be over soon. He stepped onto the escalator, and motioned for his men to follow.
The Kree vessel was not large, by the standards of their empire. It stood perhaps three stories high on the landscape, and almost as wide as the warehouse it had landed near. Inside there was little room for more than a bridge and sleeping quarters; and since this was a military ship, the cargo hold was minuscule. It barely had room for two people.
Or one person, and a large dog.
In a small recess between huge pieces of machinery, Midnight Sun waited for his pursuers to enter. Around him, darkness was spreading like something palpable. He was concentrating, now, on generating the tangible darkness which would help conceal him from the Kree. He knew that they would have some sort of tracking device, but was gambling on it being inaccurate at short range.
He was also gambling that they wanted him alive.
The warehouse door swung open once more. The four men he had just finished fighting were up, but had decided that they were alone. All at once they stepped away from the door, ready to fight once more. Perhaps they figured that he had returned for another round.
M'Nai could not help but be impressed by the fight which ensued. Between the four of them, his former adversaries managed to take down two of the Kree soldiers; no small feat even for superhumans. The standard issue Kree neuro-stunners were enough to fell the group, however, once the Kree had realised that none of these humans were the one they sought.
Once the other five were inside, they began a methodical search. It appeared to the shadow warrior that they indeed did not know his exact location, for surely they would have worked their way directly toward him if-
It was almost too late by the time Midnight Sun realised that the Kree were, in fact, circling around him. Their supposedly random search was carried out in an attempt to disguise an obvious ambush. It was time to move, now!
The cyborg darted out of his hiding spot, running straight toward an advancing Kree. The soldier, not expecting a direct attack, fumbled at his weapon. Before he even had time to wrap his finger around the trigger the gun was out of his hands, and the dark shape of Midnight Sun was upon him. The impact of a flight disk striking his throat was the last thing he felt before sliding into unconsciousness.
The second of the five fell just as quickly, and the sound of several stun guns cocking was enough to give away the position of the other three. He leapt straight up, aided partly by the anti-gravity thrust of his flight disks, and landed on a platform above. Looking down, he could just make out the three antagonists weaving their way through the factory. He cocked his head to listen as one raised his wrist to activate a communicator.
"This is Colonel Lann. Send out the other two squads now. We have him surrounded."
Behind his mask, M'Nai's eyes widened. Perhaps if there were only six more after this three, he would stand a chance; but another dozen fully-armed Kree troops! For a split second, he considered surrendering, but discounted the notion almost immediately.
Instead, he dropped back down to the floor, directly behind the one who had spoken. Continuing his fall, he crouched and swept the legs out from under the Colonel, who's massive Kree frame landed heavily on the concrete floor. Putting consequence out of his mind, the cyborg brought an elbow down on the faceplate of the body below, cracking the transparent mask and exposing its wearer to Earth's atmosphere. The Kree could breathe here, but it would take a few minutes to adjust to the difference in air pressure.
He stood, and spun as the door creaked open once again.
At that moment, a click behind him signalled the end of this battle. One of the remaining soldiers had worked his way around, and had caught him by surprise. A voice spoke. "Remain still, cyborg. There's enough organic matter in you for this gun to affect, and I no longer have it set to stun."
M'Nai watched as another dozen Kree filtered into the warehouse, and closed his eyes.
Only to hear Cerabel's voice in his head.
«Hold on, Midnight Sun! We're getting you outta there!» came the welcome sound of his companion's thoughts. But how? She had no chance against these soldiers!
All at once he felt his body undergo some sort of change. It seemed to twist from inside, then compress. The world around faded into black, then white, and then a rainbow of swirling colours. Seconds later he felt himself re-emerge in reality, and slumped to the ground at Cerabel's feet.
"Good boy, Lockjaw!" she said, and knelt to the man in front of her.
"Wake up, M'Nai! Neither of us can fly this thing!!!"
It had taken little time to take control of the ship. Apart from the military crew, which they had left on the planet below, it had had a small skeleton crew to fly and maintain it who were easily overcome. At some stage the knowledge of Kree starships had been imparted to Midnight, since he had been able to steal a vessel months earlier, and was just as capable of stealing this one now.
As the ship's autopilot flew them past the moon, the three stood together, preparing to say farewell. Midnight Sun reached out and took Cerabel's hand.
«Are you sure the dog can teleport home from this distance?»
"Quite sure! He'll have no trouble once we're in a position where we can see the city."
«Even with you to account for?»
Cerabel looked at Lockjaw, then at her feet, then back up at the cyborg's featureless mask. "Um, M'Nai . . . I'm not going back."
Although he had half-expected this, it still came as a surprise.
"There are things you don't know about me, Midnight Sun. In truth, I think the Inhumans will be glad to be rid of me. If it's ok with you, I'll come with you. Wherever it is you're going."
«My destination is uncharted, Cerabel, and could be fraught with danger. It is no place for a young girl.»
"No place?" she cried, indignantly. "One day you'll see that I can take care of myself, big guy!" She gave him a friendly kick on the shin. "Anyway, our stop-off point is coming up, so we'd better get Lockjaw into position."
Lockjaw sniffed at the porthole as Attilan appeared below the ship. He looked back at the strange pair he was leaving behind, and disappeared in a flash.
«If you're coming along, we have to establish some rules . . .» mused Midnight Sun.
"Whatever," replied Cerabel.
On Earth, Tor-Lann had set up a hyperspace comlink and was speaking to his commanding officer on the nearest Kree base.
"They went into hyperspace before the other craft realised that we weren't aboard, Sir. They might be anywhere by now."
The voice, mixed with static, replied sternly. "Unfortunate. I have already ordered the rest of your fleet to return to Kree-Lar, Lann."
"But we will need picking up, Sir!" an exasperated Tor-Lann croaked.
"Another vessel will be back," replied the officer, "in a few earth months. This discussion is terminated." And with that, the active light blinked off.
Kree-Lar. A small room, lit only by a monitor in one corner, housed a hulking figure. He appeared to be deep in meditation, kneeling in the centre of the quarters.
Suddenly a blue-skinned face appeared on the monitor, and the figure looked up.
"Yes, Commander?" it asked, in a menacing voice.
"We have a problem. A fugitive is loose. A traitor to the empire. He needs retrieval, now."
The figure stood, and flexed its considerable muscles. It spoke one line before turning and leaving the room. "Ronan the Accuser is ever ready to serve the empire, Commander."
Look for the more stories by Matt Hamilton in future editions of Cosmic Powers Unlimited, such as Midnight Sun: Monbulk's Monopoly! Now leave us your comments below!