Thanos: Dead Men Tell No Tales #10
Written by Mystic, Edited
by Anomaly and Marvelite
"DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES"
Go to the Thanos: Dead Men Tell No Tales Archive Page for past editions!
(NOTE: THIS STORY IS A BREAK FROM THE CURRENT "DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES" STORYLINE)
On an unknown moon of a distant planetary system:
At last, I have arrived. I leave my new supervisory robots I created in charge of my ship in orbit and teleport down quickly. I paid two mercenaries for information on the toughest training facility they knew of. Both responded by mentioning a moon in this sector. But they claimed it had been abandoned by the original owners and adopted by a new mysterious one. One who studied the arts of war and excelled. It is exactly what I am looking for. One to challenge and test myself. For without a fair test, how can I gauge myself to see where I am in my training? For the longest, I have been fighting my own creations. But how can I hope for a challenge when I myself have programmed them. I know everything they know. Knowing their programming, their moves become predictable, easy to bluff, feint and maneuver. Even at increased speeds and toughness, they are not my match. I must now venture outside and test myself against the knowledge and experience of others.
There is a sign at the entrance of what appears to be an underground base. It reads, ‘All ye who enter accept the challenge of death'. I pay it little attention as I step through the entrance. Clearly nobody has been here in quite some time. I continue walking down narrow hallways filled with spiderwebs. Finally, I come to the end and there is an opening. A circular room with many doors. I walk towards the middle and wait. Statues abound around the room, most on pedestals. Perhaps the room is considered a shrine.
I imagine this to be some test to see if I am worthy to fight the current occupant in his domain. My suspicion proves to be right. Five doors open and metal warriors spew forth. Judging by the way they move and the stances they take, each seems to have a different skill.
One of them, an acrobatic one, quickly flies over me. I raise my hand to
block him, but he is not attacking. He simply wants to get on my other side to
make sure I don't try and make a run for it. Surrounding me is a typical
strategy I expect them to use. Attempting to make me feel nervous, fear or even
despair can give them an advantage if I hesitate at any moment. But I feel none
They waste no time in attacking. The first jumps forward, swinging his long metal arms at incredible speeds. I dodge most and block the ones I cannot dodge. He is an outside fighter, coming in only as far as he needs to reach me and then stepping back out remaining out of reach from me. I apparently pass his quick test and he drops back as another metal warrior springs forth.
This one is a ground fighter. He fights with his back on the floor attempting to trap my legs and sweep me. I avoid the sweeps and his traps. He gives up and drops back as the 3rd robot attacks.
He is an inside fighter. He plants himself in close and attempts to use his hands to grab me and gain leverage. I shake him off and return the favor but he steps back before I can get a good hold. I stop and resist my urge to pursue as the next robot steps up.
This one is strictly a kicker. His enormous hydraulic legs give him not only a good range, but also enormous power. I dodge a roundhouse kick that breaks a statue, an artistic depiction of a warrior. The torque on his leg could easily decapitate if it connected. I backup a little but quickly turn as I realize it is but a ruse to push me into the 5th robot's range behind me.
He summersaults over me with razor sharp claws for fingers hanging down. They
appear to be made of adamantium. A substance I have been studying as of late. I
grab his hand above the finger claws and fling him into the other robots. But he
is quick and turns in mid air, avoiding the collision and lands next to them.
Once again they move to encircle me, creating a perimeter of metal around me. This time, they attack in unison. I have been holding back to see what they each have to offer. I have no reason to do so anymore. The ground attacker slides forward as I take a step back to avoid his grabbing my leg. I raise my right hand to block the outside attacker's fist and duck slightly to avoid what could be a jolting hit by the kicker. The outside attacker swings again in conjunction with the acrobatic fighter. His razor sharp claws swing forward. This time I am ready as I grab the acrobatics’ hand and pull him in. Using his own hand, I cut through the outside attackers long arms and then into both by bending and breaking his arm and slicing through both their chests with the claws.
I turn to see the kicker launching his leg at my skull, hoping to end it all with one hit. I drop quickly and sweep his other leg from underneath. Unbalanced, he falls on top of the ground kicker that had begun to crawl in. His heavy hydraulics pin the ground fighter long enough for me to smash my pulsating fists through them both.
I turn to see the last robot standing - the inside fighter. He dashes in
quickly attempting to get me off balance. Even with his robot hydraulics, he
finds this a task he is not capable of doing. I grab his wrist abruptly and turn
for leverage, slamming him into the ground. With a wrist-lock on him, I create
better leverage by placing my boot on his neck and facial area. I apply pressure
and step down and even this strong metal begins to bend. I finish him by ripping
his metal phalanges and penetrating his chest cavity area with it.
I stand up and look as a door opens. A seemingly easy victory, but these metal warriors were indeed very skilled. I make a mental note to program some of the strategies they used to my own robots. Clearly they must have been used to train specific ways of fighting for someone or some great warrior race.
It is inconsequential now. My next phase of testing is about to start.
I walk into a new room and look around. It is a room with no furniture, containing only framed paintings on the wall, almost museum like. A large wooden chandelier hangs from the ceiling. Clearly, the decorators of the place enjoyed the art of interior decoration as well as the art of combat. Patiently, I wait. The lights dim. My ears catch an almost imperceptible swish of air movement. Instinctively, my head pulls back. Three knives lodge themselves on the wall next to where my face was. I look up to see fireballs erupt and fall toward me. I tumble out of the way. Darkness falls on the room, save for the flames of the fireballs on the cement floor behind me. Sharp nails rise from the floor. I jump up and hang on the chandelier. I look down and notice the now fully protruding nails to have some sort of liquid on them. Poison, no doubt. Abruptly, the chain holding the chandelier is cut. I fall but immediately blast the floor with eyeblasts. I land on an area cleared of nails and with some mild rubble of solid cement around.
The room is clearly a death trap. Initially I had thought it a test of skill and or speed. It is not. I quickly realize that it is a test of wits. A test to see how well one thinks under pressure.
I turn to look at the paintings. Instantly, I realize that they are not part of the décor. They are miniaturized sensors hiding, reporting my location, my movements, even my physiology to attempt and find a way to defeat me. I unleash my eyebeams on all the paintings. Behind them fried metal computers melt away.
A door opens. I have apparently passed the 2nd test.
I have proven myself. A creature stands in the next room next to a center fountain.
Are you sure you are ready to fight me? I will not spare your life if you fail…
"Nor I yours," He clearly expects to hear that answer. Would I have traveled this far only to turn around? Not likely.
He removes his purple hooded cape and we walk to the center of a pentragram within a circle. In the back of the room, there are words that are faded. I can barely make them out, "S insterho d Train ng Base". Perhaps describing the original owners of this facility.
I turn to pay attention to my opponent. He looks more like a sorcerer than a warrior – somewhat scrawny. Not overly muscular…but toned. Still, he seems confident and I know better than to judge someone based only on looks. Symbols cover his body, burnt in no doubt as part of a religion he must practice. He is not one I can take lightly. Clearly this is his life and he has dedicated himself fully to the art of fighting.
We begin. He lightly taps at my shoulders with his legs – just feeling me out. Perhaps trying to draw me into making a quick mistake for him to capitalize on. I wait instead. He circles around me, in a low stance. No doubt he has watched me and has attempted to find weaknesses.
He charges at me, lethal hands singeing the air they pass through. I block the first nine but finally one gets through and he hits me in the jaw. I strike in retaliation but miss him as he spins to the side and catches me on the side of my ear with his fist. I fall forward, appearing off balance. He lunges forward and I sweep him with my back foot. He falls back not having expected me to have faked my fall. He is not the only one with tricks up his sleeve.
He is more cautious now. And yet, I can see it in his eyes…he has full focus and determination. I must strive to be like this in all my fights.
He advances once again, this time with a flurry of kicks. A frontal kick followed by several roundhouse kicks…all delivered with incredible speed. This time I don’t wait to counter and retaliate. I take a blow from one of his kicks to my midsection, in return, I hold his leg to pull him slightly in and my reverse punch slams into his midsection. Had I not been holding on to his foot, he would have flown back through the wall behind him. Instead, his face clearly registers internal damage that I’ve inflicted on him.
It does not take him long to recover though as he uses my holding of his foot to balance himself and launches his other foot connecting flush to the side of my face. I fall to the side with ringing ears, as I let his foot go. He spins and lands in a push up stance. I turn from my side to my back and before I’m able to do anything else, he is up and dropping an axe kick to my mid section punishing me where he previously connected. I cough up blood. Still off balance and unsure of where I am, I react on gut instinct and grab his foot, twisting his ankle and breaking it. He falls back.
I get up slightly dazed, but ready to fight. He gets up also, leaning on one leg…he looks at me and nods his head.
I nod also and rush him, not knowing if he has a healing factor in his biological makeup. He grabs me by my front armor and spins me over, slamming me with full force to the floor while keeping his broken leg from touching the ground. I am close enough to grab the foot he is balancing on. With his elbow and arm pressuring my throat attempting to cut off my air intake, I wrap my fingers around his ankle and squeeze. His ankle shatters. Unable to hold himself up, he falls to the floor. I spin him over and get on top of him. I prepare to deliver the final blow.
He looks up in extreme pain. His hands come to the side of his face and he closes his eyes, as my right hand powers up and I prepare to finish him. An aura forms around his head…
I awaken slightly dazed. My head aches in every possible way. I look around and recognize the infirmary of my ship. I touch a command control button on the side of my bed. "SR-32?" I call out.
The supervisor robot I have left in charge on the bridge immediately acknowledges and comes to speak with me. He enters the room looking at the data on the monitors.
"Yes, Lord Thanos," he responds reverently.
Fearing answering me, he tries to phrase his answer in a way that won’t upset me.
"Your opponent mind blasted you with some form of psychic energy – disrupting your neurotransmission sequences. In effect, he scrambled your neural pathways, sir. If not for your Eternal heritage and strict control of your own molecules, you’d have easily perished." He spoke very softly. "I had your armor fitted with a tag before you left so that I could monitor and lock on to you should…trouble…occur. My logic programming concluded that you had beaten him anyway…he cheated by resorting to another tactic other than physical combat. There was nothing for you to learn from him."
I manage a snicker despite my condition. "No," I manage to say as I turn to look the other way. "Two very important lessons have been learned here!"
"The first is the obvious. I must develop mental defenses of my own. Psychics are abound in the universe. It is obvious to me now that I have not paid it enough attention. While I’ve been focusing on my combat skills, I failed to see that I must have complete defenses in every way, shape and form. It is a weakness that I can and must correct. I can’t allow myself to be so open to such an attack again!"
"But sir, he cheated," SR-32 responds.
"Which brings me to what is perhaps the most important lesson of all. When one is losing in a game…", I pause thinking of the exact words I want to use, "you…change the rules…"
I turn to a monitor to look at my condition. My own body can repair itself. It just needs some time. It is a perfect opportunity to correct my weaknesses. "Get me all available data on mental projection, psychic energy and neural field analysis. I must begin working to correct this flaw immediately!"
"Yes, sir," SR-32 responds as he turns to exit the room in search of the data I need.
I rest my head on the pillow under me and turn to look outside the window into space. I may have been defeated, but with each defeat, I become stronger. I learn from my mistakes…And one day, the universe will know the name, T-h-a-n-o-s!
Continued in Dead Men Tell No Tales #11
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