Silver Surfer Volume 1, Issue #34
"Horrors from the Past" - Part 3
Written by Matt Hamilton and James Pedrick,
Edited by E. A. Morrissey
Published by the Cosmic Power Fan Fiction Group and Silver Surfer Website
Silver Surfer created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, a trademark of Marvel Comics
Norrin Radd sat on his board in a small clearing, surrounded by the immense trees of Zenn-La's forests. His head rested in one of his hands, the elbow of that arm in turn rested on his knee. Not unlike the Thinker, a famous work of art on earth, where he had been captive for so long. And would soon have to return to.
The memories of Radd's childhood were dim. He could not remember, for example, the last time he had cried. Zenn-Lavians, unlike humans, was not known for outward displays of emotion. It was not uncommon, therefore, for a child to mature without once shedding a tear.
Had he the tear ducts, he would surely be crying now. Too long had he spent amongst the humans - he could no longer repress the emotions that welled within him.
The home he had known a lifetime ago, before he had traded it for his life with Galactus, was now unknown to him. Its peaceful Utopia had transformed into a paranoid cloister, surrounded by armed satellites, and protected by a military formidable by even Kree standards.
The people of Zenn-La had changed with their world. Instead of carefree hedonists, they now seemed to live in fear for their very lives. Not from extraterrestrial threats, but from an enemy within.
The same enemy responsible for the death of Shalla Bal: His one true love.
Only months before he had seen her, when she had risked her life on a mad crusade to earth in search of him. Yet now, when he had finally come home, all that remained of her was the small memorial at his feet: A holographic tombstone no larger than a Zenn-Lavian lapdog.
Whoever comprised this mysterious, murderous cult would pay for her death, and the deaths of all the others slain by their hands. The Silver Surfer, who could track a single grain of dust through the depths of space, would find them.
The Surfer's head rose with this new resolve. The time for grief had passed. He stood, and mounted the hovering board, clenching both fists.
"Know this, murderers!" he shouted at the world around him. "You will pay for your evil ways! Nowhere in the universe can you hide where I cannot find you! So swears the Silver Surfer!"
Iron Man hovered outside the third floor of a nondescript brick apartment building. The window in front of him belonged to the apartment of one Horace Feneck, an ex-serviceman with only a few minor misdemeanors to his name. Stark now suspected that Feneck was not only responsible for the assassination of a high-ranking military officer hours ago, but that he was also the cause of nearly half a dozen other mysterious deaths in the army's upper echelon over the past two years.
A quick infrared scan of the apartment revealed only one human shape within. It was standing in the far corner of the living room, apparently pointing a gun at an empty couch.
Horace Feneck wasn't sure which emotion was more overpowering Fear, or curiosity. The figure that had just risen from the chair in front of him was undoubtedly the Devil Himself, a sight which would drive an ordinary man to insanity. Yet this being of unspeakable evil was offering Feneck the chance of a lifetime.
"Let me get this straight," he said to the blood-red silhouette. "You want to send me to another planet shaking things up a bit before this 'Silver Surfer' gets there? In return, you'll give me enough power to stand toe-to-toe against, say, the whole Fantastic Four combined?"
The air chilled as Mephisto replied. "Exactly, Horace. What do you say?"
Feneck had read too many "deal with the devil" stories to jump right in. He cocked an eyebrow. "What if I refuse?"
Mephisto shrugged. "Then you'll be taken away by the armored hero hovering outside while we speak."
Feneck, shaken by Mephisto's claim, rushed to the other side of the curtained window, and peaked out. Sure enough, Iron Man hovered not one hundred yards away, and seemed to be staring right back at him!
"But how " he began.
" Did he find you?" Mephisto completed the question. "I took the liberty of moving your weapon to a more convenient spot. Also I may have accidentally been using your fingerprints at the time. Come now, Horace! It was bound to happen eventually! Accept my offer, and Iron Man will be no more of a threat to you than an insect buzzing around your head!"
Feneck took another look outside. "Why isn't he coming in?"
Mephisto stepped back and looked out from the other side of the window. "Oh, I've . . . dulled his senses somewhat. It'll take him another sixty seconds or so to realize that it's you in here and then he'll burst in and take you out. What do you say, Horace? Do we have a deal?"
What choice did he have? "Yes, devil. We have a deal!"
Iron Man shook his head. What had he been thinking this last minute or two? Perhaps it had been too long since he had slept. His mind on the job once more, he flew forward and crashed through the window of Horace Feneck's apartment.
Only to find it empty!
The front door was still bolted from the inside, and it was clear that Feneck had not leapt from another window. He had simply vanished!
It was only after several minutes of scanning the abode using several different electromagnetic frequencies that Iron Man discovered Feneck's apparent means of escape: A tiny, glowing portal, hovering in the small space behind the couch he had been pointing the gun at. Despite the technology at his disposal, Iron Man could not analyse the object.
He would need help from someone more attuned to this sort of phenomenon.
No longer feeling the need to walk alongside his fellow Zenn-Lavians, the Silver Surfer flew through the window of Shalla Bal's former living quarters. Despite his being assured by Fek that the place had been thoroughly searched for clues, Norrin Radd was not convinced. Something in here would point in the direction of the killers, even if it took a herald of Galactus to find it.
Using senses infinitely more powerful than his Zenn-Lavian comrades, the Surfer swept the room. He realized his limitations: Even were he to find hair or skin samples, there would be no way for him to prove that they were Shalla Bal's or anyone else's. He hoped, however, that he would find something more conclusive.
And find it he did.
Very near the center of the room, permeated in the fabric of the carpeted floor, were traces of a material, which should not have been there: Sulfur.
Norrin Radd knew only one being in the universe that left traces of sulfur. The humans called it "brimstone" in that context.
A new resolve gripped the Surfer as he mounted his board. Mephisto's clawed hand had touched Zenn-La. His sickness had spread through its people.
But Norrin Radd was determined to cure his homeworld from the devil's blight.
Steven Strange looked upon the portal in Horace Feneck's apartment as a medical doctor might examine a rash on a patient's body. Every couple of minutes he would gesture just so, and a small flash of light would erupt from its edge. At length, he turned around and spoke to Iron Man, who had brought him here.
"It's definitely the means by which your assassin escaped," he said. "However, it doesn't lead anywhere on Earth. As best I can tell it leads out into deep space somewhere."
Had Iron Man's armour been flexible, its eyebrow would have cocked. "Deep space? Seems a little strange for someone to have that sort of power, yet resort to firearms to kill . . ."
"Indeed," replied Doctor Strange. "However, there are is more to consider. This portal was not created by a human being. Of that I am sure. In fact, its magic bears the stench of the being we know as Mephisto, a demon of immense power."
"A demon?" Tony Stark was incredulous. "Again, Doctor, doesn't it seem strange to you that a demon -- this 'Mephisto' would *shoot* someone to kill them?"
Strange looked back to the portal for a few seconds. "A human did not create this portal, but I fear that one has passed through it." He looked back to Stark. "My guess, Iron Man, is that Mephisto has either kidnapped this individual, or tempted him through the portal with some sort of offer. It's an MO I've seen him use before."
"The million-dollar question then, is: Where exactly will the modus operandi take us?"
To Be Continued in December!