Written by Warren
Entros, edited by James Pedrick
Above logo and below image created
Slowly, the Surfer's pristine skin mottled with blotches of darkness, blotches which soon covered his entire form. Norrin Radd's eyes slowly opened, glowing a deep crimson. He was Norrin Radd no longer. The Shadow reigned.
Standing, he stretched again and shook his head. Surveying his surroundings, he smiled, though it came far from reaching his cold eyes, "It has been so long..."
Thanos turned stalking away from his newfound ally. He said over his shoulder, "You know your task. Do it and meet me at the appropriate time, at the appropriate coordinates."
The Shadow nodded, looking down at a dark fist which suddenly crackled with the Power Cosmic, twisted to his own uses, "Yes, Titan. I will be at it...in a moment." Pointing at the back of Thanos' head, the power surged.
Thanos' eyes lit up, but he did not turn, "Oh, I forgot to mention. Your well-being rests with me. If a single molecule of the Power Cosmic you possess touches me, the safeguards I have built into your mind will collapse. Norrin Radd will regain control of your body within minutes. Choose your course wisely."
The Shadow's eyes were flaring novas, but he lowered his arm, the Power Cosmic gone. Regaining control, he bowed slightly, "As you say Titan."
Thanos nodded, then shimmered out of view.
The Shadow sneered, "But for how long...we shall see."
Anger evident in his steps, he trudged toward his blackened board, wrenching it out of the snow. Stepping on, he tore off at great speed, a sonic boom echoing through the deserted peaks long after his departure.
Four Freedoms Plaza. Headquarters of the world reknowned Fantastic Four. Bulwark against threats both foreign and domestic, and also one of the greatest labratories in the world. That is all quite true, at least when Reed Richards, also known as Mister Fantastic is in. But, today is not that day. Today, Four Freedom's Plaza is just a place for Johnny Storm to catch up on some reading.
"Damn Mordred, killing King Arthur..." Johnny Storm said with contempt, flinging down a copy of Tales of the Round Table. Snatching a can of Budweiser from the coffee table in front of him, he heaved himself off the couch, sauntering over to the large picture window overlooking the Big Apple.
His eyes squinted as he caught sight of something glinting in the sunlight; something that was approaching very fast.
"What the Hell!?" he exclaimed as it smashed through the window, flinging him over another couch, overturning it. Slowly he regained his footing, shaking the flecks from his vision. Roaring flames enveloped his street clothes. He swung his head up and glared at the intruder, "Now who the Hell are..."Storm's voice trailed off as he surveyed his foe.
"Not happy to see your old friend Norrin Radd?" he questioned mockingly, "No, I suppose not." Glancing around the room for a moment, he sensed his query was not present. The Shadow turned his attention back to the Human Torch, "Where is Susan Richards?"
Johnny Storm narrowed his flame covered eyes, "Whoever you are, I'm not going to tell you." And with that pronouncement he hurled a ball of flame at his foe's face. It struck true, erupting with a bright flash of light.
The Shadow laughed, eyes closing in mirth. When they opened Storm floated near the ceiling, flame glowing near white. He held out his hands and unleashed a torrent of scalding fire, which once again impacted harmlessly on the Shadow's space-tempered skin.
The bit of joy in the Shadow's face drained away in an instant, "Enough of this." Raising a hand he froze his foe in mid-air. Drifting closer, he came so close that their noses nearly touched, "Where is your sister, Susan Ricards?"
Through clenched teeth Johnny managed, "Screw you, whoever the Hell you are. I'm not saying anything."
"Oh really." the Shadow smiled, "Are you...sure about that?"
"Yeah. There's nothing you can do to me that hasn't already been done."
"Yes, I suppose so..." With a flick of the Shadow's wrist the flames sheathing Johnny ceased, leaving his Fantastic Four uniform under the cinders of his street clothing, "How many people have, say, broken all the bones in your foot at once?"
There was a crunching sound as the Shadow tightened his fist. Johnny Storm's face contorted in agony, but he did not scream. The Shadow continued, "Atoms are my playthings, Human Torch, remember that. Simply tell me where she is and all this pain will simply-" he waved his hand, and Storm's face smoothed, and he exhaled loudly in relief, "-disappear."
"Go to Hell." he managed.
The Shadow's eyes flared, "Have many of your assorted 'super-villains' have pried your fingernails off one by one?" Johnny's eyes bulged five times in rapid succession, and he shrieked, rattling the glass. The Shadow nodded with satisfaction, "Not too many, it seems. Now, where is your sister?"
"Shut up." he panted. Several deep breaths later he said, "If you want it so much, why don't you just take it from my mind?"
The Shadow shook his head, "But this is so much more satisfying...Now, my time runs short." He pointed a finger directly at the hero's left eye, several inches away, "For the final time, where is she?"
He said nothing, sweat rolling down his face.
The Shadow shrugged, "A pity." He pulled his finger back, and as though it were attached by an invisible string, the eyeball followed, wrenching out of its socket with a shudder. Like music to the Shadow's ears, Johnny Storm screamed. And when the screaming was finally done, the Shadow asked again, voice growing ominously low, "Where is she?" He pointed his other finger at Storm's right eye.
Storm shuddered, and finally panted out in a shallow breath, "The Avengers...Mansion. Some type of...meeting."
"See, that wasn't hard." With a snap he was gone, all signs of his presence erased, save for Johnny Storm's shaken body lying on the ground, and the absence of a book.
Sue Richards sat in a small room, drinking coffee and paging through a magazine, not really paying attention to what passed before her eyes. To her, just not doing much of anything felt good, for once.
Her attentions turned to an ebon figure who walked in one of the two doors leading in and out of the small chamber. Her eyes lit with recognition, but turned to suspicion nearly as quickly, "Surfer, is that you? You look...different. I prefer silver to black."
"I am not Norrin Radd. I am called...Mordrin. And you are coming with me."
Standing, face defiant, she replied, "I don't think so, 'Mordrin.' You're in the middle of Avengers Headquarters. Do you really think you can escape?"
"I made it in, didn't I?" He held out his hand, "Now, time to go." A pin-thin beam fired from his fingertip, striking the Invisible Woman in-between her brows. Promptly her eyes rolled up, showing their whites, and she toppled to the floor.
Mordrin started toward his prey, but was stopped by a booming voice, issuing from one of the doorways, "I say thee nay, Surfer. Thou shalt not take Susan Richards whilst mighty Thor stands nearby. What madness do possess thee?"
Mordrin sneered and waved his arm, an arc of power knocking Thor from his feet. Mordrin continued toward his downed query. When he had nearly reached her, Thor's Uru hammer struck him in the temple, knocking him off-balance.
Returning to the Asgardian's hand, he pronounced, "Stay thy hand, cur. The battle is not yet done."
Mordrin snarled and wheeled, blasting Thor into the wall with ease. Eyes burning with fury, he approached the Thunder God, lying against the wall, shaking his head. With a gesture he lifted the Asgardian to his feet. Voice colder than ice, he said, "Kneel."
Thor's form shuddered, as he resisted the molecules of his own body as they slowly pulled him to the floor. He went to one knee, then two, before finally going down on all fours, arms stretched out before him, forehead touching the floor. He mouthed words that were not there, unable to do anything except endure the humiliation.
Strolling to Thor's side, Mordrin delivered a swift kick to his ribs, the Thunder God grunting. Mordrin bent down and whispered in his ear, "You are nothing. You are a dog without honor. A dog." He stood, and headed back toward Sue's yet unmoving form. Mordrin released his hold on the Asgardian.
With a roar Thor stood and launched himself at the Shadow, and promptly slammed into an invisible shield with such force that he slumped to the ground, unconscious. Suspending Susan with the Power Cosmic, he reformed his board, no longer sleek but with jagged spines jutting out from its underside.
Mordrin and his prey made their way to the door, he with a glance back Thor's unconscious form. He'd been waiting to do that for a very long time. Every time Norrin had allowed that pontificating Norseman to beat him in combat, Mordrin had raged in his imprisonment. Finally, he'd had his revenge. A villainous smirk on his face and the Invisible Woman in tow, he exited.
Continue to Chapter 4
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