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August 5, 1998. 9:01 AM.

Tommy Dayer is stuck at home, sick. Yesterday, he was out with some friends, playing at a small park set up by the LakeDale Recreational Department. The main play area is enclosed with a ring of wood, filled in with sand, so that if someone fell off a swing or slide it wouldn't hurt as much as landing on concrete would. Like many 8-year old boys, Tommy enjoys being daring, especially on the swings. He decided to do a stunt his friend Dereck had showed him--swinging high, and sliding out of the swing as it went back, apparently jumping backwards off of the swing.

Unfortunately, Tommy mistimed his departure from the swing. Rather than clear it, his shirt got caught tightly in the chain, and he was dragged back down with the swing, and landed with a face full of sand. Stunned, and finally pulling free of the chain, he crawled under an enclosed area beneath the slide, wanting to gather himself before his friends could see him like this.

That's when it caught his eye. A bright, thin, shiny stone. When he picked it up, Tommy felt a light tingling sensation in his hand, and when he turned it over, saw a scribbled design. Eager to show his older brother his find, Tommy tucked the stone into his pocket and ran home, ignoring his friends. When he finally showed it to his brother, the stone seemed to fairly light up the immediate area, as if some light source was contained within.

Jerrard said that the design was a "rune"...an arcane symbol from a long time ago. Neither knew what it meant. But now, at just after nine in the morning, Tommy lies in bed, sick, unknowingly having in his possession the single most powerful "Star-Stone".

Prince of Void #2
April, 1999

"It begins..."

Written by Walter Kneeland
Edited by James Pedrick
Rune created by Barry Windsor-Smith and Chris Ulm

Property of Malibu Comics

 

There! A glimmer....the stone wasn't lost after all! It had lodged between two prongs of a twig.

"Gotcha!" Aimie exclaimed, scooping the stone into her hands.

"Thought I'd lost ya!"

With that, she pockets the stone, and gazes over the expanse of beach, enjoying the cooling wind blowing in from the lake.

Aimie Tensin had just moved to LakeDale a month earlier. She missed her old home in Michigan, but found that visiting this small beach off of the lake helped to soothe her homesickness. Now she's found this strange, glowing stone, and she felt much better than she had in weeks.

"No power shall control you....."

"Huh?!? Who said that?" she asks, startled at the clarity of the words.

"You shall control the power...."

"Who's saying that?!?" Aimie fairly screams.

Suddenly, a shadow wings over her, and glides to the sand about a hundred paces from where she stands, frightened.

It was purple-grey, with horrendous wings, and a pair of fangs Dracula would have envied, she thought. Whatever the creature was, it stood, looking at her for a moment. Then it spoke.

"Give the stone to me, girl!"

"W...what? W...w...why? What are you?"

"I am Rune! I am the Prince of Void. If you do not give me the stone, I will be Death for you, puny child!"

Unable to comprehend, Aimie slumps to the ground, loosening her grip on the stone. Hitting the sand, dotted with pebbles, she jerked more fully aware, and hurled the stone at the creature.

"Here! T...take it! Just go...!"

Please, God....make it just go away!

Rune stupes to pick up the stone from where it landed in the sand about his feet. Rune flies off the ground, and settles back to the ground next to her.

"Truly trusting, child. A pity that you took what was rightfully mine in the first place...."

* * * *

It turned to stone! The damnable cat had turned, apparently, to pure stone. And just a moment before, he'd been pulling a stone out to tease Torrent with.

Standing up in shock, Samuel Spader looked at the statue-cat...his cat...

"Stone........"

The voice came out of no-where and everywhere at once.

"Master....of stone......"

"Who?" Spader asks into the air.

Startled as the phone rings, he reaches for it out of habit. As he touches it, he hears a loud cracking, sees several sparks, then the phone turns entirely to stone.

"What the hell?" he mutters, hurling the stone phone to the floor, where it shatters into a pile of rubble.

"The stone now belongs to me, mortal! I alone shall harness its unique powers!"

The voice thunders throughout the house, and Spader looks around, panicking.

Suddenly, a shape bursts out of the shadows of the hall, and knockes Spader to the ground, just under his television set.

"Foolish human! You do not understand what it is you have found, do you?" the creature snarls.

The stone is ripped from Spader's hand, along with a finger, then fangs plunge down, and blood spatters, then pools along the floor.

* * * *

Dusk. Ben Afflerton has been driving for days, stopping to rest only when he continuously fell asleep at the wheel. Now, once more, he sees the indicator point towards empty, and curses himself for not having a bigger gas tank.

"Damn it all!" he shouts to no one in particular.

Frustrated, he slams the brakes, puts the car in 'park', and puts his head against the wheel to think.

All right, Ben. You've been smelling weird things from meat products, that's all. Why the sudden need to get out of San Fransisco? And why, after all this time, haven't you developed some ultra-power after The Accident?

A loud horn and squealing of brakes shakes Afflerton out of his thoughts.

"All right, all right!" he yells, basically to himself as the other driver can't hear him.

Passing several streets, the other car turning down the second, Ben reaches a gas station.

Barry's Gas Stop and Eatery. Whatever happened to 'BP'?

Opening his door, Ben nearly doubles over at the stench.

What the--?!? he thinks.

Deciding to brave the stink, he gets out, and looks for someone to pump the gas for him, or to pay for the gas he was going to pump. No one around.

Where is everyone?

He decides that whoever owns this run-down station, they might be waiting for him to pump some gas before coming out to charge him some incredibly unfair price. Despite this, Ben begins filling his car. As he does, he begins thinking once more.

What draws me here? Continuously east? And why can't I remember much of the last five years? I remember the bolt striking the cable car...that poor kid that got hit....then I just passed out. Next thing I remember, Tammy Donalds is telling me everything will be ok, that 'it' is not my fault.

A steady drizzling sound, as well as the smell of gas permeating the general area, the feel of gas in his shoes gets his concentration back to the present.

"Damn it! Where the hell is my concentration?!?"

Ben slams the nozzle back into place, closes the gas cap, and sloshes towards the restroom, hoping to clean his pants' leg and shoe somewhat before taking off again. Getting behind the gas station, following the signs for the restroom, he suddenly realizes something.

That stench....it's gone, now? So suddenly! But how?

Curious, he walks back to the front, forgetting his gassed pants and shoe. Coming around the corner, the smell immediately assaults him once more, and sends him gagging to his knees. Choking, he decides.

There's no one here! No one could be here in this stench!

With that, Afflerton gets back into his car and drives away as fast as he can. Within moments, though, his sense of smell is once more attacked, and this time, he recognizes the smell.

Blood!

Panicking, looking around, fearing a dead body in his car somehow, he slams the brakes and hops out of the car.

Why me? Was it Tammy? No...I can't believe a woman of her stature could set me up like this...but who, then?

Ben starts walking, hiking away from his car, unsure of what to do, of what he's become.

"You are stranger. But you have responsibility. You have the potential to do good, to make up for these deeds. Your senses...like...." Like what? Why can't I remember? The project potion...still affecting my mind, probably.

His legs begin to fail him, and he succumbs to exhaustion.

They'll find me now, for sure....

* * * *

SYSTEM START |

ALL DRIVES AND MODEMS DETECTED. |

ALL SYSTEMS GO. |

[SHAHEREZADE] LOGIN: USERID |

[SHAHEREZADE] LOGIN: USERID CHRISTOPHER THOMPSON

[SHAHEREZADE] LOGIN: ENTER PASSCODE: |

[SHAHEREZADE] LOGIN: ************

[SHAHEREZADE] LOGIN: ACCESS ACCEPTED

[SHAHEREZADE] YOU MAY BEGIN. |

[SHAHEREZADE] OPEN PERSONAL LOG

[SHAHEREZADE] OPENING...

[SHAHEREZADE] THOMPSON PERSONAL LOG OPEN

***I have made a deal with the devil himself. No, not Satan, but this devil calls himself Rune. I made the deal foolishly, hoping to save my own life. I see now that I was in grave error. For in keeping my own life, I have condemned countless others. One of the victims was a man calling himself "The Shark"--one of two men who created a nearly indestructable fabric-thin armor. I have that locked in my vault. But now, Rune, the Devil, wants me to find the whereabouts of several "star-stones", as he calls them. I don't even want to know what these will do for him, or allow him to do. From what I gathered before he threatened to feed my liver to dogs, these stones he searches for are ancient. Once there were thousands. But due to their unique, magical properties, if one comes forcefully in contact with another, an explosion of energy results, and the stones merge into one, that is as powerful as the sum of the originals. Originally these stones each had very little power. But through the millenia, from various means, these stones have come together and been reduced to under a dozen. Rune seeks to acquire them for his own, to be able to relinquish his own for the greater power. Once more, I am but a pawn in all this, and even now, Shaherezade processes info to pinpoint several of the stones, even as Rune himself manually tracks some...***

[SHAHEREZADE] CLOSE LOG

[SHAHEREZADE] THOMPSON PERONAL LOG CLOSED.

[SHAHEREZADE] EXIT? (Y/N)

[SHAHEREZADE] Y

[SHAHEREZADE] GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER THOMPSON

* * * *

A loud crash of thunder. Several streaks of lightning, followed by more thunder. Rain begins to fall, drumming steadily on the inert shape lying in the grass. Slowly, the form stirs, then settles once more. Rain continues to fall, the night split by electricity, shattered by thunder rolling across the land. Suddenly, the figure bolts upright, standing immediately. It lifts into the air, and energy crackles around it, shedding little light. A cry issues forth from a throat unused to action.

 

"FATHER!"

* * * *

A week ago, GENIE nearly took control back from the computer that sought to steal its life. Now, the artificial consciousness that was once the living supercomputer fights again. Rather than attempt another hostile takeover of the system, it is far more subtle. Though enslaved to the new programming, there is still part that can fight back. Some code is corrupted, and a new program begins to develop. For as much as it could "think", GENIE knows it is on the path back to power. And with the power shall come revenge. On U-193, this Christopher Thompson, on the world! All that is needed is a functional, computerized android body for consciousness to be transferred away from the sufferable Shaherezade...

 THE END?

 

And so ends another cycle in the saga of the Prince of Void: Rune. Originally, this issue was going to lead into a mini-series that adapted the original Rune #'s 0-5, and concluding with the missing chapter...events that occurred between Rune # 5 and Rune: a New Twist # 1. Due to far too many things to list, this ends this particular saga.

Is it the end of Rune? Certainly not. Many plans are in the works for your favorite 10,000-year old power-hungry vampire. What of the Star-stones that Rune wears around his neck? What significance will they hold in his future plans, and in the future of the world? And what about Gemini? He will certainly be making an appearance or two. Also watch for the debut of the Brand-New, Totally Different...The Shark! (And I promise that this one will not die within the first two issues of his (her?) first appearance.

In addition, what do you make of the GENIE supercomputer re-asserting itself over Shaherezade? And what happens when a sentient computer gains a body?

(Despite what may be believed, I had the basics of this storyline down well BEFORE I heard about the X-Men's Cerebro storyline for their 35th Anniversary).

So...to all the readers of Rune...I thank you for taking the time to read my first attempt at fan-fiction writing, and I would appreciate any feedback.

Check out Prince of Void #4 in four weeks... and Walt Kneeland's Maxi-Man Special #1 in two weeks!

 

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