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Writer's Note: Due to the nature of Rune's character, and his setting being very dark/violent at times, and to maintain the feel of the original comic series which itself was quite graphic and violent, this story may not be appropriate for younger readers.

Once, thousands of years ago, there were over a thousand stones of great power. They were known throughout the universe by many names. Power Stones. Great Stones. Infinity's Eyes. An earthly scientist who came across an alien document about them called them "Great Eyes". To one being, due to their similarity to his own, they were simply...Star Stones.

Over the years, through a link formed by the Stones' source, a strange power developed within. Eventually, through a learned Elder of a now long-dead space-faring people, the result of this link was discovered. If an individual was in physical contact with any of these stones, their personal strengths and abilities were magnified.

Through experimentation and experience, Levram Eromonedurtni discovered that if two of these stones were forcefully brought into contact with one another, energy would erupt from the connection, destroying anything in the immediate vicinity. However, if properly connected, a living being might bring two stones together, and leave him unharmed, protected by an energy "shield".

After the energy dispersed, only one stone would remain. This stone held the power of the originals, and then some.

Eventually, as awareness of this property increased, individuals would seek out these augmented stones, and try to combine them with their own, increasing their power. Some would even use the energy release as a way to kill one's enemies--trap them in a room, and combine the stones, killing the person, and walking away with more power than before.

That was then. Now, of those thousands, only a few remain. Perhaps for gathering over the millenia, or for the "alien visitations", or some other unknown cause, these few are on Earth. The year is 1999. Nine Great Eyes remain. Few know of their existence. Fewer still would dare to seek them out.

He is not one of those wise few. He is the Prince of Void, Rune. He lives for power. He has learned that the Great Eyes are on earth. He shall have them for his own. Finally, he will ascend to his former glory, and beyond!

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The Prince of Void # 4
June, 1999

"Where there are stones..."

Written by: Walt Kneeland
Presented by Ultraverse: a New Twist
Rune created by Barry Windsor-Smith and Chris Ulm
Characters (C) Malibu Comics

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It begins with a single thought. Whatever he thinks. A man, a turtle, a plane. Somehow, it is in his grasp, if not in reality, then certainly figuratively. First it was a cartoon, Maxi-Man. Young Billy wanted to see his hero for real. His Teddy warned him, but did he listen? Millions of dollars in damage say otherwise.

But is it his fault? Billy's only seven years old. When he feels strongly enough about something within his mind, it seems to come true. How? He doesn't know. Teddy doesn't know. And right now, they are the only two who know of Billy's ultra-power. Not even his mother knows.

Several weeks ago, Billy heard a news report about a man who wanted to kill all ultras, such as Prime. The man called Maxi-Man a menace, too. So Billy thought really hard, and another construction crew became rich, cleaning up after a brawl between Maxi-Man and a vampire.*

 

(*See Maxi-Man Special #1)

Now, Billy is playing in a sandbox in his back-yard. Teddy is propped up at the edge, watching. Mom is taking a nap on a beach chair by the fence, within easy shouting distance of her precious son. Her dream is of quiet, the first quiet she's had all day. Suddenly, her dream goes red, red as fresh blood, and she sees a black shape advance upon her. Suddenly, Billy runs in front of her, screaming something, but she doesn't comprehend. The shape reaches out, and casually rips the young child's head from its body, hastily shoving the body aside, feeding on the head.

"NOO!" Mrs. Stephens shouts, sitting up quickly, very alert and awake. She looks, and sees Billy sitting in his sandbox, looking at her in surprise.

We should both go in. I've had enough 'relaxation', and…that was so… her thoughts trail off as she walks towards her son.

* * * *

There it is again!

There what is?

I sensed it…the weilder of the Shu-Ji… is near…

So? After all we've been through…I've been through…We're not getting involved.

Coward!

Coward? I want to live, Erik. I just want to find a way to separate our souls and forget any of this ever happened.

But you can't, Noel. It happened, and we're at the center of it. Has it ever occurred to you that this entity could well be

…Who? Rune? We leave him alone, he leaves us alone. If it is him, all the better to leave it be.

Another entity like us? It might need some help. Help that only we could give. Think about it, Noel…

NO! I didn't ask for this!

But you are here. Deal with it.

* * * *

Sam "Stilts" O'Kegge has been having a rough week. First, his wife leaves him (Can he help it if he got a little bored?), then his cat died, and now he's been fired from his job of four years. But he got the stones.

Stilts, the man they said lost his guts in high school, is back.

And I will do whatever I want from now on. These stones alone should set me up for life…

Unfortunately for Stilts, something else has plans for the stones. The car starts normally, though Stilts looks around carefully. Had he peered a little farther ahead, he might have survived the initial impact.

* * * *

On wings quiet and smooth as the wind itself, he swoops down towards the car, and his prey. He senses one of the stones. He must have it. Already he has acquired one other. Confidently, he lands on the hood of the car, startling the driver. Panicked, the driver steps on the gas pedal and the car lurches forward about twenty feet, slamming into a parked car. Stilts' body is thrown forward, his head shattering the windshield. (He never believed in sissy seatbelts).

Smelling the fresh scent of death in the air, hearing the night go back to its silent stillness, the creature steps to the ground. Reaching in through the broken window, its hands quickly find what it is searching for. Greedily grabbing the stone, it clasps it tightly, then takes a leap, and flies away, leaving the body to be found by the city trash collector the following morning.

* * * *

"Jerrax! What the he--"

"Hey, Boss, I'm right here..." Jerrax calmly states. "You don't have to yell..."

"The hell I don't! What do you call what you did back there? You were supposed to kill that vampire, not splatter its entrails across half the neigborhood!"

Smirking to himself, enjoying this all-too-predictable confrontation, Jerrax responds. "When I asked it to come quietly, it tried to kill me. I impaled it, and can *I* help it if the stupid animal struggled so much?"

"You didn't even leave anything for me, Knife-man. Just like last time." A third member of the group, Thom Edule steps up to back his longtime friend and boss, Samson Donne.

Holding his hands up to fend off the two, Jerrax replies. "Hey, hey...no need to double-team a guy. I know when I'm not wanted.

Turning quickly to leave, Jerrax grabs his sword off a nearby table, fastens the sheath to his belt, and stalks out of the room, calling over his shoulder. "If I'm not back by midnight" he pulls out the sword for emphasis "Send in the cavalry." With that, Jerrax leaves, as usual.

Muttering to himself, Donne turns back to the tv he was watching.

"Damn!"

* * * *

"Vampires. Everyone's heard of them. But it seems very apparent that we have one here in our midst. Not long ago, though an eternity for those who were touched by its rampage, LakeDale felt the assault of a vampire. Two men, each calling himself the Shark attempted to halt the vampire, but were eventually found dead, apparently at the hands of the very vampire they were determined to stop. More about the anniversary of this event at Eleven."

Max Vixar, coordinator of the Hunterz stands up. "Hey, Samson! I think we have another one...!"

Suddenly, the television Max was watching shatters in a shower of sparks, to the sound of laughter.

"Gissed! What in God's name do you think you're doing?!? Haven't I told you not to shoot those damned things inside?!? That's what the target range is for!"

"Aw, c'mon, Max. I'll buy you a new and better TV..."

"That is *not* the point! The point is I am sick of your antics and I'm sick of your breaking or putting holes into every piece of furniture in this place!"

"Boys! BOYS!"

Max and Gissed quiet at the tone of their friend and leader/boss Samson Donne.

"Max, you were right. There is a vampire holed up somewhere in LakeDale. After it was chased out of the local high school, it sought shelter elsewhere, and no one's been able to determine its present location. I just got off the phone with their mayor. The job is ours.!"

"Do we know anything about this vampire? Have we killed any of its family?" asks Thom jokingly.

"We know little about it. It is powerful, flies on its own wings, and like others, finds itself to be above humans. We also know its name. According to sources that talked to the local media, this particular creature is named 'Rune'. Now, come on, get ready. We leave in the morning for LakeDale."

* * * *

SYSTEM START:

GENIE SUBSYSTEM ACTIVATING...

GENIE ACTIVE

SHAHEREZADE\GENIE: |

The supercomputer, created not long ago by Christopher Thompson, based on parts scavenged from the apparently destroyed GENIE activates on its own. No one is in the darkened building of Ultras INC. No one to turn the system on. But it is on, none the less. Failsafes that were in place to keep the GENIE aspect of the computer repressed should it at any point be able to reassert itself have failed and fallen. GENIE now controls once more the single most expansive database on Ultras compiled to date. May it have mercy on those it deems not worthy of life.

* * * *

Ahhh.....FINALLY.....

The creature known to most as Rune stalks into his hidden lair, smelling the blood of the mid-afternoon snack he'd had after retrieving his stones.

"Now...I will combine these stones....and only six will remain..."

There is a bright flash of light, an explosion, and the lair is rocked. Rune is unaffected. Where moments ago he held three stones, he now holds two. Smashing these two together, another explosion erupts, and there is but one stone.

An evil laughter sounds across the darkness, as Rune leaves to retrieve the final six Great Stones.

 

T O   B E    C O N T I N U E D . . .

 

For more info on Billy Stephens and Maxi-Man, check out the Maxi-Man Special #1.

 

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