Chapter V: The Return to Mercury

Storm clouds brewed in Saturn’s oxygen-rich atmosphere; lightning ignited large areas of land on the platforms. As the blazes spread, Plutoon boarded his shuttle and started on the return to Freedom 1. As he approached, Dominator disappeared into Turbospace followed by its security craft. On his ship, Plutoon saw something but his vision was impaired, as he got closer, the finer details became clear and he gasped in shock. The remnants of the bridge were wreathed in flame and small explosions were breaking out in the engines. Quickly, he docked with Freedom 1 and departed his ship, sword at the ready.

            Plutoon swiftly made his way through the corridors in the pitch-blackness of confusion and doubt. Then he heard something, whispers he could not define. As he crept closer, he was suddenly thrown to the wall and pinned there by an invisible hand. Out of the shadows, a creature approached, small and hunched. It grasped a staff in one hand and a sword in the other, it crept closer and closer. Then the face emerged from the darkness.

            “Oh, master!” sighed Plutoon in relief, Fang released him and helped him up “You scared all of Hell out of me!”

            “Language, Plutoon!” Fang replied “How did the battle go?”

            “We won, Zyphell’s forces were routed but still no sign of the General himself” Plutoon reported, Fang cursed under his breath.

            “We’ll find him, he can’t have gone far” Fang turned away and indicated his pupil to follow him. They travelled along the corridor together “We’ll have to return to Mercury and report this to the Galaxians, they will then take this new information into account and secure Zyphell’s immediate arrest and execution” Fang seemed to shudder at the word he spoke. It had long been known that Fang had disapproved of warlords being executed, but this was an exception. “Set the auto drive to Mercury and power up emergency engines”

            “But master, the bridge was destroyed! All the controls were in there!” Plutoon protested “How can we pilot a cruiser with no controls? Neither your nor my powers are strong enough to control this ship and the Kong reserves are all but-”

            “Calm down Plutoon” Fang said in his calm tone “We have a secondary power unit on the fourth floor, I have had a scout unit go and power it up we should be moving momentarily” as he said those words, the ship shook and powered into action “Ah, convenient”

 

            Freedom 1 rolled slowly through space as it passed over Saturn’s asteroid belt. As the lights flickered on once more, the ship turned in space and started on the long journey home. Down in the engine room, the surveillance team looked through the computer systems as they swept the ship with infrared rays. The computer screen flashed and bleeped, it showed red dots moving on the first floor. The technician looked closely at the screen and threw his headset from his head.

            “In the name of Heaven!” he jumped up and darted across the room to the wall. He pulled a communicator off the wall and spoke clearly into it. “Attention, we are Emergency Code Red! Large enemy battalion detected on Floor One, all units converge on the area immediately! Repeat we are Code Red!” Alarms rang and red lights flashed all over the vessel. Down on the second floor, Fang and his attack group boarded the elevator and dropped down to the first level.

            “Now pay close attention” Fang spoke quietly, hiding his presence from the group of enemies he sensed outside “When those doors open, I sense a group of men who are armed to the teeth. After them, a group of spearmen are standing around the corner and the enemy commander is…in the conference chamber. He is heavily guarded and heavily armed, and he’s expecting us” The doors slid open and a blare of lasers fired upon the group, who held up large, square shields. Sparks rained down and one of the guards suddenly lost his focus. A spark hit his eye and he fell backward, his shield powered down and the incoming fire mauled him. “Now!”

            Fang and Plutoon leapt over the soldiers and cut down the attackers, Plutoon twirled and swung his blade while Fang raised people from the ground and into their allies. After a brief and pointless battle, all riflemen were dead with only one casualty to Fang’s crew. Quietly they approached the corner, they all knew what awaited them behind the straight narrow piece of metal, and they all knew the risks. Did they have any doubts, any private cowardly thoughts? Maybe, but they were silent. No one said a word, not as Plutoon raised his sword to his face, not as Fang ordered the advance and not as the first man stepped around the corner. Plutoon rolled around the corner and performed a rising strike up the middle of a spearman. The soldiers rounded the corner and opened heavy fire on the enemy. The spearmen charged upon them and impaled a small number of them. Lasers from turret grids roared like a pouncing tiger onto the soldiers as they were shot down.

            Time seemed to slow as Plutoon looked around. He saw the red laser approach and cut into his back-up troop. He saw the streak of blood falling from the troop’s neck, but slower than all the others. He continued to fight but each time he looked back at his troops, one more was shot and fell. It was like his worst nightmare had sprung into reality and swallowed up his world, his men fell and victory slipped away. Until at last, the final troop charged forward in a blinding fit of rage. Plutoon called after him, but it was too late. He was impaled on a spear, lifted into the air and shot repeatedly until his charred and blackened body slipped from the spear’s grasp. Plutoon’s cry of disbelief rang in the air as the crumpled body lay there, on a field of bodies. The spearmen approached, holding their spears high.

            “Surrender immediately” they sneered beneath their helmets. Plutoon grinned and flipped over their heads. In a vicious back swipe, he slashed through three of their bodies and stabbed the final one through the back. The soldiers and their spears dropped to the ground. While Plutoon collected himself, Fang walked among the bodies and checked for pulses, he found none. Slowly he rose and bowed his head, whispering words under his breath. They looked at each other then nodded. Together they leapt through the chamber doors and drove through the two security guarding it.

            “Your forces are dead, now reveal your identity and face the punishment you deserve!” Plutoon called into the shadows. Silence followed, and then slowly a shrill laugh grew and grew until it was almost a shriek. A shadow moved, a tall, spindly human grasping a long item in his long, bony hand. “Reveal yourself!”

 

A golden armoured foot smashed out of the shadows, followed by another. Long, muscular legs encased with royal gold armour hanging from a leather belt. The nibs of a tall trident pushed through the shadow, grasped by a pale hand on the end of a strong arm. Fang looked up at the familiar face, while Plutoon stood stunned. The long thin chin, the pointy nose, the mad eyes and the tall golden helmet. The tall figure wore a long black cape and the butt of the spear hit the ground. He folded his long arms and a foul smile spread across his face. And he spoke in a cold, shrill voice

“Hello old friend!” the General sneered, Fang’s eyes thinned.

            “Anton Zyphell, our paths cross again, regretfully” he said slowly, the General let out a strained laugh. “What are you doing here?”

            “Now, now Fang” Zyphell sneered, “You may as well take a seat,” He pointed at the door and it slammed shut. He then caressed his wrist and two boxes materialised into seats. With a flick, they thrust themselves into Fang and Plutoon’s legs and forced them down. Zyphell’s mad eyes widened and dark circles grew beneath them. “Now, let’s get down to business” Zyphell sat and stretched his long bony fingers over the table. He released his trident and it stood on the ground, unmoving.

            “Zyphell, what have you done to yourself?” Fang gasped “You were never, ever compatible with Kong energy! Such power cannot be learnt, only perfected!” Zyphell, seeming to expect this question, sat back and his foul grin spread across his face.

            “A just question Fang, as always” Zyphell said coolly “Allow me to explain. In my years of exile, my talents attracted the attention of the Dark Kong wizard Wonton. He requested I become his pupil after I mastered the Unbreakable Curse, he had to insist before I decided to join him. The spear gave me access to the darkest powers of Hell, enough to curdle the tectonics! With this power, any war I fight in, the enemy will stand no chance! I will be invincible, maybe even omniscient! Powerful enough to rule this galaxy and everything else!” Fang shot up

            “This is madness!” Fang cried, “Kong energy is an extremely powerful and unique source of knowledge! Only some sort of neuron-electric pulse mechanism could possibly interfere with it!” Fang felt grabbed by an invisible arm and forced back into his chair.

            “Sit back down Fang” Fang hit the back of the chair and was almost thrown from it “Are you questioning the extent of my power? Do you not believe that I possess now, three times your own power? Perhaps you would like me to prove this to you? Would you like to…” he leant across the table and looked Fang straight into the eye “…duel?” Plutoon suddenly leapt up.

            “I’ll show you strength!” he leapt at Zyphell and raised his sword.

            “Oh get out of my way you immature child!” Zyphell flicked his hand and caught Plutoon in mid-air. Plutoon was then flung across the room at full pelt, spinning and twirling, and slammed into the steel wall at the other side. “Now, where were we Fang?” Fang looked round at his pupil, who lay slumped on the ground with a small spring of blood seeping from a cut on his head. He felt the familiar feeling of an invisible hand as his head was turned back to face Zyphell’s mad eyes. Fang pulled his arm back and called upon all his Kong strength. Zyphell was picked up and thrown through the air and into another wall.

            “All right! Lets do this!” Fang spun his staff around in his fingers. With a face of naked aggression, Zyphell re-found his feet and called his spear back to him. He let out a roar of rage and dived through the air at Fang, spear and staff crossed and the two whirled and spun as they fought across the room. Zyphell swept his spear across the floor and Fang hopped over it. The two weapons locked and the force of the break sent them soaring to opposite sides of the room. Zyphell summoned a large black skull of energy, wreathed in purple smoke, and flung it at Fang. It tore through the air, swallowed up the chairs and creased the table as it sped towards its target. Fang held his hands forwards and caught the blast in his palm. Shockwaves emitted from the skull as it pushed against Fang’s strength, sparks flashed and power surges spread through it. The once purple smoke started to fade, the skull began to glow a faint gold. Zyphell’s eyes widened.

            “No! It cannot be!” Fang pushed as hard as he could and the skull soared back across the room. Zyphell let out a yelp of pain as the skull struck him square in the stomach and flung him into the wall. After being suspended against the wall for a short time, the energy faded and he dropped to the ground, twitching and smoking. Slowly, he raised his sweating head and glared directly at Fang.

            “It’s over Anton, you’ve lost” Fang panted, supporting his weakened body with his staff. The two looked at each other for a short time, and for an instant Fang looked deep into his foe’s eyes. He looked deep into his mind and saw, for a split second, a small spark of fear. Then Zyphell’s face wrinkled with rage, as he stood, still trembling.

            “I never lose! Kong power is irrelevant! One day Fang, I’ll cut you down with nothing but my raw power! This is just the beginning!” Zyphell suddenly dematerialised in a cloud of black smoke. A group of guards opened fire on Fang, who caught the plasma and fired it back at them with his bare hands. He dropped and waved his hand over Plutoon’s head. The blood was drawn back into the wound, which also began to close up. Slowly, Plutoon stood and gasped in fresh air, then he looked down at his weakened master and picked him up. He carried his master back to the Control Centre.

 

            On a distant planet, cursed with eternal rain and storm, a small ship descended into the atmosphere and towards the surface. It passed through the large skyscrapers and tall aerials that covered the drenched landscape. Slowly, it lowered down onto a landing platform and its boarding ramp lowered. Anton Zyphell stumbled out of the ship, twitching and fidgeting with his long fingers. He walked into a conference room and sat at the head of the table. The group that he had joined all looked up at him, after collecting himself Zyphell looked up at them.

            “There was a problem?” he asked. A spade-headed alien looked back at him and trembled violently.

            “My lord, our contacts on Mercury are dead” he said “The technicians on Venus have reported uproars from the civilians and our-“

            “It is of little concern, my Lord” A tall-headed alien interrupted, he stroked his chin and tapped his fingers together. Zyphell looked down at him.

            “Oh?” he said “Is that so? Then why is it that the Neuron Death Ray is not completed yet? Why is it that more and more armies of the Galaxians are finding links to my headquarters and why is it” he began shouting, “That more and more finances are slowly slipping away?” He thumped the table, so hard that it dented. “Answers needed gentlemen, now!” The group jumped. Zyphell looked down the table at a large man at the end. “You! Stand!” slowly, the large man stood, Zyphell swept down the table and towered over him. “Now gentlemen, here is a demonstration of what will happen each time there is a flaw in the production of my weapon!” he raised his finger.

            “My Lord, please forgive me” the fat man cowered and trembled. A glare of lightning zapped from Zyphell’s finger and wrapped around the man as it lifted him from the ground. Screaming in agony, the man was thrown across the floor and his head cracked against the wall. The lightning faded, and smoke rose from the inanimate body that now lay at the end of the room. Zyphell snapped his fingers and a pair of guards dragged the charred body from the room.

            “Instant death! The only part of these Kong powers that I see as useful! That is the fate that awaits the next one of you to fail me on such a scale as this insolent wretch! The Ray will be completed and Mercury will fall!” Zyphell stormed from the room, leaving the terrified group to continue his dark deeds, in the shadow of his sinister threat. And as they heard his ship leaving, to rejoin his monstrous warship, they all knew, behind the confident smirks that they exchanged between each other, that they were all probably already dead.

The End

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