Heavy Metal issue 4
After putting away the rampaging demigod, Solaris, our heroes of the International Bureau of World Security, better known world wide as the most expansive of all superhero teams, Aegis, deserve some much needed rest. But trouble doesn’t take a holiday...
The scenic marble costs of the Grecian isles, home to one of the world's oldest and most decorated cultures, a place bustling with tourism, fine foods and picturesque vistas....and where there is anything worth stealing, crime will churn up from society's cracks.
The Bureau high speed transport that had just dropped a team of heroes off lifted back into the air before rocketing away. On the outskirts of a scenic city, a fresh trio of heroes sent by Aegis in response to a much belated distress call.
Chimera was wide eyed with wonder at the new assortment of sights before her, the island girls life with Aegis had been one amazement after another as she learned much about the world. Beside her, Mimic stood, silently as ever, his stylized hazmat suit obscuring any expression to be seen. In back of the 2 superhumans, Johnny Augastino, the Bureaus director and chief quietly cut a cigar from a case kept in his suit pocket.
At entering the city terminal, the three were greeted in an atrium by a man in power armor styled after a hoplite. "Glad your organization was able to respond so fast. Welcome to Greece, I wish we could receive you three on happier terms." His accent thick and with a slight slur, his partially opened face-plate showing a short but thick beard marking him rather distinguished.
"Not often something of this magnitude happens, but...well, the three warriors of Greece Project Fury were stolen...just gone, vanished with no abnormalities to our security checkpoints. No energy readings either, as our scanners aren't advanced enough yet to track mystical energy, so it must have been a magic user. I trust you already reviewed the dossiers of the missing three that I sent you. That information was classified and I wasn’t even supposed to share it, but their safety means a lot more to me than rules."
Immediately, Chimera bounded out in front of the guide "Aw, no worries mate, my sniffer 'eer 'il be able ta track down where yer Fury girls all wandered off to."
The guide looked puzzled for a moment at her cartoonishly thick accent, but cheerfully patted her on the shoulder. "That is exactly why I called you here. Command can't know about this, but I fear with how well our economic rebuilding has been going, this may be the first strike of someone trying to destabilize the global economy. Greece makes the perfect testing ground, with us being stable but small enough nobody would notice quickly. That’s why I did something both the culprit and internal affairs wouldn’t expect, and I called for outside help."
As they passed through the atrium, Mimic stopped momentarily to look at a small grove of apple trees. Johnny looking back and gruffly telling him to come on. Mimic begrudgingly following and swiping a pitcher of apple juice to carry, extending a straw from his emergency induction port.
"What has kept Greece afloat all these years, and indeed allowed us to thrive despite facing much adversity, has been our abundance of Mythos. The poor fellows have met limited success outside the Mediterranean, due to competing with evolving technology, but here at home they are a cultural treasure that gives our nation character and a superhuman work force."
Johnny cut in. "You only have them 'cos of the Argo, so how have they been around so long ever since ya time-traveling ship got wrecked, thank ya very much by the way, it's 'cos-a that hunk a' wood that I even got dragged to this crummy decade, Perse."
Their guide, Perse, looked with a rather dull tone at Johnny. "Yes, detective, you have made it aggravatingly clear to us that the Argo being wrecked back in WW2, before I was even born, is the reason you and the other time-displaced beings have been dragged to the future by the time crash. I apologize for not stopping something that happened before I existed." Animari giggling at their tired banter.
Walking along the row of white marble buildings, Animari was blown away by the country's beautiful coast, she considered this must be where the bulk of their tourism came from, her powerful nose finding the exotic foods and spices all around her. Her stomach began to growl as she looked over to Mimic and his huge pint of apple cider. "Oy. don’t get in yer head any thoughts of sharin', I s'pose?"
Mimic looked down at her...before silently going back to drinking as they walked, offhandedly making a slicing motion with one hand, causing a flash of green light, and an apple to fall from a tree, right into Animari's hand, before lines appeared on the apple, slicing it to segments right as it landed.
"Ohh, thank ye!"
Passing through the edges of the city, and seeing a number of Mythos at work, ranging from mighty Minotaur working industrial jobs, to a friendly Centaur waiting tables alongside human co-workers. Lamia using their serpentine bodies to scale trees and pick their fruit or prune their branches, alongside nymphs carefully tending the many botanical gardens and orchards.
At the gates of a government building, a pair of Cerberites sat at attention, like guard dogs.
"We're going round the back of the local government center. The higher-ups will be miffed if they notice I went above authority...again."
As Perse lead them through the tree strewn path behind the pristine white building, they passed a small, well-worn, dirt-pathed training yard, where several other hopalites were training with power weapons and armor. A few stopped to salute Perse as the group walked by.
"My troops, the best we have to offer. Got them on maneuvers over here today, in case things go south. Can't be too careful, with one of our best fighting forces gone without a trace."
Animari stopped to look at the burly men training. She was inspired by their physique, noticing that all of them were human aside from the coach, a centaur. Johnny had to walk back and drag her by the ear, electing a canine like whimper from the animal girl.
After bypassing several security checkpoints, thanks to Perse's clearance, the group found themselves in a long, deep underground expanse, lined with crumbling statues, light pouring in from several cave flaws...and most notably a bisected, wooden ship, dry-docked right in the center, scuttled beyond repair, and with a single, long rotted timber impaled through the chest of a skeleton laying in the captain's chair.
Johnny took off his hat for a moment, not looking away from the boat for a second. "The ship that could sail through time... It's 'cos a' this little cheat device Greece tried ta change the world wit' that I'm stuck here outta my own timeline. What a crock we gotta see this eyesore."
Perse looked back and dryly retorted. "Many attempts have been made to restore the Argo, but it seems almost stuck in time, permanently unable to be moved from its final resting place. Et to is how the time crash occurred, the destruction of the Argo changed something in history, ripped the various time travelers like our friend Johnny here, and cast them to an exact point in the then-future, which is the past for us now... sigh, time travel is such a pain to describe."
Animari squatted down on all fours, sniffing the air. "Oy, I think I smell wot girls you lost eer. I'm getting four distinct scents, none a' 'em are at all fresh."
Immediately, Johnny put his hat back on and got to work doing what he did best, detective business. Crouching down a bit ahead of where Animari was, he carefully handled a handful of dry earth. "Not the right kinda sand for this far down. Someone brought this here."
Mimic just looked to Perse, making a sort of crackling noise but saying nothing as usual.
Perse put a hand to his beard in a contemplative gesture. "Would be making a few conclusive leaps to tie this together with the magic user. Better check the crime data base. See if you can find anything more incriminating." As he spoke, the eyes of his helmet lit up as he quickly scanned through the international comprehensive data base.
Johnny carefully studied the walls, following any and all signs of battle that might have been missed. "No energy readings? I see signs a' ice. If this weren't a blaster...What's the database say on known magic disturbances?"
The lights of the micro-screens faded. "Sadly nothing, we still know too little about magic-capable villains. We're blind, I'm afraid."
Only for Animari to spring up "Oh no we ain't, I got a fresh scent, it's right in 'eer wit' us!"
No sooner had she spoken, as beams of light formed together, creating a glowing pyramid around the heroes, blocking off the exit.
Johnny tapped his Cigar against one of the light walls, speaking sarcastically "Eh, think this might be a clue, chief."
Perse face-palmed "Sigh, we have an entire world database and we still fall for this crap."
Animari cocked her head like a confused dog. "Oy, did 'e just say the word 'sigh' out loud?"
"Aww, that entire database and not one little ounce of recognition on moi? For shame. I made sure not to cover my tracks that heavily. You world police types should find it an honor to even gaze upon the ground that I, the great and immortally beautiful Cleopatra, walk on."
Johnny just put out his cigar in his open palm. "Oh joy, incomin' primadona right here."
Out of some convenient shadows, stepped a woman with deep copper skin, jet black hair in a royal cut, and large amounts of jewelry and white silk...but not much else covering her body. "I was bothering to formulate a plan to put these warriors to use, but you had to go and make things so easy for me, just bringing yourselves right down into my clutches, where no one can hear you scream. I guess it is true that fortune favors the beautiful."
Johnny however was not taking any of her crap. "Ya? Well ya dumb broad, how do ya know you didn’t just walk inta our trap? Ya went through all the trouble ta steal Project Fury, and now we got ya ta reveal yourself what, a few weeks after at most? Not much of a plan, bimbo."
Cleopatra looked very frank and not amused. "Kill them...kill them now."
Three magic pillars erupted within the pyramid cage, bringing to bear 3 demi-humanoid forms.
"Since your modern patriarchal culture is so fond of combat, let me introduce my new handmaidens in a way you will understand. In this corner, formerly a beautiful Nymph until a cruel trick by a god led to her cursed appearance, now bearing the tail of a lamia, the eyes of a gorgon, the scales of a dragon, and a nest of vipers for hair...Medusa!"
As she spoke, the still quite beautiful snake woman appeared, slithering in a circle to show off.
"Over on this side, once the mightiest woman warrior of her age, cursed into the mightiest of beasts after losing a race for her hand and heart. The very Nemian lion, Atlanta!"
The winged sphinx, still prone to moving on all fours, brought the claws on her hands to bear and let out a lionish roar.
"and last but not least, a mortal so beautiful the gods became jealous and transformed her into a demon of the sea. The one who invented a rock and a hard place, Scylla!"
The water dweller moved slowly and deliberately on land. Her entire lower section a swirling storm of powerful tentacles, her hands crackled with electricity, even as she was the slowest to move or prepare.
"As you can see, despite their good hearts, these three have more than ample reason to hate the dead gods your society was shaped by, and plenty of anger at the men who tormented them throughout their lives. Your government certainly didn’t help your cause, keeping them hidden like living nuclear missiles just in case you needed another trump card up your sleeve. Well I simply swirled my magic around in their cute little heads and brought all that repressed hatred to the surface...Have fun, boys."
Animari shouted "Oy! Can't you see I'm a lady also!"
Cleopatra made a waving off motion. "Little girl, you have a LONG way to go before you can call yourself a lady."
Animari blushed angrily, before in a surge of adrenaline and quickening heartbeat, her cloths began to tear as her muscles expanded, her already wild hair exploding into an untamed mane as claws, teeth, and tail formed, the wild child becoming a tall and powerful lion man with a very displeased expression.
Johnny put away his now dead cigar, slipping on a pair of brass knuckles. "that’s the spirit, Annie. This ain't my first fight, and once we got these girls back ta normal, I bet they'z gona want a chat with you, queenie." As he spoke, both knuckles ignited with electricity like tasers.
Perse steadied himself in a fighting stance, a collapsible shield forming, mounted on one arm, as his helmet fully closed. "You stand in defiance of our nation, you have kidnapped Greek heroines, and frankly you just pissed me off. Consider this your reading of rights, because I have no intentions of going easy on you, Cleopatra."
Mimic stepped forward, in front of the other three, still making a crackling sound...before it exploded into a loud, very inhuman roar, something like a boat horn, strong enough that Animari and Atlanta had to cover their ears.
Medusa sprang forward, wrapping her tail around Perse, but with almost practiced speed, his armor activated an electric shield, propelling her off as he made a swing at her head with the blunt end of his shield before she could recover.
Atlanta charged at the much smaller Johnny, but was caught mid leap by Chimera, who caught both claws, nearly holding her off the ground. The 2 lions struggled against each other's strength briefly, before Atlanta's wings beat with great strength, pulling Animari off the ground.
Johnny and Mimic were left with the slow but calculating Scylla. Johnny carefully put up his fists, preparing for anything, as the monster girl approached. Despite her lack of speed on land, Scylla still had her reach, as one tentacles lashed out, surging with electricity as it wrapped around Johnny's arm. Receiving a huge shock from the attack, Johnny grabbed the appendage with his other arm, trying to squeeze it to death, only to be tossed to the side by the tentacle's immense strength. Landing flat on his chest, Johnny grabbed a rock from the ground and stabbed it into the tentacles, causing the appendage to retreat as Scylla howled in pain and anger.
Now enraged, Scylla's main body attempted to grab Mimic, her entire being now surging with electricity...to her surprise, the black suited enigma made no attempt to stop her...to her even greater surprise, her electricity had no effect. Almost completely ignoring her attack, Mimic joined his hands together to bring both fists down right on the cephalo-centaur's head, smacking her boneless body into the ground with great force. Before she could even recover, she found herself lifted by a few of her tentacles, as Mimic spun around for a hammer toss, throwing her clean into one of the pyramid walls with an audible *splat*
Medusa lashed out with her tail, striking so fast it made a whip crack sound. Even with his armors enhanced reaction time, Perse barely managed to block in time, the assault on his shield pushing him back.
Venom dripping from her lips (figuratively and literally) Medusa spoke in a taunting manner. "Phalanx. Your kindness is just a front for the government's attempt to control us. Mistress knows this, and now I do as well. We are just tools to you."
Perse retorted, still having to hide behind his shield from another attack, before springing into a combat roll to avoid her claws. "From where I'm standing, you're a tool to her more than anything. You realize just because we hid you from the world doesn’t mean we didn’t care! I'm not proud of locking you three down, none of us are, but if someone, say a narcissistic Egyptian sorceress with delusions of godhood, were able to take control of you...o wait how does that sound familiar?" Only for him to immediately have to put his shield back up as Medusa whipped, hard enough to dent it this time. "Ah crap, and she was always the kindest of the three."
In the air, her flight path restricted by the pyramid cage's design, Atlanta took every advantage of her situation, repeatedly slamming Animari into the walls. Chimera however did not let up even for a second, grabbing onto the sphinx core body and squeezing with all her might.
Having suffered no severe damage from the blunt attack, Scylla shook the daze from her head as she got back up, only to be caught with an elbow strike by Johnny, who quickly dodged behind her. As her head turned to follow him, she was grappled by Mimic, who lifted her off the ground, standing tall enough to be halfway to a German suplex. Scylla retaliated by wrapping her tentacles around his arms and legs, trying to break them, but Mimic held strong, leaving the two deadlocked. Johnny quickly got back into the fray, punching the now stationary Scylla repeatedly, before having to retreat from her tentacles strikes. "He'll let go when you let go, sweetheart." This only seemed to coldly infuriate her further.
Outside the pyramid, Cleopatra...had conjured a hot tub for herself, brimming over with pink, fragrant soap bubbles as she watched. "The simple pleasures of life, like setting allies against allies to destroy each other. Do a good job girls. If you look good, your mistress looks good."
All three parties deadlocked, even with Johnny and Mimic fighting together, Johnny's combat prowess couldn’t get past Scylla's near immunity to blunt force attacks. Up above, Animari held on for dear life as the Nemian sphinx clawed and smacked her into the walls.
Medusa circled around Phalanx, the defensive warrior still reluctant to fight back. Each strike of her iron talons was repelled, her tail repulsed by electric shielding, but driven on by Cleopatra's spell, she would not give up.
Phalanx carefully followed the snake girl's movements. Like a real snake even when moving slowly, she could strike fast as lightning in an instant. As he prepared to strike at her head, however, he realized too late she had surrounded him for a reason, her tail striking from behind, and throwing the armored warrior into the snake girls clutches. With her inhuman strength, her iron claws dug into the sides of his armor, as a glow began to emanate from beneath her blindfold. A wicked smile crossing her lips.
"Medusa...don't do this."
Paying her former comrade no head, her beautiful face began to crystallize like stone, before shattering as if it were a porcelain mask. Underneath snake like eyes glowed with green essence, fangs dripping with venom framed her powerful jaws, as a snake like, angular visage took its place, the three python sized snake heads that formed her hair rearing back with fangs bared, to accent her frightful, stone gaze...this is what Medusa saw, as with his accelerated reaction time, Perse threw up his well polished shield before his face just as her stone gaze activated. Medusa, in surprise, gazed into her own eyes, feeling the cold overtake her body. In an instant what had been flesh and blood, became a statue of solid, pristine marble, her last act before petrification being to drop the soldier from her grasp.
Perse symbolically whipped his brow, tapping on the statue. "I warned you not to do that."
Up above, Animari was weakening. In a last ditch effort, she grabbed the Sphinx wing...in her jaws. Atlanta released a painful, feline howl, as her flight path was thrown off balance, causing her to spiral out of control and crash herself into the wall, sending both lion girls plummeting to the ground with a crash.
Getting up and shaking herself, Animari looked around for the now flightless Sphinx, only for her to jump on her back, grabbing Animari in a headlock. "Guess who I learned this from!" The sphinx pulled back with all her might, turning the grab into a choke hold, as Animari clawed at her arms, her attacks not even able to break the sphinx skin, no blade could. Thinking quickly, Animari began to transform once more, the unstable mass of her shifting throwing off Atlanta's grip, as she transformed into a stoat hybrid, the weasel family's flexibility allowing her to slip from Atlanta's clutches.
Enraged, Atlanta stood at her full height and roared, about to pounce on the now much smaller Chimera...only to get knocked from behind, tumbling end over end, as there stood Phalanx, his arms folded dramatically. With her balance faltering, Atlanta fell right into Animari's fist, as with her burst of adrenaline, the Chimera transformed mid punch into a much larger, and stronger, tiger hybrid, knocking the weakened Sphinx out instantly.
At the same time, Johnny continued his impromptu boxing match against the restrained Scylla. No matter how hard he hit he could not pry the squid girl from Mimic. Her tentacles squeezing harder and harder, one even wrapping around Mimics neck, squeezing hard enough it began to damage his suit.
Finally, Scylla had enough, her two humanoid arms stretching just like her tentacles, they morphed...into wolves heads, biting down on Johnny's shoulder and one leg and lifting the detective into the air and pulling him towards her main body, now surging with electricity. Despite the sudden injury, Johnny didn’t miss a beat, taking his free arm into his coat and grabbing a switchblade he used to cut his cigars, driving it into one of the wolf head's and causing Scylla to screech in pain.
The momentary distraction made all the difference, as feeling her grip loosen, both of Mimics hands glowed with green energy, a pair of plasma blades extending from his fists. Almost too fast to be seen, green streaks flew through the air. For a split second, Scylla was confused as to what just happened...then her arms fell off, followed by her tentacles. The limbless squid girl falling to the ground with yet another splat.
Angrily, with no limbs to support herself, Scylla looked up from the ground. "I am going to give you such a biting! You just wait till they grow back!" Any calm and coolness having faded from her voice.
Johnny took a moment to steady himself...and groan that his expensive suit had been dirtied in the fight. The heroes, now a fair bit wearier from their scuffle, came together at the center of the room, all looking at the reclining sorceress. Mimic, despite his suit's damage, actually moved forward to punch the energy wall, hitting it hard enough that it cracked slightly like glass. Even Cleopatra was taken aback by this show of strength.
Perse spoke up. "Your little cage trick jammed my communications, but you can't hold us for long. Give up now and we will spare you the embarrassment of being hunted down and captured like the bitch you are."
Standing from the bath, with soap bubbles conveniently censoring her figure, Cleopatra looked indignant at the four heroes' defiance. "Well well, your tongue will get you into trouble someday Perseus. I shall do you the favor of removing it before that happens...Rise, my champion of champions, and complete the task your sister slaves failed to do!"
The four heroes looked to each other in confusion, as a fourth portal opened...when the magic light faded, there in front of them stood a woman brimming with muscle, more tall and built than Pepper, and with a more olive bronze skin tone. As seemed to be a theme with powerful women, she wore very little, a red tube top accentuated with bronze colored fabric, and a warriors skirt, also red, fastened with a belt with a circular clasp, the seal of the Amazon nation upon it, a Olympian diadem adorning her head of long, red hair, and a lions pelt draped over one shoulder like a cape.
"Behold heroes, your doom, my mightiest slave girl. Hercules!"
Johnny held up one arm as if to call a time out. As the others, including Cleopatra looked at him with confusion...he reached into his jacket and pulled out a hip flask. "...Not drunk enough for this." Popping off the top, he began to drink...
For a solid three minutes without taking a breath, as the other heroes, as well as Hercules looked to each other in surprise and awkward silence.
Finally, he screwed the cap back on and put the flask away. "Alright, lets get this over wit'... you ain't the first woman what tried ta kill me and ya won't be the last...not even the last this week."
To be continued!