Spacer Crossover347
  | Asymmetry | Role-Playing | Villains & Vigilantes | The Revolution | Fifty Years Ago | Crossover |





    Astro-Man flew up toward the ring. The townspeople seemed to be physically present, held in the cylinder of light, which was generated by a cluster of fifteen cultists, holding hands and chanting. There was a slight rotational movement to the whole thing. He recognized the light as characteristic of force fields, and most likely inferior to his own. He attempted to fly into the light, only to run up against the field with some force. So it was solid enough to support weight....
    He flew above it, turned noncorporeal as he passed through the light wall, and then returned to solid form to stand on the bottom of the cylinder. From within, it proved to have a honeycomb structure, each townsperson enclosed in an individual cell with spaces in between.
    Argus gunned the snowmobile as two more wolves appeared and chased after them on their way up the slope. Winding through the trees with skills honed in the narrow streets and tunnels of Boston, she decoyed a wolf into running into one. A shotgun blast echoed across the mountainside, but Kane missed as the wolf dropped back for a moment.
    Below, Adam ducked out of the way as one of the wolves leaped for him, but could not evade the second's darting attack. He fired again, silver bullets shredding the would-be killer. Two more landed atop him, fangs snapping. The fact that he was still standing while borne down by a half ton of werewolf seemed to give them some pause. He grabbed a wolf by the throat and spun sharply, flinging the creature into a tree; the other retreated for a moment, perhaps reconsidering strategy, while its uninjured comrade delivered another shallow slash.
    Argus noted that there was a longer, slower path off to one side and a steeper, rockier path that ended in a jump to their destination. Naturally, she chose the latter.
    Astro-Man saw the snowmobile racing up the slope, and waiting for it the crouched shape of a huge werewolf. Wolfgang.
    "There's a werewolf waiting for you at the top of the hill," he told Argus.
    "That's why we have the silver plating on the front." There was another wolf closing in on them from behind. Kane gave it a silver shotgun shell to the head.
    As the bike reached the top of the slope, Astro-Man spoke in the huge wolf's ear. "Hey, look behind you!!"
    Wolfgang lost a moment to startlement just as the snowmobile hit the jump and went airborne. Argus and Kane bailed out smoothly, and Wolfgang hurled himself mostly out of the way of the descending bike; like his father, his wolf form was pony-sized.
    "And me without a wood chipper," Kane sighed.
    Argus experienced a moment of deja-vu as a ton of wolf landed on top of her, jaws scoring faint trails in her armor. Then he hurled her off the cliff; she landed in deep snow. Yeti appeared around her.... Astro-Man went noncorporeal and drifted downward, toward where she had landed.
    "There's one of the interfering meddlers! Kill him!" Three coven members, not involved in the chanting, left the circle and turned their attention to Astro-Man, while three others were doing something involving a small case or basket. The lightning bolt missed, the flame bolt missed, the force spell missed. "It must just be an illusion! Those voices we've been hearing, they have some sort of illusion-castwer with them!" a bright sorcerer realized.
    Kane hissed and jumped on Wolfgang, who seemed surprised by this patently suicidal maneuver. The wolf shook him off before he could get his teeth into the creature.
    At the bottom of the cliff, Argus could barely see the yeti, which seemed to be crouched down as if to stay out of the way. One of them was staring at her; she felt a moment of shock, fear, and revulsion, as well as recognition of the almost-human in its gaze. The other two leaped--past her, onto the werewolf Kane had shot, and began rending it to pieces. Far be it from me to interfere in squabbles among supernatural species, she thought, beginning a very slow retreat and looking for a way back to where the fight was taking place, then spotted Astro-Man hovering above.
    Wolfgang leaped toward Kane, not trying to bite but flicking him aside with his snout and hurling him some distance away. The vampire slammed into a tree, which shed a great deal of snow from the impact. The sun was setting; midnight and the ritual's culmination could not be far off.
    Astro-Man swooped down to pick up Argus and deposit her back on the battlefield, then positioned himself above Wolfgang. She fired a burst from the gun, to no effect as the massive wolf leaped aside.
    "You?" he growled, sounding annoyed. "Next time I'll just bite your head off."
    Meanwhile, Adam scooped up the fallen gun as another werewolf streaked toward him. The wolf was already there as he straightened; it slammed into him and clung to his back. The other two jumped him as well, until he was festooned with wolves like strange and very heavy Christmas ornaments. He struggled for a moment to raise the gun sufficient to fire at--or rather, into--the one on his front. One more dead wolf. He used his free hand to hurl it away.
    Another wolf emerged from the woods--the one that had run into the tree, away down the mountain, had finally caught up. Its charge knocked Adam down, and his civilized training finally gave way to the beast within.
    Atop the mountain, Wolfgang leaped at Argus again, seized her leg in his jaws and threw her into Kane, both of them landing in a painful tangle almost on top of the snowmobile. She swore in several uncommon languages as she got back to her feet, took aim and fired again, to much better effect this time as the silver-laced bullets thumped into the massive form. His growl seemed to shake the stone underfoot.
    Kane threw the snowmobile at him; more silver-plated wounds dealt the werewolf patriarch. Astro-Man flew down at high speed, building up momentum, and then switched to his super-dense Saturnian form just before striking. Ribs shattered; he felt the impact himself, but far less than Wolfgang had. His cloak swirled impressively as he stood atop a boulder.
    "Hello. My name is Astro-Man."
    "An illusion, is he?" Wolfgang snarled at the cultists.
    "You've been a very bad doggy."
    "Quickly, while they're together!" The three wizards joined hands and pointed at Kane and Argus. The ground erupted and wrapped itself around them, entombing them up to the neck.
    "Come get me, you coward!" Astro-Man taunted Wolfgang. "You're the most pathetic werewolf I've ever met! Your mange offends me!"
    It seemed to work. When the wizards shrieked, "Kill them, quickly!" the answer was a growled, "No." His jaws closed around Astro-Man's head; super-dense, this was less of a problem than it might have been. It was shortly even less of one; he assumed his Martian form, which overcompensated through regeneration in such a fashion that injuries left him in better condition. He tickled the wolf under the chin.
    The entrapped pair struggled to free themselves; Kane summoned fog, for whatever aid the concealment would offer. Seeing what was happening to Astro-Man, he assumed the man was done for.
    "With a knick-knack paddywhack, give the dog a bone...."
    Or maybe he was okay after all.
    Argus wriggled around enough to get a hand on one of her knives.
    "Well now, it seems as if their sorcerer is dead, and these two are safely entombed. Let us return to the ceremony," one of the wizards stated, rejoining those grouped around the basket. "Is the child prepared?" He unsheathed a no-doubt mystical knife. "And as we bring the blade down, rather than killing the child, all thousand souls will be destroyed!" The chanting rose to a crescendo; the knife glinted under the lights in the moonless sky. Wolfgang continued to rend Astro-Man, tossing him back and forth, slamming his body into boulders and finally flinging him aside.
    It seemed that nothing could stop the ceremony now.
    And then Adam's roar echoed across the slope as he charged up the mountainside and appeared over the ridge. He picked Wolfgang up bodily and hurled him toward the earthen mound entombing the two heroes, shattering it. Kane immediately battened onto the unconscious werewolf; he was going to be personally responsible for the blood-drained deaths of two Jenkins patriarchs.
    Astro-Man turned incorporeal and sprinted toward the baby, through the force field. "Beware, nonscientific evildoers! The forces of rational justice have appeared!" The three extra wizards let loose again, looking panicky; the lightning bolt connected but did not slow him down as he passed through an inner force field to where the three other wizards and the child were. "Unhand that baby!"
    Argus looked uncertainly at the force field; she didn't think her gun would get through it. And Kane seemed to have Wolfgang well under control. She fired an experimental burst; no luck.
    The ceremony was broken; the knife had been dropped. One of the wizards grabbed the baby. Another pointed at Astro-Man.
    The field wavered as a thousand souls were touched for power. A ray of blackness enveloped Astro-Man. He looked down and saw a hole in the center of his incorporeal form; then it filled back in.
    "Would you like to try that again?" he offered.
    The other two were already gone, including the one with the baby.
    "Do we rule the world now?" a confused cultist wanted to know.
    Another one saw Adam bearing down, and shrieked. "Gorilla!"
    Now that the force field was gone, Argus unlimbered a sword and went after one of the remaining sorcerers, who looked like he was trying to put together a spell of some kind. She took him out without difficulty.
    "I am sorry to inform you that no, you do not rule the world."
    Kane pitched the drained werewolf corpse at one of the others, which took care of him. Meanwhile, Adam ran amuck through the panicking cultists, knocking several down as others ran screaming. Astro-Man took on Saturn form, strolled over to the one who had tried to kill him, and swatted him casually to the ground.
    One managed to get a spell together; he grew large bat-like wings and flew upward laboriously. Adam's mind cleared enough to grasp the fact that one of them was getting away; he picked Kane up and tossed him in that direction.
    No more sorcerers. The cultists were fleeing. The remainder of the force field was slowly dying, the townsfolk settling to the ground and waking up, confused. The time dilation had stopped. Adam, no longer able to conceal his true nature with most of his clothes shredded, kept out of sight of the townsfolk--they were used to seeing Kane covered in blood--as Astro-Man reassured them and the whole badly confused body began to make their way back down the mountain. The yeti kept their distance.
    "I am glad that this cult has been destroyed, nevermore to trouble New England," Astro-Man pronounced. The actions of four heroes from across the country had barely prevented the coven-werewolf alliance from taking over the world. If things had gone only slightly differently....
    A wave of white overwhelmed the mountain and then everything else as, fifty years in the future and with access to nigh-unlimited power, Gretchen St. John rewrote the past.

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© 2003 Rebecca J. Stevenson