It was Sunday and in Tartarus prison, a couple of dozen of the lower risk prisoners were in the shower area, getting clean. One of them was the man called Sirocco. He had been confined to the prison since his defeat by the Guardians. He had petitioned his home country of Tunisia to have him extradited there and receive, or at least he expected to receive, a hero’s welcome. Instead, they denied him, citing diplomatic reasons. So he had languished in Tartarus since then, plotting his undoubtedly eventual escape and then how he would get revenge on both the Guardians and the government that had abandoned him.
The shower stall he was using was at the back of the area and in a corner. The other prisoners didn’t like him, especially since he frequently made it obvious that he viewed them as scum, so they left him alone. Washing himself under the water, he didn’t notice the large man with bionic arms be escorted into the shower area. It was Michelangelo Brown, better known as the enforcer for the Canadian Syndicate Cyborg Mikey. He headed down the walkaway, ostensibly going to an empty stall. He nodded to several of the other prisoners as he passed them, and they nodded back.
At the end of the walkway, Mikey headed right to the stall where Sirocco was. The Mediterranean man turned and said with a scowl, “What do YOU want?”
Mikey smirked at him and replied, “It’s not what I want, but what my homie Elijah wants.” The massive man took a step forwards. “Ya see, he thinks that if he had that thingy you got inside of you, his mojo would be more powerful.” He took another step. Sirocco, not being able to go around him, crowded back into the corner. “Of course, he can’t get to you in here so he asked me to do it. And even though I know I’m goin’ to catch hell for this, I’m goin’ to do it, ‘cause he’s my homie.” Mikey took another step. Now the cyborg was looming over the other man. “Now, I can’t pound you or anything, on account of the doohickey the screws attached to me,” he continued, referring to the tap that kept the energy in his cybernetic parts at a bare minimum. “But I got a good couple of hundred pounds on you.”
With that, he shifted and pressed his left shoulder into Sirocco in the corner, crushing the smaller man. This action was picked up by the robots guards outside the showers. None of them were stationed inside the area to give the prisoners some privacy, but several were stationed right outside the entrance. As they began to enter, all the prisoners stepped out of their stalls and started milling about in the walkways. “Hey, stop shovin’, robo screw,” one of them protested as one of the robots tried to get pass him. The prisoners weren’t actively trying to prevent the robots from entering, as they would have responded with force in that case, but as long as the prisoners only blocked them passively, they couldn’t.
Finally, after several minutes, one of them got through the blocking throng and got to Cyborg Mikey. However, it wasn’t strong enough to pull him off Sirocco, especially since he was focusing all weight away from it. Eventually, more robots got through and together they were able to pull him away from his victim. The man Sirocco then collapsed to the wet floor, the life crushed out of him.
Meanwhile, in an apartment in Angel Falls, Elijah Rosenberg sat within a circle surrounded by inscribed runes. He was waiting for something he had planned for months. He had no doubt that Mikey would keep his word; after all, he was one of the good ones. And then his mystic senses detected the freeing of the air elemental miles distant in Tartarus. He grinned, and then began chanting a summoning. This wasn’t the type of magic he was proficient with, but he was confident that he could make it work. The elemental heard the spell and, immaterial, began to go to it, drawn like a moth to a flame.
When it got close enough, he cast another spell, this one to bind the elemental to him. It tried to resist, but he concentrated as he continued. As it struggled against him, he said, “Your resistance will be futile. I am not a weak willed Muslim like you’re used to, and your power will. Be. MINE!”
And then the spell succeeded and the elemental’s power became his. The air in the room began to swirl, causing all the small objects to be swept up. Elijah felt exhilarated by the rush of power. Not only was he more powerful, but he also didn’t need to use gestures or verbal components for his spells any more. His mind spun with possibilities. He would use the power to scour the 4th Reich from the Earth and then destroy the Canadian Syndicate for the World’s Wickedest Weed’s betrayal of him. And then he would wipe out all the enemies of the Jewish people and make them safe. In fact, it was so much that he couldn’t decide where to strike first.
Then his thoughts were interrupted by the sound of church bells. He looked out a window to see the spire of one of the churches in the neighborhood. He smiled savagely and said, “Of course.”
15 minutes later
Mindy Marvel sat in one of the offices in Guardians Hall, catching up on the paperwork necessary in keeping the team running. It was tedious work but it had to be done. Still, she’d rather be grading papers. As she finished the last one, her communicator went off. She activated it and said, “What is it, Poly?”
“We got a major emergency,” the four armed engineer replied. “Some kind of whirlwind has destroyed a church and a mosque. Brandi with it but she can’t do anything to stop it.”
“I’m on my way,” Mindy said as she stood up. “Send out a message for all available Guardians to join us. If Brandi says she can’t handle it, we’re probably going to need all the help we can get.” With that, she ran to the nearest exit and then took to the sky. She was glad to see Warbuster take off from the top of the building with Raging Bull clinging to his back.
The three of them flew over the streets of the city. As they got near, they could see the whirlwind. It was hard to miss, being four stories high and capped by a dome. It was moving at a walking speed away from the ruins of the mosque, rattling and breaking windows on the buildings it passed and destroying anything in it’s way. The three heroes touched down near where FireBrandi was trailing it. “So what can you tell me about it?” she asked the diminutive woman.
“Well, I tried to use my fire powers to stop it, but the wind is so strong, it dissipated the flames,” Brandi replied. She glanced back over at the whirlwind. It was opaque due to the fast moving air and the debris within it. “And I could swear I saw a person in the middle of it.”
“Well, let’s see how it handles this,” Mindy said as she shot a bolt of lightning at it. However, it did nothing to stop the whirlwind. As she contemplated what to do next, the Changeling and Cynthis and the young Guardians Esau and Hnekakal showed up. Turning to the young heroes, she said, “Go to the mosque and help the first responders.”
“What? We don’t get to fight?” Hnekakal protested.
“We’re helping in our own way,” Esau said as he grabbed her arm and pulled her along.
Mindy then turned to Cynthis and asked, “Can you analyze it?”
“Of course. Give me a moment,” the android responded. She studied the whirlwind for a few seconds, then suddenly opened her mouth and emitted a straggled, static-like cry before her eyes rolled back in her head and she collapsed.
“What’s wrong with her?” Mindy exclaimed.
The Changeling examined her and then said, “Her sensors must had detected something that was logically impossible and shut down to protect her. She’ll be OK in a minute after her systems reboot, but it does give a probable source for this. It’s magic.”
“Oh great, magic. Magic is always a pain in the ass," Brandi protested. Then she saw that Hailey Storm, one of her magic wielding teammates had just arrived. “Oops. I don’t mean all magic.”
“It’s all right,” Hailey responded playfully. She used her powers to scan the whirlwind. After a moment, she said, “Well, it’s magic all right.”
“Can you counter it?” Mindy asked.
Hailey shook her head. “No, it’s too powerful. And it’s tinged with something odd.”
It was then that Warbuster noticed something. “Hey, where’d Gordon go?”
The young man in question was several blocks ahead, standing on the roof of a four story building. Gordon had realized that Elijah was behind this and thought that he could reason with him so he had hurried ahead on his most probable path. As the whirlwind drew closer, he chewed his lip. This was going to be one of the most dangerous things he had ever done and he didn’t have his strength and toughness to back him up, as his nervousness was overriding his anger.
As the whirlwind came up next to the building, he took a few steps back and then ran straight for the edge of the roof. He leapt off, straight towards the dome on top of the whirlwind. He hit it and was bounced upwards. When he came down, it parted enough for him to pass though. He fell but stopped with a jerk in the middle of the swirling mass of air, being supported by weaker gusts. In front of him levitated his former Canadian Syndicate compatriot Elijah Rosenberg. “Thank goodness I got to you,” Gordon said, getting right to the point. “You have to stop this!”
Elijah looked at him with curiosity. “Why would I? I finally have enough power to destroy the enemies of my people, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
“But you don’t have to do it like this,” Gordon pleaded. “You’re a good man, I know you are.”
“You don’t understand,” Elijah said sadly with a shake of his head. “You’re a good man too. That’s how you got out from under the Occupant’s control. And I will regret hurting you.” And then he lifted his hand with his palm facing towards Gordon’s mouth. “But I can’t let anything halt my crusade.”
Outside, the whirlwind had stop it’s progression. The Guardians had kept pace with it to ensure that no one endangered by it. They had also seen Gordon jump into it. They waited to see what would happen next as well as passing around ideas of what to do if whatever he had planned didn’t work. As they did, Major Renown, another Guardian, approached, responding to the emergency signal. As she approached the street on the downwards arc of one of her prestigious leaps, she saw a human-sized form emerging from near the top of the whirlwind. “I got him!” she yelling to the other Guardians who had also noticed the form. She landed on the street and then pushed off, leaping up to the person who came hurdling out. She had made the jump perfectly, catching the man and using the momentum to carry them to the street, where she shielded him from the landing. It was then that she realized who it was. “Oh no!” she exclaimed.
“What is it?” Mindy exclaimed as she, Brandi, and Warbuster hurried over to her.
“It’s Gordon,” Major Renown said, looking down at her teammate. “He’s not breathing!”
TO BE CONTINUED….