Really, when it was all said and done, he arrived at the same conclusion each and every time. This job sucked.
It was ten o'clock in the morning and a line had already formed outside the doors. Grumbling, barely awake eyes rummaged through a chain of keys, looking for the correct instrument of unleashing the proverbial gates of hell that the twin planes of glass in front of him represented. Demonic little bastards, the masses outside clambered at the door like dogs awaiting food once they saw him approach.
Outside, the OPEN neon sign flashed as the tumblers within the lock spun. The doors flung outwards as the rapid teens surged in.
"Good gawd, people, relax! The cards are here, and," He shouted above the din, his finger waving at the sign above the register, "only TWO starter packs and FOUR boosters per customer. And NO buying packs for other people."
Three different pairs of teens broke apart, their transaction halted by the mans words.
"Fucking Xenotech fiends." Larry Minstel stated, assuming his position behind the counter.
Three hours later, wrappings of a metallic nature lay strewn about the gaming tables provided within the DungeonKeeps establishment. The hellions from earlier remained, gleefully playing their new game like it was a gift from the divine spirit itself. Minstel just watched as the first card of a match was thrown on the table. The game had little interest in the way of mechanics. It was the way it was played out that gripped the consumer public at large. A green flash was seen, then the trademark roar of the cartoon's theme song.
Larry groaned as Gamma-Powered-Mega-Shivera's-Leopard leapt onto the table, the third in the eighth grader's army. His opponent grimaced as an additional upgrade was initiated, the cat now growing in both size and weapon armament. Such was the way of DigitalConstructs, the hottest hobby this year, or that was what the sales records claimed at least. Using some of that newfangled Xenotech crap Larry had read about somewhere, the game actually used real mechinoid constructions to simulate the card's battle.
The ringing of the telephone behind Larry was the salvation he wished for, the joy of watching the eighth grader's kitty get trounced on by Radioactive-Venome-Spitter, sparks flashing as the light on the private line signaled what number Minstel was being contacted on.
With a push of a button, he gripped the receiver. "Clear. Magus03 here."
"Larry, drop it. I didn't have the Keeps number."
Larry groaned for the hundredth time in the span of four hours, this time a new thorn in his side causing the pain he lamented about.
"Damn it, 02, that's fucked. We've been over this!"
"Yea yea yea. Just be at the node at seven."
Larry's eyes widened a little.
"You were going to call on an unsecured line to tell me that?!"
A laugh was all he got in response initially. At a lost for words, the female voice on the other end continued. "The expression on your face would have been worth it."
Larry hung up as the eighth grader stalked out of the store, a few cards less then he had arrived with. The victor sorted the new cards into his deck as Minstel sat down to wait out the remaining four hours of his shift.
DR. STRANGE MARVEL UNIVERSE: TRANSFORMED
THE MATRIX GRIMORE #3
WRITTEN BY: Alex 'BioHaz' Cook ~ hazardousPUTANUNDERSCOREHEREdesignsAN@SIGNGOESHEREOFCOURSEyahoo.com
A lot of terms had been used to describe Ananym, but never had she been referred to as unmotivated. Sometimes, the current wielder of Vishianti's might took a task on with a fervor, pushing herself and others toward its completion.
Her studies into the new realm of magick, which she had recently been charged with protecting, overtook many of her waking hours. Books and manuscripts of all sorts lay strewn around her, her clothing the same for a stretch of forty-eight hours now.
True, a shower would have been helpful, but to her, and her hermitic lifestyle of solidarity, such an act was trivial. Ananym had found a tangent in the texts before her near a day and a half ago, and still she piled over more and more ancient scrolls exhausting every piece of information she could find to answer her riddle.
Musing further, the red haired woman corrected herself. Not a riddle. The reasons behind the changes she was tasked to understand were known to those who in fact needed such information. That which had changed due to that answer, that is what she nearly sweated blood over, toiling away as she had without the necessary items that a human would use to survive. Water, food, rest, all meaningless as she threw herself into the archaic languages speaking of ancient prophecies further.
Ananym still searched for the odd circular image she had stood over mere days previous. The way the child's blood had lined the etchings groove still chilled the Sorcerer, her dreams anything but peaceful REM patterns. Perhaps it was the disturbing visuals that put her on the hectic pace of discovery she now tread.
A slideshow of other images joined those of the dead youngster, other times and events Ananym would rather not dwell on. Chalk it up to exhaustion, but her defenses against such thoughts were minimal. True, it was high noon, the yellow tinted orb shaped glass adorning one wall of the room she studied within casting odd patterns around her sleep weary frame, but none the less the Sorcerer supreme wished for nothing but her bed.
Mount Saint Hillary and the Ark found within it. Xenotech, back-engineered alien technology that may in fact be linked to the Nazi movement of World War Two. Transformers themselves, the same creatures she had found defiling that young girl not days previous.
Ananym dropped the manuscript she'd been viewing, dust from the ages rising amongst the pile of similar books and papers beneath it. Her eyes, brown rimmed and sharp, turned to pages of data from this century, not the years gone by.
'Know thy enemy' the adage said, and Ananym was never a girl caught unaware.
Lines of text described the Xenotech aliens found inside that volcano months ago, preliminary exams of the few pieces and energy readings found by certain governmental agencies worldwide. Most of the information had been procured from methods taught by Department H, Ananym still a trained artist in the espionage tapestry. A few had not, the thought bringing a smile to her face as she noted her growing control of the huge powers the title she bore granted her. Magick had found the facts she needed where her contacts and subterfuge had not. The documents told her more scientific facts and extrapolated fiction than she cared for.
In the end, the answer to another problem, larger then the circular glyphs she was searching for previously, eluded her as much as before. So far, Ananym did not understand how the Transformers, as they called themselves, started using magic. Albeit the phenomena was finite now, she wished to know the cause of the manifestation so she could protect the world from the effect.
She dwelled on the five constructs she had fought that day, again reviewing the facts. Reviewing what information she had in front of her, she knew they were Transformers. The things had assaulted her on both the physical and magickal planes, Strange failing to know of any cell of Transformers, 'Autobots' or 'Decepticons', practicing such dark and hellish Arts.
The sacrifice was the most gruesome exhibit of the newfound abilities Ananym had seen. The Sorcerer Supreme had found herself chilled by the scene in fact, in a way she hadn't wanted to confront. Then, or now, as she returned to the pages.
Pages closed the bookmark of crimson ribbon in place to denote the Magnus' place.
"The Node is ready, and the stars are in the correct alignment." Beneath his hood of brown and hair of black, he took a deep breath, pausing before continuing. "Are we ready?"
"Yea, let's do this." The female of the four said, impatient as always.
"Two, you've got to chill once in a while." the third said, standing opposite from the first in their impromptu circle.
"Blow me, Three."
"Can I take pictures?" The final fourth said a smile on his face speaking of the words sarcastic flavor.
"Stop." One said, ignoring the group's antics. "Let's do this." He finished, Two smiling at the phrase.
All paused before opening their mouths again, their centers found as the chant began.
Beak opened again, the sleek green pointing burrowing into the crust as its wings folded against the contours of its body.
A body resembling an extinct dinosaur of the pterodactyl kind, using its sharp appendages to dig into the Nevada red scarred deserts. All told, it was a rather odd sight to see, warranting closer examination by anyone who might have seen it. Not that there was anyone, the oddity alone for miles, but if there were, they would have noticed how the sun shined off the things hide, rather than the matte effect light would have on normal skin.
Jumping to the air with a screech, it twisted in an ungodly way, wings contorting back at an impossible angle while twin appendages seemed to sprout from the dinosaur's mid-section. With a twist of gears the new additions converted into legs, the wing muscles unfurling to make arms as well. Where the spine would be a head rolled out, twin eyes speaking of sentience sparking to life as its metallic feet lighted against the soil.
Dropping to one knee, his hand dropped into the hole he'd created, pushing away more dirt as his sensors made sure his aim was true. With a final look, he pulled back his arm as a beam of force tore away the remaining covering, the prize finally unwrapped .
Green in color, the diamond was natural and uncut. It almost seemed to pulse to the Transformer holding it eyes, reading the mystical power the crystal seemed to hold.
"Interesting." He said to no one, leaping again as his body twisted to its second form, air beating beneath his wings. The crystal was secure in its beak as it turned east, toward an address on Bleaker street few knew was in fact there.
It was almost a known fact now, the populace well aware of their alien visitors. The effects of the Transformers occupation of Earth were what was hidden from the majority of the populace. In fact, the Energon that had in fact given the Xenotech their magickal gifts was the very same that granted the human race its altered x-gene.
Ananym almost wished she could call on some friends to help her unravel this problem. Reflecting on her lack of companionship only brought up more images of the Beast.
It chilled her still to think of what that damned apparition had done.
Michael Twoyoungmen, shaman of Alpha Flight, wasn't much to Ananym, but his death racked her none the less. Agatha Harkness, Topaz, Talisman, all pinnacles of the magickal college. All dead at the Beast's hand, their essence used as nothing more then food for the vile concept.
Had she not been stuck in that underground cell, Ananym wondered if she too would have died at Stephen's arch-nemesis' whim.
It was a far off ringing almost, the first hint Ananym had of the breach. Strange continued to read, dismissing the tingle at the base of her neck as exhaustion and little else. When it grew in intensity over the next few moments, Ananym's head shot up as she finally took notice.
Someone or thing was tapping into something powerful enough to alert her to it's presence, the magickal field of New York seeming to shift as a immense spell was cast within it's borders.
Ananym Strange, Sorcerer Supreme, almost smiled at the sudden distraction, jumping to her feet as she hurried to her 'war-room' with a new goal to focus on. A small aura of flame surrounded her as her nighty disappeared and was slowly replaced by the head to neck black unstable molecule sheathing. Ananym's spandex days were never far behind her. The Eye of Amagato shimmed onto her neck, a flutter of her fingers evoking the red cloak she affixed to the amulet from wherever it hid itself in the Sorceresses off time.
Entering the room dressed for the job she was sure to find, Ananym activated the emergency band scanners she had accumulated, searching for any information she might find. Strange also touched a globe of crystal in the center of the room, a gas swirling in the center of it once contact was made. The technological means failed where the mystical succeeded, as an image of four shadows chanted to the stars.
"Interesting." She said to no one, her form raising form the ground by inches as she folded her legs in a lotus position. Again the aura of flame ignited as she folded space around her, quantum mechanics describing best how the Sorcerer Supreme suddenly teleported herself from the Bleaker street residence.
"Theories and equations can't describe the effect as such." A raspy oriental flavored voice intoned, mechanical notes constructing the sound waves its skull like metallic face made.
The candlelight refracted ominously off the steel like white wings that folded and rustled near the Asian voice. "The Prophecy is beyond analytical thought, friend." Gears moved as a head was nodded in affirmation. White paws touched the ground as the voice continued.
"The writings on the Golden Disk speak of a unifying power within the crusts dark crevices. A power that can in fact be harnessed by one with the strong enough constitution."
Looking at the newest member of their clan, their Cult, his wings spread out slightly to add weight to his point.
"I plan on being that very one. Help me, and we will help you."
Bowing at the waist, the mechinoid creature made motions of supplication to its new master.
Master of her own body, Ananym gritted her teeth hard as reality returned to her.
The chanting greeted her ears as the first shock of pain started. Looking around quickly, Ananym stepped back to watch the scene as she battled the transportation spells effects.
Small metallic pods seemed to rip out of her forearm skin, bubbling and tearing under the black clothing. A small spark of flame rimmed the Supreme's eyes, her shoulders knotting under the strain of control.
The words of power coming from the circle of magi grew in power as Ananym found her center finally. The fire grew in strength as her eyes almost turned red, the growths of technology, disguised as a disease, halting their growth and retracting beneath the mystics skin once again. Pushing a red lock of hair behind her right ear, Ananym stepped toward the group again, confident with a Zen like expression on her face.
Ananym slowly studied the scene before her, the four cloaked figures still working their combined magick. Looking closer, Ananym noticed something rather intriguing. They were no more then twenty years old, each of them mere teenagers wielding some formidable magicks it seemed. Their youth aside, the next thing noted by the Sorcerer Supreme was the very magicks themselves being used.
The Astral Plane was a mindscape, a collection of consciousness accessible by few of humanity. Ananym shifted her perception to its plane of existence, looking at the assembled cabal in a new way.,
Tendrils of orange and red seeped from each of them, forming an odd knot pattern in the center of their group, above the dancing bonfire. Glyphs signaling the teens words sprung to view, circling the tentacles of energy. Each sprite burst as it touched the column of energy amassing due to the group, the power seeming to grow in shape as each word rained down on it.
Ananym pushed her perception further, feeling for where the power was siphoning off to, her brow furrowing in concentration. None of the people noticed her, nor the flame shaped metallic eyepiece around her face growing slightly, the edges expanding and sinking deeper into Ananym's cheek. Pushing further, the Sorcerer Supreme continued her examination of the spell.
The base of the magick, nearest to the teenagers, started gathering black spots around its surface, chaotic patterns of fractals following its predecessors.
Ananym's eyes widened as she felt the defiling of the spell, it's purposing changing before her.
The edges of its base grew exponentially, pushing against the very walls of the Astral Plane as Ananym rose from the physical floor, her mind following the spell as far as she could in hopes of uncovering its purpose before stopping it all together.
Each magickal college had its own taste to Ananym, a gift of sensory she employed now with limited success. Evil was all she heard, felt, tasted, smelled, her five senses assaulted with the very concept.
Raising her fist, power occulted around Ananym's fingers as she took a breath before halting this monstrosity all together.
The bonfire the four were dancing around suddenly stopped, its flames dropping to embers as the circle of light Ananym was flying within shrunk, the Sorcerer Supreme wrapped in shadows once again.
"It's done." One of the teens said, pulling his hood down, as the others stepped toward the fading fire.
Ananym's mouth worked as she attempted to look into each of their minds. The spell had seemed to ... vanish. The Sorcerer Supreme could tell nothing from her scans of the original intent, but there seemed to be no actual effect caused by what she had just witnessed.
Unsettled still, Ananym watched the cabal further as her mind worked over the circumstances again. The spell had done nothing.
"Wow! What a rush!" a female called, running up to the first boy and wrapping her arms around him. The other two looked away as she pressed her lips to his over and over again.
Ananym looked away as well as the four dropped to their haunches and continued to congratulate each other. Ananym was far from perplexed, passing that point minutes ago.
"Hey, pass me a beer." One said, reaching for the green bottle offered to him. A toast was made, the words lost on Ananym as she continued to work through what had happened.
Ananym left when someone asked, "Anyone want to play DigitalConstructs?", floating to the stars and heading away from the scene.
If she had stayed, she would have noticed two things. One was the way the man suggesting the game got decked from the quiet teen, third from the left. Two would have been the odd shape seen from the sky the group would have been standing on moments ago.
The circular design would have been very interesting to Ananym if it had been noticed.
Noticing the obvious incursion was child's play, as Ananym floated toward her residence within the heart of New York. Trained as she ways, it was obvious her flat had a visitor, one that was of the uninvited kind. The window wasn't even shut properly.
Ananym dropped to the soil as she watched the green and white being riffle through her belongings. Once it turned, she knew exactly who, no what, the caller was.
A Transformer stood in the heart of Ananym's Strange Sanctum, the mages blood boiling as she opened the window mystically. The being turned slightly at the hinges sound, noticing the sound too late as Ananym was suddenly on top of him.
NEXT ISSUE: Ananym uncovers a few things as she confronts her newest visitor.
Eh, I don't usually do cliffhangers, choosing the complete story to fragments. However, this felt right I guess. *shrug*
Stay tuned as the conspiracy around the Transformers magickal abilities grows, the past comes calling, and what exactly were those metal things Ananym was suddenly fighting off?
-ALEX firstname.lastname@example.org 10.15.01