February 24, 2012
THE STONE OF KSY MON by Jim Johnston
On a planet unknown to our astronomy in an dimension unspected by our physics a thief was fleeing across a cold barren alien landscape clutching a small leather pouch
He glanced fearfully back, over his shoulder.
The hellhounds who had slaughtered and devoured his companions were now bearing down on him In the distance he spied his escape – a tall shimmering magic portal, narrow at the ends and wider in the middle. Cursing himself for leading his team into this Godforsaken death-trap he raced towards the mystic escape hatch. Nearly exhausted, fear charged adrenaline powered his limbs as he dove through the Meta physical bolt hole.
Instantaneously, he tumbled out onto a dirty hardwood floor. Glancing back, to confirm he hadn’t been fallowed the mercenary saw to his relief that the portal was closed and he was alone. Standing up and looking around, he saw that he was back in the same dusty rundown ballroom of the dilapidated and vacant sea side hotel from which he and his companions had so recently set out on their mission.
He called out, “Where are you, Witch? I’ve got your trinket, but the price has gone up!” There was moment’s silence, and then a silky sardonic sibilant voice replied “Oh, and why is that? And, what happened to all your companions? “ . Gorganna stepped from the shadows and stood before her hireling.
Even though he was a tough, murderous, fearless mercenary who had taken on jobs in which he had done things that were beyond the abilities of normal people and had seen sights that were beyond the imaginations of most people, he was momentarily un- nerved by Gorganas appearance.
Her shapely body certainly looked inviting and her green skin and bald head did exude a certain attraction, and even those pointed ears created an exotic allure, but her pug nose and that mouth full of razor sharp teeth certainly made for a disconcerting contrast.
Then ,there were those three big blank black eyes ,the third one situated right in the middle of her high forehead They were downright frightening.
Totally shiny and soulless, looking into them always gave him the feeling that he was being drawn down into the pits of Hell! Struggling to regain his composure, he raged at his employer.” They’re all dead Witch, thanks to you .Every one of them burned or blasted or devoured by whatever was guarding this accursed thing you sent us after.” He brandished a leather pouch and shook it at her.
The Witch smiled and mockingly replied,” But that just means that you can keep the whole fee for yourself. Now you don’t have to share with anyone. You should be happy.”
Slyly smiling, she continued, “But I won’t quibble. I’ll quadruple your fee to make up for the loss of you comrades. How does that sound?”
The thief considered the witch’s offer. Four times the amount of the original fee was an incredible sum .And it was large enough to make him forget about his dead friends. He grimly agreed, but warned Gorgana has he handed over the pouch.
Don’t try to double cross me you freak. I’ve got protection. He gestured to an amulet knotted around his neck.
“This charm is more powerful than you’ll ever be, and you know it!”
“True “replied Gorgana as she extracted a fist sized greenish gem stone from the bag .It was the Stone of Kysmon She had it at last! Breathing deeply she clasped it to her voluptuous breasts. Smiling wickedly she revealed a double row of razor sharp fangs,as she regarded her hireling
“Now” she said “A bonus for a job well done. “With those words the treacherous witch unleashed a massive mystic blast that easily overwhelmed the thief’s magical defenses and reduced him to a sticky puddle.
“You have the honor of being the first one to witness my new power.”
Laughing gleefully she thought “With the Stone of Ksymon finally in my possession, I am truly invincible I’ll easily conquer this entire world! Maybe even this whole dimension! “Then her unearthly features hardened into a frown “but first I’ll settle accounts with those meddling bimbos –the Fem Force!” This time those self righteous fools will be helpless before me!”
Then looking around at her dingy surroundings she said out loud “But first I’ll do a little bit of remodeling.”
A SHORT WHILE LATER
Joan Wayne aka Ms. Victory was flying back to Fem Force headquarters, feeling tired and sore. Her assignment had turned out to be unexpectedly difficult. Originally she had been assigned to act as backup to a joint state/federal task force which was designed to let various law enforcement agencies work together to better ensure public safety . The objective of this particular mission, code named “Collective Security” called for the arrest of a criminal gang whose members were smuggling stolen high-tech military ordnance out of the country and into the hands of America’s enemies.
It should have been a cake walk, but emboldened by all the high caliber hardware they had on hand, the smugglers decided to stand and fight .Seriously outgunned, the authorities might have been in serious trouble and in danger of being massacred, had not Ms.Victory immediately leapt to the front of the battle, drawing all of the criminal’s firepower onto herself. This allowed the authorities to regroup and successfully counter attack and decisively overwhelm and defeat the criminals.
As the lawbreakers were being taken into custody, Joan conferred with mission commanders in an impromptu debriefing session. Afterwards, though her part in the mission was complete the Patriotic Powerhouse remained on hand to talk with the” rank and file “who crowded around her. The police and soldiers were all very impressed to have worked with a “real super heroine “.Plus they were all grateful that she had been there to “pull their chestnuts out of the fire”. Characteristically Joan downplayed her role in the operation and reminded the men and women that they too were heroes, just as much, if not more as she.
So, it was rather late when she left to head back to Fem Force Headquarters for the official mission debriefing and the regular weekly team meeting .Flying back along the coast Ms.Victory found herself hoping the meeting would be brief .She was looking forward to getting home early and taking a long hot bath, before spending some quality time with Chuck (Charles Starret aka Captain Paragon, her husband)
She mused, “Invulnerable or not, catching a barrage of stinger missiles , fired at point blank range, directly in the chest while getting raked with heavy machine gun fire still hurts”
However she also felt a deep sense of pride and satisfaction at successfully carrying out her assignment. All in all, she concluded in spite of the personal discomfort, there’s nothing like knowing you’ve done your duty and helped to make your country a better and safer place for everyone.
Suddenly , right at that moment ,from out of the clear blue sky , an enormous bolt of green lightning silently slashed through the azure and struck Ms. Victory right between the shoulder blades Stunned into unconsciousness the heroine dropped like a stone onto the sand and rocks below.
Lying face down in the wet sand, she did not hear Gorgana’s approach as the evil witch, chuckling softly, regarded the helpless heroine and remarked, “So much for the high and mighty Ms. Victory. I’m sure your equally useless friends will be along soon, looking for you. I will defeat them just as easily, when they arrive but in the meantime I think I will have a little fun with you personally, before I dispose of you permanently.
A FEW HOURS LATER
Back at Fem Force Headquarters, it was time for the weekly meeting. Night Veil was the first to arrive and materialized into the conference room directly from a sabbatical in Dark Dhagor where she had been refining her mystic abilities under the tutelage of the wizard Azagoth, her mentor and teacher. The mystic maiden was glad to be back. It had been a long hard session. Her vocation required constant practice and on-going study, and Azagoth was a demanding taskmaster.
Laura smiled to herself as she looked around the room, which was dominated by the large oval conference table inlaid with the Fem Force logo. Gazing at it she felt a familiar rush of pride at being a member of a team of genuine heroines honestly dedicated to the good of all.
She noticed a bank of computer terminals, keyboards and video screens along the back wall. “Must be part of the up-grade program” she thought.
Laura looked forward to these meeting and attended them whenever possible. Her nearly omnipotent powers and the omnipresent perspective that they gave her tended to isolate the mystic maiden from the mundane day- to- day concerns of “regular “people .She found that these meetings helped to keep her grounded in this “real” world. Plus, she truly did enjoy the time spent with her team-mates who were also her good friends and true comrades.
Just then, General Roberta Strock entered through a side door, directly from her office. She warmly greeted Laura. “Ahh, Nightveil, just in time for the meeting. Welcome back. How are you? And how was your session on Dhagor?
Laura responded,”Hello General, Thank you, it’s good to be back, and I’m well. Dhagor was strenuous but rewarding.
This pleasant small talk was interrupted by She Cat making her entrance, sauntering in through the main doors “Hey General, Hiya Witchee-poo.”
Looking around the room, the Feline Fury continued. “Looks like I’m not the last one to arrive for once. I know that Tara Is off in South America doing her eco-thing and that Dusty is away working with NASA and that bubblehead-I mean Syn is studying for her GED finals ,but where’s Ms. Victory? She’s usually the first one here.”
General Strock and Nightveil were silent .It was certainly not like Ms. Victory to be late. An uneasy feeling settled over the group as General Strock spoke” I’ll make some inquires and see what I can find out “
The General stepped back to one of the newly installed keyboards and, contacting NORAD , she typed in a request for information. Almost instantly a large overhead screen flashed to life, initially displaying a map of the eastern seaboard, then rapidly magnifying down to an outline of the Florida coast
“That’s the Florida coastline. A NORAD satellite was routinely tracking Ms. Victory has she was returning from her assignment. I’ll bring that up now.
As the General hit another sequence of keys, a red line accompanied by a series of times and coordinates materialized on that screen
“The red line fallows the coastline until it suddenly stops. According to the data, Ms. Victory simply dropped off the radar screen about 2 hours ago at a location roughly 200
miles north of here. I’ll direct the communications department to try and contact her.
General Strock worked the key board again as all eyes were glued to the big overhead screen. A long minute passed, and then NO RESPONSE flashed across the screen.
“I hope nothing has happened “intoned Nightveil .
“Ahh,Joannie’s OK”responded She Cat “She probably just stopped to rescue a kitten from a tree and lost track of time” Jess’s bravado camouflaged the unease they all shared. “We might as well go and get her.” she added
I concur” replied General Strock.”Take the Quinjet to Ms. Victory’s last known coordinates and search the area. I’ll stay on the computer and relay any further information.
The two Fem Forcers immediately set out.
A SHORT WHILE LATER.
The two Fem Forcers stood on the beach before an enormous mansion,with dark wooden walls and a sharply peaked slate tiled roof. Gable windows set with darkly stained glass offered no clue as to what lurked within .Even though it stood in the sunshine of a late Florida afternoon, the structure seemed to draw the vitality right out of the air, creating a grim and foreboding atmosphere. The effect dampened Jess’s normally brash persona and she spoke softly.
“Jeez Laura, It looks like the combination of every hunted house in every nightmare I’ve ever had! What do you make of it?”
The mystic maiden responded” General Strock’s info said that this location was an old abandoned hotel that went out of business back in 1954. However this structure does not look anything like that however I do detect the presence of a massive concentration of mystical energy permeating the site. That could explain this structure.”
“What about Joan? Any sign of her? “She Cat sounded uncharacteristically nervous and concerned.
Laura concentrated “There’s some kind of mystic fog that is blocking my psychic probes. She tried again, harder.” But I can definitely feel her presence she is in the building and she is alive”.
“Any idea where in the building?” asked Jess.
“Below ground” said Laura “in a basement or a cellar …
“Or a dungeon” stated Jess “We had better get started right away. Joan could be in real trouble!
“I agree” responded Laura “I propose a two pronged attack. I’ll go in through the front door and draw out whoever is responsible for all this, and keep them occupied. Meanwhile go around to the back and quietly enter the building. Find your way down stairs and locate Ms. Victory. Then together make your escape and return to F.F.H.Q.
.I’ll rejoin you there after I have dealt with the perpetrators.
Nightveils’s practical plan of action calmed the agitated She Cat.” Once I have found Joan and made sure she is safe, don’t you want us to join you? You’ll probably need the help.” she asked.
“No” replied Nightveil firmly “I appreciate your offer, but whoever is in back of all this is almost certainly a powerful mage, well versed in the arcane arts. Your formidable fighting skill could not prevail against such power. Besides, your primary mission is to locate Ms. Victory and get her to safety.
Jess saw the wisdom in Laura’s logic (though she hated to be left out of a fight.)”Well,OK I suppose so” she replied and then added” Good Luck”
“Same to you, and don’t worry. Our Ms. Victory knows how to handle herself in difficult situations. We’ll soon find her and everything will be fine.” Said Night Veil, wanting to reassure her comrade.
I hope so” responded She cat uneasily.” We’d better get started”
“I agree” responded Nightveil.
Inside the building the object of their concerns ,Ms Victory was indeed in a dungeon. Regaining consciousness shortly after being struck by the green lightning, she found herself elaborately and extensively chained up within a small steel-walled cell with glass door. A little groggy at first, she asked herself “What happened? One minute I’m flying home and then the lights go out. What’s going on? And where am I?
As her head cleared the heroine’s confident character asserted itself. Looking out through the glass door, she saw what looked to be an old fashioned torture chamber, with chains dangling from the ceiling, a genuine Spanish stretching rack, with stocks at one end and a windlass at the other, branding irons glowing red hot in a metal brazier, hand-axes and knives and clubs hanging on rusty hooks set in the stone walls, a whipping post with dangling manacles at it’s top and close by a wooden stand laden with coils of rope and an assortment of whips, some long and thin like bull-whips and others with multiple tails and even an Nuremburg iron maiden .In the center of the room, mounted on an elaborate wrought iron pedestal, rested a glowing green gemstone.
The arcane object bathed the entire room in an unearthly green light .A single iron bound wooden door at the far end of the room provided the only access.
Ms. Victory was unimpressed. Except for the green gem and its unsettling illumination, she had seen it all before.
“I’ll just free myself from these chains and breakout of this cell, and then I will find and deal with whoever is responsible for all this nonsense.” she thought.
Confidently, she pulled on the chains securing her wrists and ankles to the cell walls while simultaneously flexing her upper body muscles and arching her back to expand her magnificent chest .With this maneuver she expected to shatter the chains that bound her upper arms to her sides and snap the links that held her wrists and ankles.
She had used this move many times in the past and always with impressive results, the chains bursting in an explosion of shattered steel much to the dismay of whatever criminal who thought they had bested Ms.Victory.
This time however, was different .The chains did not yield.
“Hmm,that’s odd” she thought,” These chains must be made of some new high strength alloy. I’ll just have to try a little harder.
But try as she might the patriotic powerhouse could not break free. She continued to pull and flex and strain but all she got for her efforts were sore muscles ,a lot of bruises and a growing sense of frustration.
As she paused a moment from her efforts, a voice mockingly addressed her. “Give up? you might as well . Those chains are stronger than you’ll ever be”
Ms. Victory looked up. She knew that voice. It was..
Gorgana stepped into view. Standing triumphantly her hands on her hips and her head held high she regarded prisoner as the captive heroine re-doubled her efforts to free herself..The grotesque witch laughed and mocked Ms.Victory.
“All right then, go ahead and keep trying .It won’t do you any good. I’ve cast a spell over your chains. The more you pull, the stronger they become. You’ll never be able to break them.”
Taking in the information, Ms. Victory’s brain worked feverishly, looking for an advantage.
“We’ve dealt with Gorgana many times before and she has never this powerful-or this smart. Is some one helping her?” she wondered?.
Seeking more information the All-American Amazon sought to irritate the ghoul into giving away her secrets by reminding her of her past failures
“I know you haven’t got the power or the brains to come up with this operation on your own Who’s helping you? Or should I ask who is in charge?”
That barb found its mark. “I don’t need any help. I did this all on my own”. The green skinned monster snarled and shook her fist at the helpless heroine. Gesturing to the green glowing gem she continued.
‘I wisely acquired the Stone of Ksymon which has greatly amplified my already formidable powers. Now I can achieve my true destiny as the most powerful mage in this dimension! As a first step I will destroy you and all of your ridiculous Team-mates. Not even that foolish Nightveil will be able to stand against me. “
“That’s big talk for a second-rate loser like you,Greenie “.responded Ms. Victory, hoping her insulting words and contemptuous tone would provoke the ghoul into letting her guard down.” The Fem Force has beaten every time you were dumb enough to get in our way and this time isn’t going to be any different. That dime-store novelty found won’t help you at all.”
But Gorgana just laughed” I’ll take care of your useless team-mates as easily as I took care of you .But since you seem to doubt my power I will give a personal and intimate demonstration until they arrive .After all I don’t want you getting bored.”
“Uh-oh “thinks Ms. Victory” I don’t like the sound of that.” and wonders if she might have pushed the green-skinned ghoul too far.
A time of torment and torture began for the captive Fem Forcer. Using her enhanced magical power,Gorgana created an inlet pipe and water began to fill the cell. As the water level rose Ms. Victory re-doubled her efforts, straining to break free.
Initially, the buxom heroine found the water of little concern, as she could easily hold her breath for long periods of time, but she was frustrated that she was unable to free herself. Rather quickly the water filled her cell to the extent that her body’s natural buoyancy left her floating without any solid footing
Nevertheless, she continued to tug and pull on her chains in an effort to break free. Focusing on the task at hand she expended a supreme effort could actually feel several of the links begin to give way, but the length of chain that allowed her to tread with her head above water was no longer sufficient and she knew that that in moments she would have to draw her last breath before becoming completely submerged.
With an agonizing groan ,she made a last desperate ,all-out effort to pull free of her chains before going under ,which left her just shy of actually snapping several of the links “One more pull will do it” she thought .However in the split second that she relented ,in order to gather her strength, and take one last breath before the rising water covered her nose and mouth ,she was dismayed to find that ,pursuant to Gorgana’s spell the links had repaired themselves , leaving her right back where she started from , only now the captive heroine was also sore, bruised and exhausted.
Now completely submerged the Patriotic Powerhouse faced a daunting prospect. While it was true that she could hold her breath for considerable periods of time Joan knew that her ability to do so was directly related to the amount of her further physical exertion .The strain that had been required to nearly break the magically enhanced chains would almost certainly deplete the resources of oxygen in her lungs and if that final effort, like all the attempts before it, was unsuccessful, she would surely drown!
Deciding to trust in her capacity to remain safely submerged for hours (and confident that her team-mates would be along soon ,looking for her )Joan decided to play a waiting game and look for an opportunity to free herself some where down the line , rather than risk an untimely end if she were unable to burst her chains. Calmly she allowed herself to float effortlessly in her tiny cell, while closely watching her captors every move.
Irritated at her prisoners apparent lack of concern, the witch created a school of piranhas that attacked Ms.Victory in a feeding frenzy .However, though their razor sharp teeth inflicted many painful bites they were unable to penetrate her invulnerable skin, or even the fabric of her Span-Dexxx uniform and so they did not real harm Also ,not wanting to give captor the satisfaction, Joan took care not to show that she was hurting
.Annoyed that her captive did not appear to suffering enough, the green-skinned ghoul tried again. Draining the water from the cell and dematerializing the fish, she created a swarm of viciously stinging wasps. But, once again, thanks to the heroines invulnerability the insect attack was in effectual.(Though Joan did find it uncomfortable when the wasps flew up her nose and in her ears and got tangled up in her hair.)
Inwardly grateful for her captors haste in discarding the water torture,Ms Victory continued to mock Gorgana.’s efforts”Is that the best you can do? Even with the so-called Stone of Kysmon your magic isn’t very effective.
Enraged at Ms. Victory’s cocky attitude Gorgana dispensed with the wasps and created a mini-sandstorm within the cell .The helpless heroine coughed and gagged, and was nearly blinded by the dust and stinging sand. To complete the experience Gorgana raised the cell’s temperature until it was as hot as a furnace, and the heroine was truly suffering. The sight of Ms.Victory’s agonized writhing as she choked and gasped and sweated profusely delighted the vile witch who crowed triumphantly.
All of a sudden the witch became alert, as if she was listening for something. The sandstorm immediately dissipated and the cell’s temperature returned normal as Gorgana addressed Ms.Victory.”My enhanced magic reveals that someone is approaching It looks like your pathetic friends have finally arrived. I’ll let you live long enough to have a ring side seat at their destruction and learn what a powerful mage I truly am.
Gorgana gestured twice in a circular motion and muttered a brief incantation. Nothing happened .The green skinned ghoul cursed and tried again. On the second attempt the greenish shimmering appeared in mid-air that morphed into two side by side images , like disembodied TV screens While mentally noting the difficulty that the witch had in creating the screens and that she stopped the sandstorm to do so, Ms.Victory leaned limply against the wall of her cell and closely regarded each of the screens.
ON THE FIRST SCREEN
Nightveil walked up the front steps flanked by leering stone gargoyles. The ornately craved wooden doors silently swung open at her approach. She crossed the threshold, moved across the foyer and entered through another set of obligingly opening doors into what appeared to be a huge Grand Ballroom., noting that they swiftly and silently closed behind her
Crossing the marble floor, she noted the vaulted stone ceiling and walls hung with garish gaudy tapestries depicting scenes of mayhem and murder “Crude and Tacky” she thought.
Approaching the center of the room she stopped, intent on making an easy target of herself, hoping to draw out whoever is responsible for her friends disappearance and confront them. Her plan is to keep them occupied so that She Cat will have an easier time finding and rescuing Ms. Victory.
All the while, the Sorceress Supreme is psychically searching, looking for some sign of Ms. Victory’s location, and hoping to confirm that she is all right. She believes she can make out a faint presence although her probes are still being effectively blocked.
The she hears a chorus of low guttural moans. Night veil turns and is surprised to see a crowd of classic zombies, all hideously decayed and eyes blazing with an unholy hunger. Arms outstretched they are moving towards her. Their intent is clear .They mean to devour her
“Where did you come from?” Laura wonders as she assumes a classic magic attack stance. Standing at attention her arms extended straight ahead, palms up and thumb and forefinger crossed. She softly speaks a brief incantation confident that this move will easily take care of these undead intruders. But it doesn’t work out that way.
A purple beam of mystic energy flashes from her palms and strikes the oncoming
horde. There is a bright flash upon impact and the front rank of her undead assailants are knocked down, but aided by their living dead comrades, they struggle to their feet and continue onward.
Laura is puzzled. “That beam should have vaporized the lot of them, but it barely slowed them down. Also, they seem to be smarter and more energetic than I would expect, they walk rather than shuffle and help one another.”
As she takes a few steps back to put more distance between her self and her would-be assassins Laura hears a now familiar low guttural moan. Looking back over her shoulder she sees another similar crowd of zombies moving up close behind her.
Reacting decisively the Mystic Maiden turns to face this new and nearer thereat. Extending her right arm while drawing back her left as if pulling back a bowstring; she quietly intoned a much stronger incantation. Instantly a brilliant purple pulse of concentrated mystic energy was let fly against this new threat. Unhappily this move had even less effect than the initial attempt. The pulse stops short of its target and bursts apart into shower of purple globules which rapidly dissipated.
“Something is very wrong here” thought Laura. These zombies have some sort of sophisticated protection against my magic.
Noticing that both crowds are getting closer and are starting to spread out as if to surround her, she decides that a strategic retreat is in order .Raising her arms above her head and bringing them down to her sides in a wide arc, she casts a levitation spell upon her self intending to rise above the oncoming horde and up onto the 2nd floor.
But, it was not to be.
As she rose up ,two the zombies ,displaying more of the uncharacteristic energy and coordination she had noted earlier, leapt up and each grabbed one of her wrists and held fast, , obviously intent on dragging back down to be devourerer by their ravenous companions.
They halted her ascent, although Laura was able to maintain her mystic concentration enough to stay aloft. She dealt with her clinging assailants by going back to her roots as the crime fighting heroine, the Blue Bulleteer..Swinging her arms together with a mighty heave ,she sent the 2 undead anchors clawing at her wrist crashing into each other. The impact was enough to break their grips and they fell back down to the hard floor. With her concentration shaken by the physical exertion of that move The embattled mage is unable to maintain or reboot the levitation spell. She instantly decides on another tactic. Dropping lightly back down to the floor she instantly conjures up a small protective dome around her self. And not a moment too soon For the zombies were upon her in a second, surrounding the dome However they were unable were unable to immediately penetrate the magical protection, though they pounded on the sides and attempted to clamber up on top of it as if they were intent on collapsing the dome by sheer undead physical force .
Laura realized to her dismay that they might well succeed. Already bulges and cracks were beginning to appear on the dome’s smooth surface. Her latest tactic had only gained her a brief respite. She needed to come up with something decisive
MEANWHILE ON THE OTHER SCREEN.
She Cat watched as Nightveil walked up the stone steps and disappeared inside the house.
“O.K Laura, You’re doing your part now it’s time for She Cat to get into the act “
Moving swiftly and silently, Jess made her way around the building, intent on finding a suitable rear entrance.
Arriving at the rear of the structure she entered into a small courtyard, strewn with empty boxes. Noting the loading dock she mentally concluded” This must be where they take deliveries”
Noting a window off to one side of the dock side She Cat ponders briefly “Go in through the window or use the loading dock doors?”
Deciding on extra stealth Jess moves swiftly and silently across the courtyard, vaults easily up onto the dock and creeps up to the window. It slides open easily.
She enters In spite of the seriousness of the situation The Feline Fury could not help but wryly observe “Isn’t this typical Laura Wright the debutante makes a grand arrival through the front doors while bad girl Jessica comes in like a thief via the tradesmen’ s entrance.”
Looking around she finds herself in what appears to be a large commercial kitchen.” Just what I would have expected to find.” she thinks. Spying a side door she opens it and discovers a wooden staircase descending into darkness”. Bingo! “
Knowing that Laura said that Joan was below ground She Cat hopes that these steps would lead to the missing Ms. Victory .Cautiously she goes down into the darkness as the kitchen door swings shut behind her.
The straight wooden stairs soon give to a spiraling web strewn stone staircase whose tread was deep , illuminated by an ethereal green glow which seemed to have no direct source. This passage way seemed to go on endlessly, but She Cat pressed on resolutely determined to find her team-mate and friend. Suddenly she was aware of a presence behind her. Jess glanced just in time to see a sinewy arm, wrapped in bandages reaching for her throat. Turning she is confronted by what looks like a classic mummy
Responding instantly, the Feline Fury grabs the outstretched arm at the wrist, intending to snap it off and make short work of this distraction. She really wasn’t expecting what happened next. The mummy pulled his extended left arm back, yanking Jess off balance. As she falls forward her ancient assailant brings up a hard right fist and” busts her right in the chops “ knocking her down on her butt.
Spitting blood Jess glares up at her unexpected opponent.
“You’re a lot stronger and faster than I would have expected, but I don’t have time to play”!”
Leaping back up and charging at the mummy with fangs and claws bared, the Feline Fury planned make short work of this strange new assailant ,slashing him down to a pile of shredded rags. The mummy remained immobile, presenting an easy target. Then, at the last possible second he nimbly sidestepped her onslaught, tripping Jess as she charged past.
She fell down hard onto the hard stone steps, but she was up again in a flash.
Confronting her foe, she raised her fists and snarled “O.K. Bandage Boy, lets see how well you do in a stand-up fight.”
Jess let fly with a flurry of stinging left jabs .Each one found its mark, but with no apparent effect. She fallowed up with a hard right cross and a mean left hook. Either blow would have surly staggered any other opponent but seemingly neither one made any impression on the mummy.
Indeed, the fighting feline thought she saw a slight sneer of contempt on his fabric wrapped features. Undaunted, she unleashed a devastating series of body blows, pummeling his chest and stomach.
She was literally trying to pound in him to a pulp, putting all of her strength into every blow, but she found, to her frustration that it was hitting a canvas punching bag as the mummy just stood there absorbing all the punishment she can dish out. Finally she delivered a straight legged kick right between his legs, saying “OK Bandage Boy lets see you shrug that off.”
Jess steps back to catch her breath, looking for some reaction. The mummy’s only response is to slightly incline his head in what she takes to be an infuriating patronizing attitude. It is as if he is asking “Is that all the little lady can dish out?”
Angered at his perceived insolence, Jess charged at him again with fists flying .She threw a hard right intending to smash his face out of the back of his head .But now the mummy had decided to stop being a punching bag. This time “Bandage Boy” blocked her blow and responded with a punch of his own that smacked her right in the eye. Jess saw stars but shrugged it off and pressed her attack with mean left hook. The mummy parried the blow and counter punched landing another blow on her already swollen right eye.
“Damn” thinks Jess “You’ve gotten good all of a sudden. But not good enough to best me!” She continued her attack, but now her opponent blocked every punch while landing plenty of his own. The tide had turned against the valiant heroine.
Jess was on the ropes. Her face was bruised and bleeding with her right nearly swollen shut. Her arms were sore from trying, increasingly unsuccessfully ,to fend off his attack and it felt like a couple of her ribs were cracked .She was fighting a purely defensive battle now ,trying to protect herself from a storm of murderously powerful rock hard fists.
A gut punch caused her to drop her guard which left her open to a hammer blow to the face that had her seeing stars again.
Jess tried to step back hoping to gain some breathing space, but the beating she had taken had left her weak and wobbly and she slipped and fell back onto those cold hard stone steps.
The mummy advanced menacingly, clearly intent on finishing her off.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE DUNGEON…
Ms. Victory had watched the “screens “with dismay while Gorgana cackled with glee. The witch bragged to the heroine,” Thanks to my skill and power my mystic minions and magical creations are destroying your pathetic friends. Soon their worthless lives will be over and then I will attend to you.
Though concerned for her comrades Ms.Victory’s bold reply betrayed no fear as she taunted Gorgana
“Is that the best you can do witch?” You’ll have to do a lot better than that to beat She-Cat and Nightveil.They’ll both soon be back up and kicking your creatures butts!
Angered at the Fem Forcer’s fearless demeanor, Gorgana merely snarled as they both turned their attention back to the screens.
In the ballroom within her protective dome, Nightveil coolly considers her situation.
“These zombies seem to be somehow immune to my magic, so let’s just see how they fare against the effects of my magic”.
Creating a tiny opening at the top of the dome ,the mystic maiden unleashed a tiny beam of concentrated complex mystic energy, invisible to the naked eye which shot straight up until it hit the ceiling .Under Laura’s direction it spread in a continuous stream until it coated the entire stone ceiling. Then she concentrates, silently intoning a complicated series of incantations which result in small points of light appearing all over the magically coated ceiling.
The maid of magic carries on, subtly manipulating these multiple concentrations of mystic energy as tiny cracks in the ceiling begin to appear at each point of light. Thanks to a lifetime and hard study and diligent practice Laura has the technical skill and mental discipline to accomplish this complex and delicate maneuver with still maintaining her protective dome, undistracted by the pounding and moaning of the zombie horde.
The cracks widen and deepen as the zombies continue their assault and the dome begins to buckle under their constant pounding, but Laura pays no heed, as she calmly carries on .A long minute passes with no result, then suddenly with a roar the entire the entire ceiling collapses crushing the zombies and burying Laura’s protective dome.
“How in the name of the seven devils did that worthless witch do that?” screeched Gorgana.But before the ghoul can further react Ms.Victory mockingly draws her attention to She Cat’s screen.
Laying flat on her back, bruised and bloodied, on the cold hard stone steps, Jess has decided to switch tactics.
I can’t beat him head on, so it’s time to fight smart.
Ignoring the pain of her previous pounding, the Feline Fury leaps up and charges again, as if to make another fruitless frontal assault the mummy moves forward ready to smash her down again .And this time,permenantly.But then, at the last possible second she vaults up and over her assailant .Landing lightly behind him she spins and gives him a shove .He topples over and gravity does the rest. The mummy tumbles down the steps, striking the hard sharp surfaces again and again.
“Hope you are enjoying your trip’ Jess calls out as she strides along, close behind administering a series of hard ,swift kicks ,aiming for his head and spine , to keep her opponent rolling along. When he finally crashed into the ironbound wooden door at the bottom of the stairs, the mummy was little more than a collection of cracked and broken bones wrapped in a mass of torn dusty bandages.
He tried to get up, but could only twitch impotently, like a puppet that has had its strings cut. Though it was plain to see that he would be staying down, Jess stomped down hard on the badly dented skull, shattering it in a personally satisfying “coup de grace.”
BACK AT THE DUNGEON
The hideous ghoul shrieked in an unholy rage, as Ms.Victory continued to taunt her “Well Gorgana even with your precious Stone of Kysmon,You’ve failed again. I guess you’re just not a very good sorceress .Gorgana turned to face the Fem Forcer.
“Silence, you hyper patriotic simpleton. Up till now I’ve just been toying with your do-gooder friends, but no more! I’m going to destroy the lot of you!
Fixing Ms.Victory with an murderous 3-eyed stare she continued.
“You’ll be the first to die. When your useless friends arrive I’ll let them live just long enough to see your bloody and broken corpse.”
Striding over to the wrought stand the green skinned ghoul snatched up the Stone of Kysmon and clasped it to her thrusting bosom. She breathed in deeply as if to drain more of the artifacts mystic energy into herself.
“Excellent” thought Joan “now’s my chance.”
Night veil materialized in the dungeon, just as She Cat burst in through the door.
“Well Hi there! Glad you could make it!”Ms.Victory greeted her teammates.
Though disheveled and bedraggled, she stood triumphantly over an unconscious Gorgana, who lay on the stone floor, wrapped up in the chains that had formerly held the heroine.
“Better late than never than never.” replied Nightveil “Though it appears that you have the situation well in hand.”
Just to be on the safe side The sorceress cast a stasis spell over Gorgana, putting her in a psychic coma.
“You had better take charge of this” says Ms. Victory as she handed over the glowing gem over to Nightveil.
“The Stone of Kysmon! That explains where all this mystic energy came from.” replied Laura as she put the gem into a pouch under her belt.
“I’ll make sure that this artifact is kept in a safe place.”
Suddenly there was a low grinding sound as everything seemed to melt and blur around. When their surroundings solidified the Fem Forcers found them selves in what appeared to be the basement of a run down abandoned seaside hotel.
“Some one wanna tell me what’s going on?” asks She-Cat.
It looks like Gorgana’s spells are dissipating” answered Nightveil .Our surroundings are returning to their original state. Only an amateur would waste so much mystic energy on window dressing.”
“It was lucky for us that she spent more time and effort on interior decorating instead of improving her skills” observed Ms. Victory.
She Cat waved her hand dismissively, “Ahh , we would have beat her anyway. She’s a lonely loser .We always find a way to come out on top We’re a team of winners.”
On that note Nightveil applied a levitation spell to Gorgana and guided their defeated foe into the Quinjet as the team made their outside and into their transport for the ride home. Once airborne, with Ms.Victory controls, and after a brief interim report to General Strock at F.F.HQ. ,the 3 friends share the details of their separate adventures and fill in the blanks of the over-all story.
“When I regained consciousness” said Joan “Gorgana helpfully told me all about the stone of Kysmon and explained her plan.”
“Yeah” interjected Jess” They always talk too much.”
‘Yes, well anyway.” continued Joan “I knew that the witch did not have the technical skills and the mental discipline to effectively use her enhanced powers. When her surrogates failed to defeat either of you Gorgana became more and more angry and frustrated and was so distracted that she forgot to maintain the spell that enhanced my restraints. I was able to break free and knock her out before she could launch another more powerful attack against the 2 of you.’
‘That must have been when the mystic fog suddenly lifted, just after I brought down the roof on those zombies, crushing them all. I was able to psychicly pinpoint your location exactly and teleported there at once “responded Laura”
“And that’s right when I finished off “Bandage Boy” and came running. Of course by then you were already OK” added Jess, wincing slightly from the pain of her cracked ribs.”I guess I was just a fifth wheel on this mission “
“Not even close “stated Joan firmly “I never would have been able to free myself if the two of you and Laura hadn’t defeated Gorgana’s creations so decisively. Like you said ‘Jess ,we are a team.
Noting her friend’s discomfort and battered appearance Joan added “Jess it looks like you were in the hardest fight of the three of us. Make sure you go down to the Infirmary when we get back and have the doctor’s check out your injuries. “
“ Ahh. I’m OK. It’ll take more than a bandage wrapped bag of bones to hurt me ‘“However the sharp pain of her cracked ribs caused her to reconsider and she added.” Still I could go for some time in the Hyro-Pool and maybe a therapeutic massage treatment from that hot new physical therapist. I’ll head down right after the meeting.
“Good “said Joan as she began the final approach to F.F.HQ.’s rooftop landing strip. She thought to herself” I hope it’s a short meeting With luck I can get home in time for that long hot bath and some quality time with Chuck. Maybe if I am lucky I can combine the two.’ She smiled at the thought.
Ms. Victory got her wish. The meeting was short. However what happened to her on the way home is another story.