The roof of a nearby building
It had only taken the exiles a few minutes to formulate a plan, and a risky and daring one at that. Sabertooth would approve.
The group stood on the roof of a building directly opposite the Sentry’s Watchtower, the bizarre structure residing atop Stark Tower. Only Morph had any idea who the Sentry was and he was scared.
“On my world, the Sentry is mega powerful. Only the likes of Thor could really stand up against him for long,” he was so serious he forgot to change into any silly forms, “The Sentry’s only weakness is that he’s a total wackjob. At all costs we need to avoid facing him, but if we have to, try to mess with his head…somehow,” he muttered under his breath, “where’s a sexy alternate Emma Frost when you need her?”
“Are you ok Morph?” asked Blink, as her friend looked a little off.
“Yeah…it’s just I don’t remember remembering the Sentry until recently. I think maybe he was erased from my world’s memories and something’s unlocked it. Maybe getting possessed my Proteous?”
“We need to rescue Victor,” Blink shut the conversation down, the last thing they needed was Morph thinking too hard about Proteous.
“Everyone ready?” she asked, everyone nodded.
Next to the group sat one dozen drums of gasoline, recently “borrowed” from a local trucking company. Longshot and Spider-Man quickly lit a fuel soaked rag sticking out of each drum and backed away quickly. It was Blink’s turn now; in a flurry of motion she teleported each drum away.
BLOONK! The drums reappeared on top of the Watchtower and exploded in a dazzling display of light and sound. Immediately Shades began melting from the darkness around the Watchtower to investigate. They flooded over the scene of the explosion to examine the superficial damage caused by the exploding drums.
Now for stage two. Next to where the drums had be resting sat something a little more…potent; an eighteen wheeler with a tanker trailer full of more gasoline. The pink woman couldn’t help but grin as she blinked the tanker away. The gasoline laden trailer appeared in the sky above the watchtower and plummeted directly onto the large collection of Shades.
Needless to say it was a spectacular explosion, which incinerated the Shades and blew a sizable hole in the tower.
“Heh heh, did ya see that sucker go boom?” laughed Morph, while looking like a redneck.
It was their plan to lure the Sentry out of the Watchtower so that some of the team could infiltrate the base and extract Victor, Tatiana and any other prisoners. What they didn’t count on was something else entirely being in control of the Shades.
What they had at first thought was smoke from the explosion began to coalesce together into a large humanoid form made from living shadow.
“Is that the Sentry?” asked Spider-Man.
“I don’t know what that thing is,” replied Morph.
It took on the form of a large muscular man, with long flowing hair and a cape to match. Like the Shades, the creature was made entirely out of shadow, with one noticeable difference; it had glowing yellow eyes.
“Who dares threaten the home of the Void?!” demanded the shadow creature.
“What’s the Void?” asked a worried Blink.
Morph looked panicked, “I don’t know! Wait…I think he fought the Sentry. It’s all a little vague, but I’m sure he’s bad news.”
“We stick with the plan,” said Blink resolutely, “Zarda, Spider-Man and I will distract the Void while Longshot and Morph rescue Victor.”
BLINK! Longshot and Morph vanished in a flash of pink light, transported into the bowels of the Watchtower. The remaining Exiles stood stalwartly on the roof as the Void spotted them.
“Ahh fresh meat,” as the creature drifted towards them, storm clouds seem to form in the sky above, booming with thunder. This guy was clearly bad news.
The Sentry’s Watchtower
Morph and Longshot ran down a corridor, with no real idea of where to go.
“Where are they?” asked a frantic Morph.
“Let’s take a chance!” cried Longshot, as he took a random left turn.
The corridor soon lead them to a very large, very solid looking steel door. Bingo! The door was locked and held a digital keypad beside it. Morph grinned; they were making this too easy. People seem to forget he had a degree in computer science and was skilled at hacking all kinds of computer systems; he would have this open in a snap.
CRASH! Something smashed through a nearby wall before going right through the door and ripping it from its hinges. Power Princess leapt from the rubble, looking beaten and bloody, not to mention very angry, and charged back through the whole.
“How dare he?!” she yelled in outrage as she ran back to the action.
Morph wiped the dust from his hands, “Well I got that door open fairly easily,”
“I said I got that door open easily,”
Longshot shrugged and lead the way into a long hallway lines with small bared cells. The nearest cell contained a young man seemingly on fire, who huddled in the corner in fear.
“Be calm friend, we’re here to help,” smiled Longshot.
“Its about time Blondey!” souted a gruff voice from down the hall, Sabertooth, “Now get us out of here!”
The Void was dangerous, but he wasn’t unstoppable, as the Exiles were quickly discovering. Power Princess had already laid some heavy blows on the being, which seemed to hurt him, although he landed a back that sent her flying.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man and Blink were having less luck hurting the beast. Just like the shades, her teleportation javelins seemed to be absorbed by his body, while Spidey’s webs couldn’t hold him. They still managed to land a multitude of punches and kicks though, which managed to keep him distracted long enough for Power Princess to return to the fray.
She flew through the air at dangerous speeds and slammed into the monster’s back. The pair rolled across the rooftop, exchanging powerful blows, before the Void clutched her head and said “Know true fear!”
Zarda screamed in wild eyed terror and fell to the ground in a heap. It was one of the most shocking things Blink had ever seen; Power Princess was never anything but strong.
“Pathetic,” spat the Void, “You’ll make an excellent morsel like the rest of them though,”
Tendrils of darkness grew form the Void’s body and wrapped themselves around Zarda, drawing her to him.
“No!” screamed Blink, teleporting Zarda away to Spider-Man’s side on the other side of the rooftop.
She figured it out; The Void had eaten all the superhumans of the world, and somehow replaced them with shadow versions.
“Ah, I see it’s all so clear to you little one,” the Void Smiled, revealing a glowing yellow mouth, “I was so, so weak and they were so very strong…and tasty,” he extended tendril and Blink, but she deftly leapt aside.
“It won’t hurt little one, step into the never ending darkness and give me your strength. A part of you will live on, in your shadow. It’s so hard to kill a shadow,” he shot forward at tremendous speed and she just teleported away in time.
Things were getting too dangerous; their heaviest hitter was out of the game and half the team was in the Watchtower. As much as she would love to put the Void in his place, it was time to retreat.
With one quick motion of her arm she teleported the tree of them into the Watchtower.
The Watchtower. Cell Block.
“How do we open the cells?” wondered Morph.
Longshot, on the other hand, tried a different approach. Rather than try to think of the solution, he tried to feel it. He closed his eyes and focused hard, before hurling one of his razor blades at the wall. It ricocheted off the steel and struck a show on the roof. The shadow promptly fell to the ground and formed into the shape of a man.
Both Exiles attacked at once, overwhelming the creature in record time. Longshot slashed the thing to pieces while Morph pounded it with oversized fists, until it was a black puddle on the floor. Immediately after the creature’s demise, the shadow bars disappeared.
“Well I’m just on a roll today,” smiled Morph, adding “Oh you helped too,” after seeing Lonshot’s look.
“Where’s Blink and the others?” asked Victor, with a very nervous looking Tatian Caban in tow.
“Anyone order an exit strategy?” said Blink with a grin.
A howling vortex of shadow formed in the entrance “Fools! You can’t hide from me! I am the shadow in your very souls! I consumed the Sentry and I will consume you all!”
A dozen shadowy tendrils extended from the vortex eager to ensnare them. One wrapped around Victor’s waist and jerked him aside. Tatiana leapt forward to grab him but dove into the path of a tendril, which impaled itself in her stomach.
“Shadowy monster! I’ll kill you!” he screamed as he shredded the tendril with his claws.
Blink worked fast, dodging the tendril and teleporting everyone present away in quick succession. The Void howled in rage as the last of his prey vanished from his grasp.
The Daily Bugle
For the second time in one night Ben Urich was surprised by a group of people appearing in his office. This time there were more of them.
Victor held the mortally wounded Tatiana close, clutching her stomach wound as it gushed blood. Her cursed all the heavens and hell if they let her die. If she died then they failed their mission and the world was doomed. In desperation he slashed the palm of his hand with his claws and held it to her wound.
At first nothing happened, but gradually she started to change. She grew hairier as her muscles enlarged, while razor sharp talons extended from each finger tip. Thankfully, the wound quickly began to close. It would seem that along with his bestial appearance she had also received his healing factor. She opened her weary eyes, confused but understanding that somehow Victor had saved her.
She might not seem like much more than a scared child at the moment, but in the years to come she would use the ingenuity and determination she had shown tonight to unite the new heroes of the world against the Void. The freed prisoners, a flaming mutant named Ben, a Genoshan nicknamed Freakshow and a witch called Nico, were just the beginning of a new generation of superheroes. It would be a hard journey, but they would eventually get there.
“I…I saw the explosions, that was you wasn’t it?” asked Urich.
Morph laughed and turned into a fortune teller, “I see a Pulitzer in your future,”
While the mission was a success, Zarda was still pretty far gone and was only just starting to recover from the Void’s psychic attack. They needed to return to base for rest and recuperation.
“Heather, mission complete. Bring us home,” said Creed into the Tallus.
A familiar voice replied, Heather can’t come to the phone right now, can I take a message?
To be continued…