Ultimate Central: The Fanfic - volume 6

Heh, DSF forgot to mention it's in size 72 font...
Yes. It's done. DSF and Nurh have it. It is 107 pages long.

I will be posting it very soon, once I have settled back in.
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Yes. It's done. DSF and Nurh have it. It is 107 pages long.

I will be posting it very soon, once I have settled back in.

I will love you if it's 107 pages of "Ever had the feeling you've just been had?"
Hrmmm.. I think I'm going to try to write me entire run before I go into the hospital. Shouldn't be too hard, I've got lots of ideas that just need to be synced up with the post bass world.
Power, changes the world.
Many months ago, Ultimate Central, grew active.
An immense, ethereal realm, randomly discharging abilities to those unsuspecting few.
Heroes were born.
And so to, were Villains.
The creator of Ultimate Central, a shipwrecked alien on Earth called only Ultimate E;
Rounded those who would join him under the banner of good;
And imprisoned those who would not.
He was lying.
Ultimate E, in truth, pursued a quest for global dominion.
He never succeeded.
The superpowers factionalised, and became a smattering of teams:
The Brotherhood in the service of the divinely damned Doctor Strangefate.
Ultimate E's loyal and ruthless E-Men.
The Sub-nics, seekers of the newly empowered.
And the Avatars; Once heroes, now publicly criticised figures.
They control Ultimate Central.
And they protect us.

It was fun while it lasted.


The Red Star, An Answer To Many Questions[/u]

Celestial predator, sliding through space. The rumbling sound of mineral pushing through dark matter vacuum. Singularly unique, surrounded by alien beauty. Gas giants, asteroids, and more as it descends through the unique system of Sol.

It has arrived.

Ultimate Central, Home of Heroes

Frederick Fufenmeier: "… arrival, and even those of us who once trusted the Avatars have got to ask – with the secrets they've kept, their recent incidents with the United Nations and NASA, do the Avatars know more about the Red Star than they say? Or, could it be, that they are responsible for it?"

Watching the hyper-television in the Ultimate Central mansion are two of the Avatars, Nurhachi, and Ultimate Gambit. With a kono pizza dripping onto the couch in one hand, and the remote, his thumb hovering over the power button, in the other, Nurhachi stews.

Nurhachi: "I don't know why we bother."

Ultimate Gambit casually riffle shuffles his deck of cards, fanning them out into the air above him, counting the cards as they tumble in free fall.

Ultimate Gambit: "I never do."

Past them, through the rooms of the mansion, is the main Ultimate Central database. The Sub-nics; Iceman, Rufus, Ultimate Bigby, Hawkeye 101, and Watcher, toil, creating firewall defences and cleaning out the cache.

Iceman: "This could be done by Icemastertron."
Ultimate Bigby: "It's not like there's anything on TV tonight."

Ultimate Bigby cheerfully grins, but Iceman just rolls his eyes, resigned to it. Ultimate Bigby chuckles.

Hawkeye101: "Oof."

Hawkeye101, pulling himself out from under a console rubs his eyes. Using his super vision to focus on tiny details makes work go faster, but damn, does it ache. He needs a break.

Watcher: "Need a drink? Snack?"
Hawkeye101: "Nah… I'm… I think I'm done for today."
Ultimate Bigby: "There's just one relay for this firewall left. We can get that one finished, yeah?"

Hawkeye101 rubs his forehead.

Hawkeye101: "'kay… just gimme a minute."
Rufus: "Who wants to know the lottery numbers?"

Stunned silence.

Rufus: "10, 12, 34, 44, 50, 51."

Iceman starts desperately looking for something to write that down with. He can't find anything and tries to memorise it.

Ultimate Bigby: "Wait. Those are last week's numbers."

Rufus starts chuckling hysterically to himself.

Iceman: "Talk to the future, my ***."

Through Ultimate Central, and past the main database lies the main computer core, a towering room with a single exit and links to the entire mansion.

Running programme after programme, DIrishB, Icemastertron, ProjectX2, and Rene are working hard on what little they have of the Red Star's message.

Rene: "I don't think we can do this. Really."
Icemastertron: "You're the super-hacker. We can do this."

Rene sighs.

DIrishB: "Couldn't you ask NASA for the rest?"
Rene: "We've been over this."
ProjectX2: "To Hell with NASA. We don't need them."
DIrishB: "Just the rest of the message."
Icemastertron: "We got almost half of it."
DIrishB: "And we won't see the rest unless we turn this place over to them. And since I don't see that happening…"
Icemastertron: "Don't start. They didn't ask for the mansion."
Rene: "Techincally they did."
Icemastertron: "You weren't here."
ProjectX2: "Yeah, but he's right though. They did ask."
Icemastertron: "With a gun and an invasion squad. Hell with them."

ProjectX2, who's only distantly paying attention to the conversation, his hands clasped behind his head, gazing at byte after byte of their translation programme.

Icemastertron: "We can work this."
Rene: "No… we're amateurs. Too much is missing."

Doctor Strangefate's Tower, Limbo headquarters for the Brotherhood

His tower is a treasure trove for those who would desire more than can be attained in a single life. The words to create and destroy dreams lie inside tattered pages, written by madmen of past civilisations, who bent the world to their whims. With his angelic wings outstretched, it is in these heresies that Doctor Strangefate finds his amusement. To him, it is like reading the thoughts of penguins - birds who look up at the sky and wonder what it is to fly.

But of late, Doctor Strangefate has been finding his heresies less amusing. No, not because of a lack of quality in his archives - but a lack of quantity. It seems he's been misplacing many books. They've not been disappearing, but it's as though entire shelves aren't there. As his minion-butler Shade has said, it may be his heightened perceptions as an angel - perhaps the world is smaller to him than it was before. But the 'good' doctor is not so sure…

The Savannah of Eden, Lost South African Paradise

Once a beautiful garden, the Savannah of Eden is now wreckage from the aftermath of the world devourer, Bass Lak Tus, whose arrival was months previous. The natives, the wildlife, the rangers, and those with vested interests, have been looking after what is left. The fertility of the savannah should by now, allow growth in some slim form of hope. But it is a still, barren, crimson quarry.


Rubble begins to fall. Dead dirt shudders. Burnt grass quivers. Windswept stone shakes. Gears turn cogs. Something wicked stirs in Eden.

Doctor Strangefate's Tower, The Balcony View of Limbo

Ourchair gazes across the vast nothing of limbo. No sound, no light, no smell, no taste, no heat, no textures, nothing at all. The absence of everything – save the Tower itself.

To Ourchair, a manipulator of one of the four fundamental forces of the universe, electromagnetism, the world and its myriad of dimensions, its secrets, to him, they are humbling. And how Ourchair hates to be humbled.

And yet, he finds himself always returning to these places which make him feel so small. And oddly, he enjoys it.

A flash of blue.

A flash of blue?

Right in front of him, huge and vacuous, like a sudden, unmoving bolt of lightning that appear for a second and goes. But he recognizes it. He feels it. It's further away than it appears, as if the distance between him and the flash should be there but isn't. And that flash – it's a signiature of…

Ourchair: "Saan ka pupunta?!"

Ultimate Central, Where They're Going

Frederick Fufenmeier: "Wwwwwwwwwhhhhhheeeeeeeerrrrrrrrreeeeeeee….."

The tv slows and fuzzes. Nurhachi sits up, tapping buttons on the remote. Ultimate Gambit, feigning disinterest, gets up, juggling cards with immense artistic talent.

Nurhachi: "TV's broke."
Ultimate Gambit: "Tell Ice."
Nurhachi: "It's not my fault, so why should I get blamed?"

Ultimate Gambit tosses one card into the air above him. Another. And another.
Ultimate Gambit: "*****. *****. Bi…"

The third card hangs in the air, slowly turning, almost completely stopped in time.

Ultimate Gambit: "Mon dieu."

Nurhachi never looks from the tv.

Nurhachi: "When did you learn French?"

Down in the database, Hawkeye101 clasps his head.

Hawkeye101: "Man… my head hurts."
Iceman: "Sorry!"

Iceman notices he's still yelling and lowers his voice.

Iceman: "Sorry. But… dammit. This is supposed to be state of the art!"
Ultimate Bigby: "Patience."
Rufus: "No. It's been 5 minutes and 37 seconds longer than it should be."
Watcher: "You're a clock too?"
Rufus: "Sure. Something's not right. It's… it's being slowed down. There's a small… it's subtle, but it's some kind of… time field. I think – someone, something is slowing down our firewalls. I think."
Ultimate Bigby: "Come again?"

A flash of blue light.

And there they are.

Blue and white fluorescent jumpsuit soldiers, with slimeline timetech, standing in unison. The Bots. The Sub-nics are taken aback. And then these soldiers shoot sky blu-rays at them. Watcher dives for cover. Hawkeye101 rolls out the way and reaches for his bow and quiver. Rufus drops to the floor, covering his head. Ultimate Bigby ducks behind the firewall computer console, firing a blast of radiation in the soldiers direction. And Iceman condenses the air in front of them quickly to create a small ice barrier, then picks up Rufus and takes him into cover.

The blu-rays continue to barricade, faster and faster, slicing through their covers. Ultimate Bigby makes a gesture at Iceman. He grits his teeth and concentrates creating a thicker and larger cover of ice. Some blu-rays puncture the barricade, and there's little left for Iceman to condense to reinforce it.

It might by them a short moment.

Ultimate Bigby reaches up onto the console for his communicator only to have it burst from a ray. His hand stinged, he looks to the others.

Ultimate Bigby: "Anyone bring their goddamn communicator with them?"

Shaking of heads.

Ultimate Bigby: "I shouldn't be the responsible one. Can anyone make a break…?"

The barricade cracks and splinters from the barrage, as more and more shots get through.

Rufus: "They're firing at a rate of… (hey, that one was close) a rate of 6.16 seconds each."
Hawkeye101: "W… You… What?!"
Rufus: "I can run…"
Ultimate Bigby: "No! You can't!"

Ultimate Bigby gets under the console and starts trying to tinker the wires to communicate with the rest of the group and mutters.

Ultimate Bigby: "I'm the hero of this damn picture."

With little finesse, Ultimate Bigby tears a panel to get to the guts of his console, and firmly grabs a hold of the wires and cables within. Tinkering and tampering he sets up a connection, but it's ever so slow.

Rufus, frustrated, counts the moments in between the blasts of each of their adversaries, and makes a break for it.

A blu-ray punctures his thigh and he drops.

Watcher runs and helps drag Rufus behind other cover. As he does, Hawkeye101 rushes out and shoots an arrow through one of the holes in the barricade, his pinpoint aim taking down the soldier that shot Rufus, and then takes down two more before he has to hide behind cover.

With the men down, whatever was slowing the connections decreases and Ultimate Bigby's communicator works.

Ultimate Bigby: "w00t. Rene! Rene! This is Bigby! We're under attack, some kind of time soldiers in blue and white, we could do with some help down here!"

In the main computer core, they respond.

Rene: "The firewalls?"
Ultimate Bigby: "If they were up would I be asking for help? Rufus has already been shot! We can't hold this position!"
Rene: "We're on our way."
Icemastertron: "Is it the military again?"
Ultimate Bigby: "How about you come down and take a look for yourself?"

In the mansion, Nurhachi and Ultimate Gambit look at the suspended card, and then a blue flash.

More arrive.

Nurhachi: "Incoming!"

And more.

Nurhachi: "LOTS of incoming!"

ProjectX2 points at the main computer core.

ProjectX2: "Rene, get your team back here. We'll hold here."
Rene: "Good."

Rene bounds off to help his team. Icemastertron, DIrishB, and ProjectX2 rush out to help their teammates. The fighting in the mansion is in its earnest. Both Nurhachi and Ultimate Gambit swamped by foes, Icemastertron slides in on bridges of ice, and pulls them both back into the main computer core, as Rene and the Sub-nics arrive.

Iceman: "This is bad, they've already gotten most of the site."
Icemastertron: "Who are they?"
ProjectX2: "I've got nothing."

Icemastertron turns back outside and tries to reason with their aggressors.

Icemastertron: "Who are you and what do you wa…?"

Icemastertron is suddenly frozen solid. Denser and colder than he's ever been before. A hardening of his icicle skin. He can't move. Harder it gets, his skin starts to peel and crack. And sliding onto his bridge of ice, is a man, who, with one simple fist, dropping into him as a hammer would, shatters Icemastertron.

He steps over what small and large remains there are of Icemastertron, looking directly at his dead head as it gradually spins like a top on the bridge. He casually knocks it to the floor with a flick of his foot. When it lands, it breaks into three pieces.

This man, this killer, looks exactly like Icemastertron. His eyes tell a different story.

His name is just – Ice.

Doctor Strangefate's Tower

Cold and callous, Ourchair stands near the rusting fireplace in Doctor Strangefate's arcane library. Doctor Strangefate rests in his throne, Shade by his side. The entire Brotherhood is in the library. There is not much space, just enough for Shihad and Widdle Wade to bring in and hold Guijllons, who is panicking.

Guijllons: "What the hell is this?"
Ourchair: "Hold him."
Guijllons: "What's going on? Strangefate…"

Doctor Strangefate does not acknowledge Guijllons' calls upon their private arrangements.

Guijllons: "Come on! What is this?"
Ourchair: "You're going to tell me all your secrets. Although, to me, already they are known."

Ourchair, with menace and glee, casts his eyes towards Guijllons.

Guijllons, horrified, disappears, fading into nothing. Widdle Wade and Shihad no longer have anything to hold on to.

Ourchair brings out a bronze rattle, the kind used to impair and damage the Lurkers of Ultimate Central. He turns it on. Guijllons, shaking with nausea reappears. Ourchair turns the rattle off. He points it at a wall. And turns it on. Suddenly, the wall is meters away, with so many missing bookshelves no revealed. Doctor Strangefate's eyes open wide. Ourchair conserves the rattle and turns it off.

Guijllons is genuinely scared – he doesn't fully understand what that object is or how it works, but he understands now that Ourchair knows his secret.

Ourchair: "A single blue light – and I understand what limbo is. It's nothing. Nothing to see. Hear. Feel. Smell. Taste. Touch. Nothing. Because it's not a realm or another dimension. It's Lurkers. Nothing but Lurkers. Deep inside Ultimate Central. And you, Guijllons. You can see Lurkers. You saw them the first time you stepped into this tower. You saw all of them. You said nothing. And you cut a deal with them."

The members of the Brotherhood are concerned. With trepidatious anxiety, they listen in as Ourchair grandly exposes Guijllons' deceptions.

Ourchair: "The Red Star arrives, and there's a flash of blue in limbo. Something left it. Something the Lurkers were camouflaging. Guijllons. Tell me what they're going to do next."

Guijllons' fear turns to resignation.

Guijllons: "They attack."

Guijllons finger-snaps a small button wresting on his palm.

Books fall off shelves.

There is a rumbling.

The Red Star

Tectonic plates on the Red Star pull back; a maw revealed in space. It's appetite tremors. Red gravity pulls the moon inwards, crushing it piece by piece.

The Moon crumbles, it shatters, tears, and breaks, swallowed in pieces and digested. The meal gorges the Red Star, pushing hidden sub-cities, buried deep underground to the surface; a neon-industry of a bygone future. Steam and florescence. Particles race through magenta tubes and golden lights ignite.

How satisfying.

Doctor Strangefate's Tower


The terrible, reality-gorging monstrosity that beats in the backwaters of Ultimate Central, tears through into limbo, to feast on Doctor Strangefate. Indestructible engine of destruction, a weapon of last resort. A towering beast, with one gaping maw and always hungry.

The Brotherhood is besieged. Lurkers are visible only as small lights embedded into reality harnesses, so that they can effectively destroy the Brotherhood. Outnumbered in their thousands, the Brotherhood cannot withstand the Lurkers, let alone the monstrous Doomwurm accompanying them.

On the balcony, locked into a struggle, is Ourchair and Guijllons. Widdle Wade, Marvelman, Shihad, and Ultimate Quicksilver step up and challenge the invading Lurkers, with bullets, swords, teeth, claws, and fists. Widdle Wade fights with grace and skill, his regenerative abilities healing his wounds at an astounding rate. Shihad's ferocity is unparalleld. Ultimate Quicksilver is a nightmarish blur. Marvelman's every strike is purposeful. Shade, dutiful servant, aids his master Doctor Strangefate as he, with the divine and damned powers at his command, turns entire platoons of the Lurker army to ash.

But all of this is for naught, for none can stop the Doomwurm. Doctor Strangefate casts hellacid to burn its hide, but it has no effect.

It eats the east wing of the tower.

Compound: "Inside! Only its skin is invulnerable! Destroy it from the inside!"

Ultimate Quicksilver rushes, grabbing weapons – pokers, guns, swords, whatever he can find and carry, and runs to the Doomwurm.

It spits lava.

The furnace of its heart, lays lava, wasting down the tower, and Ultimate Quicksilver's runway. He falls headfirst into the lava. A gateway opens, Marvelman falls through, twisting through the air, opening a gateway, and plunging himself and Ultimate Quicksilver through it, saving his life.

With murder in his eyes, Doctor Strangefate flies to the Doomwurm, and with lightning and thunder, with fire and brimstone, wrestles with the beast. His spells echo, and each echo another spell, a rising storm of beatings. The ferocious attacks demolish the tower piece by piece, so powerful are the shockwaves from their duel.

Guijllons relishes Ourchair's helpless state. Popping parts of Ourchar out of existence, such as he knees, and his waist, Ourchair is barely able to move. He is at Guijllons' mercy, on the floor, as the balcony shakes apart.

Guijllons: "You know my secret do you? Ah?"

Guijllons boots Ourchair in his chest. Ourchair zaps at Guijllons with electricity, but Guijllons just moves out of the way. Ourchair's finding it hard to breathe and concentrate. Is he missing a lung? Did Guijllons fade one of them away?

Guijllons: "I know all about yours. You. Compound. Sworn enemies. Best of friends. Bigby too. The Thinking Engine."

Exasperated, Ourchair rams the bronze rattle he uses to harm lurkers down Guijllons' gloating throat, surging with electricity. The rattle explodes in a flux of power, and Guijllons, subject to mass pressure, his body quaking, he yells, only to be cut short; his body explosively crumbles, disintegrating into the void of limbo.

The vile, pulsating Doomwurm thrashes down on Doctor Strangefate. Their battle intense. Doctor Strangefate pulls one of it's giant fangs, tearing it from its gums. The monster writhes, contorts, and strikes again, gnashing. And Doctor Strangefate is cast down, mortally wounded, his body bleeding angelic blood, that evaporates in fire as it touches what floor remains of his Tower.

His dreams torn asunder, Doctor Strangefate casts a final spell.

Doctor Strangefate: ".lleH ot oG"

A whirpool of dark energies, gleaming in firebright, cascade throughout limbo, and deep beneath it, gazing from its center, is an Eye, drawing all things into it.

The Red Island, Not Long For This World

The Red Star, feasted, neon steam filling its red atmosphere, lurches and gazes down upon the Arizona desert, to the Red Island.

So large a mesa. A hill of rock, unceremoniously dumped, floating on the desert. Atop it, hinting to its unnatural construction, is a small satellite dish. A hint of the technological wonder-artifacts contained there in. Magical devices from alien civilisations thousands of years old, constructs of a villainous mastermind. For this is the most recent base of Ultimate E. All-powerful genius. Scientist. Leader. Villain.

The Red Star's jaws prime; tectonic plates pulling against each other as cities on its surface slide into new formations. Spitting out, the Red Star launches a meteorite, a city-sized bullet, a consumed fragment of the Moon, directly to the Red Island.

Sand and rock twist and turn, cycling in the air. The sky is replaced by awful, blinding dust and rubble. The ground trembles under the might, its shaking recorded throughout North America and beyond.

The Red Island is gone.

Ultimate Central

Hope is leaving the hearts of the Avatars and the Sub-Nics. Held up in the main computer core with firewalls and bottlenecks, the seemingly unending swarm of soldiers, Bots, besieging their keep, and with the death of their friend, Icemastertron – it's taking a toll on the heroes. Hawkeye101 is running out of arrows. The cold chill emanating from their mirrored adversary, Ice, forms snow, icing the floor and reducing their stability. Biting cold pinches through their clothes and rests in their skin, flesh, muscle, and bones. A locking up. Rene's fireballs create small moments of fleeting warmth. Their cover is being worn away, frozen by cold and chipped by blu-rays shot at hypervelocity.

Nurhachi crawls, ducks, and rolls through the fighting, setting up next to ProjectX2, a flash of insight on his face, hope in his heart.

Nurhachi: "Slimjim's in the holding cells!"

ProjectX2 is unsure about this. Slimjim is a notorious villain who took over the world when he resurrected the dead – and ProjectX2 gets it.

ProjectX2: "Slimjim's in the holding cells!"

ProjectX2 reaches for his teleporter, and Nurhachi shows him his own. The teleporters aren't working.

ProjectX2: "Rene! The teleporters! They're broken!"

Rene, looking up and then ducking behind cover, checks out his teleporter. It too, doesn't work. He fiddles with it as best as he can, but resigns that the problem is insolvable in their current situation.

Rene: "They've got control of the site. We're locked out."
Ultimate Bigby: "How could they do that?"
Rene: "Couldn't say. But there it is."
Nurhachi: "We need to get Slimjim out of the holding cells!"
Rene: "We'd have to go down there and do so manually."
Ultimate Gambit: "They're shooting at us!"
DIrishB: "Diversion?"
Ultimate Bigby: "No – there's loads of links throughout the mansion. Secret passageways and stuff."
Rufus: "I'll go. I'm immune to their temporal distortions. And I can predict them."

A large volley causes a small explosion as a computer bank explodes. Hawkeye101 and Rene continue firing back.

Rufus: "And I'm no use here!"

Ultimate Bigby looks around, and sees a wall panel. He points Rufus to it. Rufus dashes over to it, as best he can, and opens the panel, revealing the link. A long, winding tube into darkness.

Limbo, Where The Tower Once Was

Driven by need to escape from the vortex that's swallowing the tower and everything in limbo, Marvelman becomes the saviour of what remains of Doctor Strangefate's Brotherhood. With his katana that can cut through gateways, Marvelman must take them all somewhere – else. That's a lot of people, in a terrible situation, in a weird dimension.

He can't afford to make mistakes.

Where to take them?

Ourchair: "Marvelman – that blue flash. It's a gateway out of here."
Marvelman: "You sure?"
Ourchair: "It must be. Reinforcements."
Ultimate Quicksilver: "Where does it go?"
Ourchair: "Someplace else. It's open. It's easy. Go."
Marvelman: "Easy's a relative term."

Ultimate Central

A difficult squeeze, Rufus wriggles his way down a link and into the holding cell area. Dr Draco and Slimjim are the only ones in the holding cells. Rufus takes a deep breath – then frees them both.

Slimjim: "Problem?"
Dr Draco: "Oh, not anymore."
Slimjim: "Weeks of this ***** – so ****in' happy when he got broken out…"
Rufus: "No time. Hah. No time. Follow me."

Rufus leads them back to the link.

Rufus: "It'll be a bit difficult for you Draco…"
Dr Draco: "After the fox."
Rufus: "… Right."

Slimjim and Dr Draco follow Rufus to the link, and come out into the main computer core, where the struggle continues.

Slimjim: "A'ight. I'm goin' back into that cell."
Nurhachi: "Bring back Icemastertron!"
Slimjim: "Whazzat?"
Ultimate Gambit: "He's dead. Bring him back."
Slimjim: "Ah. Is that why I'm out? What heroes you are."
Nurhachi: "Do it, you son of a *****, or I'll leave you to rot in that cell."
Slimjim: "I reckon it's safer down there than here, know whut I'm sayin'?"
Nurhachi: "Want to see if you can resurrect yourself?"

Nurhachi's fingers become sharp blades, knives poised at Slimjim's throat. Slimjim smirks with irony and glee.

Slimjim: "All you gotsta to do is aks."

Slimjim concentrates… and then stops.

Slimjim: "Can't do it."
DIrishB: "Don't lie to us you son of a *****."
Slimjim: "Can't do it – can't feel his body."
Nurhachi: "Why not?!"
Slimjim: "Can't do it!"

Nurhachi looks at Dr Draco.

Nurhachi: "You! Son of a *****! Give him back his powers!"

Dr Draco looks genuinely shocked.

Dr Draco: "Things are done!"
Nurhachi: "Let him bring him back, dammit!"

ProjectX2 puts his hands on Nurhachi's shoulder.

ProjectX2: "Nurhachi."

The Avatars, the Sub-Nics, Slimjim, and Dr Draco watch as the Bots start coming through the links from the rest of Ultimate Central and into the main computer core, circumventing the bottleneck.

They're not in cover.

They're trapped, deep inside the mansion.

The Savannah of Eden

Primordial towering horns the size of mountains burst through Earth's mantle, tearing the sky as they disappear into clouds, reaching.

At the base of the horns, lies an encompassing wall, a shrine to some long-dead civilization, something older than our time would allow. Glistening, gleaming, steaming golden spires, bright buzzing lights fill this once dead sky with the life of antediluvian architecture.

And directly above it, in geosynchronous orbit, is the Red Star.

From Limbo To Ultimate Central

Opening up from the ceiling, the gateway cut by Marvelman pours the Brotherhood out into Ultimate Central mansion. They crash down, knocking over whatever household items remain, smashing the television, landing in mishappen form.

Marvelman, exhausted and sprained, lurches worst, and loses grip of his sword, and it slides across the ice-covered hallway, ricocheting off fixtures.

Pulling themselves together as quickly as they can, they assess the situation.

Compound: "What are those things? They aren't Lurkers."

Looking at the Bots, Ourchair and Marvelman recognize them from the blue flash in limbo.

Ourchair: "Those are who we followed."
Widdle Wade: "Same headquarters; same enemy."

Ultimate Quicksilver points at the main computer core area where there is a large onslaught from the Bots, attacking the structure.

Ultimate Quicksilver: "They must be piling into the Avatars. And from the number of them I'd say Sub-Nics too, no?"

Ourchair spots Icemastertron's crushed remains.

Ourchair: "To the last man."

Ourchair and Compound exchange a look; Ourchair is concerned for Ultimate Bigby's safety. Compound shakes his head.

Compound: "Okay Marvelman. Take us to Earth."

Marvelman, held up by Shihad, out of breath, looks over to his sword, precariously close to the Bot offensive.

Marvelman: "Just like that, huh?"
Compound: "You're a ninja."

Marvelman grumbles under his breath as he wearily shadows his way to his sword.

Shihad: "We should just wait. Until they massacre each other. Then we kill who's ever left. Get us a new Tower."
Compound: "We can't just wait around, monster. They might…"

Marvelman inches his way, but perhaps the weakness in his legs, the cold in the air, or the inconsistency of the ground, but he slips, falls over, and makes a sound.

Compound: "…notice."
Ultimate Quicksilver: "He aggro'd."

Ultimate Quicksilver rushes to Marvelman and zip him to safety, but the ice floor trips him up unexpectedly. Crashing, Ultimate Quicksilver darts towards the Bots into danger himself. Thinking as fast as he moves, Ultimate Quicksilver starts kicking his heels into the floor at incredible speeds, creating friction and slowing him down. In turn, the ice cracks and shards dart forward, cutting down the Bots as they turn to attack him.

Ourchair takes command. He directs Shihad, who's claws will allow him grip on this surface, to rescue Ultimate Quicksilver and help Marvelman get his sword, Shihad however, would rather eat some of those slimline soldiers they're fighting. Compound slows down the Bots by strengthing gravity around them, but they seem to be able to adapt to it, altering time around them to compensate. Compound tries to vary the pressure and strength at random intervals to keep them off balance, but they seem better at their trick than he is at his.

Ourchair and Widdle Wade create cover for Marvelman to make a dash for his sword. Marvelman, no need for stealth, gracefully slides towards his katana as it lies on the floor, and as he does, he watches it frozen, encased in deep, thick ice by the man called Ice.

The Brotherhood is as trapped here as the Avatars and the Sub-Nics.

Ultimate Central's Main Computer Core

Held up and surrounded in the bottleneck of the main computer core, in the snow, ProjectX2 batters down, clothes-lining incoming Bots. Nurhachi, to prevent Bots from circumventing their security, plugs up links into the main computer core, with his tendrils like thin and stretched fingers in dykes – only to be pulled in several different directions as Bots tug at him. His focus overextended, Nurhachi finds it hard to concentrate, and so forms barbs on his tendrils. The sharp shock frees him for the moment.

But the tide of the Bot offensive slows down.

Nurhachi: "They giving up?"
Iceman: "I wouldn't think so…"
Watcher: "I'll take a look."

Watcher sends out his vision, disconnecting it from his body and pushing it forward. He sees the Brotherhood as they tear into the Bots, forcing them to fight on two fronts, seizing up their reinforcement drive.

Watcher: "It's the Brotherhood."
Ultimate Gambit: "They're behind this?"
Ultimate Bigby: "No way."
Watcher: "No – it looks like they're fighting these things."
Ultimate Bigby: "They're buying us time?"
Rufus: "Thirty-seven seconds."
ProjectX2: "We've lost Ultimate Central. We need to leave."
Nurhachi: "No way! Not till I get that… ice-clone bastard!"
Watcher: "They're missing Strangefate, and Shade… and Guijllons, I think."
Rufus: "Thirty seconds."
ProjectX2: "Nurhachi, this is strategic invasion by an outnumbering unknown enemy, and if they can take out Strangefate…"
Ultimate Bigby: "We need to regroup and gather intelligence."
Nurhachi: "No!"
Ultimate Gambit: "The last thing we saw the Red Star do was EAT THE MOON. This could be a diversion!"
ProjectX2: "I've got a plan. We all charge – keep Rufus and Watcher in the center of us and protected."
Nurhachi: "We Leeroy?"
ProjectX2: "Sure – then we get Marvelman to 'port us out."
Watcher: "Marvelman's sword is frozen in ice."
Rene: "Got it."
DIrishB: "Go!"

The Avatars and Sub-Nics valiantly charge into the fray. And Ice freezes the floor, the charge dissipates as they slip and slide.

Worse, Nurhachi, DIrishB, and Iceman break off, endangering Rufus and Watcher much to ProjectX2's chagrin, and attack Ice, with ferocity.

And worse still, Dr Draco comes to Ice's aid – he turns off Nurhachi, DIrishB, and Iceman's powers. They stand helpless in front of their friend's killer.

DIrishB tackles him, never missing a step. What else would he have done? Hit him with a pot plant? His courage incites Iceman and Nurhachi to fight without their powers, but Iceman is pulled away by Dr Draco, menacing him with his hamer.

Rene, as his legs slip up from under him, chucks a fireball at the sword, melting it a little. With Ice otherwise engaged, he does so again and again, amidst the blu-ray shots and Bot charges, and the sword is freed – but it is brittle and damaged.

Dr Draco lifts his hammer to crush Iceman, when arrows let loose and disarm him. As his hammer tumbles in the air, Dr Draco summons it back to his hand. As soon as he catches it, Iceman, biting his tongue, shoves both his feet into his groin.


Furiously, Iceman starts striking Dr Draco, but quickly stops as he busts his knuckles.

Nurhachi and DIrishB's voices die as their throats freeze, held off the floor by Ice. A granite haymaker floors, Ice, and ProjectX2 picks up Nurhachi and DIrishB.

Ultimate Bigby tries to reach for the sword, but shards of ice are shot off from the floor, into his face. He puts his hand in the way. He's unharmed, but it's enough to stop him.

Rufus carefully watches the shooting, then makes a dive for the sword, and with clockwork precision, gets to the sword, batting across the floor, sliding it directly to Marvelman.

Rufus: "Cosmopolis! Take us to Cosmopolis!"

Marvelman, driven by desperation, slices his katana through the air, creating a gateway. But a super-frozen and then super-heated katana is a brittle katana, and the gateway is unstable. The Brotherhood, the Avatars, and the Sub-Nics, and Slimjim, using their legs, their powers, and the frictionless ice, dive through the gateway and as it snaps shut, half of Marvelman's katana breaks off, dropping to the floor.

Clink. Clink.

Ice stands over the shattered remains of Icemastertron, triumphant.

Ultimate Central is his alone.

The Red Star

There is only one star in the sky tonight. Having fed on history, it hungers for our future.




NASA, Home of the Space Program

A flash of blue light cuts through reality somewhere in the labyrinthine corridors of the base. A gateway, cut by Marvelman, and following him through are Ultimate Houde, Moonmaster, Rene, DIrishB, and ProjectX2. There's a spark of electricity from what remains on his sword, and as he goes to yelp, Ultimate Houde puts a hand over his mouth. The pain passes quicker than it arrived, and Marvelman just glares at Ultimate Houde. Ultimate Houde grimaces, and takes away his hand. Rene gives the sword a cursory look-over. Rene and Ultimate Bigby have done a wondrous thing – they've transformed what remains of Marvelman's teleportational katana into a fully functioning Ultimate Central transporter. Amplifying the katana's energy to allow for national, global, and dimensional jumps without severe difficulties comes at a cost – it's physically unstable, and has a short life attached to it, only a few jumps are possible. So they have to be used wisely.


Rene: "Is it ok?"

Marvelman just nods, and gestures his impatience to complete the reason they're here.

Rene looks around, and points at a specific part of the wall. Ultimate Houde deftly cuts through and Rene pulls the framework to reveal the cables. Pulling out a couple of simple tools, Rene tinkers.

All the security cameras start playing loops, and no security guard will notice for an hour.

Rene puts the framework back, more or less, as it was.

Moonmaster starts sniffing, and then beckons the others as he leads them through NASA's corridors to their destination – a series of computer banks that hold the entire message sent from the Red Star.

The room to the computer banks has a large, computer-keypad locked door. Hidden surreptiously to one side, is the little device Moonmaster's contacts leave for him to find clues – a small, electronic scent bomb. Moonmaster picks it up and turns it off. Rene hacks the keypad with superhuman ease and as the doors open, they are met with a firing squad.

Squad Leader: "You are hereby placed under arrest by the authority of General Gargant."

ProjectX2, in a sigh of disbelief,

ProjectX2: "Gargant?"

DIrishB reluctantly affirms,

DIrishB: "Gargant."
ProjectX2: "Look, tell Gargant we're here to decode the Red Star's message and then we're leaving. We don't want trouble."
Squad Leader: "Place your hands on your head and lie down on the floor or we will be forced to fire."
Rene: "Is all this really necessary? We're on the same side here."
Squad Leader: "The Red Star just ate the MOON. And considering that you have kept every piece technology you've gotten hold of a secret, we're not letting you unrestricted access to anything we've got. We're not letting you take that message from us."
DIrishB: "Definitely Gargant. We've just lost Ultimate Central to an unknown invasion force, which is most likely linked in some way to the Red Star. We need access to this message. We can crack it."
Squad Leader: "Nonsense."
DIrishB: "Icemastertron is dead."
Squad Leader: "Wishes are horses."

ProjectX2 flattens the Squad leader. The firing squad sets off the alarms, which don't go off, and then fire. Moonmaster dives and covers DIrishB as ProjectX2 does his best to shrug off the bullets. Ultimate Houde and Marvelman deftly dodge the shots and Rene throws fireballs, taking out the firing squad. ProjectX2 grabs up and tosses out half the firing squad with his granite strength, and the others manage to rout those who would've remained. With the firing squad out of the room, Rene looks the room from the inside.

Rene: "The alarms won't sound until they report back and manually reactivate the system. We've got a bit of time."
ProjectX2: "Enough time?"
Rene: "We'll see."

Rene, DIrishB, and ProjectX2 start applying the code-breakers they created at Ultimate Central to the full message, as Moonmaster, Ultimate Houde, and Marvelman watch the door.

The code-breakers do their job. The message begins to decode, but very slowly.

Rene: "We were on the right track."
DIrishB: "What's that?"

DIrishB points out an embedded programme within the message.

DIrishB: "Virus?"
ProjectX2: "Wouldn't the translated message itself be the virus?"
Rene: "It looks like… huh… like a crack patch. The kind you get for pirated programmes."
DIrishB: "Really?"

Rene furrows his brow.

Rene: "… Kinda."
DIrishB: "Hell with it."

DIrishB runs the embedded programme. It adapts, shifts, and slowly expands. It creates networks, rushing through the system, connecting to one computer, and another, entire networks.

DIrishB: "This is going to be my fault, isn't it?"

ProjectX2, seeing the programme rooting itself into satellite systems and fearing the worst, starts pulling cables and plugs in an effort to stop it. But it has no effect. Rene halts ProjectX2.

Rene: "It's not running from this station any more. You can't hurt it this way. All you're doing is making us blind."

Once rooted into the global information network, the message begins translating itself. Rene just stops.

Rene: "How did… this is incredible."

And on baited breath, the world hears a solemn farewell, and a statement – of warning.

"We… live in the Red Star.
"Refugees… from a dying universe… that preceeded… this.
"Your… "Ultimate" Central… draws its' power… from the embers of our home.
"In retribution… we come for yours.
"For our Emperor… we send this message… in advance of our coming… so you may leave… before our arrival.
"Refuse us in this… and we will exterminate… your race.
"Earth… is now our home."​

Remains of The Red Island

Deep under the ruined mesa, buried under rubble, dust, and storm, is what's left of the home that Ultimate E built; a bunker. And within it's meagre frame, are survivors. Ultimate E, and his E-Men.

Bang. Crunch. Rend.

The bunker's ceiling buckles, turning in on itself. The E-Men ready themselves, Ultimate Scarlet Witch gets read to teleport them. Ultimate E raises his hand, in a gesture of patience.

Growling, roaring, as thunderous slams bellow into the bunker walls – and then, they give.

Crimson dust of ground stones, baking scarlet sunlight puncture through into the artificial fluorescence of the bunker. A distant voice says, "Thanks DJF" and then, dropping through, to Ultimate E's complete shock, ProjectX2, Ourchair, DIrishB, and Ultimate Quicksilver.

ProjectX2: "We need your help, E."
Ultimate E: "What is this?"
Ourchair: "They took Ultimate Central. All of it."
Ultimate E: "'They'?"

Ultimate Quicksilver points up to the sky.

Ultimate E: "Oh. 'Them'. I wouldn't know. They took down my signal. This is a dead zone again. I can't get into Ultimate Central."
ProjectX2: "We have our own way in."
Ultimate E: "Really."
DIrishB: "They killed Ice."
Ultimate E: "Ice? Which one?"
DIrishB: "… Icemastertron."
Ultimate E: "Oh. Not…"
DIrishB: "Iceman."
Ultimate E: "Ah. Let's continue this in the fresh air."
Ourchair: "You don't need to breathe."
Ultimate E: "I like the view."

Ultimate E flies upward, out of the bunker, landing on the ground. Having met up in Cosmopolis, the many members of the many teams are there: the Sub-nics, Slimjim, Nigma, Ultimate DJF, the Brotherhood, the Avatars, Ultimate Houde, Moonmaster, and The Man Without Fear.

The Man Without Fear: "E."

Ultimate E barely acknowledges him.

Ultimate E: "Hmh. This is quite a gathering isn't it?"

The E-Men get out of the bunker, and ProjectX2, Ourchair, Ultimate Quicksilver, and DIrishB are now out, in the roasting remains of the mesa with Ultimate E.

DIrishB: "The message was decoded, E."
Ourchair: "We know Ultimate Central is killing their universe. And we know they've come for ours."
Ultimate E: "And you're going to fight them."
The Man Without Fear: "We're not letting them have Earth."
Slimjim: "'snot like we've got anywhere else to be."

Ultimate E laughs, almost hysterically. There's an air of puzzlement, though Slimjim regally smirks.

Ultimate E: "I do."

Bewildered at the idiocy of their bravado, Ultimate E desperately leaps to part of the rubble, and mightily pulls out a shuttle, roughly the size of an 18-wheeler. He presses the keypad to enter. It doesn't open. Nothing. He tries again, and again. And then, gives up. His laughing starts again, it resigns, then turns into a simple sigh.

Ourchair: "Dead zone."
Ultimate E: "Oh, how forgetful of me. I thought it was in park."
DIrishB: "We need your help, E."
Ultimate E: "Why? You already know I didn't invent Ultimate Central. I stole it."
DIrishB: "We need you to tell us what we're up against."
Ultimate E: "How would I know?"
DIrishB: "Because you've seen them before."
Ultimate E: "What?"
DIrishB: "They destroyed your world. That's why you came here."
Ultimate E: "… Yes."
DIrishB: "You were a king. And they took it from you."
Ultimate E: "Yes. They did."

The Man Without Fear slams Ultimate E into the side of his shuttle.

The Man Without Fear: "And you ran right here, and brought them with you. I wonder if you can tell us anything other than the details you saw of your world dying in your rear-view mirror."

Ultimate E responds calmly.

Ultimate E: "You forget whom you address."

The Man Without Fear, his eyes locked on Ultimate E, backs down.

ProjectX2: "We have a plan, E. We just need to know anything about them. Their numbers, their strengths."
Nurhachi: "Their weaknesses."
Ultimate E: "This is folly."
DIrishB: "The Emperor of these Red Star guys…"
Ultimate E: "Hah. He won't an apology."
DIrishB: "No, but if we have a stalemate with him, he may be willing to rescind the extermination order. A compromise could be made."
Baxter: "How would you create a stalemate?"
ProjectX2: "We have a plan."
Ultimate E: "'We'?"
DIrishB: "The Avatars, and the Sub-Nics."
Widdle Wade: "Fill us in?"
ProjectX2: "As it unfolds. We don't want leaks."
Ultimate Scarlet Witch: "What's that supposed to mean?"
DIrishB: "It just means we'll tell you when it's safer. But we can make a stalemate."
Hawkeye101: "And then we can bargain. Come up with a compromise. After all, it was kinda considerate of them to even send us a warning."
Ultimate Quicksilver: "What nonsense is this? Kind of them?"
Hawkeye101: "Well… I mean… from their point of view, we've been committing genocide. I think."
Ultimate Quicksilver: "No you don't. Shut up."
Iceman: "C'mon. Let's not do this."
Iceshadow: "This is ludicrous. We don't know anything."
ProjectX2: "We know, with three teams, we can effectively attack each of their footholds and destabilise their forces. We can't surrender. They're not interested. What alternative is there?
Ultimate E: "There is room, for maybe… six or seven of us. I'll share the space in my shuttle with whoever helps me take it out of this deadzone. We can find a new home."
Rufus: "And they'll follow you there after they destroy Earth."
Ultimate Bigby: "Really really?"
Rufus: "God, I hope not."
DIrishB: "We've got a chance. I say we take it."

Ultimate Scarlet Witch hangs on DIrishB.

Entropy: "Oh, indeed."
Rufus: "I have to go to Ultimate Central… apparently."
Hawkeye101: "We can do this."

Lithium looks at the shuttle, and realizes he won't be of any help with it. UltimateDJF growls. Lithium pretends to be happy about helping.

Ourchair: "This world belongs to us."
Ultimate Quicksilver: "Let's just get it done."

Widdle Wade nods, and Nigma goes with the flow.

Slimjim: "So long as I go Africa. Should be sweet *** this time o' year."
Shihad: "I want to kill something."

Compound wonders what strange wealths lie on that Red Star. Moonmaster gleefully ignites his lightsaber. Nurhachi imagines the sweet justice it will be to kill that icicled killer. Watcher just sits, on his own, watching.

Iceman: "Hell, I just want to save the world."
Baxter: "I dunno. It's too much for me."
The Man Without Fear: "We're going to fight them. We're going to win."
Ultimate Gambit: "Oui, d'accord."
Ultimate Houde: "Word."

Rene examines and double-checks Marvelman's teleporting katana.

Marvelman: "Hmhm. Let me guess: I'm doing this pro bono."

Iceshadow goes to the shuttle and tries to see how hard it would be for him to help lift it. Ultimate Bigby pulls him away.

Ultimate Bigby: "You're fighting."
ProjectX2: "Let's split up. And do what we have to do."
Ultimate E: "Such amateurish mistakes."


The Savannah of Eden, Where Our Heroes Seek To Unravel A Mystery

– team player desiring a fame of heroes, his giant size made him a menace
DIrishB – recreational marijuana user and historical mastermind, he has the power to control plantlife and vegetation
Hawkeye101 – exuberant and naïve former Avatar with super eyesight and arrows
Iceman – graffiti artist and ambitious hero who can create sub-zero temperaturs
Iceshadow – cowardly pugilist capable of turning into black ice and shadow
Lithium – opportunistic sadist capable of talking to machines and making people happy
ProjectX2 - the rock-skinned old-timer who's random thought patterns make him a terrific lateral thinker and strategist
Shihad – remorseless villain capable of mutating into a terrifying monster
Slimjim – gangsta necromanca, leader of the Death Knights, and former world ruler
Ultimate Quicksilver – impatient general, distance has no meaning for him
Ultimate Scarlet Witch – manipulative temptress able to conjure teleporting gateways
UltimateDJF – hulking simple-minded monster of incalculable strength
Widdle Wade – regenerating warrior, his fondest wishes became a nightmare

Red Star, Where Our Heroes Seek To Know Their Enemy

– dictatorial sadist and master of intelligence, gravity is his servant
Entropy – remorseless, fearless assassin, luck is always on his side and he never misses
Moonmaster – All he ever wanted to be was a hero, but he became a monster
Nigma – Space-faring surfer with immense energy powers
The Man Without Fear – the team's maverick leader, with heighetened senses, capable of powerful energy blasts from his eyes
Ultimate Gambit – decisive, repentant, and hedonistic hero who has the disconcerting power to make anything he touches explode

Ultimate Houde – surreal man with ninja skills, and a sword that can create flame and cut through reality
Watcher – the loner who can see, hear, touch, taste, and feel everything

Ultimate Central, Where Our Heroes Seek To Take Back What Was Theirs

– man-ferret with an ice sword that can slice through space
Nurhachi – arguably the possessor of the strangest superpower of all - prehensile blood - he is the team's moral and artistic compass
Ourchair – intellectual general of the Brotherhood, master of electromagnetism
Rene – the leader of the Sub-nics, a fireball-throwing green goblin hacker
Rufus – the team strategist who can talk to his future self
Ultimate Bigby – controller of weak radioactive forces and passionate hero
Ultimate E – diabolical gadgeteer and Ultimate Central founder[/size]

The Savannah of Eden, South Africa

Dark, burning sun casting light through broken jungle, illuminating the silent, still, primordial citadel and shrine to old Gods.

Our heroes, walking through Ultimate Scarlet Witch's gateways, see this splendid monstrosity as they step onto African soil.

Slimjim: "Badass."
ProjectX2: "Let's sort this mess out. I want…"

There's a rumbling, running across the ground.

But not from the citadel.

No, in the other direction.

DIrishB: "The trees are falling."

The sounds of forest cracking and crumbling beneath terrible weight amplifies as the clearing breaks for a large tank and troop military unit. The tanks and troops take up hostile formation around our intrepid heroes. Wary, and some aching for a fight, calmer heads keep them from making the first move.

A lead tank trundles forward, and the hatch opens. Out rises General Gargant.

General Gargant: "Let me guess. 'We're not welcome here.'"
DIrishB: "Any chance we could talk about this?"

Arms ready.

General Gargant: "You'll surrender and submit to our authority."
ProjectX2: "Can we say 'no'?"

General Gargant leans forward, a stern counter to ProjectX2's sarcasm.

General Gargant: "You just did. Say it again, and I will have you shot."

The Red Island

Marvelman: "I can't do it!"

At the foot of the what remains of the Red Island's mesa, Marvelman tries, with futility, to open a dimensional gateway into Ultimate Central.

Ultimate E: "Try again."
Marvelman: "No. It's too difficult and I won't do it. No."

Ultimate E walks off to the wreckage. Nurhachi sighs and slumps, tired, bored, and frustrated. He mumbles to Rufus.

Nurhachi: "So. Do we even get there?"
Rufus: "I'm not a fortune cookie."
Nurhachi: "What a surprise."

Rene gets to his feet, rubs the back of his neck and looks around.

Rene: "Maybe – I'll take another look at what's left here. Maybe we can build another teleporter or something. Help me out, Bigby?"
Ultimate Bigby: "Sure. I'll take the three dozen tons of crap on the right."

Ourchair walks closely to Marvelman and whispers to him.

Ourchair: "Don't disappoint me."

Ultimate E grabs Marvelman by his shoulder and turns him around. In his other hand, is an enormous ruby, the size of Marvelman's head. In its many facets, his greed reflects in on itself, multiplying many times.

Marvelman looks into Ultimate E's eyes. Gritting his teeth, and bearing his effort, his plunges his sword into reality, and shears a jagged, serrated gateway to Ultimate Central.

And puts out his hand.

Nurhachi: "Finally!"

As the rest step through the gateway, Ultimate E nonchalantly drops the gem to the floor as he steps through. Marvelman gleefully picks up the gem, and follows the last through, closing the gateway behind him.

En Route To The Red Star

Traveling inside Ultimate E's shuttle, held together with spare parts and luck, those flying it see the Red Star grow, filling their entire view.

Compound: "The stealth technology actually works. I'm surprised."
Entropy: "Why? E said it would."
The Man Without Fear: "How else was he going to run away from these guys."
Compound: "No, I just… I half expected him to sabotage it. That's all."
Moonmaster: "Look at that…"

The Red Star is now all they can see as they puncture it's nigh-invisible atmosphere. Every crater and canyon and chasm and crevice, exposed to their naked eye. Such marvelous desolation. Neon pipelines pump luminescence into the sky, fuelling cityscapes.

Ultimate Houde: "Tell me; You've traveled galaxies. Have you ever seen anything like this?"
Nigma: "No, I haven't. … Thankfully."

Watcher sends out his senses in reconnaissance. It's a long stretch, one that gets easier as they quickly descend to the Red Star's surface.

Watcher: "It's cold down there, and I don't think there's much if any air. We shouldn't really expose ourselves to the surface."
The Man Without Fear: "Fine – we'll land somewhere secluded, and Nigma? Since you won't be affected you can…"


The pre-programmed navigation array on the shuttle goes haywire, blinking on and off, changing course at seemingly random tangents. The engines keep cutting out, then igniting at full speed. The shuttle stalls, and once aiming straight down, the engines burst on.

Plunging to their deaths, Compound lessens the pull of gravity, but with the engines forcing them down onto the Red Star's surface, it barely helps. Nigma glides up to the pressure hatch and carefully opens the pressure locks, allowing himself out. With his space-faring surfboard, Nigma races in front of the shuttle to its nose and tries to divert its inevitable impact. But the speed of the shuttle is just too much.

Ultimate Gambit hikes his way to the engines on the left wing, and The Man Without Fear grapples his way to the right. He motions to the rest to get as far away from the wings to the front of the shuttle as they can. Ultimate Gambit charges the left wing, bracing it for an explosion. He looks to The Man Without Fear who gives him the "On 3" signal.

One… Two… Three.

Ultimate Gambit pounds his fist against the charged hull, as The Man Without Fear blasts his side of the hull with his eye beams. The wings, and the engines explode simultaneously, rocking the shuttle. With no fuel, the fires are quickly put out by the speed, but in turn, the shuttle begins to decompress.

Moonmaster and Ultimate Houde lunge to keep Ultimate Gambit and The Man Without Fear inside the shuttle, but can't reach them, and they start to blow away… and then slowly, keep their place, and then begin to fall back into the shuttle. Compound sits at the front, near the nose of the shuttle, concentrating on increasing his local gravitational field. While it may look like he's saving the lives of two heroes, the reality is, he's more concerned about making sure the pressured atmosphere inside the shuttle, his only way to survive on the surface, doesn't escape into the Red Star's scarlet skies. Saving the lives of two heroes is a side-effect.

And the shuttle plunges.

Nigma, unable to contend with both the speed of the shuttle and Compound's gravity, looks beneath him and sees how quickly they are approaching the surface. He can't stop the shuttle in time. Maybe if he had more. His eyes widen as he realizes a way to increase his time.

Turning around, pressing his back up against the nose and still pushing as hard as he can, he points both his hands at the surface, and shoots two gigantic beams of cosmic energy at the surface. It blasts and cuts through, digging an abyss, burrowing miles under the surface. With a longer subterranean runway, Nigma turns round and starts pressing harder and harder into the shuttle's nose. The metal begins to twist and crumple, creaking as he drives his fingers further into the metal. His grip gaining, Nigma's already used two of his five mile runway. He lets go of his hand holds and extends his reach further, and another mile of distance is covered. Squeezing harder, driving upwards and forwards harder, Nigma wrests control of the shuttle from inertia.

As he collapses, he dumps the shuttle onto the quarry floor of the deep underground of the Red Star. The shuttle will never fly again. But it's passengers will.

Entropy: "I'm guessing this isn't a stealth mission anymore."

The Savannah of Eden

Loud and unwieldy, tanks and military personnel set up their artillery. As the military force prepares, General Gargant is interrogating our heroes.

General Gargant: "Tell me about that structure."
ProjectX2: "We don't know."
General Gargant: ""Bull****. The day the Red Star arrives, it devours the moon and bombards America. Then this thing shows up."
Hawkeye101: "Exactly. That's why we're here. We think it might be an attempt at a foothold on Earth."
General Gargant: "Don't give me this ****, boy. You guys are the reason the Red Star came here at all. You know more than what you're telling me."
Iceman: "How is this our fault?"
General Gargant: "That Ultimate Central that gave you powers, it's killing them. They're pissed and they've come to take it out on us. No wonder you never let us into that place. You were worried we'd find out your secret."
DIrishB: "That's crap."
General Gargant: "Really? Yet here we find you working with 'supervillains'. Members of the 'Brotherhood' and the 'E-Men', and even this hulking monstrosity, UltimateDJF. I've extensive files on all of you, and you're supposed to hate each other. Makes me think this is all a little show you put on to run this world."
ProjectX2: "General… you're working on too much speculation here."
DIrishB: "A lot of this doesn't add up. Look at the chronology: If the Red Star just arrived, where did this thing come from? The Red Star didn't shoot down into this area."
General Gargant: "Hmh. Obviously this was put here during the 'fight' you had here with the Brotherhood and Ultimate E."
Iceman: "Oh, come on!"
ProjectX2: "General, we're teaming up not because our past differences were a ruse, but because we need to spread our forces where they'll be of the most use. For example, we brought the fastest man alive with us as he'd be the best suited to getting us reconnaissance on that structure."

Ultimate Quicksilver appears, suddenly, next to General Gargant, shocking him and his subordinates. Ultimate Quicksilver is holding large blueprints, that are smoking, almost on fire from the superspeed, and on them in great detail, is the citadel's exterior.

General Gargant: "We'll play your game."
ProjectX2: "Good. We're already in enough danger."

The Red Star

Wrecked on the barren quarry of the Red Star, with no air, and a damaged shuttle, our would-be saviours are doomed.

Or would be, but the space suits on the shuttle are immaculate, and totally undamaged.

Entropy: "What luck, huh?"

Setting out across the surface, walking to one of the neon city pipe lines, Moonmaster feels a growling inside him, he finds it hard to focus. He feels more aggressive than normal. Even for a werewolf.

Ultimate Central

Teleporting into Ultimate Central, our heroes use the linking passages hidden and known to Ultimate E, Rene, and Ultimate Bigby, navigate their way through Ultimate Central mansion. The Bot security is ever-present and in perfect running order. Rufus uses his ability to see patterns in time to discern when the troops move and when the guard changes.

Rufus: "See the way they keep routinely moving their heads? Checking one way and then the other?"
Nurhachi: "So?"
Rufus: "I think they're some kind of highly-advanced automaton. Robots."
Ourchair: "Fascinating."
Rufus: "Or something like that."
Rene: "Which way next, Rufus?"

Rufus pauses, looks and watches. He knows the corridor they have to pass will be watched, deducing from the timing of the Bots security detail, when the Bots that will be watching the corridor won't be looking.

Rufus: "Anyone got a pen and paper? I need to work out some temporal algorithms."
Ultimate Bigby: "You can do that?"
Rufus: "Not really. That's why I need a pen and paper. But a guess is as good as a hunch."

Rufus zips across the corridor, and when he gets to the other side, undetected, beckons the rest to quickly run past too. They do, except for Ultimate E, who finds it rather demeaning that he should 'zip' anywhere. He prefers to stride majestically.

Rufus points up to their main destination, they've arrived at the Ultimate Central main database.

The Savannah of Eden

It won't open. They've tried explosives, torches, ramming, everything, and nothing will dent the shrine.

Iceman: "If I'm right… we can't break through."
ProjectX2: "Really?"
Ultimate Quicksilver: "Even Doctor Strangefate couldn't break it."
Iceman: "I'm sure of it. This thing is made out of the skin of Doomwurms."
Hawkeye101: "Got to make you wonder who could even build this place."
Lithium: "If there's a machine for opening the damn thing… I can't talk to it."
Baxter: "Anyone know the Elvish word for 'friend'?"
ProjectX2: "Oh, it's useless."
Slimjim: "Open sesame!"

Slimjim, his arms outstretched as a foul messiah, beckons to the superstructure that is the African Citadel.

The sky lights up blue, the ground quakes and trembles, then starts humming in even measure, as a huge shaft of blue energy bridges the Red Star and the superstructure.

Slimjim: "****!"

Slimjim falls over and the Centralites pull back, as far as they can from the citadel. General Gargant would have words.

General Gargant: "What did you do?"
DIrishB: "Absolutely nothing."
General Gargant: "Then what's going on?"

The shrine growls as the walls part slightly, and the blue light makes it hard for anyone to see what is coming out…

The Red Star

The Watcher's 'eyes' provide invaluable reconnaissance. Giant dips and turns in craters and underground caverns hold few surprises, though Watcher is not infallible. Some areas have no light, and thus, he can't see in those places. Nigma weerily scouts a head, looking from a higher vantage point, his eyes used to the blackness of space, but he can't soar to high or he'd give their position away.

Between these two, they soon discover an entrance, an archaic, rusty door, weathered by time and harsh vacuum, connected to one of the neon city pipe lines. In its center is a large lever. The Man Without Fear puts his hand on it, checks that the others are braced, and pulls it down. It's harder than it looks. The rust has welded it shut, and The Man Without Fear takes this as a good sign – it means noone ever come this way.

The lever clunks into place, and the sound of a lock undone echoes. Yet the door does not open. Perplexing. Moonmaster walks up to the door and gritting his fangs, slides it to one side. Wearing down rock floor, the terribly heavy door slides – though such a term should used lightly – the lever was only the lock, not the hinge. With Nigma's help, the door slides open, and our heroes look out at a terrible sight.

Unnoticed, they are witness to an almost indistinct mass of troops. Patchwork armoured monsters, Trolls. Troll after troll. Warriors all, bound together in ferocity. Armed and ready for a fight. Bearing vicious, inelegant weapons, clubs, swords with serrated edges, shields with spikes, all lumped together in misshapen shapes, and yet, the metals and technology are reminiscent of the Bots, humming alive with personal communication arrays and no doubt, other technological wonders. They appear disorderly, with their gear being almost completely unique to each one, yet their marching is perfectly in time. The mass, seemingly without end, marches slowly and dutifully into a large transporter hub, and through it's haze, they can see the citadel in the Savannah of Eden.

The Savannah of Eden

The pulsing spacebridge hums quieter and duller, and the Centralites can see the host of Trolls, ten thousand strong.

The Centralites and Gargant's troops get restless as more and more armoured warriors step forth onto African soil.

General Gargant: "That's an awful lot of troops."
ProjectX2: "What now?"

General Gargant leans over to his attaché.

General Gargant: "Send out the ambassador."

The attaché carries out his orders. DIrishB looks at General Gargant bemusedly.

General Gargant: "We'll see."

The ambassador, in a jeep with three armed personnel, drive up to the head of the Troll army. He and two troops step out of the jeep. Dusting off his pressed, drycleaned suit, the Ambassador nervously trembles up to the Troll army. The smallest of them is over seven feet tall. The lithe ambassador thought he was quite tall at 6'3". He's not used to looking up. Aware he can't show fear and give his unknown enemy strength he walks up to the tallest Troll in the front of the lines, looks him right in the eye and hopes his voice doesn't buckle like his knees.

Ambassador: "We've… We'd like to know your intentions and solve this dispute diplomatically."

The Troll looks down ambivalently. With guttural breathing, he gestures to his army, and passed down, through the terrifying clanking of armour, he is passed a long, red spike, as thick as a telephone post. Raising the spike, the Troll plunges it down into the ground, twisting it deep into the soil with incredible strength.

A hologram conjures at the flat top, shimmering, displaying the Earth, and the Red Star above it. It is their flag.

Ambassador: "I… see."

The Red Star

With too much light and not enough oxygen, the Centralites carefully keep to the fringes of the Troll army, desperate not to be noticed, sneaking past the barracks and hoping to contact the Embassy of the Red Star.

Silently moving, they come across a subterranean neon facility. Using Compound's gravity powers, Watcher and Ultimate Houde are floated up to the top of the facility, in hopes of finding a safe place to teleport the rest in.

The Savannah of Eden

Looking over the probable battlefield, tapping on his turret, General Gargant leads his tanks and personnel. They, and the Centralites, stand ready for the advancing Troll army. With military units globally still mobilizing, and most units remaining on homesoil poised for an invasion from orbit, the large force in Africa will not be seeing reinforcements for hours.

The Trolls continue to advance.

General Gargant gives Ultimate Quicksilver a nod. Ultimate Quicksilver disappears and twenty seconds later he is behind the tank line, wheezing, and he's built up a pile of ten thousand weapons. The Troll army, bewildered, is disarmed.

ProjectX2 never takes his eyes off the Trolls, waiting to see their next move.

The Trolls bellow, and charge. They run. Very, very fast.

General Gargant: "Fire!"

The tank line fires a barrage, blowing up many Trolls, but they keep running. Those still moving press a sequence of digits on their armour – and ignite.

Flaming, the Trolls charge past the tank lines, diving head first into the munitions.

There are many explosions.

Tearing the held footing of the military unit asunder. Iceman and Iceshadow freeze the munitions as quickly as they can, putting out fires where possible, but it's evident – their resources are severely depleted.

Ultimate Central

With dwindling options, our heroes assess the situation. With Bots patrolling, Dr Draco serving, and with the murderer Ice in control, they need a distraction to access and shut down Ultimate Central.

Ultimate E: "Now, can I know what we're doing here on this ridiculous suicide mission?"
Rene: "Once we're inside the computer core and we know they can't stop us."
Ultimate E: "What are we going to do in my computer core?"
Nurhachi: "We won't get past them without a distraction, so I suggest this: myself, Ourchair and Marvelman step up and attack the sons of *****es. We draw Bots away, and you can enter the computer core and do what needs to be done."
Marvelman: "Wouldn't E be better suited to creating the distraction?"
Ultimate E: "I am not a diversion."
Rene: "We need E in the core, Marvelman."
Marvelman: "Hell with it."

Kissing his gem, Marvelman follows and Nurhachi and Ourchair's charge into the Bots. The first thing Ourchair does is zap Dr Draco, knocking him out. Marvelman slices up Bots with his katana, and Nurhachi – Nurhachi breaks off from the main charge, leaping directly into Ice, viciously striking his bladed hands into his frozen body. Chunks of ice fall to the floor, and Ice heals himself by freezing the air over the wounds. Nurhachi has no intention of Ice living beyond this fight.

With Ice under immediate threats, the Bots start pouring into the field, where Marvelman and Ourchair keep them occupied. Seeing their opening, Rene, Rufus, Ultimate Bigby and Ultimate E duck into the main computer core.

The Red Star

Crawling through ducts and passageways, Ultimate Houde and Watcher work to find a safe, undetectable place to teleport in the rest of those sneaking through the Red Star. With Watcher leading the way, scoping out the facility ahead with his projected senses, they find a small supply room. The room is empty safe opened boxes and cabinets, presumably a cache for the Troll army, now emptied in preparation for the eradication of the human species.

Ultimate Houde creates his gateway with his sword, and the rest of the Red Star party are brought into the supply room. In the supply room, Compound deciphers a panel, and as Watcher keeps a look out, Compound searches for where the power of the Red Star is distributed from and where they may be able to meet with The Emperor.

The Savannah of Eden

Met with fire and death, the military unit swamped by the Trolls in savagery to match their number, the Trolls continue their assault, leaping onto tanks, some regaining their weapons and bludgeoning soldiers to death, biting and feasting on those who don't die to quickly.

They enjoy it. They love war.

General Gargant has his troops circle and regroup, to rebuild their defensive position, and the Centralites do as they can to help. Baxter tromps the field, Hawkeye101 fletches his bow, skewering Trolls. Lithium talks to the Troll's armour, shutting down the flames in the skirmishes, and igniting those in their ranks. ProjectX2 uses wrecked tanks as clubs. Shihad and UltimateDJF show Trolls what real monsters can do. Ultimate Scarlet Witch teleports and fires, then teleports again; a roaming laser. Widdle Wade tears through Trolls with other soldiers, inspiring others to fight as well as he. Ultimate Quicksilver, Iceman, and Iceshadow help regroup General Gargant's troops.

Attacked on all sides, the Trolls besiege, never giving a moment's rest, and onto the battlefield is their trump – Clan Baxter. A warrior clad in hides and furs, a slayer of beasts and monsters – most notably, Doomwurms, wearing goggle-visors over his helmet, eerily similar to our Baxter's own, though his face is nearly identical, though more years and battles mark it. Ten feet tall with a red mane of hair, not it's natural colour, but a dye from his battles. In peaked physical condition, his eyes shift in hue, for he is the amalgamation of a bloodline of killers, all his ancestors breathe within him.

And he rides a large velociraptor.

His ride through the battlefield leaves bodies, effortlessly maimed in his presence. Consumed, trampled, skwered, and massacred, he reaps the field in blood. His mount, armoured in scales of Doomwurms, tears through tanks as easily as it does flesh.

So terrifying a sight, the soldiers flee. Those in their tanks see the tanks for what there are – coffins, and try to get out and run before they're eaten. Not many succeed. He appears unstoppable.

General Gargant holds his troops, leading from his tank. The velociraptor pounces onto the tank, bearing down on Gargant. Gargant reaches for his machine gun, but there isn't time, as the velociraptor lunges its jaws, snapping at Gargant's arm. Gargant keeps his arm, but barely. No weapon, his body still inside the tank and unable to get out without being eaten… Gargant punches the velociraptor. And spits on it.

The velociraptor rends Gargant's torso in half. It munches down, gleefully on his carcass. Clan Baxter leans across, pulling one of Gargant's arms like a drumstick, and gnaws, tasting.

He spits it out. Human flesh, it would seem, is a fast food. Unimpressed, he reigns his velociraptor off – it, and his army, can eat later. When they've won.

Baxter is mortified at his doppelganger's savagery. Baxter had wanted to be a hero, but fate turned him into a menace – yet he could not conceive of such villainy.

Hawkeye101 steps up. Drawing two arrows, and placing one in his bow hand, he draws the other, aims on the velociraptor as it charges through the ranks. He aims so slightly.

And fires.

The arrow whistles, and pierces through the velociraptor's eye, avoiding all the impenetrable armour. It punctures through it's head, right through the other eye and embeds itself in a tree.

The velociraptor dies instantly, its momentum rolling it forward, and Clan Baxter tumbles from it.

Immediately knowing where he would land, instantaneously drawing the second arrow from his other hand and firing, right at Clan Baxter's jugular.

With the slightest look, shaking his head and getting his bearings, Clan Baxter catches the arrow in mid-air.

He then throws it back with lethal accuracy, whence it came.

Caught completely unawares, Hawkeye101 moves faster than he ever has; he draws an arrow and fires, snapping in half and knocking the incoming arrow off target, its two ends ricocheting towards his head. One half, the feathered end, snaps the top off of Hawkeye101's bow, the other, the end with the arrow-head, almost fells a tree.

Hawkeye101's heart races.

But morale is up.

Iceman rushes into the battle, freezing Trolls into solid ice with a single touch, and ProjectX2 just behind him, follows up with a haymaker, shattering the Trolls one by one. The army soldiers pick up their guns and fire at the frozen trolls, sending them through the battlefield.

Ultimate Quicksilver rushes to Iceshadow, pointing at the main deeping wall of the citadel.

Ultimate Quicksilver: "Howlongwouldittakeforyoutomakethewallbrittle?"
Iceshadow: "Hmm?"
Ultimate Quicksilver: "How long would it take for you to make the wall brittle?"
Iceshadow: "No way."
Ultimate Quicksilver: "Not even with Iceman's help?"
Iceshadow: "We're in Africa for chrissakes!"

Ultimate Quicksilver ponders for a moment.

Ultimate Quicksilver: "Make me a runway."

Ultimate Quicksilver rushes to UltimateDJF and tells him something. UltimateDJF's eyes light up.

Iceshadow, perplexed, does as he is asked. Melting into his black ice form, he slithers through the battlefield, creating a frictionless black ice runway to the citadel, knocking Trolls off balance as he goes. The runway doesn't last long, and Ultimate Quicksilver acts.

Grabbing UltimateDJF by his arm, running as fast as he can down the runway dragging a sliding UltimateDJF behind him, he soon overtakes Iceshadow and when he does he spins, throwing UltimateDJF like a cannonball at the wall. UltimateDJF loads his arm, and at the best moment, throws a punch.

The shockwave knocks everyone to their feet. And the wall…

Is dented.

Just a little. And awkward, concave indentation.

And just enough – the spacebridge flickers. Then compensates. Ultimate Quicksilver has passed out from the speed. UltimateDJF's arm is shattered. Screaming in pain, he knows it'll reknit itself soon enough.

Stranded behind enemy lines, UltimateDJF struggles to his feet, and bounds to Ultimate Quicksilver. Set upon by Trolls, he can't pick him, so he fights as the odds continue to rise out of his favour, and each breath becomes hard than the one before.

The Red Star

Breathing the thick oxygen of the Red Star and their space suits left in the supply room, following Compound's handwritten copy of the directions from the panel, they journey quietly through the facility, which is all but abandoned. The inhabitants of the facility are in the staging grounds, waiting to step onto Africa.

The party comes across a large door structure.

Compound: "This should lead us to the main computer and communications array."

Compound walks up to the door, looking for a mechanism, and sees a keypad next to the door. Carefully examining the device, using Watcher's senses to examine the interiors of the pad without breaching its security, Compound makes some progress.

Compound: "It's a six-digit code."
The Man Without Fear: "You sure? Those don't even look like numbers."
Moonmaster: "Or an alphabet."
Compound: "It's a six-digit code."
Ultimate Gambit: "In a language none of us know."
Entropy: "Why didn't we bring anyone who was translating that message with us?"
The Man Without Fear: "Rene and Ultimate Bigby would be or more help taking down Ultimate Central. DIrishB's powers are too valuable in Africa. And that team needs a strategist, and that's ProjectX2."
Entropy: "We don't need a strategist?"
Compound: "Well… there's several million combinations."
The Man Without Fear: "So what? We just try them?"
Compound: "Don't tell me you're scared."

The Man Without Fear is unimpressed.

Compound: "I'm a genius. I can work this out. – Given time."
Moonmaster: "We could wait for one of those army guys to input the code, or interrogate one or something."
Nigma: "Can't we just look for another way around."
Compound: "There isn't one."
Watcher: "I could look."
Moonmaster: "Does no one else like my idea?"
Ultimate Houde: "Surely we could just disconnect the security system."
The Man Without Fear: "I think we'd have a better chance at poking the pad."

As the Centralites continue to discuss the best way past a door, Entropy walks up to the keypad and randomly presses five digits.

Jaws drop.

Entropy pauses, and considers.

He puts in a sixth digit.

Nothing happens. The door doesn't open, but no alarms go off.

Entropy: "Okay. I don't get it."
Moonmaster: "Are we about to die?"

Compound smugly presses the bottom button on the keypad, a pleasing chime rings and the door opens.

Compound: "'Enter' key."

The Savannah of Eden

Dramatically bounding into the killing floor, entering the fray, ProjectX2 joins Shihad and Widdle Wade in fighting Clan Baxter. Clan Baxter is armed with a variety of medieval weapons, polished with rust and kept clean with fresh bodies. His prized possession is a serrated spear.

ProjectX2 lamps Clan Baxter. Blocking with it his shield, he presses down and into ProjectX2, knocking him to the floor, and he keeps him there. Shihad jumps and tears at his back, but can't get through his armour. Clan Baxter, with feral vigour, leaps onto his back to slam Shihad into the floor. Shihad, hops away, and Clan Baxter glides back onto his feet, never missing a beat.

Widdle Wade shoots him with his uzis. Clan Baxter charges him Widdle Wade, holsters his weapons as he drops back, drawing his blade. ProjectX2 reaches up and grapples Clan Baxter's leg, and Shihad pounces onto him.

Clan Baxter does not fall.

Widdle Wade leaps in, flashing steel, and Clan Baxter grabs the sword with his gauntlet, and uses Shihad's momentum to throw him into Widdle Wade, knocking the two to the floor.

He picks up Shihad by the scruff of his neck, and flings him into the chaos of war. Then, he looks down on Widdle Wade, who deftly rolls to his feet – and then skewers him with his spear.

The spear punctures through Widdle Wade's body, blood pouring onto the cracked floor. Clan Baxter pulls the spear out, and with it, most of Widdle Wade's insides. The spear is designed to do more damage on the way out than in. It is a vicious weapon.

Widdle Wade lifelessly falls to the floor.

ProjectX2 rushes Clan Baxter, who backfists him with such intensity, ProjectX2 feels his rock skin crack.

UltimateDJF is faring little better, and suddenly, energy blasts start tearing up the Trolls, giving him breathing room. It's Ultimate Scarlet Witch, and she brings with her Baxter, who is at his normal height. She takes Ultimate Quicksilver and UltimateDJF back to the other end of the battlefield in her gateway, and leaves Baxter.

Baxter hops into the indent created by UltimateDJF, and begins growing as quickly and powerfully as he can, accentuating the damage already done. Stretching and creaking, putting aching pressure on his bones, which feel more fragile than ever, Baxter persistently pushes harder and harder. His wrists and ankles sprain, but he keeps pushing – and the wall bends out of shape.

The spacebridge shuts down.

ProjectX2 slams his shoulders into Clan Baxter.

ProjectX2: "No more reinforcements ****head, and I've got two big guns."

ProjectX2 pulls out the military communicator, and radios.

ProjectX2: "Go to it!"

DIrishB and Slimjim receive the call.

DIrishB starts controlling the foliage – plants on the floor wrap up legs and hold enemies in their place. Trees swoop down and restrain others. The entire Troll army grinds to a halt.

And then Slimjim resurrects all the dead soldiers and all the dead Trolls. Their army is now his army.

Incapacitated, the dead swarm the Trolls. Each new dead Troll adds to Slimjim's army, they cannot win.

Clan Baxter understands this – and ceases the fighting. In one powerful endgame, The Trolls surrender!

Ultimate Central

The fighting continues, Nurhachi, Marvelman, and Ourchair almost overrun by Bots and their leader Ice, and they draw the forces further into the outlying edges of Ultimate Central. Dr Draco starts regaining consciousness, aching for a fight.

Inside the computer core, and temporarily unnoticed, Rene and Ultimate Bigby start typing away at the computer.

Ultimate Bigby: "Right. E. I need you to access…"
Ultimate E: "What the hell are you doing?"
Rene: "Shutting down Ultimate Central."

Ultimate E steps back.

Ultimate E: "What?"
Rene: "No Ultimate Central, no dying universe. There's nothing fueling their desperation."
Ultimate Bigby: "Or their armies. It'll be like cutting off their drinking water. They can fight, but they can't get reinforcements or any extra power. Stalemate."

Ultimate E takes a good look at Rufus, Rene, and Ultimate Bigby.

Ultimate E: "How remarkable. You creatures really are almost intelligent aren't you?"

Ultimate E blasts Ultimate Bigby and Rene with his eye blasts. Rene dives, pushing Ultimate Bigby out of the way, but is hit by a glancing shot, and passes out instantly. Ultimate Bigby is knocked to the floor, pinned underneath Rene's slumped body. Rufus is standing next to him, petrified of Ultimate E.

Ultimate E walks up to the computer and encrypts the passcodes so no one can access or affect Ultimate Central without his authorization.

Then opens communication with the Red Star.

Ultimate E: "What did you think the 'E' stood for? 'Erik'?"

The Red Star

Climbing stairs into a grilled balcony, the Red Star party oversee a vast control and communications room. With computers as tall as buildings, information flowing as pushed steam through the pipes and displays running up and down the hollow tower of processors, the architect of the room, dressed in primordial future technology with infrared sensors forming a sleek carapace, the designer orchestrating all the various fronts of attack – The Lunar Lord.

Moonmaster immediately recognizes his scent as a bizarre reverb of his own.

The Lunar Lord is talking, with great submission to his master, Ultimate E, the Emperor.

The Emperor: "We have Ultimate Central and one of three groups attacking our forces."
The Lunar Lord: "The African contingent has been met, and proven more effective than we had first considered."
The Emperor: "They are being dealt with?"
The Lunar Lord: "Imminently. The Red Star party has crash landed, but we have yet to locate them, should they still be alive. It should be noted, despite this minor setbacks due to, no doubt, our own incompetence, your Excellency's plan has…"
The Emperor: "Lunar Lord; After months of using the various expendable lackeys I had to create to do my bidding… I'm relieved to have you all at my side again."
The Lunar Lord: "We are honoured to be in your presence once again."
The Emperor: "How I have missed such courteous professionals."

The Emperor logs off, and the Lunar Lord preens, content in his service of his Emperor.

The Man Without Fear grits his teeth. Ultimate Houde motions to jump down and cut the Lunar Lord in half, but The Man Without Fear halts him.

Ultimate Gambit: "I assume there will be no negotiations, hein?"
Entropy: "We could do with a strategist."

The party glare at Entropy, the only E-Man in the party.

Entropy: "I'm many things, but one of them is not 'expendable'. That shuttle was meant to kill us. Me too. I'm with you guys."
Ultimate Houde: "We should kill him now."
Entropy: "No, really! I didn't know about this."
The Man Without Fear: "He means this 'Lunar Lord'. No, Houde. We don't know how powerful he is."
Moonmaster: "Pff. Looks like a machine. I could take 'im."
Compound: "Why should we listen to you, 'Man Without Fear'?"
The Man Without Fear: "I have an idea."

Ultimate Central

Ultimate Bigby prone, Rene unconscious, and Rufus petrified, Ultimate Bigby stills comes up with a plan.

Bombarding The Emperor with a huge bolt of radioactivity, as little more than a distraction, he picks up Rene with Rufus' help, who's following Ultimate Bigby's lead and the two run like hell.

The Emperor, barely singed, chuckles.

The Red Star

Back at the keypad and door, The Man Without Fear grins.

The Man Without Fear: "Compound, hack into the system from this keypad. Shut down the atmospheric systems to everywhere but the supply room. That'll kill everyone and everything, we can suit up, and walk this place uncontested."
Ultimate Gambit: "Is that possible?"

Compound is impressed by the ruthless efficiency of The Man Without Fear's plan, and his lack of concern with its lethality. He begins hacking into the keypad's systems, delicately breaching one system after another.

The operating system proves to alien for Compound however, and he trips a security alarm. Klaxons and flares ring throughout the facility.

The Man Without Fear: "How long we got till they get here, Compound?"

Before Compound can respond, flashing in on personal teleporters like the Avatar's used to have are garish, laminated super soliders, outnumbering the Centralites three to one. With seemingly blue skin in red, white, and yellow jumpsuits, and highly advanced technology, they are the security force of the Red Star.

The Longshots. They respond immediately. And they surround our heroes, who no longer have any place to hide, or to run.

Ultimate Central

Surrounded and exhausted, Nurhachi, Marvelman, and Ourchair still fight Ice and his Bots. They are losing.

Ice slams Nurhachi into the floor, his touch cracking the blood carapace he wears. Ourchair keeps piling on power against the Bots. Marvelman fiercely duels against Dr Draco, sword against hammer, keeping him occupied so he can't turn off Nurhachi or Ourchair's powers, since the sharpness of Marvelman's blade, no matter how much of it remains, is something Dr Draco can do little against.

They've drawn the Bots far from the main computer core, though this has led them to fighting with their backs to the abyss – the never ending moat that surrounds Ultimate Central mansion.

And Ultimate Bigby and Rufus, carrying an unconscious Rene, run into the fray, Ultimate Bigby blasting their way through, yells.

Ultimate Bigby: "E's the Emperor!!!"

The Emperor majestically strides towards the battlefield, his eyes afire. His servants, his Bots and Ice, step back for His glory, and allow him the kill.

Watching him take his time as he walks to execute them, Ultimate Bigby's mind races. His powers don't do nearly enough damage. Marvelman can't get them out fast enough, if at all.

Ultimate Bigby: "Think, think!"

Ultimate Bigby looks behind his comrades – and sees the abyss.

He runs to it. Rufus, still carrying Rene, runs with him, in total disbelief.

Ultimate Bigby: "JUMP!"

Ultimate Bigby jumps off into the abyss, with Rene, plummeting into the vast expanse of Ultimate Central. Rufus, does not jump. Instead, he spies Dr Draco.

Ourchair, working on Ultimate Bigby's wavelength, grabs Marvelman and follows Ultimate Bigby into the abyss.

Nurhachi is flummoxed. As are Ice, Dr Draco, and The Emperor.

Suddenly, Rufus shoulder tackles Dr Draco, who drops his hammer, into Nurhachi, pushing them both over the edge of the abyss, and they fall so far.

But Rufus doesn't, the barge knocked him to the floor, just short of the edge. The Bots pick him up, and hold him for punishment by Ice and The Emperor.

Ice: "What could you be thinking?"
Rufus: "I just do as I'm told."

Rufus, when the chance arises, enjoys being cocky in the face of danger.

Ice: "Shall I track them, your Excellency?"

The Emperor considers and shakes his head.

The Emperor: "I have Ultimate Central."

The Emperor turns his gaze to Rufus, whose cockiness hides his fear.

The Emperor: "You're going to tell me everything."



The Red Star

Besieged by Longshots, the Red Star stealth party are forced into a long corridor, branching off from the security door. Turning this into an advantage, they create a makeshift bottleneck, forcing the Longshots to attack them single-file so they can maximize their damage.

The Longshots keep coming. And they can teleport. Popping in past the makeshift barriers the Longshots undermine their defensive capability. There is no longer a plan. Just violence. That's how Ultimate Houde likes it. With almost feral skill, though his steely demeanour and calm strikes imply a ruthless killer. Compound's gravity well bends space around him, creating a no-go zone for the teleporters, and hiding within it, is Watcher. Each of Entropy's bullets, spare in amount, hit their target. Even those that miss. Moonmaster is leaping off walls, bouncing off the floor, every move cuts another soldier down. But there are always more. Nigma's energy blasts reopen the bottleneck. Ultimate Gambit's cards' explosions do the same.

Suddenly – oddness occurs. Ultimate Houde misses a strike, his sword hits the wall and shudders out of his hands. Compound sneezes, and the gravity well goes. Immediately, a Longshot knocks him and Watcher out with a punch. Moonmaster's lightsaber turns itself off – a loose connection. Nigma, from the exertion of stopping the shuttle, spasms, his arms suddenly quaking in pressured pain. Ultimate Gambit can't find his deck, rifling through his pockets. The Longshots pounce. A sudden wave of bad luck turns the tide. Except for Entropy.

Drained, in disarray, Entropy braces himself for his final charge. He opens the chamber to his antique six-shooter – there's one bullet left.

Entropy: "Plenty."

Entropy spins the chamber, loading it back into his gun, the chamber still spinning randomly. Entropy stands up, out of his cover.

He shoots.

And misses every Longshot.

The bullet hits the keypad panel of the secured door. The panel bursts. The security system changes from "alarm" to "pacify".

A series of lasers fill the corridor. And as luck would have it – the lasers burn all the Longshots, yet each laser misses each of the raiding party.

Entropy stands, impressed and proud. Then points at the Longshot, dead at his feet.

Entropy: "Huh. I was aiming for his head."

The Savannah of Eden

Body parts littering the cracked soil, it is not the most comfortable of moments. The Trolls have ceased their fighting. Their weapons are sheathed, though not disarmed. Clan Baxter, murderer of many motions – he will lead our heroes to the citadel's main entrance, where the Trolls came from. ProjectX2 motions to him to hold for a moment, then motions Hawkeye101 to come to him, and he talks quietly.

ProjectX2: "I want you to stay here with a couple of us. You can see what's going on from here, and without your bow, down there you won't be much help."
Hawkeye101: "Sure."
ProjectX2: "DIrishB will stay too. As will Slimjim – he's controlling the bulk of our forces and I don't want him surrounded by anything other than the troops he's commanding. Iceman will stay back with you."
Hawkeye101: "Uh, sure. I'm just surprised you trust me in charge."
DIrishB: "You're not the only one."
ProjectX2: "You shouldn't go into that thing. You and Slimjim are what's keeping the stalemate."
DIrishB: "We're about to meet the guy in charge of this operation. Maybe The Emperor. You're not a diplomat."
ProjectX2: "Any you are?"
DIrishB: "Proj."
ProjectX2: "Look, I was leaving Hawkeye in charge because his eyes can see us from here. You wouldn't…"
DIrishB: "Proj. I'm good at this stuff. I'm the one who's been playing the pr game with all the bad publicity we've been getting. And after this, my work's going to be cut out for me. It's fine – my powers make me the Aquaman of the team. But… you know I'm good at this stuff. And…"
ProjectX2: "What?"
DIrishB: "It's… the pattern of events. The Red Star and the Red Island, the message, the Lurkers, DSF and now this place… I… I need to see this Emperor. I need to put the pieces together. I can't sit back and watch."
ProjectX2: "It's just if you hang back here we're in a stronger position."
DIrishB: "I think we may have made big error in judgement Proj. We might have already lost."
ProjectX2: "You stay close to Scarlet. As soon as anything goes down, you 'port back here, ok? Hah. But then, I'm sure you'd 'stay close' to her without my urging."
DIrishB: "Huh?"
ProjectX2: "Don't play dumb. Remember when we went to the Red Island during the Helios thing? There you were, dragging and unconscious Lithium behind you and there's Scarlet Witch – not a scratch."
DIrishB: "I'm chivalrous."
ProjectX2: "Until they tell you 'no'."
DIrishB: "Girls have changed since 1448."
ProjectX2: "Fine. I can't argue with you whippersnappers."
DIrishB: "Hawkeye, keep Shih… did you just say 'whippersnappers'? Hawkeye, keep Shihad here. He's much too violent, and I think a diplomatic touch is what we'll need. Same goes for UltimateDJF. The rest of us will go. A show of force and what not. Okay with that?"
Hawkeye101: "You're the boss."

ProjectX2 goes to Clan Baxter so he can lead them through, and DIrishB and Hawkeye101 round up the rest.

Lithium: "Why am I going?"
DIrishB: "You talk to machines. That thing is a very big machine."
Lithium: "This isn't Independence Day."
DIrishB: "And if I was asking you to hack into their mainframe, you'd have a point. This is machines. Mechanisms. Not computer operating software. You're coming."
Iceshadow: "And me?"
ProjectX2: "One ice guy at the back, one at the front."
Iceshadow: "Can't I switch places with Iceman?"
ProjectX2: "Hawkeye101 likes Iceman more than you."
Iceshadow: "I really don't want to die."
ProjectX2: "Show a little faith."
Iceshadow: "Why couldn't I have had like… death powers or something? Why 'ice' powers? And three of us! The guy who invented Central must have had a best friend made out of ice."
ProjectX2: "Quicksilver? You coming?"

Ultimate Quicksilver says a quiet prayer over Widdle Wade's corpse.

Ultimate Quicksilver: "I wouldn't miss meeting this 'Emperor' for anything."

Following Clan Baxter, ProjectX2, DIrishB, Baxter, Iceshadow, Lithium, Ultimate Quicksilver, and Ultimate Scarlet Witch to see his commander, and his supposed Emperor.

At the foot of a towering doorway, it slides open, and with such slight movement, with an eery steadiness, their tactical opposite number slides just a foot or two off the ground towards them. In dark leather jackboots, and a smart, weathered leather suit and skull helmet, if not for his creepy and slight build, ProjectX2 would be looking in a mirror. The resemblance is not lost on any, and ProjectX2 feels a little proud that his 'counterpart' is an Emperor.

ProjectX2: "Emperor?"

His doppelganger chuckles.

Projekt X: "No. I am his greatest general, the sole survivor (and creator) of the Projekt X."
ProjectX2: "Oh."
DIrishB: "You're not the Emperor."
Projekt X: "No. I'd trusted I was non-opaque on the subject. Your language is simple, yet has needless complications buried. In the case of our present: I must express my admiration. Severing my supplies and then trumping my army, fueling your own efforts with my resources – impressive. I felt a civilisation end to this conflict was due to you, as opposed to the barbaric killing floor."
DIrishB: "We get to go inside now?"
Projekt X: "I'd ask you in, but the old place – apart, it is falling."

Ultimate Central

Descending into darkness, our heroes in Ultimate Central face the bottomless void of the abyss. But it is not just a chasm. It is a part of limbo, a breeding ground for the Lurker armies of Ultimate Central.

Falling, and yet, suspending in nothing, Ultimate Bigby, and Ourchair each have their bronze rattles on. This is both a blessing and a curse. It keeps the Lurkers at bay – but it allows them to free fall endlessly into the void.

Suddenly, Ourchair's rattle pops off. He, and Marvelman are vulnerable. Ultimate Bigby, Rene falling beside him, barely conscious, sees his rattle start to flicker. He tries to fix it, but nothing works. He tries to call to Rene to wake him up, but there is no sound in limbo. He jostles him. Rene starts to come to, but isn't lucid. Ultimate Bigby slaps him. Rene snaps awake, though heavily disorientated. Ultimate Bigby waves the rattle in his face, and Rene, as its creator understands what he's asking. Quickly fiddling with it's power source, heating it with a tiny fireball from his hand, the rattle flares and works perfectly.

As it does, a red hand reaches and grabs onto Ultimate Bigby.

It's Nurhachi. And dragging behind him is an unconscious Dr Draco, with Nurhachi's tendrils in his nose and mouth. They flare up to keep Dr Draco unconscious. Ultimate Bigby points in the direction of the helpless Ourchair and Marvelman, and Nurhachi stretches his tendrils and brings them closer to the rattle, protecting them in its radius, in which there is sound. Not much, but enough for an aggravated Nurhachi.

Nurhachi: "Is this a plan?!"
Ultimate Bigby: "This is just like limbo, it's a nexus hub. From here, Marvelman can teleport us directly to the heart of Ultimate Central. We can take control of Central from there."
Nurhachi: "There's a heart?"
Ourchair: "I've been there before – it's where the Lurkers first showed up."
Nurhachi: "Wait. You released them? And Bigby – you knew this?"
Ourchair: "It was an accident."
Nurhachi: "Dammit. You stupid bastards."
Ourchair: "I'm not the one who brought Dr Draco with us."
Nurhachi: "That was Rufus' idea."
Rene: "Did he…?"
Nurhachi: "No. He never does. I think he just guesses half the time."
Rene: "No… I've seen it work."
Marvelman: "This heart thing will let us take over Ultimate Central?"
Ultimate Bigby: "The mansion connects to the heart, the heart is the source. They've got the steering wheel, but we might be able to take the entire engine."
Marvelman: "Fine… fine."

Marvelman's sword is crackling, in a terrible way. He slices a hole, creating a fractal, piecemeal gateway. And before he can try again, our heroes and Dr Draco, drop through in a haphazard orientation. Marvelman drops through first, then Ultimate Bigby and Rene, and then Ourchair. Nurhachi can't hold on as he falls into the gateway, and Dr Draco, free and unconscious, plummets with them, into the same small pocket…

The Red Star

Cooped up in their bottleneck, with a short moment of respite, the Red Star raiding party regroups.

The Man Without Fear: "Nigma. Can you go?"
Nigma: "Uuuh. Where?"
The Man Without Fear: "Bass Lak Tus."
Nigma: "What?"
Moonmaster: "Are you crazy?"
The Man Without Fear: "He still thinks we're in possession of the Ultimate Killifier. Tell him to come here, or we'll destroy him."
Nigma: "What good would that do?"
The Man Without Fear: "He can eat the Red Star."
Compound: "Ho ho!"

The others are not so amused.

The Man Without Fear: "There's no negotiations. No reinforcements. No second chances. And no time."

Nigma accepts the gravity of the situation, and weerily jumps onto his cosmic surfboard, and rushes through the corridors, up through the crater in the Red Star, disappearing into deep space.

Compound claps his hands gleefully, with eager abandon.

Compound: "Let's get that shuttle fixed!"
The Man Without Fear: "Not just yet."

Ultimate Central Holding Cells

Rufus knows it will happen soon. Confined to a holding cell, Rufus has examined his guard's patrol rotation. According to his own internal, atomically precise body clock, they check in on him every 6.16 minutes. And as he waits for his chance, The Emperor's words circle his thoughts.

The Emperor: "I have two questions for you: How far into the future is your future self? And how do you know he's not lying to you? Understand Rufus, from now on, you are mine. I will discover the secrets of your powers."

It would seem that Rufus, as the only one given time powers by Ultimate Central, is an oddity that the Emperor has yet to fully master and understand. Unsure of where the future knowledge comes from, The Emperor has confined him for now until this current plot has succeeded, and will no doubt turn his attention to Rufus, to create an oracle, a source of future knowledge that he knows he can trust.

Rufus' future self tells him to focus on the present, and not what will happen. A dire omission. But Rufus is used to these. It's times like this Rufus feels like a super spy, being told only what he needs to know, carrying out clandestine missions.

Like breaking out of the holding cell.

The 6.16 minute interval occurs, and once again, Rufus opens the cell, rushes out, uses the links, and gets yet another piece of Icemastertron's remains, and stashes it in a link adjacent to his cell away from prying eyes. And when the Bot security come to check in on him once again, there he is. Resting in his cell. Not out of breath. Clockwork precision – as he rebuilds Icemastertron.

Somewhere in Ultimate Central

"Built to last" blurs into focus as Nurhachi rubs his sore head. He gets up, and stumbles – trips actually and drops down, sliding across… rubbish. Not rubbish – junk. Scrap metal. He's on the top of a huge mountain of junk. Hearing commotion in the distance and looking up, Nurhachi sees Ultimate Bigby, at the summit, buried, trapped under junk and barely conscious, a huge bird of prey hovers above him…

Somewhere Else in Ultimate Central

Covered in muck, Marvelman is kicked in the head. He's not sure where he is, or what he's doing, but he's falled into some kind of… swamp? And who's kicking him? He looks up, and sees Dr Draco's boot come down onto his chest. A couple of harder hits, and Dr Draco runs off, leaving Marvelman in the swamp.

Marvelman pulls himself up, and fishes his word out of the water – which is definitely not going to teleport him anywhere.

Pissed off, he walks in Dr Draco's direction, hoping for some kind of bearing.

And Somewhere Else in Ultimate Central

The moon beats down onto Rene's back like a bearing sun, and sand blast's in his eyes. Rene wakes up in some kind of dune, and sees he's in a burning desert city. Hearing Ourchair groaning, and wincing in the pain of his own body, Rene helps Ourchair up.

Rene: "Is this the heart?"

Ourchair looks around. Shakes his head.

Ourchair: "Marvelman here?"
Rene: "I can't see them. I can take a look around."
Ourchair: "Look for a hyperlink. We might be able to navigate our way to the heart."
Rene: "What about the others?"
Ourchair: "If they're here, they should be looking for a link too. We need the heart more than we need each other."

Rene accepts this and wanders off to look for a pipe, crossing over the dune.

From the other direction, a band of Bedouin men in burning robes appear from the horizon, spying Ourchair. Rushing in and pointing flaming swords at him, before Ourchair can even respond, they smack him down to the floor and boast.

Bedouin: "We have found the Devil that entered our realm!"

They chant in unison.

Ourchair: "No! I'm not a devil!"

Rene comes back over the dune, with no luck. It was just an endless barren wasteland of burning buildings. He is stunned to see Ourchair on the floor, held by the blade of swords by a roaming tribe of burning Bedouins.

Ourchair points at Rene, who is green, scaled with cat-like eyes and pointed ears, capable of conjuring fire.

Ourchair: "HE'S the Devil! Look at him!"
Rene: "!!! You bastard!"

Ourchair gets up, nonchalantly dusting himself off.

Ourchair: "I'll leave you two to…"

And the Bedouin removes his facial coverings – and he's goblin-like, just as Rene is. A dawn of realization on Ourchair, as the origin of Rene's appearance, altered by Ultimate Central when it gave him powers, now makes sense.

Ourchair: "Oh!"

He then looks over to Rene.

Ourchair: "Little help?"

The Red Star

Moonmaster: "You really think he'd be an asset? Bass Lak Tus doesn't exactly gulp planets down."
The Man Without Fear: "Exactly why we need to make sure the annihilation of the Red Star is total. Moonmaster, take Compound and Watcher into the communications room and shut the entire place down. The rest of us will deactivate the teleportation network allowing these jinxing soldiers and armies from getting around here and on Earth."
Watcher: "Guys – those jinxing soldiers are really close!"
Ultimate Houde: "How close?"

Lasers puncture the makeshift door at the end of the bottleneck. Ultimate Houde looks at Watcher accusingly.

Watcher: "They only appeared now!"
The Man Without Fear: "We'll draw them away. Shut down their communications."

Ultimate Gambit blows up the door. The smoke clears and the Longshots step up, to be shot down by The Man Without Fear's optic blasts. Entropy, and Ultimate Houde dash out and run right past the disorientated Longshots and away from the communications room, Ultimate Gambit and The Man Without Fear bringing up the rear.

Moonmaster sniffs and Watcher confirms, their path is clear. They make their way for the Lunar Lord.

Near the Ultimate Central Holding Cells

Rufus makes it back into the adjacent link, and he's finally finished rebuilding Icemastertron.

Though, hardly perfectly. Icemastertron is missing an arm, an eye, and some fingers and some toes. It should be enough though, Rufus tells himself.

But Icemastertron doesn't wake up. Time's running out. So Rufus whispers, louder and louder to try and wake Icemastertron. The Bots are patrolling near the area. Icemastertron doesn't wake.

Rufus slaps him. Gently. Rufus' hand shakes from the cold. Nothing.

Rufus hits Icemastertron. His hand bruises and Icemastron wakes, gasping in terror, feeling his body in pieces, missing an eye and an arm, and he yells.

The Bots hear him.

Rufus slaps his hand over Icemastertron's mouth. Quickly and tersely, he tells Icemastertron the situation.

Rufus: "Ice! Calm down. You're alive. There's guards everywhere. You have to be quiet."

Icemastertron still convulses, bewildered and disorientated, in shock.

Rufus: "Ice! ICE! Listen to me! Ultimate E is behind all this – he's The Emperor. Ice! E's the Emperor! ICE! If you do nothing else – BE QUIET. Don't let anyone know you're here. I'm the only one who knows you're alive. Keep it that way."

Icemastertron quietens down, still in shock. And Rufus hears the guards. Determined to make sure they don't discover Icemastertron, Rufus rushes out screaming, only to be tackled, beaten, and restrained by the Bot security, who carry him and drop him in their holding cell. One checks the link briefly. Icemastertron hides in the shadows, in a little corner, and goes unnoticed.

Rufus' guards no longer rotate their patrol. They watch him constantly from now on.

And Icemastertron, feeling half dead, and physically violated moreso than he could imagine, is left, shaking and huddled in a dark link, terrified of trying to turn back into what is left of his human form…

The Savannah of Eden

Nervous and pacing to and fro, Slimjim looks where Hawkeye101 is looking, and yet, he can't make anything out.

Slimjim: "Yo. Hawk. What's goin' on?"
Iceman: "He just told you. They're talking."
Slimjim: "'bout?"
Iceman: "He has super-eyes. Not super-ears."
Slimjim: "ttt. I jus' wanna know if we've won or not."
Shihad: "I hope there's more fighting."
Slimjim: "I don't. These… troll-things. They don' feel right."
Hawkeye101: "What do you mean?"
Slimjim: "Yo! Keep yo' eyes on them!"
Hawkeye101: "What do you mean they don't feel right?"
Slimjim: "Nuthin'. They jus' feel alien s'all."
Iceman: "They are alien."
Slimjim: "s'it then."

The Savannah of Eden, at the Citadel's Door

DIrishB: "So, what are the terms of your surrender?"
Projekt X: "Ah. Your language has created a miscommunication. There is no surrender. You will die. I felt your military might deserved a civilization death, one outside the harsh trenches of war."
ProjectX2: "What are you talking about? You said it yourself; we outnumber your resources, and we're using your resources to defeat you. You've lost."
Projekt X: "Hmm. Your language is too inarticulate."

Projekt X with almost clockwork body movements, raises his hands to his chest, and on one gauntlet, there is a series of diodes and buttons. As he goes to press it, he stops.

Projekt X: "The Projekt X. It is the study of, ah… 'nekroteknology'. I give example."

He presses the buttons.

The Savannah of Eden, Slimjim

Slimjim has a sudden chill bite his body's bones. He's just lost control of all the dead. Someone has torn control from him. The dead then march up to him, in a far less independent and clockwork like manner than is usual for those Slimjim resurrects, as if they are solely moving corpses and not undead, they march to him and grab ever so hard onto his body, and before the others can stop them…

The Savannah of Eden, at the Citadel's Door[u/]

Slimjim's screams pierce the savannah.

DIrishB: "Slimjim!"
Projekt X: "He is 'resting in pieces'. I control the dead."

Projekt X see the horrified looks of his enemies, our heroes, and notices they seem to understand now, what is happening. Pressing another button before they can react, the Troll army surrounds our heroes, and from inside the citadel are shambling dead automatons, all things the Centralites saw die a long time ago: Aeroth, a fire-breathing dragon, stitched together. Dark Images, creator of force fields with a reattached head. Patriot, reassembled gunsmith. Eroz, former Avatar and a being who knows what everyone else knows. Irish_4024, former Death Knight with sonic screams. And Shri_Val, a big blue brain with electric tentacles. Tentacles that imprison our heroes instaneously, shocking anyone who struggles.

Projekt X: "Now. Explain: What is the polite way to kill you?"

The Junkyard of Ultimate Central

The bird of prey dives for Ultimate Bigby. Nurhachi dashes up the mountain, using his prehenshile blood as elongated legs. He slips and falls, unused to the balance, and as he does, he shoots out a long spike, stabbing the bird briefly, which retreats.

Slamming into the junk, Nurhachi pulls himself up and rushes to Ultimate Bigby, pulling him out. Ultimate Bigby responds with sarcasm.

Ultimate Bigby: "Hero."
Nurhachi: "As if you'd know."

Ever since Ultimate Bigby's attempt to take over Ultimate Central from the Avatars, he and Nurhachi have never really gotten on.

Nurhachi: "You're the one who knows how Central works. Where are we?"
Ultimate Bigby: "I don't know."
Nurhachi: "I thought you were smart!"
Ultimate Bigby: "Seriously I am. But I've never been here. Can you see any of the others?"
Nurhachi: "No. But they could be buried under anything."
Ultimate Bigby: "Well… if they're here, we'll have to come back for them later."
Nurachi: "We're not just going to leave them!"
Ultimate Bigby: "It's a time thing. As in: we don't have any. We don't know what's going on in Africa or the Red Star, but E does."
Nurhachi: "So it's us two, against the world. Yay. Which way to the heart?"
Ultimate Bigby: "We need a hyperlink."

Nurhachi scans the view, and points at a pipe-like object, unlike the junk surrounding it.

Nurhachi: "That it?"
Ultimate Bigby: "Let's hope so."

Ultimate Bigby points to the sky; the bird of prey returns – with its flock.

The Swamp of Ultimate Central

Batting the swarm out of his face, Marvelman grows tired of the swamp. Or at least, its bugs. Marching across acres of marshland, Marvelman arrives at a dilapidated cabin-structure and smells… food? Food! He see a large door-knocker, rusting and old.

It's made of gold.

Marvelman tries to pry the door-knocker off, but it's… welded? Who weld's a door-knocker to a door? Trying to wrench it off the door, Marvelman thumps the knocker. He hears footsteps coming towards the door. Marvelman shrugs; now he can get a meal before he steals everything.

An aged man answers the door, wearing fur skins and much jewelry, breathing heavily through his hairy nose.

Lycaon: "Hello weary traveler. My my, what a busy day it seems to be. Won't you come in? You must be hungry. Lord knows I am! Hah!"

Marvelman smiles. "Easy mark", he thinks to himself.

Lycaon prattles on about the unchanging weather and the lack of good hunting animals, and in self-depreciating wit, questions why he would take up residence in such a misbegotten realm. Marvelman doesn't really pay attention, instead spying all the trinkets surrounding him, especially the gold frames on pictures. Lycaon sits Marvelman down as he goes to serve the food, and Marvelman begins to take closer note of the pictures themselves – they depict this Lycaon character as a king. Something like a moon-king. Lots of moon imagery. And others show him… crazy. And being kicked out. For being very, very crazy. This is good though. Infirm and senile means Marvelman can probably steal everything and then convince Lycaon it was his all along.

Lycaon: "Here! Choose which part of the meat you want."

Marvelman saunters to the kitchen.

Lycaon: "It's always best to choose when fresh."

Marvelman enters the kitchen and sees Dr Draco, bound and gagged, sweating profusely, hanging above a boiling cauldron.

The Burning City of Ultimate Central

Burned and beaten, Ourchair and Rene are carried deeper into the burning city on a spit.

The Bedouins takem them up to a sulphuric altar, and from this view, Ourchair spies a hyperlink, a burning pipe not too far away. Surreptiously, he points it out to Rene who registers it.

The Bedouins halt, and their king, Busiris, a lithe, spindly goblin, clad in salt-scarred robes, steps forth for a proclamation.

Busiris: "We will sacrifice the Devil, and his flame-handed with, to our Emperor, may his light shine down on our humble world once more!"

The Bedouins chant with Busiris in haunting unison, as they drag them up by their spits.

Rene: "Not again."
Ourchair: "You've been here before? How did you get out?"
Rene: "It… it wasn't here. And I didn't get out. After I came back to life as a zombie, I was locked up in a dungeon for being the Devil."

Ourchair is unimpressed.

Rene: "I was freed by Houde. After months of torture. But these guys just want to kill us."
Ourchair: "So this is worse."
Rene: "Mmm."
Ourchair: "Don't worry, Rene. I always have a plan."

Ourchair, as the Devil is first to be sacrificed. He's placed on the terribly hot altar. King Busiris lifts his large rock axe for the ceremonial sacrifice.

Ourchair, electricity pouring out of his face, fries the King Busiris with a continuous, unrelenting electrical assault. Charred remains sooted onto the walls behind him are all that remains of the King. Rene is appalled. Ourchair turns to the Bedouins, releasing himself from his burnt bonds.

Ourchair: "I have killed your King! Worship me or suffer his fate!"

The Bedouins, incensed, yell in anger screaming like whippoorwills and charge the alter, dropping Rene harshly to the floor.

Rene grimaces.

Ourchair yelps.

Ultimate Central Mansion

Icemastertron has ceased his whimpering. Having build up a small semblance of courage, he chooses to act.

Crawling through the mansion's links he knows so well, he takes care to not be noticed, and his progress is slow going due to his missing eye, arm, and digits. But, he is thankful there is no pain. He scopes out the mansion, and finds in the database, the computer core, Ultimate E, or rather 'The Emperor', and his lieutenant, and Icemastertron's would-be killer, Ice.

And all Icemastertron wants is to kill his clone.

As soon as he stops shaking. Which must be because of the cold, Icemastertron tells himself. Or his rage. Yes. Definitely his rage.

The Junkyard of Ultimate Central

Ultimate Bigby: "AAAAARGH!"

Ultimate Bigby misses yet another of the birds of prey with his radioactive blasts, his frustration growing. He trips and falls down the junk mountain. A bird of prey seizes the opportunity and divebombs him – and off the mountain jumps Nurhachi, landing on it's back. Slicing its face with his bladed hands, he drops back to the mountain, the birds of prey regrouping for another pass. Helping Ultimate Bigby up, the two continue to run down the mountain.

The birds swoop down again, clawing at them. The duo end up falling, rolling down the junk heap, faster and faster, bruised by blunt objects poking out of the rubble.

Nurhachi lands face first on the bottom, looks up and sees the hyperlink, and crawls his way into it.

Ultimate Bigby lands on his head, and is momentarily dazed. His eyes focus as another bird dives at him. He lets out a bolt of radioactivity that hits the bird and it pulls back, knocking into a couple others. Suddenly, Nurhachi's tendrils wrap around Ultimate Bigby's shoulders and drag him into the hyperlink.

The Swamp of Ultimate Central

Hanging by his armpits, Dr Draco mumbles through the gag, and Lycaon belts him across the face to shut him up.

Lycaon: "No manners. What were you trying to say, squire?"
Marvelman: "You can't eat him. I need him. True, I don't quite know why, but I need him."
Lycaon: "…"
Marvelman: "That and I don't eat human."

Lycaon sighs, resigned that once again, as so long ago,his meal has been turned down.

And transforms into a hulking werewolf.

Marvelman pauses for a moment. It dawns on him that this has really just happened.

Then he screams.

And desperately punches the werewolf Lycaon square on the nose. As Lycaon reels, Marvelman knocks over the cauldron, cuts down Dr Draco (who removes his gag with much desire), and then the two dash out of the cabin with incredible alacrity.

Marvelman: "Draco! How do we get to this 'heart of Ultimate Central'?"

Dr Draco stops and closes his eyes. Marvelman doubles back to him.


Dr Draco looks up and runs and dives into a swamp.

Confused, Marvelman turns around and sees Lycaon, howling and trailing their scent. Lycaon looks up and sees Marvelman, who's ferret-like appearance is suddenly very appetizing.

Marvelman starts to run back, but he's unable to take his eyes of Lycaon, and trips over a log, not noticing his gem dropping to the floor.

Dr Draco swims down, puring through the fetid swamp and finds an abandoned hyperlink deep at the bottom. Pulling the grating off it and running out of air, Dr Draco dives into the link.

Marvelman follows but just as he's about to dive in, he notices his gem is missing. Turing round, he sees Lycaon has been lured by the gem, and picks it up. Looking back into the swamp, he sees the link is crumbling and closing.

Hell with it – and Marvelman dives into the link.

The Burning City of Ultimate Central

With cries of damnation and heresy and blaspheming and sacrilege, the Bedouins surround Ourchair as he fights for his life.

Ourchair: "Look at me! I command heaven-fire! I killed your king with my eyes! Bow down before me!"

But the Bedouins do not bow, they fight. And Ourchair is baffled at their convictions. He expected a superstitious lot to also be cowardly.

Rene quietly burns his bonds away. Standing up with the spit, he rolls his shoulders and neck. Running for the altar, Rene polevaults over, picking up Ourchair, and then vaulting away.

Crashlanding onto a dune, rolling down into burning rubble in labyrinthine alleyways, chased by more and more Bedouins, Rene and Ourchair lose no momentum as they break for the hyperlink – which is completely in flames.

They pause. They look behind them. They jump.

The Red Star

Bounding into the blast-door to communications room, Moonmaster can't budge it. He spikes it with his lightsaber, slowly burning a hole into it. Compound pulls him off and thrusts his palm out, punching a huge dent into it with a sudden pull of gravity.

Watcher: "That Lunar guy…"
Moonmaster: "Lunar. Lord."
Watcher: "He's waiting for us."

Moonmaster pries the blast-door apart with his claws.

As soon as the door opens, the Lunar Lord aims up at the grilled balcony where the trio of Moonmaster, Compound, and Watcher enter, and his arm, covering in mega-tech, pieces sliding and connecting forming a blaster over his hand, firing lasers at them. Moonmaster parries with his lightsaber, moving closer to the Lunar Lord, ricocheting the parried blasts into the communications platform. Moving closer and closer, unrelentingly, into the Lunar Lord, the Lunar Lord moves back to keep distance and his ranged weapon on his side, but his retreats allow Watcher and Compound to dive into the bowels of the main computer array.

Once inside the pipe-lined machines, Watcher sends out his senses to keep an eye, and ear, out on the battle with Moonmaster. Compound tinkers with the heart of the computer.

Ultimate Central

Ourchair and Rene land in the heart of Ultimate Central, and Ourchair rolls and puts out his flaming cloak. Rene looks up at a giant power battery, that seems to follow his eyes as he looks around. Shaped oddly, like a Rubik's cube with wires connecting to seemingly everything, it permeates an ancient age. And one of it's tubes is torn open.

Ourchair: "Hah! I made it! I made it!"
Nurhachi: "So did we."

Nurhachi and Ultimate Bigby approach Ourchair and Rene. Ultimate Bigby seems to be riding on his adrenalin.

Ultimate Bigby: "There was this HUGE island of junk. No. It was an endless MOUNTAIN of junk. But this junk – I'm telling you, that junk is ten, twenty, years ahead of us now. It was incredible. Except for these giant birds of prey."
Rene: "Yes. I think I had one of those with me."
Ourchair: "He's just sour because I betrayed him to a bunch of Bedouins in a burning city."
Ultimate Bigby: "That sounds different."
Ourchair: "Yeah, they all looked like Rene too. I think that's where Ultimate Central got his face from."
Ultimate Bigby: "Oooh. That makes a kind of sense."

Pulling himself through another hyperlink, and standing to his feet, shaking his furry body dry, is Marvelman with a semi-unconscious Dr Draco. Out of breath, Marvelman is deadpan.

Marvelman: "Big… crazy… werewolf king…tried to make me… eat…. Draco."
Nurhachi: "You win."
Marvelman: "… Good."

Marvelman dumps Dr Draco in front of Ourchair and Ultimate Bigby.

Marvelman: "Do… plan… thing… please."

Marvelman drops his sword, putting his hands on his knees, and tries to regain his breath.

Ourchair: "Good point. Bigby, we're here at the heart. What's your plan?"
Rene: "This isn't the heart. It's a hub. There's loads of them."
Marvelman: "What?"
Ourchair: "No… I've… this is the heart."
Rene: "It really isn't. I checked it out after Bigby first showed up. Cleared out what few Lurkers were straggling behind over her. I've seen at least a dozen of these."
Nurhachi: "It still looks broken."
Ultimate Bigby: "… So… We're lost?"
Nurhachi: "This is Ultimate Central. Doesn't it have a search engine?"

The Ultimate Central Search Engine

Traversing the hyperlinks from the hub, Rene leads the others deeper into Ultimate Central, arriving at a tumultuous sea of information, with a gigantic hydro-electric dam at the end. This is the Ultimate Central search engine.

The raging rivers are a flow of information, which Rene can hack into, but wading in their would drag him away into the dam.

Rene: "Nurhachi, you anchor me and I'll wade into that thing, find the location of the heart."
Nurhachi: "You sure?"
Rene: "Just hold onto me, okay?"

Wading into the sea, harshly pressed back up onto the shore, Rene braves the rapids as Nurhachi holds onto him with his tendrils reaching out from his safe place on the shore. Rene gets further and further into the river and starts using his hacking prowess to find the information.

And suddenly, Nurhachi lets him go, and the tide rips Rene down towards the dam, bashing his body on its errant course.

For Nurhachi's powers are off. That's what Dr Draco, gleefully smiling, does. Ourchair motions to zap Dr Draco back into unconsciousness, but he has no electricity. And Dr Draco's eyes crackle with power…

The Red Star, The Lunar Lord's Communication Array

Moonmaster, parrying electric blasts and now withing biting distance, leaps for the Lunar Lord, teeth and claws borne. The Lunar Lord easily grabs Moonmaster in mid-air, tossing him aside whilst disarming him of his lightsaber.

The Lunar Lord: "An archaic model. The fat one seems more interesting."

The Lunar Lord curiously marches towards Compound and Watcher, held up in the bowels of his Red Star.

Watcher: "Compound – he's coming this way."
Compound: "Taken care of."

The Lunar Lord, as he gets closer, finds it harder to move, the gravity increasing the closer he gets – like walking through tar.

Now prone, Moonmaster rushes The Lunar Lord, and with his jaws, tears the Lunar Lord's head clear off his shoulders. Blood and oil flow, electricity sparks from the Lunar Lord's corpse. Spitting out the foul taste, Moonmaster reclaims his lightsaber.

A door on the other end of the communications room opens.

It's the Lunar Lord. This one, rather than a laser gun, seems to have access to large spiked gauntlets.

The Lunar Lord: "I am a shape-shifting consciousness inhabiting bio-organic purpose-driven body shells."

Another Lunar Lord appears. With welding tools. And a third. A fourth. Each with their own weapons and devices.

Moonmaster: "Good."

Moonmaster ignites his lightsaber.

Moonmaster: "I was hoping to kill you more than once."

The Ultimate Central Search Engine

Rene's about to die.

Bracing himself against the dam, Rene is buying himself time, but his legs won't hold for long. And he doesn't have the energy to conjure a fireball and take out the dam – especially not with the river of information splashing against him. But his friends are engaged…

Dr Draco, continuously switching from Nurhachi's power to Ourchair's to Ultimate Bigby's to Marvelman's, he remains on top of the battle, disorientating our heroes and seizing advantage. Nurchai will try to spike Draco, but find he has no blood-control, only to be blasted by electricity from Ourchair, fall to the floor, and then suddenly, congeal his blood-carapace, only to lose it as he strikes. It's the same for the others. The sudden toggling of their powers is keeping them from mounting a strike on Dr Draco – and he just plays with them, spouting nonsense.

Dr Draco: "Breadcrumbs!"
Marvelman: "I'd pay good money to shut him up."

Nurhachi just watches Dr Draco, pays attention to the pattern, studying, studying the improvising, reckless Dr Draco.

And he strikes. Nurhachi's blood wraps around Dr Draco, ensnaring him. Aware he can't affect more than one power at a time the others, knowing that if he turns off Nurhachi's power one of them will get their powers back, take advantage. Rushing up to him, Ourchair and Ultimate Bigby both put their hands, pointing their fingers like guns, at Dr Draco's head.

Dr Draco stops struggling.

Dr Draco: "I will be lucid when it's done."
Marvelman: "You surrender?"

Dr Draco nods. Marvelman knocks his punk *** out.

Nurhachi quickly races over to Rene, who's knees are buckling – and give way. Acting instinctively, Nurhachi snags him from the dam's turbines, and brings him to the shore, Rene spluttering.

Ourchair: "Did you get the way to the heart?"
Nurhachi: "Give him a moment!"
Ourchair: "We need to get going."
Ultimate Bigby: "His arms and legs weren't free – of course he didn't…"

Rene coughs up a single source code, dangling in front of his grinning face, panting.

Ultimate Bigby: "You got it!"

The Surface of the Red Star

He's got them.

The Red Star trembles, as the World-Ship of Bass Lak Tus, the World Devourer, and his herals, Pandrio and Ultimate Galactus, materialize just above its surface. And with them, Thee Great One and King Curly, the Interweb Vikings. Nigma has brought them all.

Nigma: "Just buy us some time for me to get the rest off the Red Star before you… uh… eat the whole thing."
Bass Lak Tus: "I may eat your paltry enemies, but my hands will not be sullied."
Ultimate Galactus: "Of course not, great Bass Lak Tus. You have bestowed meager elements of your great power on us for such purposes."
Pandrio: "We will remove their pitiful defenses, Celestial constant, Nexus of the World."

Ultimate Galactus and Pandrio leads Thee Great One and King Curly into the vast, millions strong Troll army. Ultimate Galactus can control the underlying superstring structure of the universe, making him capable of controlling space. Many he faces die seeing the Red Star from orbit. Pandrio's penguin sock puppet, he believes, can alter molecules. It seems it can, as his enemies disappate, the atoms realigning into gases. King Curly, the forty-foot golden giant, picks up the self-exploding zombie, Thee Great One and swings him at the army like a mace. Thee Great One's torso explodes like a bomb blast, colliding with the ground and the army, blowing high into the star sky. Reforming his body as King Curly lifts him back, he strikes again, blowing holes through their formation, stampeding disarray across their line.

Bass Lak Tus: "These are real Heralds."

Nigma smiles innocently, and shrugs.

Nigma: "Just don't eat anything until I get back… ah… 'mighty Bass Lak Tus'."

Bass Lak Tus summons some of the Red Star's surface to his hands, which he crushes between his finger tips, sighing disgusted at the thought of eating it.

Bass Lak Tus: "This is going to give me heart burn."

The Heart of Ultimate Central

Following the source code, our heroes, carrying an unconscious Dr Draco, step out of an encrypted hyperlink, standing at the foot of the tallest spire in the Heart of Ultimate Central – a neon industrial city carved in cyberspace, it's planning structure resembling a vast computer processor. Computers and informational hard drive stacks the size of skyscrapers, golden spires like trees, reaching up into an infinite neon-lit night sky.

And this is the tallest – the one that controls the power battery of Ultimate Central – located at its summit.

An immense corporate complex sprawling the heavens, our heroes purpose is clear. They do their task, and step through the sliding front door.

A creature stands before them. A Lurker-troll hybrid. Intermittingly flickering into and out of reality.

Ladon: "I am Leader Ladon. Leave immediately. We will not have your kind commit sacrilege by entering the Heart."
Nurhachi: "Great."
Ourchair: "We have business here."
Ultimate Bigby: "The urgent world-saving kind, so stand aside."

Ladon snaps his unseemingly fingers, and a hundred of his pilgrims amass, flickering in front of our heroes.

Marvelman: "… Please?"

The pilgrim's draw their savage weapons.

Nurhachi: "Hell with it."

Shouldering Dr Draco, Marvelman breaks for the other side to the apparent floor-travelling system on the other side of the ground floor. Behind him are Ourchair, Rene, and Ultimate Bigby, blasting back the pilgrims with their powers. Nurhachi, spread out like a barbed octopus, keeps them sheltered, battering away the few that get close.

Ladon: "Free the Avatar!"
Nurhachi: "Huh?"
Ultimate Bigby: "They mean Dr Draco."
Nurhachi: "He was never…"

A large club, thrown by Ladon, crashes into Nurhachi's head, knocking him to the floor. Rene picks him up and they continue running for the transport system, when a large firewall erupts in front of it.

Ladon: "Let the Avatar go."
Marvelman: "And you'll let us go?"
Ladon: "Of course not! We do not wish to get the Avatar dirtied by your flesh-meats."
Ultimate Bigby: "Smooth."
Ladon: "Perhaps you are unaware of your situation. My men are in front of you. Behind you is an impenetrable barrier. This is your last day. Face it with dignity."

Ourchair's teeth rattle in his jaw; the power starts disappearing. Lights and humming engines turn off. A localized black out. His hair straightens and stands on end, as do those near him. His skin crackles, his eyes become a blinding white. The electric power flows into him, and the barrier falls. Hurriedly, all but Ourchair get into the transport system. They try to press buttons for it to move, but its dead.

Ourchair looks over the stunned lurkers – and breathes all that power back into their faces. The ground floor of the spire cracks and shatters, the lights burst with the sudden surge, and the lurkers are burned back across the floor.

The power returns to the transport system and Ourchair limps into it as it transports them to the top of the spire.

Stepping out of the hub, the view is astonishing. Not only have they traveled miles upwards in an instant, seeing out over an infinite moon-lit neon land, but there, towering higher still, enshrined, is the huge power battery, the humming golden heart of Ultimate Central, standing structured like an iconic temple.

Rene pushes huge machinery placed around the top of the spire in front of the hub that gets them there, keeping any of Ladon and his servants who may try to follow them, from interfering.

Marvelman drops Dr Draco to the floor. Ourchair and Nurhachi try to reclaim their breath. Ultimate Bigby marvels.

Nurhachi: "Huh huh. Plan. Now. Thanks."
Ourchair: "What is your plan, Bigby?"
Ultimate Bigby: "Hah. Stop me if you've heard it before: We give the world superpowers."
Nurhachi: "Oh come on!"
Rene: "Everyone?"
Ultimate Bigby: "Every last man, woman, and child. Every single person on Earth. Even the poor people."
Ourchair: "'A little gift of the gods to the mortal man'?"
Ultimate Bigby: "Precisely."
Nurhachi: "We've been through this before. Power and responsibility. The number of 'good guys' from people who got powers from this damn thing is in the startling minority! You do this, and we'll be damning everyone to supervillains, monsters, and freaks!"
Rene: "Nurhachi: We need the firepower."
Nurhachi: "Let's shut it down! Create that stalemate…"
Ultimate Bigby: "That won't work, and you know it. E will still have the Red Star. Our guys can't take it out – it's a frickin' Death Star. It can level the Earth and he can take what's left."
Ourchair: "If 'our guys' are even still alive."
Rene: "Nurhachi – with E as the Emperor… we can't just switch off his power base. He'll keep coming. We need to defeat him."
Nurhachi: "And this does both. It shuts off his power supply, and we use it instead to power our own superhuman army."
Ultimate Bigby: "Get it? Their army becomes our army. It'll be worse than just switching it off – we'll be draining it all for ourselves."
Nurhachi: "I got it when you said it. It's just… all this might do is postpone mankind's extinction – not prevent it."
Ourchair: "And it might save the world – turn it into utopia."

Nurhachi reluctantly accepts the proposal.

Marvelman: "Okay. Good. We make everone superpeople. Fine. WHY… WHY doe we have this guy with us?!"

Marvelman kicks the unconscious Dr Draco in the gut.

Ultimate Bigby: "Look: I don't know how, but Ultimate E made Dr Draco a human back-up of Ultimate Central. That's how he can control all our powers and why he's talking nonsense all the time – he has a universe of information of his head and is unable to process it."
Nurhachi: "That's why they called him 'Avatar'."
Ultimate Bigby: "I just don't know how E found Dr Draco."
Nurhachi: "Doesn't matter. So what do we do with Dr Draco?"
Ourchair: "I assume we plug him in as an override to the Emperor's passwords."
Rene: "Send the system into overdrive. Yes. I can work that. He'll have to be conscious."
Marvelman: "Really?"


Dr Draco's eyes blur as he sees a vast neon-star sky.


He comes fully too. Wide awake, he sees he's tied up, with cables harshly plugged into his body. Ourchair, Rene, and Ultimate Bigby are working at the Heart, while Nurhachi and Marvelman are in front of him. Marvelman raises his hand.


Nurhachi: "He's awake."
Marvelman: "I know."

Dr Draco, feeling himself connecting with Ultimate Central, finds the world suddenly reordering and sharpening into focus. He can communicate properly.

Dr Draco: "Breadcrumbs."
Marvelman: "We should've gagged him. Is it too late to gag him?"

Dr Draco grins…

Ultimate Central Mansion

Dr Draco's hammer starts to jostle. The Emperor's royal lieutenant, Ice, picks it up, feeling it tug.

Ice: "Your excellency. Behold."

Ice passes the hammer onto The Emperor.

Ice: "It would appear Dr Draco is calling out to you. Shall I assemble my trackers and return him?"
The Emperor: "With haste."

Ice bows and proceeds to round up his Bots for a search and rescue mission, and The Emperor halts him.

The Emperor: "Leave them to me."
Ice: "Your Excellency?"
The Emperor: "I really want to kill them."

The Heart of Ultimate Central

Nurhachi and Marvelman take it turn to watch Dr Draco, who is now unconscious, his consciousness required only for the initial link, and they watch the roof, making sure Ladon and his army can't reach them.

Ultimate Bigby, Rene, and Ourchair begin deciphering The Emperor's command codes, using Dr Draco.

Marvelman's eye is caught by something on the side of the spire. Glancing over, his knees buckling at the sheer height – they must be miles in the air he thinks… though… it's not really 'air'… is it? – but he sees a shimmering oddness below. The Lurkers are climbing up the sides of the spire.

Marvelman: "Uh… these lurker things are actually climbing up here. Can you hurry it up?"
Rene: "We're pretty much in. I'm just creating the programme to set the Heart into overdrive…"

A flash of blue light. Dr Draco's hammer flies towards him, landing at his bound feet.

The Emperor regally descends onto the top of the spire. He has no need for words. He is nearly omnipotent. He is so far beyond them. He is going to enjoy this moment. Savor it. Their confidence suddenly dripping away to fear from his mere presence. They power up their pathetic abilities that he gave them accidentally.

He ignites his Imperial Lightsaber and smiles gleefully. The world is his.

The Savannah of Eden

Their army surrounded, outnumbered, and their losses becoming their enemy's weapon, the Centralites face an execution.

Lined up, Projekt X surveys his spoils, asking Eroz for a particularly appropriate method of execution. DIrishB, grimaces, fights the urge, but succumbs to his rage and outbursts.

DIrishB: "DAMMIT!"

Projekt X looks over, perturbed at DIrishB's sudden lack of restraint.

Projekt X: "Are you going to beg for your life?"
DIrishB: "Hell with that. I just… Ultimate E. How long did it take for him to realize you'd been summoned to Earth?"
ProjectX2: "What?"
Projekt X: "When he saw the Red Star first from that boorish Bass Lak Tus' ship."
DIrishB: "Yeah… I thought as much. It was the Lurkers wasn't it? They got woken up and that sent a signal to you guys to come over and start 'the plan'. And E had to improvise because he couldn't contact you from Central."
Ultimate Quicksilver: "What the hell is… E's the Emperor?!"
DIrishB: "Remember when he came for that device? It was stashed here, buried underneath this place. This was once lush savannah. Now it's dead soil. Something killed the soil."

DIrishB gestures with his head toward the citadel.

ProjectX2: "But… The Red Island."
DIrishB: "All safe in the bunker. To create the illusion of an outside invasive force that… that E could claim he acquiesced. So he could be a hero."
Ultimate Quicksilver: "That's ludicrous."
DIrishB: "Heroes don't get deposed."
Ultimate Quicksilver: "And you, Baxter! The E-Men – did they know?"

Baxter, and the other E-Men, aghast, shake their heads vehemently.

Lithium: "No!"
Projekt X: "They did not. They were to be told afterwards."
DIrishB: "All these things happening at the same time; the spontaneously decoded message…"

DIrishB rolls his eyes, enraged he didn't accept this earlier.

DIrishB: "If E's going to make the relations between our worlds work, he needs a common enemy."
ProjectX2: "Us."
Baxter: "Scapegoats."
ProjectX2: "This 'invasion'. All of this. Prepare enough and you don't even need to fight. You could've done it any time. You just had to make sure that no one would challenge you when you made your move."
DIrishB: "So you can be given the world."
Projekt X: "Well put."
DIrishB: "Why didn't I see it sooner?"
Projekt X: "You underestimated His Excellency. You believed him to be a refugee. He is not. He is a scientist-king. A warrior-god. He is our Emperor, and saviour of our people."
DIrishB: "Your universe really is dying."

Projekt X doesn't respond, but commands Eroz to him. Eroz mechanically shambles to him.

Projekt X: "These are the only two Avatars, yes? This 'DIrishB' and… 'ProjectX2'?"
Eroz: "Yes."
Projekt X: "Give me a consensus of the Earth populace – which is perceived the most trustworthy?"
Eroz: "DIrishB."
Projekt X: "Ah."

Projekt X pulls out a beautifully clean and well-oiled Luger-like pistol.

And shoots DIrishB several times in the torso, shooting him unceremoniously to death.


Disgusted by his outburst, Projekt X quickly taps his gauntlet. The electric tentacles of Shri_Val gag ProjectX2 and zap him silent. There is a palpable fear from those bound in Projekt X's presence.

Projekt X: "I haven't even got to the good bit yet."

Projekt X taps a few more buttons on his gauntlet.

DIrishB stands.

DIrishB: "The Avatars tried to take over the world. We failed."

Projekt X chuckles as he has DIrishB march into the citadel to get cleaned up.

Projekt X: "Won't he'll look good on 'tee-vee'?"

Ultimate Central Mansion

Ice is watching the monitors, surveying the operations of the Red Star and the African Citadel, and the Ultimate Central dratabase.

Without warning, Ice is manically barraged by a panicked, terrified, desperate, and screaming Icemastertron, who has only just convinced himself that he can take Ice now that The Emperor is elsewhere. Throwing beams of ice and snow at him from his one arm, falling short or shooting too far from that lack of depth perception that comes from having just one eye, Icemastertron fights with the smallest of hope.

But it's that desperation that allows Ice to easily subdue the crippled Icemastertron in a huge, frozen block of ice…

The Red Star Communication Array

Moonmaster duels at the top of a slowly growing mound of the Lunar Lord's copied body-shells. With a flurry of lightsaber attacks, Moonmaster's weird feeling has disappated, as he gets more and more exhausted with the unending body-shells challenging him.

One body-shell passes undeteced, it's hands turning into an incredibly prehensile net of digits allowing it easier and quicker access to computer interfaces. It immediately begins sending feedback through the communications array through the security systems to disconnect Compound's interference.

Compound: "What the hell just happened?!"
Watcher: "One second… one of those Lunar Lords is uh… Oh, hell it's coming this way."

The Lunar Lord body-shell reaches in and pulls the Watcher out. The Watcher punches it square in the jaw, but succeeds in only bruising his knuckles. The Lunar Lord reaches in and coldcocks Compound, dragging him out by the scruff of his neck.

Moonmaster, completely exhausted, is seized by three Lunar Lords. All captured, the Lunar Lord returns to making the communication array fully functional once again.

The Savannah of Eden

Projekt X: "Now, the E-Men. His Excellency was to offer you this decision after we came for you in his bunker, and so, I do so now. Any of do you wish to join us?"
Iceshadow: "Yes."
Lithium: "Yes yes."
Baxter: "Sure thing."

Ultimate Scarlet Witch is less enthusiastic.

Ultimate Scarlet Witch: "Of course."
Projekt X: "Let's make sure. Eroz, which of them is insincere?"
Eroz: "Baxter."

Baxter's eye's widen. But it's true. After seeing his counterpart, Clan Baxter, bask in blood and death, tasting blood on the winds, he can't… he originally wanted to be a hero, and he would like to think he still does. But branded a menace, and now, faced with such horrors he can't abide… his conscience overwhelms him.

Baxter grows, his body aching as it does, taking out Shri_Val's electric tentacles, creating a spectacle Projekt X and his associates are not prepared for. Knocking over the Trolls next to him, Baxter picks up ProjectX2 and UltimateDJF, and legs it, with Ultimate Quicksilver running far behind, his speed taking him back to their line, and beyond, carrying Shihad with him. Baxter's enormous height allows him to stride the battlefield, easily collecting Hawkeye101 and Slimjim with him. Clan Baxter orders the Trolls to attack Baxter, and they do, but the running titan shrugs off their attacks. ProjectX2 tries to tell Baxter to head back, but Baxter doesn't listen, he just runs into the jungle.

Looking for somewhere safe to stop.

The Heart of Ultimate Central

The Emperor can't be beaten – only halted long enough for them to win. His very gaze can destroy what he sees, and so our heroes fight to keep The Emperor off balance, to turn his eye away from the computer.

Nurhachi's blood-claws, spanning into his vision, scrape at The Emperor's face. Using his red Imperial Lightsaber, The Emperor fluidly parries, declawing Nurhachi, then optically blasting him. Nurhachi dodges, but the blast is too powerful, and it knocks him a few feet back. Not giving The Emperor a moment, Marvelman dives in, his broken sword flashing steel. The Emperor's skill with his highly destructive weapon is legendary, but Marvelman's ninja prowess allows him to deftly avoid his strikes and parries, merely setting The Emperor up for his ally, Ourchair. With The Emperor effectively now focused on the distracting, almost dancing, Marvelman, Marvelman jumps up, and bounds off the back of The Emperor's head.

And Ourchair blasts the prone Emperor. The Emperor's reflexes are astounding. Switching hands, yet losing now skill, The Emperor pulls his lightsaber in front of him, and switching a dial as he does, the lightsaber changes colour from red to white. The electricity blasted into the lightsaber charges it, and The Emperor casually flicks it toward Marvelman. It discharges into Marvelman, singing him, throwing him across the floor.

Ultimate Bigby: "Yes! Just a couple more…"

Rene and Ultimate Bigby frantically get the overdrive programme into effect, and The Emperor's gaze turns on them – his eyes fire up. Rene grabs a large computer stack and gets in the way – the blast careens Rene off the roof to fall miles below – but Ultimate Bigby leaps, grabbing Rene with both hands, but the weight is too much, and he tumbles over the edge, grabbing onto the roof with one hand.

The programme is incomplete, the computer is unprotected.

Marvelman springs into The Emperor, flipkicking his Imperial weapon out of his hands. The Emperor grabs a hold of Marvelman, and crushes the bones in one of his arms. Marvelman yelps. Ourchair jumps onto The Emperor's back, clasping his hands onto his skull, charging it with electricity.

The surge jolts Marvelman far out of The Emperor's hands as he spasms. The Emperor floats into the air, Ourchair still holding on tightly. Then forcefully plummeting back down, directly onto his back, The Emperor pounds Ourchair into the roof, knocking him out cold.

With no one in his way, The Emperor shakes off the blast and stands – and Nurhachi sets upon him, with spiked fists, knocking him back into the floor. Pounding fist into chest into gut into face, Nurhachi doesn't stop, but the spikes barely break The Emperor's skin, and he visciously slaps Nurhachi with such force, Nurhachi is completely stunned, compounded worse as The Emperor grabs him by the throat, pressing into his windpipe just enough to make it hard to breathe, to keep him groggy, not to strangle him. Nurhachi, unable to recover, is hoisted up as The Emperor floats back onto his feet, forcing Nurhachi onto his knees in front of him. And with his free hand, The Emperor summons his Imperial Lightsaber back to him. As soon as he reclaims it, he switches it to red, and holds it in front of Nurhachi's eyes, making sure that his dizzied state doesn't deny him the satisfaction of seeing Nurhachi fully comprehend his imminent demise.

And all Ultimate Bigby can do, dangling from the edge of the roof, holding on with one hand, the other keeping his heavy, and unconscious friend, Rene, with several miles of freefall beneath them, a Lurker army climbing up to him, and a computer console that will save the world – just out of his reach, all he can do is watch the future end.

The Red Star

Still fighting Longshots, Entropy, The Man Without Fear, Ultimate Houde, and Ultimate Gambit battle precariously through the high-rise infrastructure of the Red Star, across platforms and balconies stretching over vast subterranean emptiness infected by neon-industrial machinery.

Nigma eventually finds them, dispatching of the Longshots quickly, and nearly out of breath, debriefs them before the Longshots send more reinforcements.

The Man Without Fear: "You got him?"
Nigma: "They're up there now. I bought you some time, but he wants to get it done and leave ASAP."
Ultimate Gambit: "Let's grab Mooney and the other two and go!"

Ultimate Houde cuts a transportational gateway to just outside the communications array.

Ultimate Houde: "After you."

Ultimate Central Mansion

After all this, Icemastertron is once again, frozen. His nemesis and counterpart, Ice, is disappointed.

Ice: "I would have hoped you would be of a sturdier disposition considering your return from the dead. But I can't say I'm surprised. I've died many times. I suppose that's a trait you've 'inherited' from me."

Ice examines the frozen look of terror on Icemastertron.

Ice: "Pathetic. Perhaps if you had not put yourself back together so… poorly. Ugh. Well. Enough."

Ice launches a punch directly into the ice – only to discover his hand is now frozen stuck to the block of ice. He tries to rest his fist free, but the ice block won't let him go, and the it crumbles on the other end: remaining is a full Icemastertron. He has used the ice block to rebuild his body; his eye and fingers and toes are back, as is his missing arm, though he forms it temprorarily into a large, spiked ice hammer.

Icemastertron pounds it into Ice's face – shattering his head clean across the floor. Breaking fully out of the ice block, Icemastertron keeps smashing away at Ice's body, then his remains – smashing smashing smashing. The hammer breaks and falls apart, leaving only his fist, as he keeps smashing Ice into powder.

His adrenalin through the roof, his fear and terror still overwhelming him, Icemastertron collapses into a panting heap on the floor.

All Across The World

DIrishB: "We were crazy. You have to understand… we had access to an alien technology that made us gods. And we knew it was killing an entire world a universe away, but we didn't care. We were gods. We looked out on this world, so small and so beneath us. When those who lived in the dying universe, those in the Red Star came threatening genocide, we did not care for… God help me… we just didn't care anymore. 'Let them kill everyone.' Nurhachi said. We thought whoever survived the war, if anyone, would be our slaves. And if not… ProjectX2 said to me: 'There are plenty more worlds. We can have them all.' God… I tried to stop them… I tried to get them to… when our complicit nature started to become revealed to the public, I urged them to do what we could to fix the horrible mess we created but… They weren't interested. They tried to stop the message from getting out! They even tried to kill me during the attack so I wouldn't speak out against them. Thank God these guys took care of them. You have to understand, the Avatars we… they don't have Ultimate Central any more. Icemastertron is already dead. Those that remain… they deserve whatever's coming to them. I can only hope this world can forgive my complicity in the atrocious crimes I committed as an Avatar."

Frederick Fufenmeir, live on the air, has nothing to say of this confession. His rage boils into a crusade.

Holding a military radio in his hand, ProjectX2, Baxter, Ultimate Quicksilver, UltimateDJF, Shihad, Iceman, and Hawkeye101 hear the 'confession', and the subsequent public outcry rallying for the heads of the Avatars.

The world doesn't want them to save it anymore.

The Heart of Ultimate Central

Too much is lost. Ourchair is unconscious. As is Rene, who is held by Ultimate Bigby, the two dangling over the roof of the mile-high spire in the Heart of Ultimate Central. Marvelman tries to disconnect from the pain of his crushed arm, making his way for his broken sword, his only weapon. Dr Draco remains bound and knocked out, plugged into the computer as its halted programme awaits the input to send it into overdrive and give the world super powers. The Lurkers get even closer to the roof.

And Nurhachi is barely able to focus on The Emperor, the architect of Armageddon, who holds him by the throat, forcing him to kneel before him.

The Emperor: "Oh. I've waited… I've won, Nurhachi."

Nurhachi chokes, spluttering. The Emperor is almost quivering in joy, watching his long-time adversary falter in his grasp. He speaks so softly, almost delirious.

The Emperor: "I have a legacy to maintain, Nurhachi…I am a warrior-god. And you dare stand in my way? Who are you? Hah hah. Who are you? I… I killed you once. You were this idiotic man who could teleport through spots. No one came to his funeral. And no one will come to yours. I 've seen worlds perish. I've forged empires. I've saved a universe. I've… Who are you?"
Nurhachi: "L… Leeroy… Jenkins."

The Emperor is confused.

And without warning, Nurhachi's blood carapace flushes forward, seeping into The Emperor's nose, and into his brain in a second. Small feelers, that shift and squeeze and crush and cut The Emperor's pain. The Emperor's skin is incredibly dense, so dense that Nurhachi's blood-weapons can barely scratch it. All of The Emperor's body is incredibly dense. But as dense as his brain is... it is only clay.

The Emperor spasms, twitches, and convulses in the wake of his forced lobotomy. He can sense himself losing control of his body, of his mind, and in dire terror, hammers the teleporter on his belt, flashing into blue and back to the Ultimate Central mansion.

Nurhachi struggles to his feet. He sees Ultimate Bigby holding onto the spire's roof, and helps him back onto the roof. Shaking from exertion, Ultimate Bigby can't even struggle to his feet, just resting at the edge of the spire.

Ultimate Bigby: "The… the Lurkers are coming up…"
Nurhachi: "Is the Heart ready?"
Ultimate Bigby: "I think… I think so. Yes."

Nurhachi limps to the main computer.

Nurhachi: "What do I press?"
Ultimate Bigby: "Press… press the num lock on. Then hold alt and control… type in 616."

Nurhachi does so.

Nurhachi: "Then?"

Ultimate Bigby.

Ultimate Bigby: "Alt and control. Let 'em go."

As soon as Nurhachi lets go of the buttons, the Heart illuminates, humming and whirring. Gigantic fans across the side of spire kick in to stop it overheating, blasting the Lurkers off into the vast processor city. The spire's luminescence expands further out, a warm covering light.

And the world awakens with super powers.



The World

Bodies shape and change. Senses conjure vast new experiences. Gradually, everyone on Earth spontaneously develops a super power. Sometimes two or three. Bizarre and unique. Expected and surprising. Flying warriors. Earth-shattering energy controllers. Elementals. Shape-shifters and telepaths. Everything is everything.

The Heart of Ultimate Central

Ultimate Bigby, Nurhachi, and Marvelman rejoice at the world's ascension. Dr Draco, Rene. and Ourchair are still unconscious.

Nurhachi: "Let's hope you were wrong, Ice."

Ultimate Central Mansion

Flashing in blue, The Emperor arrives, blood pouring from his nose and mouth, fighting the pain as his body heals itself. In front of him is Icemastertron, fully healed – and terrified.

The Emperor looks up at Icemastertron, fueled by rage. Icemastertron is frozen in fear.

The Emperor: "Show me what's happening!"
Icemastertron: "… …"
The Emperor: "Out of my way!"

Pushing Icemastertron with immense strength into the wall, The Emperor pulls up the feed on his operations, and on the wall. He seems uninterested in Icemastertron. Icemastertron crashes against the wall, and checks himself to see he's still in one piece – he is.

The Emperor: "No… No!"

The Emperor can feel himself weakening and he looks at his armies…

The Savannah of Eden

The Trolls become nauseated, unable to function. Projekt X's nekroteknology ceases to work. The citadel powers down.

The Red Star

The Red Star's armies cease fighting, the power systems turn onto the emergency defence grid. Everything's shutting down.

Ultimate Central Mansion

The Bots find it hard to function. The Lurkers begin to slumber once more. Their powers draining away.

The Emperor tries to override the overdrive command, but can't. He tries to teleport himself back to the fight, but the teleporters are barely functioning, just flickering light. Ultimate Central itself is turning down.

The Emperor: "Ice! Order the Lunar Lord to fire the mooninites directly into the Earth."

Icemastertron freezes. The Emperor thinks he's Ice, his trusted lieutenant.

The Emperor: "Do it!"

Icemastertron hesitates. Does he play along and save his skin, or risk death at revealing his true self to The Emperor?

The Emperor is impatient, and brings up the communications channel himself. He sees The Lunar Lord on screen, holding Compound, Watcher, and Moonmaster captive.

The Emperor: "The took the Heart. Fire the mooninites! Raze the Earth!"

The Lunar Lord, understanding the situation, does so immediately without hesitation.

The Lunar Lord: "Yes, Your Excellency."

The Emperor has patched this to the main computer terminal on the spire with Nurhachi, Ultimate Bigby, and the rest.

The Emperor: "Return to me my Ultimate Central. Or watch your world perish."

The Red Star Communications Array

Moonmaster is held by multiple copies of The Lunar Lord. After one has commenced the launch sequence for the mooninites, he calmly turns his attention to Moonmaster, revealed surgical tools attached to his hands.

The Lunar Lord: "Your world will be destroyed. And mine soon after. And yet, I am curious. To my knowledge, you will be the first werewolf to be surgically vivisected."

The odd feeling in Moonmaster heightens, he shifts and contorts into a monstrous werewolf creature, more terrifying than anything before – tearing the Lunar Lord to pieces. The body shells try to fight, but Moonmaster's savagery is unparalleled. The shells fall, but Moonmaster continues rampaging into the computer systems.

Watcher: "Mooney! Stop! Calm down!"

Realizing he may cause irrevocable damage, Compound places Moonmaster into a deep gravity well from which he can't move. The rage subsides, the well becoming rather soothing, and soon, Moonmaster returns to normal and Compound frees him. Watcher rushes up to Moonmaster and helps him up, leaning him on his shoulder.

Watcher: "What the hell happened to you?"
Moonmaster: "Huuh…. How should I know."
Compound: "Come on. He's a werewolf. On a Moon. It was bound to happen."
Moonmaster: "Huh. It did kinda feel good…"

Interrupted, The Man Without Fear, Ultimate Gambit, Ultimate Houde, Entropy, and Nigma burst in.

The Man Without Fear: "Bass Lak Tus is here!"
Moonmaster: "Hell."
Entropy: "Let's get going! Back to Earth!"
Watcher: "We can't!"
Ultimate Gambit: "Pour qoi?"
Compound: "Earth won't be there. They've begun the launch sequence to fire what's left of the moon directly into Earth."
Nigma: "Good God."
The Man Without Fear: "What happened?"
Moonmaster: "Not sure. Our guys to the 'heart'. I'm not sure what that means, but I think we got control of Central."
Compound: "And so E is going to kill the Earth."
Entropy: "Can we shut it down?"
The Man Without Fear: "We don't need to! Nigma, tell Bass Lak Tus to just eat this damn rock. We'll be right behind you. If we can make it off alive… great. But make sure he eats this damn thing!"

Nigma looks over their faces, nods, and rushes off to Bass Lak Tus. Rushing through, breaking the sound barrier, booming and rocking the infrastructure, Nigma reaches Bass Lak Tus.

Nigma: "Eat! Eat!"

Bass Lak Tus is indignant.

Bass Lak Tus: "You forget who you address. I shall remind you."

Bass Lak Tus throws out his arms, looking down upon the Red Star from orbit. He can see it all. His body, from core to surface, switches and turns, opening as starfish do, to digest. His celestial nature revealed, the cosmic constant he is, he creates a colossal gravitational aura, a black hole. Compound immediately senses it – and it's like a sledgehammer to his brain. He's unprepared for the severity of his power. Pandrio and Ultimate Galactus, his Heralds stop their fighting, and like angels to a divine light, raise up and watch the sacred feast of the world devourer. Nigma rushes to help King Curly and Thee Great One get ready with the shuttle so they can escape to Earth.

Inside the Red Star, the party rushing across the main city structure of the Red Star, rushing through vast Troll armies, none of which are capable of truly fighting anymore, the removal of Ultimate Central drains them too much. But the Longshot's still try to pursue.

The main city structure's ceiling breaks open, blown out into space, towards the pull of the world devourer. The Longshots and Trolls can't find the strength to fight the pull, and many are too, blown out into space.

And so is the weakened Compound. With what little energy he has, he increases his gravity, slowing his descent long enough for Ultimate Gambit to offer him his staff, pulling him back to them, holding on to the surface even tighter, fighting the pull even harder, still moving for the shuttlecraft they hope they can fix up to get them to safety.

Moonmaster, limps up to The Man Without Fear, jesting.

Moonmaster: "He couldn't give us a headstart?"

The surface of the Red Star cracks and crumbles, crushing and twisting, as do its systems and inhabitants, all drawn and ground into the quantum belly of Bass Lak Tus. He is feasting.

Then… Bass Lak Tus vomits ash and energy. His body convulses, the black hole fluctuates and dries. Pandrio and Ultimate Galactus watch in horror. Bass Lak Tus' eyes widen… he is the celestial constant, to keep cosmological balance – but for THIS universe. The Red Star is from another universe, the predecessor. To Bass Lak Tus, it's poison. But this revelation comes to late to him, and Bass Lak Tus feels something he never thought he could – mortality.

Bass Lak Tus stops moving. His body just stops. The aura gone. He floats in orbit of the Red Star, a tomb to a lost power.

The Red Star party sees Bass Lak Tus perish, and soon after, the Red Star rumbles as its maw widens… the bombardment of Earth has begun.

Just Outside The Savannah of Eden

Hawkeye101: "Looks like rain."
ProjectX2: "We shouldn't have run."
Baxter: "I… I know it's just…"
ProjectX2: "He violated DIrishB. We shouldn't have run. You should've just freed us."
Ultimate Quicksilver: "They killed Widdle Wade. Skewered him. He's probably working for your doppelganger now. And you wanted to talk."

There's a small silence. ProjectX2 represses his heart's pain.

Baxter: "I panicked."
UltimateDJF: "What we do now?"
Hawkeye101: "Rendezvous with the others?"
Shihad: "I want to kill more things."
Baxter: "Maybe regrouping isn't such…"
Hawkeye101: "Oh dear God. It won't help us. Look."

Hawkeye101 points at the sky, but there's nothing to see. Just wisps of cloud.

ProjectX2: "What?"

It comes into view. They watch the most terrifying event unfold.

A cataclysm, as gigantic meteors, shards of what the Red Star ate from the moon, barreling down, igniting clouds and air, plummeting towards the fragile Earth.

Baxter vomits.

Baxter: "Oh God, oh god oh god…"
Ultimate Quicksilver: "Ttt. Pull yourself together."
Baxter: "But… did I do this? This is all my fault!"
ProjectX2: "What's he talking about?"

Ultimate Quicksilver just dismisses it.

Baxter: "I… broke that pipe. I freed the Lurkers. That sent them the signal to come. This is all my fault!"
ProjectX2: "You…"

ProjectX2 bites his rage.

ProjectX2: "It's not your fault. If anything you forced them to speed up their timetable by accidentally summoning them here. Maybe you gave us the chance we need."

ProjectX2's rage gives way to confidence, an affirmation of action, as he starts to piece a retaliation together.

ProjectX2: "We can still take out the Citadel."
Iceman: "What's the point?!"
ProjectX2: "Because of who we've got up there on that Red Star. Ultimate Gambit. Houde. Moonmaster. The Man Without Fear. They won't let Earth get destroyed. And when they save it, we need to make sure these bastards don't have a foothold here."
Ultimate Quicksilver: "We can't launch a counterattack. Any plan we come up with, Eroz will know about and tell your doppelganger. He'll see it coming."

Hawkeye101 springs up, fixing his bow with foliage.

Hawkeye101: "Then just need a plan they can't stop."

He points to the sky.

Hawkeye101: "We know those things are coming. We can't stop it. We just need to do to them what they're doing to us."
ProjectX2: "Exactly. Let them see our righteous fury as we tear down their walls."
Iceman: "It's suicide."
Ultimate Quicksilver: "I agree. You're too eager to join your friend. We can regroup and rendezvous and strike later."
ProjectX2: "The longer we wait, the greater their reinforcements will be. This is our best chance."
Iceman: "It IS suicide."
Hawkeye101: "We can do it!"
Iceman: "No… either we try to regroup but allow these bastards a stronghold on Earth. Or we fight, and if we are able to fight his thousand strong army of dead warrior zombies, get past his forces, and his omniscient strategic advisor and somehow destroy an indestructible fortress, we'll probably still die anyway."
ProjectX2: "But we'll have hurt them."
Iceman: "Would that even matter? To anything but your ego?"
Baxter: "How do you think the other two groups are doing?"
Ultimate Quicksilver: "Doing at least as bad a job at this as us. ProjectX2… if we have a plan, a plan that will work. Do we have a plan? What can we do?"

ProjectX2 looks up at the sky. He ruminates. The confidence starts to quake away. He then remembers Hawkeye101's idea – 'We just need to do to them what they're doing to us.' And he gets it.

ProjectX2: "Oh. Hahaha. We can do this. We can do this!"

The Red Star

The Man Without Fear: "We have to make it to the launch center. Stop any more from firing."
Moonmaster: "What about the ones that've already launched?! What do we do about them?"
Nigma: "We could handle… maybe a dozen but… there's too many."
The Man Without Fear: "Don't whine. Just do what you can."

Ultimate Galactus slowly works on the asteroids, manipulating space around them, warping them into different less projectile-like shapes, and sending them off harmlessly into the eternal universe. Pandrio finds their mass to dense to turn to gas, and so turns them into liquid shapes, having them slowly disappate into space. But it's slow, and the Red Star shoots more out than they can stop. It's not just their size and number, but their speed and distance. Nigma blows up those he can, but he's too tired, and the smaller chunks are easier for Ultimate Galactus and Pandrio to dispose of on an individual level, but their increasing number offsets any balance. At this rate, saving the Earth is no more than a possibility.

Not enough, thinks the Man Without Fear.

The Man Without Fear: "Compound – can you work out where the launch bay is from the communications room?"
Compound: "Of course."
The Man Without Fear: "Houde…"
Ultimate Houde: "Let's see."

Ultimate Houde carves a gateway for them to step through, when the Troll army starts using defence grid-lasers on the Heralds and Nigma.

Ultimate Gambit: "Merde!"
The Man Without Fear: "They're slowing them down.!"
Entropy: "So what, we gotta take on that army too?!"
The Man Without Fear: "Curly, Tog… can you?"
Thee Great One: "PFAH! We'd much rather destroy this pathetic army of Trolls, flesh-meats!"
The Man Without Fear: "Okay. … You do that."

Gleefully, the Intrerweb Vikings trample across the Troll army.

Moonmaster: "Uh… I could actually help here too."
Ultimate Gambit: "What are you talking about?"
Moonmaster: "I have some kind of… super werewolf form. I could use it to trash this army."
Watcher: "But… will you be able to turn back?"
Moonmaster: "It… look, if you fail, then it doesn't matter. If you succeed… we'll worry about it then. The fact is – I'll do more good here than in that launch bay."

The Man Without Fear puts his hand on his shoulder.

The Man Without Fear: "We'll be back for you."
Moonmaster: "Yeah, please. Once that Troll army's dead, it'll just be me and those two. Those two. Look at them. Seriously, you can't leave me like that. You gotta come back."

The Man Without Fear chuckles, and they step through the gateway, Ultimate Houde closing it behind them.

Moonmaster lets go of his human side and becomes a moonmonster, ravaging the half-functioning Troll army.

The Red Star Communications Array

Compound is the first out of the gateway and rushes to the remaning working elements of the computer, pulling up a map.

Compound: "That should be it."
Entropy: "'Should'?"
Compound: "That IS it."
Ultimate Houde: "I can work that."

Carving another gateway, the party steps through, but Compound remains.

Compound: "There's some kind of drain on the teleport network on the Red Star. Let me try and shut it down so you don't get any… interruptions in the launch bay."
Watcher: "You need anyone to stay?"
Compound: "Don't be insulting. I can take care of myself. Just go."

And the gateway shuts as the last of them steps through.

Compound shuts down the teleportation network very easily. He then begins rifling through the array for alien technology, pocketing trinkets and devices and power supplies, including parts of The Lunar Lord's body-shells, all for his personal inventory…

The Red Star Launch Bay

The view from this bay, is vast. An open chasm into space gazing down on the fragile Earth. The moon, broken and crushed into various pieces are launched through an automated system. Checking the area, there is only one physical way in or out of the bay. When you have a personal teleporting system, doors are not required in multiples.

As soon as they step into the launch bay, large alarm systems klaxon. Ultimate Houde checks the door, and there are guards, Longshots and Trolls patrolling, racing to the launch bay to reclaim control of it. While their strength and energy is low, there are thousands of them. The party cannot challenge them and hope to turn off the launch mechanism.

Ultimate Houde crafts an immediate plan. Using his sword, he cuts a gateway across the entire doorframe, blocking it. As soon as the first wave of Longshots and Trolls run into it, they find themselves suddenly high in the air above the high-rise infrastructure, plummeting down miles deep into the core of the Red Star to their dooms.

Entropy: "Cool! So long as Compound keeps the teleport system down, we won't be interrupted."

Ultimate Houde is sweating.

Ultimate Houde: "This isn't easy. Please hurry."

The Man Without Fear and Ultimate Gambit look at the mechanism. They start blasting the chassis and framework – but they can't even dent it. Spying a control panel, Entropy rushes up and raises his fist to smash it.

Watcher: "Wait! Are you sure that's a good idea?"
Entropy: "Maybe it'll stop it. Trust me."

Entropy smashes the control panel, but no effect. The awful machinery continues to plunge mooninites towards the Earth.

Entropy: "Huh… okay. But it didn't make it worse, did it?"
Ultimate Gambit: "Compound!"
The Man Without Fear: "Of course. Houde, get Compound down here."
Ultimate Houde: "You kidding?"
The Man Without Fear: "We need him."
Ultimate Houde: "And the guys on the other side who want to kill us?"
Watcher: "They're not trying to get through just yet. They're watching. They get it's a gateway. They… they might not tell it's a different gateway if you can change it without dropping it."
Ultimate Houde: "Because I have the energy for that."

Ultimate Houde, bites his lip, braces, and starts reversing the gateway, changing it's destination. Once done, he reaches in, grabs Compound, and throws him into the launch bay. His muscles pulling, Ultimate Houde quickly shifts the gateway back quick enough to keep them protected.

Compound is thrown to the floor, and much of the things he's stolen, drop out of his pockets. Offended, and worried he's been found out, Compound is about to defend himself but…

Ultimate Gambit: "Compound – you've got to make the gravity in that auto-loading system really, really heavy."
Compound: "Oh?"
Ultimate Gambit: "Wouldn't that clog up the system?"
Compound: "Oh! Actually… y'know… it could."

Compound begins increasing the gravity. The strain presses up against his eyeballs, quaking in his skull, Compound feels like his head is going to explode. But he keeps pouring it on. The mooninites push and strain against one another, the mechanism exerting against itself. The Man Without Fear and Ultimate Gambit blast at it in its weakened state, hoping for the mechanism to buckle. The Red Star shakes… but Compound, unable to catch his breath, just can't keep going, and gasps as he collapses, unconscious on the floor.

A gravitational shockwave ripples, reducing the gravity in the launch bay to zero for a second, causing Ultimate Houde's concentration to break. His gateway drops – and the bombardment towards Earth continues…

Ultimate Central

The bombardment breaks Earth's atmosphere, and from Ultimate Central The Emperor and Nurhachi watch as the bombardment dooms the Earth. The dozens that fall, some crash into desert, and some into water. Causing tsunamis and earthquakes to ripple across nations. Others plunge towards cities and towns – and those are stopped.

By the world. With more and more power being given to them, the world's populace are becoming superheroes. Inexperienced and terrified, they minimize the destruction the bombardment can wreak. The courses of mighty rivers are changed with great effort and loss of life – but the tide does change.

The Emperor can only grimace. Nurhachi can only applaud.

The Savannah of Eden

Shihad rubs his claws in glee at the impending assault on the citadel. ProjectX2 takes Baxter, Hawkeye101, and UltimateDJF aside.

ProjectX2: "Get to it."

Baxter whisks UltimateDJF into his gigantic palm, Hawkeye101 onto his shoulder, and prepares.

ProjectX2, with Shihad, Iceman, and Ultimate Quicksilver stride as defiant heroes in the face of Armageddon towards the Citadel with the sky erupting above them in a meteor conflagration.

Iceman is sweating. Shihad is grinning. Ultimate Quicksilver is impatent. And ProjectX2 is determined.

The Troll army, weakened, the zombies barely functioning, shambolically amass in front of them. But their number is still tens of thousands strong. And they now have the E-Men and Projekt X's zombie minions. And there is just four of them.

ProjectX2: "Leeeeeeeeeeeeroy!"

Ultimate Quicksilver vanishes, attacking the enemy at lightspeed. Shihad savagely tears into the army, creating a mountain of bodies. Iceman freezes entire platoons as they head towards him, brashly running into the fray with Shihad, and with ProjectX2.

ProjectX2 bounds for the abandoned military tanks, batting Trolls away from him. He gets the gun barrel of one tank, grunting and straining, he swings it, clubbing the Troll army to pieces.

Behind their assault, Baxter points up into the sky at a mooninite careening towards Africa.

Baxter: "That one."

UltimateDJF just shakes, nodding 'yes', but saying nothing. Baxter grows as fast as he can to his full height to propel UltimateDJF into the sky – but UltimateDJF holds onto Baxter and won't let go, his eyes tightly shut.

Baxter: "DJF!"
UltimateDJF: "Too high! Too high!"

UltimateDJF is scared of heights.

Iceman: "Proj! PROJ!"

ProjectX2 looks at Iceman, who points into the sky.

Iceman: "He's not up there!"

ProjectX2 looks into the sky for UltimateDJF but can't see him.

ProjectX2: "He'll be up there!"
Iceman: "Oh! I see. So we just wait?!"
ProjectX2: "No. We just kill things."

ProjectX2 slams the tank into more trolls and zombies.

Baxter is bewildered at UltimateDJF's fear of heights.

Baxter: "DJF – let me throw you."
UltimateDJF: "DJF try to be strong… but DJF scared. Too high."
Baxter: "DJF – this Projekt X, he probably already knows what we're doing. We haven't got time. You've got to do this. Be strong."
UltimateDJF: "Too high!"

Baxter picks UltimateDJF off his hand and cups him in both his hands.

And harshly claps. Momentarily stunning UltimateDJF, Baxter seizes the advantage and throws him high into the air at the descending mooninite.

UltimateDJF, limply propelled through the air, arcs close to the mooninite, but does less and less the closer he edges towards it. Baxter screams, and considering his size, his bellows reach the ears of all in the savannah.

Baxter: "DJF! WAKE UP!"

UltimateDJF, who's not really asleep, comes to his senses – and the gravity of the situation becomes apparent. Terrified of the drop below him, he panics and grabs onto the first thing he can – the mooninite.

Seeing this, ProjectX2, Iceman, Shihad, and Ultimate Quicksilver don't secure and advance – they just advance. Pushing through their enemies they start to get surrounded, but they do it – they get to the citadel.

ProjectX2 raises the tank and clubs it with all his might into the citadel – but it doesn't even get to hit the citadel.

There is a forcefield surrounding it.

The Citadel in the Savannah of Eden

Projekt X is perplexed by their suicidal gesture, and now with time beneath his impenetrable forcefield created by Dark Images, all his energy reserves now being drawn from the molten core of the Earth itself, he keeps enough energy to work his nekroteknology for feats such as this. He keeps next to him all the fallen he controls; Aeroth, Irish_4204, Dark Images, Patriot, Shri_Val, Widdle Wade, and Eroz.

Projekt X: "What this suicidal nonsense, Eroz? And who is this… 'Leeroy'?"
Eroz: "Leeroy Jenki…"

Eroz's head is severed at the jaw. While Eroz is still dead, his body will be incapable of speech, or articulating the plan of our heroes. All thanks – to Widdle Wade.

Projekt X is astonished – he knows he didn't command Widdle Wade to do that.

Projekt X: "Impossible. Slimjim is dead."
Widdle Wade: "I'm not. I regenerate."

Widdle Wade uzis Dark Images, splattering his body across the stronghold and shutting off the forcefield.

Projekt X: "Fool! The meteors will kill us all!"
Widdle Wade: "You'll be dead long before."

Taking what shots he can at Projekt X and his zombie generals, none of whom seem hurt, only distracted, Widdle Wade reaches for Patriot and pulls out one of the pins of his grenades, and boots him towards Projekt X. Clan Baxter snatches Projekt X, yanking him from harm, but the explosion destroys many, and severly wounds Widdle Wade.

Widdle Wade, broken in several places and leaking, laughs as his coughs up blood, waiting for his limbs to become usable again.

Projekt X skewers him to the floor with a long, sharp pike of shrapnel.

Projekt X: "I'll discover a way to kill you, once I your friends and world destroy."

The forcefield down, the dent frozen and then superheated by Ultimate Quicksilver lightspeed vibrations, ProjectX2 slams the tank into the wall.

The explosion breaches the wall, a hole barely big enough for ProjectX2 to fit through. He steps through first, and clears a little path, Shihad steps through seconds, followed by Iceman, and zipping in is Ultimate Quicksilver. Our heroes have made it inside.

Projekt X turns and surveys the battlefield. All this, for a hole a few feet tall. He gazes at the sky, and sees the green hulking UltimateDJF, sweating and terrified on the mooninite.

UltimateDJF, forcing himself onto his knees, restraining the urge to pee, bracing against the speeding winds as he heads for the ground, slams his fists into the mooninite – and its trajectory changes. He smashes it again, but careful not to break it. Only direct it. He's directing this gigantic asteroid directly into the citadel.

Projekt X immediately commands Aeroth, the fire-breathing zombie dragon, to intercept.

Aeroth takes off without hesitation, flying a direct and straight path for UltimateDJF. Hawkeye101, on Baxter's shoulder, as the two wade towards the citadel, keeps a look out from his high vantage point for any threat to UltimateDJF. And he sees Aeroth.

Hawkeye101 lets loose his volley fire, but Projekt X is too aware of it, and commands Aeroth's head to turn and aim for Hawkeye101 and burn him.

His breath spits a fireball, cindering the arrows to nothing, and Baxter recoils from the fire, only to knock Hawkeye101 off his sixty foot high shoulder into the battle below. Iceman conjures an ice slide in mid-air, it evaporates quickly, but it gives Hawkeye101 a softer landing.

Aeroth divebombing a terrified UltimateDJF, fires a ball of flame at him. The heat blasts into UltimateDJF knocking his breath out and singing his skin.

It makes him mad.

UltimateDJF leaps from the mooninite and grabs Aeroth by the head, swinging him around in freefall like a baseball bat as he plummets, batting Aeroth's zombie body against the mooninite, splintering Aeroth's body into unsuable pieces and knocking the mooninite directly on path towards the citadel.

Projekt X: "Earn your keep!"

Projekt X commands the E-Men into the fray.

Baxter shakes off the fire and sees his opposite, the monstrous Clan Baxter, murderer of many. Clan Baxter and he lock eyes, and the challenge is issued. Clan Baxter charges at him, and Baxter yells, toe punting Clan Baxter into the stratosphere – but Clan Baxter is too fast and holds onto Baxter, using the momentum of the kick to swing around and jump into Baxter's face. The force knocks Baxter back, and then Clan Baxter forces open Baxter's jaw, with the intent to spear through his mouth.

Shihad, the vermin lord, summons the rodent armies that he can, commanding them to gnaw on the exposed cables and wirings exposed by the hole of the citadel to short fuse its communications.

Iceman is coldcocked, struck unexpectedly on the back of his head by Iceshadow. Iceshadow presses the advantage, battering Iceman with his black ice fists. Iceshadow takes incredible pleasure from the beatdown. Iceman asserts control and freezes Iceshadow to absolute zero – immobilizing him in his standing position. He then knocks Iceshadow over, but his solid frame doesn't shatter on the floor. Iceman turns Iceshadow's frozen body over so he looks up at the sky, seeing the mooninite tumble towards the citadel.

Iceman: "Enjoy the show."

Clan Baxter raises his spear, and Baxter does the one thing he can – he shrinks back to his normal size, clutching at his agonized face. Clan Baxter drops to the floor, but the fall barely hurts him. He strides immediately, pulling Baxter by his head, amused at his human counterparts weak nature, Clan Baxter laughs with great boast. Baxter, frantic and rash, thrusts his fist into Clan Baxter's mouth and grows to his full height.


Shaking the remains of Clan Baxter off his hand, Baxter yells to the army:


Baxter uncontrollably vomits all over the troll army at his feet.

The mooninite careens closer and closer to the citadel. It is almost there. Projekt X is running out of options. He commands Irish_4204 to shatter the mooninite with his sonic scream, but his head gets impacted from behind by ProjectX2's fist instead. Irish_4204's body collapses, and ProjectX2 opens out his arms, beckoning Projekt X for a showdown.

Projekt X is calm. ProjectX2 charges him, ready to clobber him so far into the ground, he'll melt when he hits Earth's core. Raging as he charges, ProjectX2 seems to not faze Projekt X who calmly pulls out his luger pistol and expertly shoots ProjectX2 in the leg, taking out his knee and dropping him to the floor.

ProjectX2 is stunned – bullets don't usually hurt him. What kind of gun is that? Does it matter? He can't walk. Projekt X decisively walks with great reserved rage to ProjectX2 and presses the gun firmly into his head.

Reaching up with his cybernetic hand, ProjectX2 grabs Projekt X's gun hand and splinters it like tinderwood – indeed, Projekt X's body doesn't feel like normal flesh and bone, but a combination of those materials, and metals, and plastics.

ProjectX2: "Snap."

Stepping up, in an instant, he haymaker's Projekt X's head so hard, it spins. His head, like a top on his neck, with each revolution producing more audible cracks in several places. Crack. Crack crack. Crack crack crack. Projekt X collapses to the floor, and ProjectX2 slumps to catch his breath.

The dead zombie army collapses with no one to control it. But the living Trolls still remains, surrounding ProjectX2 who can hardly stand up. Saying nothing, with odds at ten thousand to one, ProjectX2 fights on, breaking as many of them as he can…

The Red Star Launch Bay

The swarming Longshots and Trolls overwhelm the Red Star raiding party. They fight valiantly, but cannot keep up. Watcher, has dragged Compound to safer alcove, examining the mechanism trying to brave a foray out into the fighting to shut it down. He sends out all his senses, looking for a clue, a way to do it, but all he sees is the mechanism working, and no way to stop it.

The swarm encroaching still, Ultimate Houde comes up with a plan.

Ultimate Houde: "HOLD ON TO SOMETHING!"

Ultimate Houde cuts a gateway – just into space at the front of the maw. The sudden drop in pressure blows everything not securely fastened into and through the gateway.

Ultimate Gambit roots his staff into the floor, and grabs The Man Without Fear, who anchors Ultimate Houde. Watcher holds onto Compound, bracing himself in the alcove. Entropy just happens to grab onto a particularly safe piece of subterranean rock. Some of the Longshots and Trolls remain, but The Man Without Fear blasts them off their anchored positions with his optic blasts, forcing them into the dark orbit.

Their enemy gone, Ultimate Houde shuts down the gateway, but before they can pat themselves on the back and resume solving the launch bay problem, they each get a terrible sense of dread, save for The Man Without Fear.

Into the Red Star's launching bay, strides in the leader of the Longshots, the counterpart to the Man Without Fear, carrying his terrible trident, he is known simply as Fear.

His mere presence is that of a nightmare, terrifying all our heroes, except for The Man Without Fear. Like The Man Without Fear, he wears a horned helmet, though while The Man Without Fear's a small and almost ceremonial, Fear's are like a ram's, sharpened and intimidating. But his face is completely exposed, his eyes, a void of black fire.

Fear: "My counterpart. It is fitting only you should stand in my presence."
The Man Without Fear: "You're me."
Fear: "Before a fashion."
The Man Without Fear: "I wouldn't talk of fashion with what you wear."
Fear: "Bravado. I have not seen such bravery towards me in centuries. The last one to do so – a rather impressive hero – I used his carcass to create a clone army. You've met them. I named them after the original – 'Longshot'."

The Man Without Fear's bravery transforms to subdued fury.

Fear: "I never get over the aptness of that name. Provide me with half as much sport as he did, and I will immortalize you likewise."
The Man Without Fear: "Kill him!"

Shaking their terror as best they can, the raiding party strike at Fear. Entropy and Ultimate Gambit cautiously attack him from a range, shooting and blasting him, as does The Man Without Fear (minus the caution). The attacks not from The Man Without Fear are mostly off-target, for Ultimate Gambit and Entropy are too scared to truly hurt Fear. Fear, with great flexibility, easily avoids The Man Without Fear's clumsy optic blasts.

The Man Without Fear rushes Fear, but Fear catches The Man Without Fear's fly kick with great ease, and slams him into the floor.

Fear: "Hmm. This is rather disappointing."

Entropy draws his antique pistol for whatever what last courage he has, rushes Fear and presses it against his head.

Entropy: "Tell E I'll be waiting for him in Hell. With a gun."

Entropy speaks with a tremble in his voice from the abject terror of Fear's presence. He's desperate and panicking, saying an nonsensical but cool sounding action hero line, and in his haste and fluster, he has forgotten something.

He has no bullets left in his gun.


Fear turns his head, and gazes upon Entropy.

Fear: "Luck is my mistress."

His eyes fire the "Dread Gaze", a terrible weapon of Fears – it instantly vaporizes Entropy into nothing. Phasered to death as though he were little more than an annoyance.

Ultimate Gambit runs and hides. Even The Man Without Fear's knees buckle.

Ultimate Houde sweating and shaking, somehow strikes a death blow on the overconfident Fear – stabbing him right through his heart.

Fear does not die.

Fear: "I scare even Death. The reaper will not take my soul."

Ultimate Houde sweat glistens, and his sword slips out of his hands as he recoils, looking for a hiding place. Fear's eyes light up, and The Man Without Fear leaps in the way, blasting the "Dread Gaze" with his optic blasts.

The blasts disappate the "Dread Gaze", but the force bursts in The Man Without Fear's face, destroying his eyes. Blinding him utterly, shocking him in agony.

So disappointed, Fear indulges his fascination in how far this pale copy of his will sink. He swaggers to The Man Without Fear, who's slumped on the floor, clutching his face, writhing.

Fear lifts him with a single hand to his eye level.

Fear: "Beg."
The Man Without Fear: "… P… Please… please… please please…"

Fear's ambivalence, his disgust and fascination heighten even further as The Man Without Fear begins clutching at Fear's arms, groping their way up to his shoulder, and up to his head, feeling across his face, still begging.

Then, suddenly, The Man Without Fear clutches the horns on Fear's helment, and springs up, ramming his own head right into Fear's face, piercing Fear's eyes with his own studded horns.

Fear bellows sufferingly, a torment like this he can't remember.

With Fear blind, The Man Without Fear acts conclusively. Feeling and remembering the layout of the launching bay, The Man Without Fear thrusts Fear onto a mooninite, wresting his trident out of his hand, and spearing him with it through his back, pinning Fear's stomach to the mooninite. The Man Without Fear forces the trident in harder, harder still until he hears a crack.

Fear: "Ugh… This… is tiresome. I cannot die."
The Man Without Fear: "You… misunderstand. I'm just buckling you in. I wouldn't want you to fall."

Fear pats around, and suddenly realizes just what he's been skewered to.

Fear: "No. NO!"

The Man Without Fear relishes in the anxiety he's causing his dark reflection.

The Man Without Fear: "Enjoy eternity."

And the mooninite carrying Fear is catapulted into space. The stress of the ejection system, coupled with the trident's embedding into it, causes the mooninite to fracture in half, and the half with Fear heads into the vastness of space.

The Man Without Fear, broken, beaten, and blind, is propped up by Ultimate Gambit and Ultimate Houde, both with their courage returned to them.

Looking out over Earth, they can't tell the damage wrought. They hope for the best. Nigma, Pandrio, and Ultimate Galactus still destroy many of the moonites, but perhaps, too many continue through.

The mechanism groans and convulses. The last mooninite is launched.

The biggest by far, and the most devastating. It pumps out towards Earth falling faster than any of the others and from its size, it's obvious what it will do.

Ultimate Gambit: "That'll… that'll kill everything. Look at it! It's the size of Europe!"
The Man Without Fear: "What's happening?"
Ultimate Gambit: "It's the last mooninite. It's…"
The Man Without Fear: "What do we do!"
Ultimate Gambit: "I… I don't think there's anything we can do…"
Ultimate Houde: "No… there is."

Ultimate Houde spies one of the power supplies Compound stole, on the floor. Seeing Watcher with Compound, Ultimate Houde ransacks Compound's unconscious body and gets three power cells in total, then slaps Compound.

Ultimate Houde: "Compound! Compound! What's in these things? Are they explosive?"
Compound: "Uuuuh…"
Ultimate Houde: "Compound! Are they explosive?!"
Compound: "Big… power…"
Ultimate Houde: "That's a yes. Gambit – if you charged these up, do you think it could blow that thing up?"
Ultimate Gambit: "Maybe… it's academic. We couldn't even get them onto that thing, charged or not. No way we can reach Nigma in time…"
Ultimate Houde: "Charge 'em. I'll teleport myself there."
Watcher: "You can still do that."
Ultimate Houde: "I have to."

Ultimate Gambit charges the power cells as quickly as he can.

Ultimate Gambit: "You're right. They're a big bang. I can feel it."
The Man Without Fear: "Give them to me."
Ultimate Gambit: "MWOF… you're blind."
The Man Without Fear: "Houde, you port in, you won't be able to port out, right?"
Ultimate Houde: "I don't mind not coming back."
The Man Without Fear: "But if I go, you'll have a chance to 'port ME out. This task doesn't need eyes. I just slap them onto that thing and boom."
Ultimate Houde: "I'm not comfortable with that."
The Man Without Fear: "And I won't be able to see just how high in the air I am."

His little jest doesn't work.

The Man Without Fear: "Let me do this."

Ultimate Houde has to create the longest reaching gateway, and match the drop of the mooninite. Houde rushes, ripping the fabric of reality as he runs in a straight line, the line a chasm into other places, the view changing drastically as it gets closer and closer to the target. The mooninite breaks Earth's atmosphere and Ultimate Houde has it.

Ultimate Houde: "Go!"

The Man Without Fear leaps in with the three charged power cells, landing onto the mooninite – but he is just unprepared for the speed, heat, and the vacuum. The lack of oxygen blows him immediately off his feet. Using his billy club, The Man Without Fear just scrapes into an anchor and pulls himself onto the mooninite surface. He attempts to put the power cells onto the mooninite, and holding them down, he prepares to hit them, but he can't fight the pull and his swept off his feet – his helmet cracking, bashing onto the mooninite.

He tumbles into the atmosphere, scrambling with his limbs to get back on, but he's blown too far too quickly, bashed and disorientated, freefalling away.

And the power cells with him.

Watcher sees the whole thing.

Watcher: "He's not coming back. Earth is doomed."

The Savannah of Eden

The citadel will be gone soon.

The mooninite, steered by UltimateDJF who now plummets down from the sky, catapulted far by his batting of the mooninite to crash elsewhere, the mooninite burns in the sky, heading irrevocably for the citadel – it's size casting a growing shadow that sprawls over the entire complex.

Ultimate Scarlet Witch: "Let's go."

Conjuring a teleportational gateway, Ultimate Scarlet Witch hurries Lithum, who's dragging the frozen Iceshadow, into her gateway to safety.

Projekt X: "Witch. … Take me."

Ultimate Scarlet Witch studies him – his body paralysed broken, his mouth demanding for help – his hand shattered along with the gun that killed DIrishB. And though he were nothing, she turns and teleports herself and her two comrades away, leaving him for the worms, should they be able to stomach him.

The mooninite is imment.

Still surrounded by a torrent of Trolls, Iceman and Hawkeye101 battle. Striding high, instinctively stooping from the nearness of the mooninite, Baxter storms in, slamming his hand onto the floor.

Baxter: "Hold on!"

Iceman and Hawkeye101 jump onto his hand, grasping as tight as they can as he raises.

Baxter spies Shihad, who is frantically, and happily tearing his enemies apart. Baxter offers him the same aid. Shihad doesn't respond.

Baxter: "Shihad!"

No response. The mooninte looms closer. Baxter grabs Shihad unceremoniously and storms out of the citadel's superstructure, heading for safe ground at their rendezvous point, there in just a few momentous steps, Ultimate Quicksilver awaits them.

Ultimate Quicksilver: "Took your time."
Iceman: "Where's ProjectX2?"
Ultimate Quicksilver: "He didn't make it?"
Baxter: "I didn't see him."

Hawkeye101 gazes back.

Hawkeye101: "I can't see him… it's too dark."

Ultimate Quicksilver looks up at the descending mooninite, judging whether or not ProjectX2 is worth the risk.

He dashes into the citadel, searching at lightspeed for ProjectX2, or even confirmation of his body. Then suddenly, he spies, speared into the floor, his ally Widdle Wade, moving. Ultimate Quicksilver, unsure if he's a zombie or not, rushes to him.

Ultimate Quicksilver: "Wade?"
Widdle Wade: "It's me."

Ultimate Quicksilver tears the shrapnel from the floor, and as the first spires of the citadel crumble under the weight of the crushing mooninite, Ultimate Quicksilver tosses Widdle Wade over his shoulder and pegs it to safety.

The explosions shockwaves the entire Savannah, rocking almost all the way up to the Arab Emirates, and down to the Antarctic. It's aftershocks are unnoticed, mingling into the mooninites cascading the world over, those not saved by the superhuman populace.

The collision razes the citadel, its impenetrable walls torn asunder, the vast Troll army nearly extinct, the battlefield made barren. The soil splinters and chasms, the mooninite shatters, spreading wreckage across vast stretches of lands, destroying habitats and villages.

Such marvelous desolation.

The Red Star

The barren Armageddon mooninite aims for Earth. The Man Without Fear has failed. Ultimate Gambit orders Ultimate Houde.

Ultimate Gambit: "Get me Thee Great One."

Ultimate Houde braces against the pain, his brow furrowed holding back his sweat. He does so. Gatewaying his way onto the battlefield, Ultimate Houde watches King Curly and Thee Great One thrash the Troll army. Gatewaying quickly and haphazardly, he wrests Thee Great One, plucking him from King Curly's grasp.

Ultimate Houde: "We need him."

And before King Curly can respond, Ultimate Houde and Thee Great One are gone, back to the launch bay.

Ultimate Gambit: "We need another gateway to the mooninite."

Ultimate Houde's eyes widen at the thought, and taking several deep breaths, carves another opening.

Thee Great One: "What is going on?!"

Turning his head, he sees the gigantic mooninite as it dips into Earth's atmosphere.

Thee Great One: "…"

Before Thee Great One can comment, the gateway is active, and Ultimate Gambit grabs Thee Great One and throws the two of them onto the mooninite. Ultimate Houde jumps in with them.

Plunging onto the mooninite, Thee Great One almost blows off, but Ultimate Gambit, rooting himself into the mooninite with his staff, grabs hold. Ultimate Houde skids across the surface of the mooninite, but anchors himself with his sword, it buckling under the pressure of holding on and keeping the gateway open.

To speak, they have to almost make themselves hoarse.

Ultimate Gambit: "WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!"
Ultimate Houde: "YOU'RE COMING BACK!"

Ultimate Gambit appreciatively, looks into Ultimate Houde's eyes.

Thee Great One: "WHAT?!?!"
Ultimate Gambit: "CRITICAL MASS! NOW!"

Thee Great One's body emanates, charging up to his most powerful explosive potential. And Ultimate Gambit, holding on, charges his body up further, with even more explosive energy. Thee Great One starts to fret.

Ultimate Gambit: "ONCE, YOU WANTED TO BE A HERO!"

Thee Great One steels to his situation, convincing himself it'll just take time for him to reconstitute his body. He will live up to his name. After all, if he dies, who'll rule the world?

The charging Thee Great One becomes almost blinding, Ultimate Houde squinting, struggling to keep the gateway open, just above his head, the gateway tearing across the heavens, and in the launch bay, the vacuum into Earth's atmosphere blows anything lose into it.

The light gets too bright and hot, and Ultimate Gambit, still fiercely holding onto Thee Great One, turns his head and looks down.

He sees it all. America, Europe, Asia, Africa. Greenland. The Arctic. Italy really does look like a boot kicking Sicily. It's all worth it.

To see the Earth only as stars do.

If only he had more time.

Changing his grip, he slams Thee Great One into the mooninite. The explosion is a nuclear fire. It burns up everything – a quarter of the mooninite crumbles into ash almost immediately, the the fire shattering, splintering, neutering the destructive impact. The sky ignites, clouds burn red and rain fire, it's a global spectacle to never be forgotten, that all will see.

Ultimate Houde is blown immediately through his own gateway, but too quickly, his body is incinerated, he blasts into the Red Star launch bay, on fire, his skin boiling and scarring. Watcher rushes over to him, putting out the fires. The gateway is still open.

Ultimate Houde: "G… Gambit?"

Watcher looks up and around.

Watcher: "I don't see him."

Ultimate Houde, his body immolated, his blood boiling like sulphur, stares at the gateway. He won't let it close until Ultimate Gambit comes through.

The explosion seeps back into the launch bay, burning the oxygen, rising the temperature to nearly lethal levels.

Watcher: "Close the gateway."

Ultimate Houde refuses.

Watcher: "He… he was so close to the blast. If he's not through now…"

Ultimate Houde growls, trembling in the pain, his focus on the gateway allowing him to disconnect from it. Watcher sorrowfully looks into Ultimate Houde's eyes. The launch bay starts to melt. Carefully and gently, Watcher cups his hands over Ultimate Houde's nose and mouth. The lack of air, the pain, Ultimate Houde tries to struggle, but can't manage all too quickly, he passes out, and the gateway closes.

The Earth is safe.

The Savannah of Eden

Baxter: "What was that?!"
Hawkeye101: "An explosion?"

Iceman doesn't care for the sky. Nor does Widdle Wade. They steps through the rubble, looking for ProjectX2. A small rodent hops up onto Shihad's palm and twitches its nose.

Shihad: "Found him."

Leading them through the rubble, stepping over carcass and device, they discover ProjectX2.

Slumped under the remains of a doomwurm wall, hanging over him, a small willow tree beside him, ProjectX2 found some small shelter in an apocalypse. His body has cracked and crumbled, almost hollow. His legs pounded to dust, his torso and arms segmented and open, showing nothing inside. They carefully rush towards him. ProjectX2's head raises, and as it does, his neck cracks and steams, his eyes widened in delirium.

ProjectX2: "I killed 10,000 of them. I have to go to the end of the universe now, and leave you alone. Farewell. I'll see you yesterday."

His neck crumbles to dust. His metallic helmeted head collapses into his chest, crushing it to rubble. His body crumbles and falls.

All that remains is a prosthetic cybernetic hand, a hollow metal helmet.

Surrounded in ash.

Ultimate Central

His empire ruined, Nurhachi through the screen, thumbs his nose at The Emperor. The mooninites have all been destroyed. Those that weren't, those that hit, their effects lessened by the combined efforts of the Centralites and the superhuman populace of the world. Ultimate Central continues in overdrive, wiping more and more power from the Emperor, and giving more to mankind.

Nurhachi: "Game over, E."
The Emperor: "No… the game is not over."

The Emperor turns to Icemastertron.

The Emperor: "Do it."

Icemastertron has no idea what he's referring to.

The Emperor: "Ice: Do it."

Icemastertron can't think of anything to do. His fear has transformed into a fugue state. He can only watch as The Emperor, frustrated with thunderous rage enters a communication code to the Red Star.

He orders it to move. Full speed. Into the Earth.

The Red Star rocks and shakes as it's continent-sized engines thrust it towards Earth. It's closing proximity alters tides and gravitation pulls. Inside the Red Star, Watcher has no idea what's happening. King Curly stops fighting, and Moonmaster is jostled to sanity. The Heralds, and Nigma, outside on the surface, gasping and wheezing from the effort of stopping the mooninite bombardment, see what's happening, and are too weak to stop it.

Nurhachi: "Y… You can't do that. You'll destroy the Earth."

The Emperor just stares into Nurhachi, who sweats and panics.

Nurhachi: "You'll split it in half! There'll be nothing to rule! Not even rubble! You won't win! No one will!"
The Emperor: "Ah. You see. This. Is not. A game."

Icemastertron tries to stop it, but can't find it in himself to move. He can't fully comprehend all that has happened in so short a time. He's fried.

Nurhachi faces the impossible situation. He looks at the overdrive programme. The power drain isn't slowing the Red Star. He looks for hope in his allies. Marvelman is terrified. Ultimate Bigby can't think.

Nurhachi acts.

He turns off the overdrive programme and reverses it, allowing the programme to return Ultimate Central to itself all the power it just delived. He steps away from the console.

Ultimate Bigby: "What are you…"
Nurhachi: "You've got back it, E. You've won. Call it off."

The Emperor remains indignant.

Nurhachi drops his head and submits.

Nurhachi: "Emperor… Your Excellency… you've won. Don't destroy the Earth. Please."

The Emperor, restraining his smile, doesn't dignify Nurhachi with a verbal response. He just presses commands into his computer console.

A huge flash opens up over the spire, over the Heart of Ultimate Central directly above Nurhachi. Instantaneously, it sucks Nurhachi into it, to be lost in cyberspace forever.

The flash opens wider.

Marvelman reacts as fast as he can, and dragging the unconscious Ourchair with his remaining arm to the edge of the spire, Ultimate Bigby too, with Rene, but as soon as he gets him to the edge, he runs back to the Heart.

Marvelman, perplexed, thinking Ultimate Bigby foolhardy, continues. He tosses Ourchair and kicks Rene both over the spire's edge, and plummets down, his last-ditch effort to carve a gateway in front of them both, teleporting out to safety. He falls – and he tries, but can't manage it.

Ultimate Bigby rushes to the console and hammers in a code, commencing a complete sealing of Ultimate Central's capabilities, a programme designed to lock out everyone, one he'd prepared for his original foray against The Avatars. Then, to keep everyone away from the Heart itself, he irradiates the entire console, making it untouchable for the next thousand years.

Ultimate Bigby: "There's your prize, you black-hearted son of *****."

Marvelman slices into the air again, trying to conjure a portal. A limp, weak, needle through space is all he can muster.

Ultimate Bigby spies Dr Draco, still unconscious next to the computer, and though he wishes he could, he can't bring himself to kill him. He turns and jumps off the spire.

As he falls, he sees Marvelman, Ourchair, and Rene, descending lethally into the processor city. Marvelman pries open the needle-sized hole, threading it with his broken blade, just wide enough… and the four go.

Ultimate Central Mansion

His enemies all defeated, his power base, Ultimate Central his once more, The Emperor returns the Red Star to the moon's orbit.

The World is safe.

The Emperor has won.

The New World Order

The evidence is undeniable – the Avatars, the supposed guardians of Earth, were responsible for destroying a universe and having its refugees try to destroy the human race. The message from the Red Star, DIrishB's confession, and the testimony of the witness of their evil, The Emperor.

This man, explains how on a peaceful mission to our universe, the Avatars seized him and forced him to make them Gods on Earth. Amidst the treachery and the murder, The Emperor returned to his throne when his people, who believed him dead, came for retribution through space and time. The Emperor explains his wishes, that what the Avatars stole and abused, he would share willingly. He gave the world superpowers to save them from the apocalypse, but the Avatars overloaded Ultimate Central and so it was merely a temporary gesture. Espousing his desire to make those superpowers a permanent situation for all, once Ultimate Central is prepared, with wishes for a peaceful co-existance, and a sharing of technology, he remains a globally renowned and beloved ambassador, crowned by them with a term of honour for his diligence, integrity, heroism, and sense of justice for those who are unjustly persecuted – The Emperor. The administrator of mankind's future.

This is the World now.

But few, perhaps too few, perhaps enough, see the world for what it truly is.

The Emperor's cooperation with the UN has allowed him to assert himself into all the world's politics. His technology spreads, his giving of power and wealth creates a world dependent on him and his administration; The Emperor controls the growth of mankind's technological development, he rules its future. From orbit, the Red Star looks down on the Earth from where the grey moon once did, an ever-watchful eye of the new world order. Vast Troll armies, breeding deep within it, and expanding from the Savannah of Eden, rebuilding and impenetrable fortress in a vast, undeveloped, relatively uninhabited part of the world. The highly efficient Bots, the invisible Lurkers, the instantaneous jinxing Longshots, the shape-shifting consciousness of the Lunar Lord, grant the Emperor an army to rival that of the UN in its entirety, capable of fighting anywhere, anytime, with lethal efficiency. His three major threats, disposed of: Dr Strangefate lost to oblivion, and Bass Lak Tus, a sacred crypt for his heralds, orbiting the Earth as a necrotic trophy. And the Avatars – all gone. The world is in the hands of a tyrant. The world, has given itself to him.

This is the World now.

There is no one to stop him. No one would even want to. Save for these few. Heretics, outlaws, and fugitives, desperate for any help, they work together to one end: to fight The Emperor and his people, to remove their influence from Earth.

This is The Project.

All our lives, held in the balance of one source, a source totally amoral, central to the society and its politics, to be used only as its moderators see fit. To destroy, or to build, both lives and dreams; But ultimately, to change, through the exercise of power.

This… is Ultimate Central.

That took me two hours to read, and all I can say is ****ING AWESOME!!! There was so much suspense, I didn't know what was gonna happen! So many died, that was really unexpected, but I made it (kind of)! Great job balancing characters and story, this was truly the greatest chapter of UC. Excellent work Bass!
May I add that the title "The Divinely Damned Dr. Strangefate" ****ing rocks?

Let's see who finishes this baby next.
Holy crap that was awesome to such a degree I cant even fathom. Seriously this was worth the wait. That was so excited and ended on such a downer, I cant wait to see what happens next

Also kick *** cover!
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I just wet myself reading this. Totally awesome!!!!
Lurkers, Trolls, Bots, flamers and a kickass speedster. Can't get better then that.
Awesome 50th fic. Worth the wait and I'm looking forward to read the new Ultimate Central Fanfics.

One Question though: Do we all have counterparts? :D

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