Gladiators….

A year! A bloody, damned year!
I never worked out the exact ratio, but time runs screwy in some realities. In this case, it seems to be almost 2 to 1, because I was in their world for almost 2 full years, this time.

Yeah, I finally made it back. I was getting set to get my life back in order, when I posted, last and then I had a visit from my friends, the Guardians, who’d come to town investigating my disappearance. I’m busy explaining to them how I come to have a 1940s haircut and costume, etc, when there’s a shudder and a flash of light, and then my house was sliding down a hill.

My costume reconfigured for the period….

Amp in 1948-Gladiator Universe

My new house! Well, new-ish. I hadn’t had a chance to get it all broken in, yet. I hadn’t performed the territory marking rite or anything!

Everyone made it to the party except Centurion. He was on a test run with a new suit of armor. These are the Guardians who came along for the ride…

Everybody makes it out of the house without too much trouble, but now my house is at the bottom of the hill. Then I noticed that, while it’s the same hillside, it ain’t MY hill. It’s just dawning on me that we’re in a parallel reality, when the Futurist’s funky airship appears over the  treeline. He’d brought me back, and with me, Mega, Cassandra, Wildstar, Virago, and Tesla, from the Guardians. And their jump-jet. And my freakin’ house! The jump-jet was intact, but my house was a wreck.

Mega gets the jet in the air, he’s not happy about what’s happened and he’s not willing to ride with the guy who shanghaied us. I go on the airship with the Futurist. Wildstar and Virago are with me, relaying things back to the others in the jet. There are some Gladiators on board, so I make introductions. Mystere and Hawk are there, along with Hurricane and Liberator, as well as Golden Star and Magneton. The Futurist seemed a bit…taxed. I guess he strained something, pulling so much mass through.

So, here’s what I never got a chance to post, about the first time I was brought here.

I helped the Arsenal of Democracy and the Allied Gladiators push the Japanese out of Mexico, where they’d established themselves in late 1943. They had held on, against the Allies for this long, only because of the Axis supers were holding back the Arsenal. What’s more, in the last few months, they had begun construction of the secret weapon that had allowed the Axis to take over Europe and most of Asia.

The device, a set of seven antenna masts supporting rings of field coils and other electronic gear, generates an energy field that makes people violently nauseous and repels Gladiators. For supers from my world, it just causes a vague uneasiness, which is why they brought me over. I helped take it down and helped with fighting to Axis supers. We managed to drive them out of the Americas and when they sent me home, we thought they had the momentum to finish the war.

But, it turned out, there was more than one of those mysterious secret weapon towers. They had been building them around the world, and there was more to them that simply repelling people with super-powers. The energy from the apparatus was meant to allow an ancient Lovecraft-style Elder God to enter and survive in this universe. The realm they inhabit is many times more dimensionally complex than the human planes. Normally, they cannot enter the human planes without boiling away to nothingness.

According to Mystere, there is a legend of one of these things entering a human plane simply to commit suicide, which destroyed the universe it entered and caused a hyper-dimensional shock wave that damaged dozens of parallels in close dimensional proximity to the destroyed universe. Scary stuff. And the freaking Nazis were trying to bring one here. Great.

Still, we had an advantage. We had myself and the Guardians, who were less vulnerable to the energies from the containment towers. We had speed on our side, with the Guardians’ jump jet and Wildstar’s and Virago’s speed.

First order of business was to locate the incursion points. With Mystere’s magics and lore, we knew that it is never easy to bring these things into our space and keep them here. Even the more limited otherworldly creatures have a hard time maintaining a foothold in the human planes, which is why demons and gods aren’t always under foot.

So, we did a little low orbital recon. With my energy sensitivity and Wildstar’s energy powers, we  had the sites mapped out in a few hours. We also noted that one of the sites, the one in the Carpathian mountains (wouldn’t you just know it?) was stronger than all the others combined. A few of the magic types, Johnny Warlock (a creepy kid who started out as a villain, but got scared straight), Mystere and Karl Rainwater, a Sioux shaman, figured that the Carpathian site was the original foothold point. The creature was manifesting most strongly there. All the other points wear like the tips of its fingers, by comparison.

This gave us the idea of striking off the serpent’s head, so to speak. The idea being, if we broke it’s strongest  hold, we could more easily break it loose from the others. Maybe even cause it to recoil from this plane altogether, but that was a best case type thing.

The workers at the Mexico site had worn heavy leather suits, with copper mesh sewn to them, and heavy copper helmets. We pieced together enough suits for ten of the Arsenal to accompany us, hoping they’d protect them from the emanations from the towers. We loaded everyone who couldn’t fly faster than sound in the jump jet, really pushing its capacity for this. Then we went ballistic.

Literally.

The shortest flight time between two points on opposite sides of the Earth is not actually a straight line. It’s a ballistic arc. With Wildstar’s help, we got the jump jet near escape velocity, pushing into the upper atmosphere on the edge of space. Forty minutes after take-off, we came screaming out of the clear sky over the Carpathian mountain site.

Part of a mountain peak had been blasted away to  make room for the installation. Because of the radiations from the towers, the site was lightly manned, but a nearby airfield would launch fighters as soon as they detected us. As the jump jet slowed, it dropped Gladiators like a bomb load. Even with their suits, they were feeling the effects of the towers from a considerable distance. We decided to let them take the air field.

Wildstar and I dived in on the installation. The waves of nausea started at about ten miles. It was bad. Looking at the thing was worse. It resembled nothing more than a writhing cluster of tentacles, though it was clearly not composed of anything like matter as we know it. In ever spectrum I could sense, it just appeared ‘wrong’. The eye couldn’t focus on any detail, as it reflected light strangely, and the glow from the towers and from the thing itself served to confuse the mind. In the one photo we got of it, it looks more like a greenish inverted whirlpool or something. I figured it wouldn’t photograph well.

I went for the generator building and Wildstar went after the masts, first severing their support cables, and then blasting at the manganese-tungsten alloy with cosmic energy that seemed to twist aside at the last second, blunting the force. Still, it got the whole thing swaying a little, as the guy wires flailed. I had better luck. The men in the generator building were sluggish and weak. I gave the oil tank a hefty burst of stored-up thermal energy and enjoyed the nice cinematic fireball it produced. In the building, the generators wound down, but power still flowed from massive capacitor banks. I eat electricity for breakfast, so I had a nice buffet laid before me. I shorted the capacitors and drained their power until I was topped up. Then I just went about smashing them. The structure caught fire and I went out to see if I could help with the towers.

Wildstar was still working on blasting the towers, but the others had landed by then and Mega had one of them torn up by its roots. The big rings of apparatus were sparking and twisting. I could sense the field strength falling off. The thing inside the field seemed to be fighting back, that’s what was turning Wildstar’s energy blasts. But as the field strength dropped, the thing was shrinking. It was slow, at first, but it was soon obvious that it couldn’t hold out. I got in there and broke one of the rings. Tesla hurled a truck into the creature, with spectacular results. The truck and the creature mutually annihilated, sort of like matter and anti-matter. Whatever it was, it broke the thing’s hold and Wildstar’s blasts tore through a pair of towers, causing the whole thing to sag into itself. A part of one tower broke free and annihilated itself on the creature, which seemed to hurt it even more than the truck.

Seeing this, those of us who could, pushed on the structure to force it into contact, causing the creature to further retreat from this plane. It took a couple of hours for the thing to slink back to its home, but we’d done it. With the installation destroyed and the creature gone, the sick feeling went away.

With the main foothold destroyed, we had an easier time fighting our way to the other sites. It took awhile, but we managed to destroy all of them. By the end, we had even brought some of the Axis Gladiators into the fight. In many cases, the creature had exerted some kind of mental control over them. It had to “touch” them, so that it’s presence wouldn’t repel them, as it did the other supers. Those it found to be less than reliable, it controlled.

We learned the creature’s name, too. Sothon Aot. We learned who brought it into the world, first, as well. Albrecht Kuhn, the man who, in my world became Professor Apocalypse, was the chief acolyte of Sothon Aot. He used his scientific genius to create machines that served as artificial life support for the thing, simulating the myriad dimensions of its home space in an unstable tesseract contained by the towers. I guess it’s a good thing he didn’t know how to generate stable tesseracts, or the thing might have already consumed the world.

So…now I’m home. A year has passed (here, anyway). My house is gone. Legacy is freaking out over all the time I’ve been away without contact. Oh, well. I’m hanging out with the Guardians again, on the coast. I helped win World War II….man, how am I gonna get back to regular super-villains, after beating on Nazis?

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