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Issue Forty-One, Good Saruva Hunting Part IV

And So It Begins

The grounds around Castle Brangore were surrounded by a low stone wall, and from the gate to the front of the castle was a distance of roughly half a mile. The grounds were predominantly wooded, which made it hard to see all the way to the castle from their positions outside.

Siberian Star was hovering off to the west, while Flex moved back and forth in front of the gate, which was on the east, and sometimes going almost halfway around the grounds to the south and north. MidKnight Star kept a constant watch on the gate, the only means of egress for a vehicle, and Merlynne, invisibly did laps around the grounds, about three miles per circuit. Sandstone and Frostbite simply waited near the wall to the northwest, where they could get close on the roads.

Max ducked underground and set off, approaching the castle from the left. Those remaining watched and waited.

About forty-five minutes after he left, Max rose from the ground near where Sandstone and Frostbite were keeping watch.

Frostbite jumped at what he first thought was an apparition rising from the ground that. Unconsciously he gripped Sandstone's shoulder. He relaxed as he recognized the form as Max.

"So, anything interesting?" Sandstone said.

"There is absolutely nothing bad going on in there. I watched the troops sleeping in the barracks and saw no signs of bad dreams. The troop lounge had the television on and there was no bad programming on. And the kitchen," Max said. "I could smell the remnants of their last meal and there was nothin' bad about that. Fried chicken and waffles. Make you wanna smack your momma, it was so good."

He shoved his spear into the ground and had a little sit down. With a metal stylus from one of his many pockets, he carved a small map into the dirt. [Done as accurately as Max is capable.] "Now, this area right here, I couldn't speak about. Something kept me from poking my widdle head in so that might be where they go to be bad. I don't know if they could fit all twenty guys in there or not, but it would be worth a shot. Guess you could go down the elevator right here, if you want.

"There were no elephants or airships or munitions factories or even any barbed wire. How does Jerry expect to keep the noble Tommy from crossing the line and giving him what for with a swift kick up the backside?"

He stood and took his spear. "Anything else, oh Great and Powerful Leader of Stone? The castle can be yours and fitting it would be your heavy crown and cloak. Mayhaps you might venture a copper to a pitiful jester before you depart on this crusade of yours? Worry you not, for you will prove yourself in this battle. I see you getting that kingdom you've always dreamed of."

Sandstone took it all in. "OK, Max, explain this to me as if I were a commoner, and not the nobility that you are. How many guys do they have down there? Did any of them look familiar to you? Were any of them paranormals, or at least dressed like them? Where is this elevator? Can it be accessed from outside the castle?"

Max recoiled a little, as if her words stung him. "There are twenty, all base m en-at-arms. The elevator is in the middle of the place with no outside access w ithout mining equipment. I saw no wizards or vile villains. The castle will be yours if you take it by force. Good day to you all."

He stood and took his spear back before taking to the air. "I wish you all the luck you deserve and none of the hardship."

"Max, wait." Sandstone said, her voice somewhat weary.

"I thought my part was played in this tragedy," Max said. "I did not realize that I'd not been given my cue to exit the stage. What would you have me do?"

"I would have you stay, and help if you could." Sandstone said. At that momen t, she felt less the tactician and leader and more the now orphaned 23 year old she was. "Let me check in with Defender. Obviously there's something going on down there that shouldn't be - but if you didn't see any supers down there, I'm not certain there's any good in going in now. If there is, though - you may hel p get people out alive. That area that you couldn't get into might be Saruva's laboratory - which means undoubtedly he may have innocents in there, possibly ev en people from your Kingdom. Until we know for sure...I need your help."

Sandstone hailed Defender on the con and relayed the information Max had provide d. "There's something to be said for waiting for bigger fish to get here" Sands tone began, "and there's something to be said for shutting this down here and no w. What's your call - just because you're not physically here doesn't mean that you're not still in charge."

"Do you have a visual sighting of Saruva or any evidence that he is linked to th is site?" Defender asked. "If you know that this is his lab then shut it down. If you aren't sure then we need to pull back and do some more investigation. H old on."

There was a momentary delay and she could here muttered conversation. "Okay, we have a model based on your description. Looks like there is no way in that is not destructive. Is there any way you can get your hands on someone to interrog ate?"

"Hold on". She turned to Max. "Any evidence that you saw of lab equipment or anything close?" She thought for a minute. "Max, would you know Dr. Saruva if you saw him?

"No. To both," Max said.

Sandstone reached into her belt clip and produced her cellphone. Dialing into t he main computer, she produced an image of Saruva on the picture area of the cellphone, then showed it to Max. "See anyone that looked like him?"

"No, I saw no one of that ilk. But I was unable to proceed far inward without tripping alarms." Max ran a palm along the tip of his spear. "Is he the man you wish taken alive?"

"Against my better judgment, yes." Sandstone said. She thought it over for a minute, then turned back to Defender on the com unit. "Unless we sent Max back in to do the thrashing AND the interrogation, isolating a random guard probably isn't doable without a battle royal. However, I've heard enough to know that w hatever's down there shouldn't *BE* there."

"If you want to be a field leader, these are the sorts of decisions you will have to learn to make. It is your call," Defender said. "I'll back you on this one, if you feel your target is present."

Sandstone turned to Max. "There HAS to be another way into that complex other than the front door of the castle. You're the only one who has the capability of finding it. Please wander around a bit more and try to find where folks come in. Once we determine that, we'll send a contingent to meet you. I have no doubt that we need to take this place tonight but I'd rather minimize property damage in doing it."

"I shall go in again," Max said. "This time, for the center."

Sandstone smiled. "Thank you". She then began to relay the plan via coded communications to the rest of the team.

Max dove underground and began to fly toward the underground lair.

Hearing Sandstone update the team, Flex had to wonder again at the choice of Max . He suspected that Sandstone wasn't altogether comfortable with the enigmatic aristocrat but not for the first time did he wonder if he should have offered hi mself to infiltrate the base.

He'd make a mental note to review with Sandstone his abilities in this area, aft er all he'd already infiltrated one of Saruva's lairs before, all be it without back up. What's to say he couldn't be of use in that capacity in the future.

Looking about, Flex silently changed into a older looking man, aimlessly wanderi ng about as if lost and continued to do his circuit around the perimeter once ag ain.

Sandstone waited anxiously and listened in on the communications channel. After a few moments, Max'es comm unit crackled into life. Max wasn't speaking into it directly, it was probably on his belt or something, so the bits and pieces she heard and could relay to the others were a bit confusing.

Sandstone immediately sent a text message to everyone on the team, including the reservists. "HLD POSTN - GO2 COM - MAX IS UNDRGRND w/CHNL OPN - LSTN"

A great banging noise, accompanied by Max'es happy whistling came across the channel, fading in and out (Sandstone guessed it was a side effect of his ghosting). Then ...

"Freeze, freak!" said a new voice.

"Oops. Busted like Benjamin Bunny in MacGreggors lettuce patch," said Max'es voice surprisingly clear.

"How the hell ..." said a third voice.

"Shut it, Rico," said the second voice.

There was some soft mumbling as whoever had found Max discussed quietly, then the second voice spoke again more clearly, "Yeah, the Beggar King. Alright."

A few moments passed with only slight incidental noise, then a new voice spoke, "Good job, Spinelli. Let's move him on in. The doctor has a special room ready for him."

Max'es voice came next, "Doc? Which doc? I don't need a check up. But it looks like you could use a visit or two. Is that arm stainless steel? And get yourself some skin cream. For the love of Guenhwyvar, it's all craggy and leathery. Hey! Hands off the threads. This coat is a Hanwazi original."

The second voice: "Allright Sunshine, you can come along now easy, or in a minute unconscious. It's all the same to me. Start by dropping the pigsticker."

"What? You'd have me surrender my weapons in the process of giving up? That's crazy talk. And I would know a thing or smoke about crazy. Let me think for a moment." Max'es voice was quiet for just a second. "Would you let me take it back out to my truck? Honest Injin, I'll be right back."

"Drop it or we fire in three," replied second voice.

Sandstone attempted to use the technology currently on Max to pinpoint his location, both in terms of coordinates and depth, and cross-referenced to a city map.

"You're no fun, you know," Max said. "Now the gnomes won't know where to place the explosives to breech your fortress. How ever will they rescue the Princess?"

Sandstone swore under her breath, then opened a direct comlink to Flex, ears only. "How sure are you that you can get into that castle undetected? I think Max needs backup and at my best guess he's directly beneath the castle."

Flex thought for a moment then said, "I didn't get a look at the goons so I'll need to improvise but I am sure that I can get in. In any case, they are going to be more jumpy than ever, they'll expect Max to have company. But I'll do what I can."

Leaving his line open, Flex jumped over the wall and moved quickly but as quietly as he could through the grounds. He realised that, the recent 'improvements' could well have included upgraded security. Darkening his whole body he looked about to concentrate on the shades he was moving through. He knew he could only approximate them, as he was moving through but it would have to do.

PC texted everyone else: "BE RDY. THIS COULD BE FST & FURIUS"

After hearing the radio chatter from Max's encounter and seeing Sandstone's text, Frostbite's eyes shone a cold ice-blue as he quivered in anticipation. Saruva was close, he could feel it!

Flex had only gotten a short distance on his way when the comm crackled again, "Max doesn't like boxes," Max said. Then an oomph was heard a little ways a way and the crackle of energy weapons.

Flex picked up the pace a bit.

"Why aren't you here yet?" came Max'es voice over the com before it went dead.

"DAMN!" Sandstone said, then motioned to Frostbite as she created a hoverstone "Hop on" she said. She contacted the rest of the team by text. "CONVERG ON ME."

Frosbite joined Sandstone on her disk and the two moved off and top speed toward the castle. Siberian Star dropped from his hover and angled in to join Sandstone. Merlynne called on the power of the lakesword and took to the air converging on her leader.

On the opposite side of the compound, MidKnight Star lit out for the castle as well.

Sandstone and Frostbite flanked by Siberian Star and Merlynne, both airborne, arrived at the back right edge of the castle. They knew the others were running hard for the front, but wouldn't be there for a while.

A strange expression crossed Sandstone's face as she pointed down under the castle. Max was in there and she didn't know how to get at him. Or did she? Her flying disk ... it might work. As the others watched, concentration creased her face but nothing seemed to happen for several long seconds, then suddenly the earth erupted in front of her. Everyone ducked and covered their heads and when they looked up, Sandstone had dropped to one knee and looked exhausted, but a tunnel had been blasted through the ground, heading down at angle about ten meters and ending at a metal wall.

With a bit of aprehension after seeing the earthworks Sandstone just performed, Frostbite stepped to her side and helped to steady her. "Are you alright?"

Sandstone looked up at the other three, somewhat exhaustedly. "Someone care to get us in there?" She looked at Star and Frostbite. "Think you can get that metal cold enough to shatter? Or do we need to be less subtle?"

Siberian Star looked at the uncovered wall and then to Frostbite, "I do not know what the structural integrity of the substance is, but we can certainly gain their attention." The Russian took a deep breath and raised his hand toward the wall.

Frostbite stood to Siberian Star's side and extended his arm towards newly revealed metal wall.

Working in concert, Siberian Star and Frostbite chilled the wall dramatically and a sharp karate kick from Sandstone caused a section to collapse, revealing a largish storeroom of some kind. A variety of technological and chemical supples fileld the shelves as well as a more prosaic selection of foods in large industrial size cans. A single door was about forty meters away kitty-corner from where they had entered.

Sandstone looked towards Merlynne. "Go stealth" she whispered, and Merlynne faded from view. She then texted out to the other three. "HOLD POSTN OUTSD HOLE - MAY NEED BAKUP - FLEX FIRST IN IF NEEDED" She then tried to trace where Max might be again, hoping being INSIDE the complex would make things clearer. With no way to triangulate, she had little luck.

Frostbite stepped into the opening and to the side, allowed his eyes to adjust and listened for signs their break in had been detected.

Siberian Star stood quietly, straining to listen, preparing himself to spring into action if things went south in a hurry. He shifted his weight nervously, just waiting ate at him but the wish for something to happen bore too many negatives. He looked to Sandstone, hoping that she would give him the okay to fly in and bring the cold destruction of Siberia with him.

Neither Frostbite nor Siberian Star detected any immediate sign of detection, but it had only been a few seconds.

Sandstone nodded to the troops, then whispered. "Lets go. Stick together in case something big goes down. Star take lead."

Siberian Star nodded and slowly descended into the storeroom and approached the door quietly, listening at it before slowly opening it a crack to look into the hallway.

SS was at the end of a corridor stretching to the left and right. In the wall to his right was another door. He caught a glimpse of motion down to his left, someone in a jumpsuit or uniform and as flash of costume that he took to mean "para."

SS reported to Sandstone, who nodded to the general direction she believed Merlynne to be. "Check it out. Take them out as quietly as possible. We'll be ready," she whispered.

Merlynne nodded, not that anyone saw her, then proceeded out into the hallway, moving as quietly as possible, towards the figures.

Merlynne slipped through the door and saw a long corridor with three doors in the right wall, in addition to the one behind her and the one she just came through. Three jumpsuited guards looked around alertly, although they had been looking away as she came through the door, and a large tough look super in a red unitard stood with them.

Merlynne concentrated, and she could feel the strength in her muscles surge to life. She then moved to position herself between the super and the guards.

Merlynne took a deep breath and charged the super. She caught him by surprise but noticed the rough texture of his skin when she hit, leading her to suspect that he was tougher than a normal human. She swung again, but was still off-balance and the shot went wide.

"What the hell?" said the super, then put two and two together. "Call it in! I think we have a breach."

Merlynne touched one button on her communicator, signaling a silent alarm to her teammates. She had hoped that would be enough to draw them into play. She then charged towards the nearest guard, hoping to take them out of action. The guard juked at the last moment and she nearly whipped by him, but she stuck out an arm and clotheslined him, he went down like a poleaxed steer.

SS burst through the door, took in the situation and fired a blast of ice at a second guard.

Right behind him came Frostbite. "Everybody needs to chill," he mumbled as he cut loose with a blast at the super, but the shot went wide as the super stepped left - right into the avalanche Sandstone sent swirling down the hall as she came through the door.

The super staggered back a step, then braced. "Yeah, a definate break-in," he said through gritted teeth. "Call the others." With that he charged forward with superhuman speed, narrowly missing Sandstone who ducked back into the door. He continued the attack with two more punches at her.

He was now on the other side of Siberian Star and Frostbite, leaving the two remaining guards a relatively free line of fire. As they shouted the alarm into their headphone radios, they fired.

One of the two, the one SS had shot, suddenly flipped backwards, as if an invisible fist had slammed into him - as indeed it had. Siberian Star jetted toward the other, landing a sharp kick as another invisible fist caught the guard on the other side.

Frostbite and Sandstone were throwing ice and rocks against the super as fast as they could, but in the cramped quarters, getting a clear shot was difficult. The villian sidestepped and suddenly crackling red energy shot through with sparks lanced out from his eyes at Sandstone, spinnning away he punched at Frostbite.

Sandstone threw a flurry of rocks up in the way of the energy streaming from the villians eyes and stopped a lot of the energy, although some leaked through - enough that she looked rocky, if you'll pardon the pun.

By the remaining guard, Merlynne faded into view, shocking him enough that Siberian Star had no difficulty in landing a one-two punch that dropped him like a rock. The Russian spun in mid-air and a block of ice materialized next to, but not quite around, the villian. But it distracted him and Frostbite landed a solid punch. The man tried a block, but Frostbite blew through it and the villian slammed into the wall and slid to the ground.

Sandstone did not look well. "I know we've got company coming, but I need a minute." she said to those assembled, quietly.

Frostbite made sure the villian was done and then gave him a quick once over as the others rested for a moment.

For a few moments, there was silence.

Merlynne summoned her concentration and the Lakesword appeared in her hand.

Siberian Star looked upon Sandstone and glanced down the hallway. "It is too quiet," he whispered, "they called for help. They know where we are. I'll scout ahead while you recover." And with that the Russian hero slid toward the door at the end of the hall.

At that moment, Sandstone's comm-unit earpiece crackled and she heard Max'es voice, ""Lord Max to Sandy Stone. Come in Sandy! Are you in the hacienda? If so, the band is tuning up and the fiestas about to get hot. BlackArrow is heading to where the music is loudest." Then the comm-unit went dead again as Max switched off.

Siberian Star eased the door open and found himself face to face with three startled looking guards and large tough looking winged mutant with a shiny metal arm. At the same moment, sounds of blaster fire could be heard from a door to his left.

The big guy slammed a punch at SS with his metal arm.

"Things are breaking down hard. Lets get through these guys and get to Max," Sandstone said.

"Aye. This is getting tiresome." Merlynne nodded as she charged toward the winged creature, the Lakesword bearing down on him.

Frostbite moved up to cover Sandstone as she caught her breath.

SS meanwhile rolled somewhat with the punch then set up for a shot as Merlynne raced past him chopping with the Lakesword. The villian staggered back under her assault, then looked up as Siberian Star fired a huge blast of ice at him. He desperately raised his metal arm and fired a laser blast trying to melt the ice before it hit him. Huge cloud of steam blocked the corridor for a moment as laser and ice collided.

Out of the steam cloud, Siberian Star sailed in and landed another kick on the villian who was looking pretty annoyed by this point. He lashed out at SS again.

The steam-heated guards dropped to one knee (each) and opened fire.

As Siberian Star and Merlynne engaged, they saw something disturbing. Max'es spear was leaning against the wall just behind the villians. Just at that point, Max himself passed through the door to the left.

Max became solid and the spear flew from the wall back to his hand. "You shouldn't take things that don't belong to you," he said.

Merlynne silently attacked the winged creature again, knowing better than to give away a possible advantage. In attacking, she tried to move past and behind to give the heroes behind her a clearer shot. She missed, but Frostbite had a clear shot at one of the guards and an ice blast knocked him sideway.

That guard snapped out an order and all three guards fired down the corridor at Frostbite and Sandstone. The winged man concentrated his attention on Merlynne. She avoided most of his blows, then took a thump as she landed one of her own.

Siberian Star, shifted position and slammed a kick into one of the guards who had turned to fire at Frostbite. The man bounced into the wall and slumped, out of the fight.

Max turned to the guard nearest him and lashed out with the butt end of Gringrun and the man dropped like stone.

From out of the diminishing cloud of steam, an ice blast took the remaining guard full in the chest and he fell to the ground as well.

Behind Max, the door opened and BlackArrow stepped through, with another three guards behind him. At the same moment, from behind the door next along the corridor there came a crashing noise and the lights in the corridor dimmed momentarily before coming back up to full.

Frostbite moved closer to the fray as BlackArrow shouted, "Armamentarius, we're here."

"About time," growled the winged man, launching a series of punches at Merlynne. Merlynne blocked one with her shield.

"Guards, attack the Beggar King," instructed BlackArrow, nocking and firing at Siberian Star. Siberian Star launched icicles at the incoming areas knocking both off target. "Not bad," admitted BlackArrow.

Frostbite punched into Armanentarius' side, taking advantage of his focus on Merlynne. The big man flew sideways and slammed into the wall. His eyes rolled up into the back of his head and he collapsed.

"My God," said BlackArrow. "That wasn't in the briefing."

"Neither was I, I'll bet." Sandstone said as she unleashed a wall of rock directly at Blackarrow. BlackArrow grunted as Merlynne's sword struck him, then he turned, eyes wide, to see the rock coming at him and he dove for cover too late, instead being battered against the wall.

Frostbite closed on the villian, swinging as he came and landing a solid blow only partly blocked by the villian.

The Beggar King, now ghosted flew towards the guards.

On the surface the remaining heroes arrived at the front gate of the castle without challenge.

StarLad swooped up to the front door and hovered, "So partner, is there any need to ring the bell? Is B&E covered by our PI license, I think we have probably cause."

MidKnight looked up to his partner. "Looks too quiet. Can you circle around the perimiter to see if there's any other way in?"

With a nod, StarLad streaked up into the sky to give a once over on the estate looking for any activity or other breaches in the defense. Images of alien transporter devices, mole people burrowing into the depths of the earth, and other-dimensional portals occupied his thoughts as he provided surveillance and returned to MidKnight with his findings.

Around the far side of the castle, he saw what looked like a fresh tunnel leading down, and he returned and reported.

Inside, Merlynne slammed her sword in to one guard, while Siberian Star engaged another.

Frostbite kept hammering BlackArrow as Sandstone ran up to join him. As she arrived, she heard ribs crack under Frostbite's fists and BlackArrow collapsed bleeding from the mouth.

"Give ground!" shouted one of the guards and the team backed down the corridor firing as they went. The Beggar King slapped one with the butt end of his spear as he went by and the man's head snapped around leaving him with a dazed look.

Inside, Sandstone winced when she saw the blood. "Frostbite, watch your shots, especially against normal humans. If anyone knows more first aid than I do, fall back and see to Blackarrow. Frostbite, you and Merlynne go after the guards. Max, Star, lets see what's behind door #1." Sandstone turned back to see that Frostbite had already gone to the door and was swinging it open. She ran to join him.

Outside, MidKnight heard Starlad's report. "Right through the ground? I'd call that our entrance." Midnight said. He began heading that way. "They probably need help now, so if you're faster than me, don't wait for me." The three moved out at top speed.

Through the door, Siberian Star, Sandstone and Frostbite saw a lab that had obviously just suffered some kind of accident. Complicated computer and electronic equipment sputtered and shot sparks across the room from pool to pool of spilled chemicals and unidentifiable biological-organic vats.

Slumped against a console to their right, shaking his head and trying slowly to get to his feet was Dr. Armand Saruva. However, dominating the room was a strange apparatus, fed with power cables and tubes that had been transporting some kind of organic goo. The nexus of all this equipment was a huge ... creature. Standing nearly four meters tall, the thing's head was scraping the ceiling as it looked around, with energy crackling around and across it's giant form. For all that, the most horrible thing about it was the utter conviction the three felt that this giant monstrosity, with barely a glimmer of intelligence behind it's eyes, had once been human. With a strangled cry, Frostbite suddenly recognized, somehow, in it's inhuman lineaments, the form of his sister!

As Frostbite froze in horror, Sandstone took command. "Take it down. I'll secure Saruva," she said, moving towards the fallen doctor. A simple chop dropped the doctor where he stood.

Outside. Merlynne dealt with the fallen Armamentarius, while the Beggar King continued to assault the guards, driving one down with the hilt of his spear and another one back into Merlynne who drove the Lakesword into him, knocking him down and unconscious.

The remaining guard had had enough, he turned and fled.

Frostbite felt all the strength momentarily drain from his body as realization crept through his consiousness. He looked at the creature, and a despairing scream escaped from deep within his throat "Noooooooo!"

Frostbite ran to where Dr. Saruva had been knocked down by Sandstone and picked him up by his labcoat. He dropped him again in disgust as no sign of awareness met his eyes.

He turned to the creature and said "Brooke, wait it's me, Brendan! We're here to help!"

The creature paid him no mind, and a moment later, a blast of ice from Siberian Star slammed into the creature who seemed to pay it only scant attention. It did seem to distract her or it from Frostbite, though. The creature lumbered toward Siberian Star and made as if to swat him down. The agile Russian shucked and jived as well as he could.

Frostbite shouted again at her, "No Brooke, over here! It's me!" in an attempt to shift her attention and her attack.

He then frantically looked around the lab for some way to contain the creature without hurting her. Sandstone took advantage of an opening and a wave of rock shot toward the creature, but the shot missed and blasted a hole in the wall instead. Through the hole stepped Merlynne and she took her guard next to Siberian Star.

The Beggar King, spear in hand, appeared at the door and stepped through. Behind him Star Lad hovered in the doorway.

With a roar, the creature lashed out again and again at Siberian Star and Merlynne. In the midst of the flurry, it screamed and from its head a bolt of coruscating energy lanced out toward Sandstone, and then another toward Frostbite. Sandstone stood steady and even as the energy coruscated around her, her counterblast of rock struck the creature.

The Beggar King hurled Girngrun, but the spear skittered harmlessly across the monster's skin before returning to his hand.

"I KNEW IT!" Star Lad yelled pushing his way in. "Secret government labs, experiments gone wrong," he mused firing a bolt of cosmic energy at the creature, who roared with anger and pain. The hero powered with the cosmos hovered above granting a distraction and means for the others to fall back if they wanted.

The Beggar King hurled his spear again, this time scoring its flank and leaving a thin bloody line.

Frostbite staggered slightly as the bolt of coruscating energy faded from around him. "Ok, we're even for that time I ripped the head off of your Malibu Barbi" he thought.

"Please everyone, try not to hurt her too sister is in there somewhere!" Frostbite shouted to the group of embattled heroes.

Again Frostbite tried to draw the creature's attention to himself. But instead of shouting, he fired a blast of ice.

Flex looked in on the scene of horror as the monstrous mass attacked his team mates. Catching his breath, he readied himself to pounce.

Merlynne leaned forward and jammed the lakesword into the monster's side, its mystic nature leaving no wound but causing a great deal of pain. The creature screamed and redoubled its attack on Merlynne.

It found time as well to slap out at Siberian Star, and again the energy formed around its head and lanced out - this time at the Beggar King and Star Lad.

Torn though he was by conflicting emotion, Frostbite launched another blast of cold at the thing that had been his sister. The creature felt it and was beginning to get annoyed, it turned away from where it had been pummeling Merlynne and smashing her into the wall to look at Frostbite. Released from the beating, Merlynne managed to remain on her feet. Barely.

Sandstone shouted, "Keep this thing busy, I'm trying to access records on this thing." The look of concentration on her face was palpable.

MidKnight took her words to heart and a laser beam struck the creature high on the right arm eliciting a howl.

Flex, too, heard the command and leapt to the attack. Star Lad came in for a dive bomb, but the cramped quarters forced him to swerve away. The creature shifted to avoid these attacks and began to look around at the assembled heroes. Once again, the Beggar King's spear struck home, leaving a small wound on the thigh.

With a plethora of targets in front of it, the creature lashed out indiscriminately with hands feet and energy from its head.

Knowing his enlarged size made him an easy target Flex moved, as he saw the creature's blows head his way, hoping to avoid he worst it could do.

Somehow Frostbite knew there must be a way to save his sister from this horrible experiment, and not get any of his new friends injured or worse. He hoped Sandstone could find something fast.

Seeing that he finally got the creature's attention, Frostbite fired another blast of ice at his transformed sister.

Sandstone found something that might be useful if she had actually known what it was she's looking at. Immediately she packaged it up and transmitted to Defender and hit the comlink. "Sandstone. I need your people to put into English what I just sent you, please, and fast. Frostbite's sister's been bioengineered into a monster and we need to put it down without taking her out."

"Signal received. Hold tight and contain the creature. We'll see what we can figure out here," Defender said.

MidKnight continued working on the "taking her down" part, pumping two more laser beams into the creature.

The sound of force upon flesh connected on Star Lad who withstood the impact of the beast's connecting wild swing, grunting at the energy blast with a challenging "Is that all you got?"

Star Lad lashed out at the creature with a punch and connected, only to be repelled back eliciting a grunt. "Unnnhhhh," he said stumbling back. "That will teach me not to touch a lady, stay back there is some kind of energy feedback that has quite a kick," he warned the others.

Noting the way that Star Lad recoiled from touching the monster, Flex thought it provident that he hadn't himself connected yet. Looking around, he looked about for what he could use as a weapon against the creature. A lab table looked like it might work, he grabbed it and swung it at the monster just barely missing.

The creature shot bolts of energy wildly now, at Star Lad, at Flex and at the Beggar King.

Frostbite was thinking of trying to hold down the creature with force until he saw Starlad's punch attempt. Now he looked around the room for some equipment he could throw to block the creatures progress or bring down from the ceiling.

The creature lashed out, knocking Flex across the room. Turning back to Merlynne and Star Lad, it continued to beat on them, pausing only to send a jet of energy at MidKnight.

SisterMonster: 33/126 HTC 91/126 HTK /4 /5 +12 damage. Done with R20

Last Updated 28 September 2005