Collusions of Grandeur

Fan Fiction by
Anthony Harte

“Let’s get started then,” the charismatic Henry Atlas said securing the hands on the last of the six hostages. He stood up and glanced at his eclectic companions. The other five members of Henry’s crew nodded at the Hellion. Breaking into a bankrupt office building on the last day of its operation in the heart of Galaxy City had paid off. Their ascent to power would happen under the very noses of the heroes of the city.

“Very well Henry, create your pentagram in the open office lobby over there. The extra high ceiling there will be of asset and the rest of you go change.”

“There you go again,” Oscar said thrusting his finger at Carl, “bossing us around.”

“Gentleman,” Henry started.

“Pfft…” Wyatt Talos interrupted. “Gentleman? Most of you are without honor.”

“And when did the Warriors begin worrying about honor?” Tao questioned. Being a Tsoo Enforcer and easily insulted about his personal honor, he slowly drew his katana ensuring all heard the innuendo created by the sound of his steel.

Henry watched his group began to disintegrate for the third time today. “Look no one here is the boss,” he began. “We’ve all agreed. Tao please put the blade away. We took chances being here, if our gangs…” The Hellion paused glancing at the Carl, a mere guard from the Circle of Thorns, “Or cults, were to find out about our meeting, there is no doubt we would be killed. Remember we all sought each other out.”

“Correct,” Tao said sheathing his katana. “I apologize; tonight our union and cooperation will deliver unto us the power and respect we have been denied in our own clans.”

“Agreed,” Steve, a member of the Skulls, said nodding with the others. He went and stood by Henry. “United we will prevail; we all have witnessed it in our shared dream. The Dark Lord beckons us.”

Henry nodded and placed his hand on the shoulder of his cousin, although they were sworn enemies by gang affiliation, family blood was family blood.

“This won’t work,” Wyatt spat. “Before I arrived one of my Warrior brethren contacted me and told me Occam’s Blade was asking about my whereabouts. If the ex-Tsoo is onto us then this treachery is over.

“No!” Oscar shouted. “I have risked more than any of you. Do you know what the Outcasts do to traitors? Death is mercy; we must complete the ceremony tonight.”

“Yes, we have all brought our skills and resources together for this momentous night.” Henry declared acting the informal leader. They may have officially sworn to know one, but they seemed to listen to him. “Let’s hurry; Occam’s Blade has powerful friends.”

Cooperation never before witnessed in Paragon City among any members of the villain groups came to fruition. Henry perfectly inscribed the pentagram his gang had used countless times to tap the dark forces of demons. Tao armed everyone with special extremely rare and hard to acquire daggers made from the crystallized hearts of dragons. Fortunately, for him, peons are commonly overlooked.

Oscar, found it difficult to trust the others, but the ingredients he brought from the Outcasts were necessary for Wyatt’s powder. Steve arranged six of the kidnapped office workers, one for each of them, around his cousin’s pentagram just inside the outer ring. Carl went over the sacred lost incantations again from a small old manual from the Circle of Thorn’s library. Finding it had been a demonstration of their destiny. It had fallen back behind some other books when he came across it. Apparently, it lay in its location for decades for no one seemed to miss it when he secretly borrowed it.

When all was finished, six charcoal gray robed figures stood before each hostage surrounding the fresh pentagram. Two rings were thus formed, hostages with their back to the large demonic gate and the gray robed forming the outer ring facing the frightened and trembling captives. They were warned if they struggled; they would indeed die and would suffer before they did. The four women and two men dared not resist. This was a city of heroes; surely, someone would save them.

Each robed figure bound by a secret pact performed a graceful twirl. Outside the dimly lit office building storm clouds gathered in the night sky. The eclectic group simultaneously and with the practiced skill of rehearsal reached into a slate colored pouch fastened around their waist by a simple sash and withdrew their hands blowing a greenish powder into the faces of their victims, rendering them conscious, but unable to move a fraction or speak above a whisper.

The gray figures continued to circle the pentagram unaware their feet no longer touched the ground. Every move was perfectly choreographed. Olympic synchronized swim teams or chorus lines would have been jealous. Each member drew dragon heart blades from a sheath from their left arm. With daggers drawn, the group circled around the pentagram and their horrified victims making one complete revolution.

“Dark Lord, we are lost without you.” Carl chanted and the others repeated. They open their palms low next to their thigh. The building shook and a green-misty light exploded from the center of the pentagram. Wyatt’s mind drifts wondering what Cape maybe passing by to notice the building is shaking.

“The door to our salvation is open.” Carl murmurs and each folds their arms over the chest to embrace the Mastermind of Chaos. The others repeat the phrase. Wyatt forces his thought back to the summoning and tears of bliss begin falling from Oscar’s eyes. He can already feel the power emanating from the portal.

The figures circle their victims six more times. After each revolution, they pause and hold their arms high palms open to show homage to the Dark Lords leadership. They face their victim each time and carve a different green shimmering symbol into the air with the daggers. Then they blow across their open palms where the symbol then travels to their victim’s chest and violently embeds itself into their soft flesh filling the lobby with the aroma of burnt hair. The bright shimmering mist grows brighter and the building shakes with every complete revolution.

Wyatt is sure they will never finish the ceremony, but still keeps his attention focused on his tasks.

When the last revolution and actions are complete, a crystal orb materializes above each of the victims. Their eyes bulge in terror as they glance upwards and finally they are allowed to scream as the orbs cleave the souls from their bodies. The now empty shells fell to the floor. In the same instant darkness erupts from the brilliance dampening every light source. A dead and still silence settles over the lobby.

Seconds seem to pass to years.

“Am I blind?” Oscar mumbles beginning to panic.

“No,” Tao calms.

“We failed.” Wyatt whines daring not to move for fear of tripping over the lifeless corpses of their victims.

“No,” Carl said verifying the completion of the ceremony. “The doorway to Oblivion is wide op-“

Carl’s last word became a series of gurgles and gasps for air. A murky dim greenish lavender light springs from the floor of at the center of the pentagram. A shadowy glistening figure over eight feet in height held Carl in clawed hands and off the floor by his throat. Henry squinted trying to force his eyes to adjust to the light. The summoned Saurian god, the Dark Lord, the Mastermind of Chaos had arrived. The ceremony had worked Henry thought.

The shadowed figure held the frail human form up for inspection. He felt it struggle to breathe, its life force growing weaker. The Dark Lord laughed aloud, his power growing from Carl’s death struggle. Humans had indeed grown to great power in his and the First Pantheon’s absence. He had foreseen this knowing it would be their undoing for power corrupts mortals.

“Oh Lord, we desire your wisdom and power to smite our enemies.” Oscar exclaimed bowing and swearing fealty.

A black mist sprang forth from around the Saurian god and enveloped the six gray-cloaked apostles. Tao realized the mist seemed to thicken the air slowing his movements. Danger impulses spread from the back of his mind warning him of impending doom and begged him to take action.

“Is this happening?” Henry mouthed uttering not a sound when the feeling of surrealism washed over him drowning him in abstract sensations. All he could do was blink in response.

Steve felt the thickening black mist weighing him down and watched his new brethren slowly fade from sight inside the mist. He tried to sound a warning to his cousin, but no sound came from his mouth. He tried to back out of the mist, but it slowed him clinging like glue, its strands like living vines.

The Dark Lord savored the slow death of Carl. When the first of the six apostolic sacrifices was complete, he moved quickly ending Tao’s life. Henry watched in horror when the elongated green-headed god went from each of his comrades and ended their lives. Somehow, he was allowed to see through the mist. Struggling to flee was like fighting ocean waves that grew stronger with every crest. The Saurian god’s scaly form harshly reflected the greenish lavender light. The large wasp-like amethyst eyes glittered and the creature’s wide massive maws opened biting down to end Wyatt’s life.

What have I done, Henry thought feeling fear crawl up his spine and shivered uncontrollably. Secretly he hoped Occam’s Blade did show up to save him. He grimaced watching the execution of his cousin. Bile rose in the back of his throat when Oscar’s life was even more brutally torn from him.

Finally, the Dark Lord focused his faceted eyes on his last apostle. Never had Henry actually sensed an evil presence before. His bowels emptied with his stomach, but his embarrassment did not last long.

With the ceremony now complete, the Dark Lord left the confines of the pentagram, sauntered over to the window of the building, and peered out. Free from Oblivion he relished each step. At first, he thought he was in a cave with a mirrored scrying device. No, it was something else, he laughed at his own foolish ignorance of the new world. Much, very much, had changed in the untold eons. Already he felt his power waning from the summoning ceremony. Soon it would be gone and he would again have to build his power base and gather followers. Yes, his dark powers would grow and his divinity would be reclaimed.

The Mastermind of Chaos projected his thoughts temporally into the future. He sensed a great web of deceit on the horizon. A mass exodus had been planned allowing him an opportunity to gather new minions without any public knowledge of his return. For the immediate future though, he needed a guide in this new world. The Saurian god’s mouth curled into a wicked sneer revealing his large razor teeth. On the outer reaches of his divine senses, he felt a cloaked figure rapidly approaching. He had to act swiftly before his power waned completely.

Silently the hero approached slinking from shadow to shadow at blurring speeds. His contacts had sent him on this trail of stolen magical artifacts and materials. They appeared to be of low-level minions of the lower ranked gangs of the city, no real threat. Unbeknownst to him his destiny has been altered to intersect with the Dark Lord. When Occam’s Blade heard the Saurian speak, beckoning him, his katana fell from trembling hands.

In a modest simply adorned apartment in another part of the city, a cry echoed across Paragon University’s campus. Occam’s Razar, a new popular mentor and spiritual leader too many young heroes, awoke from the worst nightmare he had ever had. The last drake, an ancient half-human and half-dragon, realized the end of the human world was at hand.
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