Sunday, 16 January 1994

The Empire Saga Chapter Nine

    The Star Destroyer hurtled through the Bajoran system, trying to get away from the Federation’s ships. They knew now that the only way they would be able to get back to their own territory would be to travel through the Sontarran system. They also knew that they would most likely run into some more Federation ships.
    As they raced through the stars they began to gradually lose power. On the bridge Vader tried to find the cause of the power failure.
    “I can’t explain it.” he said. “We must have sustained more damage than we realised.”
    Tarkin contacted the engine room.
    “What is going on? Why are we losing power?”
    “The repairs to the hyper-drive were only ship shod. It was the best we could do under the circumstances.”
    “How long until you can repair the hyper-drive fully?”
    “I can’t tell. It could be a day, it could be a week!”
    “Work as fast as you can. This whole system could be swarming with Federation starships at any minute.”
    Tarkin walked over to Vader.
    “I want the ship to be put on red alert. We must divert all the power we can to the weapons and defensive systems. We must expect an attack at any time.”
    Then one of the officers at the sensors station attracted Vader’s and Tarkin’s attention.
    “What is it?” asked Vader.
    “I’m picking up an anomaly in an adjoining system.”
    “What sort of anomaly?” asked Vader.
    “I can’t tell at this time. It could be many things, an imploding sun, a black hole, perhaps even a wormhole.”
    “A wormhole.” said Tarkin. “Then perhaps that could be our escape route out of this system.”
    “We’d need to get closer so we can study it more.” said Vader.
    “Then we shall.” said Tarkin. “Set a course for the anomaly, full impulse power.”

    Magus sat in the grounds of Craigmillar Castle, upon the Time of Legends in the year 2000. As he sat watching the chickens pecking beneath the trees a sudden inexplicable chill passed over him. Rising from his seat he made his way into the castle, moving swiftly up to his laboratory. Throwing open a door at one end of the chamber he revealed a large mirror.
    At that moment Thomas Leacock entered.
    “I’ve never known you to use the mirror of Prester John before, Magus.” he remarked.
    “I have not used it since 1678.” replied the wizard. “I have had no need to, but as I sat outside just now I felt a tremendous shift in the balance of the universe. This mirror can see almost anything.”
    Magus raised one hand and the mirror began to shine with an unearthly light. For long seconds he gazed into the glass. Then, abruptly, the glow vanished.
    “The information is too vague.” he said grimly. “Events will take place which will require my attention, but I cannot find out what. It tells of a group, but not of beings known to me. All I know is that I will select that group.”
    “How will you select them?” asked Leacock.
    “Firstly, I select you, my apprentice. The remaining members I will pick up alectromancy.”
    He strode out of the room, followed by Leacock. They soon stood upon the courtyard outside. Swiftly Magus drew a circle upon the ground. Then around the edge of the circle he drew the letters of the alphabet. Upon each letter he placed a grain of wheat. Then, moving with a speed belied by his appearance he caught a white chicken and placed it within the circle.
    “One of the more basic mystic arts. The chicken will select a letter by pecking a grain. As it eats the grain I will replace it. Take a not of the letters it selects for these will be those we must seek.”
    Soon all was complete. Leacock passed the list to Magus.
    “Hmm.” mused the wizard. “The Captain, Space Ghost, Judge Dredd, Spider-Man, Batman, the Doctor. A rather strange selection I must admit. I know where to find the Captain, Spider-Man and Batman, and I know how to contact the Doctor. As for Dredd and Space Ghost I think a probe to the future will help.”

    The 24th century. Magus sat in his quarters aboard the Valkyrie. With him sat Ambassador Watt.
    “Is everything ready?” he asked.
    Magus nodded. With a gesture of his hand he opened a channel through time. As Watt watched Magus’ astral form stepped into the channel. Back in the 21st century the spirit Magus appeared before Magus and Leacock.
    “What is that?” asked Leacock.
    Magus smiled.
    “That, dear boy, is me. Or rather it will be.”
    “He looks no different.”
    The spirit smiled in his turn.
    “Indeed, I am not. I bring you a message from the future. I cannot tell you of that which is to come, but I know you seek Judge Dredd and Space Ghost. Seek them both in the next century.”
    With that the spirit of Magus returned to the 24th century. Magus turned to his young charge.
    “This is something I must do alone. You wait here until I return. If you receive any contact from the Anglo-Force headquarters tell them you don’t know where I am.”
    Magus walked into his study and locked the door behind him. He walked over to one of the many bookcases and took out a book, “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells. The bookcase began to open like a huge door. Behind the bookcase was a bright light. Magus walked into the light. He walked for a few seconds as the light seemed to be all around him. Then, an entrance appeared. Magus walked through the opening, and he was now in what appeared to be a city street. He looked around. The buildings were much higher than the ones he had seen in London, or any other city for that matter. The people seemed to be dressed differently as well. He then walked out into the open the street. As soon as he had people began giving him strange looks. It was as if they feared him. One man saw Magus and began shouting.
    “It’s him! Alert the Judges!”
    The people began to run around in panic. Magus didn’t know what to make of it. Then four large motorcycles, ridden by four equally large men arrived on the scene. Each wore a sort of blue uniform and a blue helmet which covered their eyes.
    “It’s him alright!” said one. “Open fire!”
    They each took their weapons in their hands and aimed at Magus. Laser blasts rained down around him. Some hit him but had no effect.
    “We’ll need the blasters!”
    “We ain’t got the time for blasters! I’m gonna take him!”
    The one who appeared to be in charge got off his motorcycle and ran towards Magus. Magus noticed the name on the man’s gold badge: Dredd.
    “This can’t be the one.” Magus whispered. “He’s too violent for this situation!”
    The man charged Magus, hoping to knock him off his feet. He was surprised when he did not budge. From the ground he looked up at Magus.
    “What the hell are you? The others were easy to handle!”
    The man got up from his feet. Magus placed his hand on his shoulder. Suddenly the man began to feel drowsy. He then slumped once again to the ground. Magus again placed his hand on his arm and levitated him to the nearby alley. The other men got off their feet and followed Magus down the alley. When they arrived they were surprised to see that both Magus and their comrade were gone.
    A few years previously they arrived back in Craigmillar Castle. Once there Magus took the man to an adjoining room where several beds lined the walls. Magus placed this man on the bad. Magus placed his hand on the man’s head. Violent images began to filter through the man’s mind. He could tell he had a naturally violent nature. Was he indeed the right man for this job?  Magus moved his hand away and once again walked into his study and into the bright light.
    This time Magus arrived on a barren looking wasteland. He looked around, scanning the surrounding area. In the distance he saw a mountain. He began to walk towards the mountain. The journey took him about five minutes. He stopped a few years away from it. He noticed a small entrance and walked through. There were many tunnels within this mountain, but all of them were lined with a metal-like substance. Magus’ footsteps echoed throughout the tunnels as he walked along. After a few minutes Magus came to what appeared to be a control room. Computers and screens lined the walls. Suddenly a door on the wall opposite to Magus opened and a small chimp entered. The chimp gazed up at Magus. Magus smiled. Then he could hear footsteps, and another man entered the room. This man was clad in white with a black cape and mask. He looked at Magus and smiled. It was as if he knew why Magus was there. It appeared that Magus had found his second comrade: Space Ghost.
    Magus soon arrived back in his study. Space Ghost had not gone back with him because he was collecting a piece of equipment that would be vital to their mission. In his study Magus walked over to one of his many bookcases and took out a large book. He knew that both Spider-Man and Batman operated today, but he knew they were not at their peak, which is something that would be needed for the upcoming mission. So after thumbing through the book for a few minutes he made his decision. Once again he stepped into the bright light.
    Magus arrived in New York City in early 1994. He had never liked cities such as New York. He had never cared for the way Americans spoke, especially the way they said “have a nice day”. But he knew he had to come here. Magus walked along the street for a few minutes until he came to an alleyway next to the Daily Bugle building. He walked down the alley and looked upwards. He then levitated himself to the top of the roof. He walked over the fire escape exit. Suddenly the door burst open and a men clad in red and blue sprang out. He looked around.
    “Good morning, Mr. Parker!”
    The man turned round. He was surprised to see Magus standing behind him.
    “How do you know my secret identity? There are only a handful that know that Peter Parker is Spider-Man!”
    “I know many things, young man. Now, if you would come with me I am in need of your assistance!”
    A bright glow enveloped them both. When it cleared they found themselves in a dark cave.
    “How charming.” said Magus. “Reminds me of a cave I used to live in.”
    “When was that?” asked Spider-Man.
    “1637.” replied Magus.
    “Just who, or what are you?”
    “I am Phineas Magus.”
    As they stood there a bright light bathed them. Then a voice spoke.
    “It’s been a time, Phineas. Who is your friend?”
    A tall figure clad in black stepped forwards.
    “This, Peter, is Bruce.” said Magus. “Better known as the Batman.”
    Once more the glow engulfed them and they found themselves in Craigmillar. As they reappeared Igor hurried over to them.
    “You have a visitor, sir, a Doctor.”
    Magus smiled.
    “Splendid. He got my message. Which one is it?”
    “The eighth generation of the Doctor is currently on a secret mission for the government of Gallifrey, so they have sent his first generation.”
    “Excellent. Then my first task is almost complete.”
    Magus walked into his study. Dredd was still unconscious,. He looked around.
    “Now why has Space Ghost not arrived yet?”
    Then, on his computer, Magus checked the outdoor sensors.
    “Ah, he has arrived. I just hope his orbiting space ship will not cause alarm to any governments.”

    The monitor room at the Anglo-Force mansion was a hive of activity. Tracking stations all over the Earth had detected Space Ghost’s Phantom Cruiser.
    “Can you get any readings on it?” asked Star Man.
    “It’s too far away.” said White Knight. “All the sensors can tell is that it’s a ship of unknown design in orbit around Earth!”
    Conspicuous by his absence was Anglo-Force’s leader James Watt, the Captain. He was busy with his newborn son, which they had named Peter Phineas.
    “Where the hell is Jim?” said Star Man.
    “Give him a break.” said White Knight. “He’s been like a clucky chicken for ages!”
    “But he’s the only one of us who could possibly tell what that is!” said Star Man.
    White Knight pressed a button on his panel.
    “James Watt, report to the monitor room.”
    A few minutes later Watt walked down one of the many corridors in the mansion. Suddenly a glow appeared in front of him. When the glow subsided Magus was in it’s place.
    “Will you stop doing that!” said Watt.
    “I wish to discuss something with you.” said Magus.
    “Not now. I’m needed in the monitor room.”
    “This will only take a few minutes.”
    “I haven’t got the time.” said Watt.
    Watt walked past Magus toward the monitor room. Magus followed him. They were soon there. Watt approached the station White Knight was seated at.
    “What is it?” he asked.
    “Some strange ship in orbit around Earth.” White Knight replied. “I’ve checked with every possible source on Earth and no one can describe it.”
    “Can you get a picture of it?” asked Watt.
    “I can try.”
    White Knight began operating his keyboard. A minute later a photo from an orbiting satellite appeared on the screen. It was a photo of the Phantom Cruiser.
    “It can’t be!” said Watt.
    “That is what I want to talk to you about.” said Magus.
    “The answer is no.” said Watt. “And you can deliver that to Gandalf himself.”
    “Gandalf is not responsible for bringing Space Ghost back to the 21st century. I am.”
    Watt turned to face Magus.
    “You did this?” he said. “You’ve assembled a team from all over time? How?”
    “The process would take too long to explain.” said Magus. “Needless to say you were selected.”
    “The answer is still no.” said Watt. “There’s too much happening here at the moment. The reconstitution of Anglo-Force is at a critical stage. We still have several people to approach with regards to new members. And then, of course, there’s young Peter.”
    “Ah, yes. How is my young namesake?”
    “Don’t try to get round me. I’m not going anywhere.”
    “Then it is with regret that I must take this course of action.”
    Magus placed his hand on Watt’s shoulder, and a glow enveloped it. Slowly Watt began to lose consciousness. A short time later they teleported back to Craigmillar Castle. The team assembled, Magus now had to brief them. That would be easy. It would be getting them to work with each other that would be difficult.
    “Gentlemen, I have gathered you here today from across time because Earth is facing a crisis.”
    “This had better be good Magus.” threatened the Captain. “I’m prepared to cut you some slack on this one, but I warn you I won’t be messed around.”
    Dredd laughed a short, barking, sarcastic laugh.
    “You vigilantes never learn, do you? That’s why your type are outlawed in my time.”
    His gaze rested on Batman.
    “You would be the first in an iso cube.”
    Batman snarled back.
    “You haven’t managed it yet.”
    The Doctor rose.
    “I have learned, over the centuries, that Magus does not act lightly.”
    “Why should I listen to an old geek like you?” Dredd sneered.
    Before he could say anything else Magus had waved his hand. Dredd’s moved remained closed as the wizard spoke.
    “In my time I have fought many neo Nazi thugs such as you, Dredd. You are only here because you were chosen by alectromancy. Do not try my patience.”
    “You mean to tell me, Magus, that we were all picked by a chicken and a grain of wheat?” said Watt.
    “In your case, James, nine grains, but basically, yes.”
    “What is the threat to Earth, Magus?” asked Batman.
    “That I do not now as yet.” he replied. “But the time is near.”