The enemy within, and below....
"Well, that is a relief. Perhaps you could help out by subduing the temporarily dazed Emerald who was similarly mentally controlled?" he waved his hand towards Emerald over on the ground and taking his hands off of her and looking a bit uncomfortable. He wasn't sure if she knew what had been going on.
Duststorm heard the familiar voice of Ravdna break through the cacophony of the battle and knew that she had won her struggle against the being that was controlling her. Janet bent her will to the task at hand but before she did, she reformed the golem cocoon around her out of metallic debris from the ruined buildings surrounding them. She wanted as much protection as she could before she met whatever it was that was down there. Remembering the words that came out of Emerald and Ravdna when they had first been controlled by the entity she used her powers to throw her voice and speak to Union from within the hole.
"Wooooaaaaaaaa!" Yanked across the field of battle by the possessed teenager's telekinetic powers, Union is tossed madly one way, then another, before his cable casing gives way. Unfortunately, this snaps the Silver Avenger away from the fray, flying headlong towards a pile of glittering metal shards. _I think he's gotten strongerthree weeks ago he strained to lift a car, and now he's tossing me around with ten times that force. At least I hope its him and not the entity increasing his powers._
Adrian is hardly aware of his motion as his mechanically augmented reflexes pull his body out of the way of the deadly wreckage, instead going though a shattered second story window in a compact ball. Once inside the building his gauntlets slap down to the hardwood floor, turning the uncontrolled flight into a series of forward flips, ending in a handspring and spin feet first into the wall. Union's knees bend to absorb the impact, and his armor re-establishes his link with the surrounding magnetic field: his spring back from the wall turns into flight back to the conflict.
_*Son* of a--_ By the time Aegis has Ravdna back in her sights, the Asgardian has regained control of her body, so she switches her attention to Emerald, assessing the effectiveness of Delta V's surprising attack.
Union is surprised to see the metal debris that seconds ago threatened his life flying to the conflict as well until he hears Janet's voice from the empty air before him.
"Do you want me to keep digging, Union?" Duststorm asked the Avenger leader as the metal formed around her forming the golem shield. "These things sound like they want out and right now, they're trapped. Ravdna is free, we just need to get Emerald out from under their influence." She paused and then said. "What do you need me to do?"
Union listens at Janet's assessment of the situation, seeing Emerald staggered between Malachi and Delta V. "We need to keep Emerald off balance until he breaks free of this thing. Use your air powers to keep him on the ground. Malachi, Delta V, back off for a second, but get ready to restrain him. Aegis, he's already on his kneesstun him on my signal."
_Despite all his other psychic powers, I don't think Emerald has any telepathy. That's means he has to have a visual on something to target it. Fine. Let's do something about that._ Union breaks from Duststorm's masses of flying metal he had been using as cover during his inward flight, skirting to within inches of the ground upside down between Delta V and Emerald, directly into the young hero's line of vision. His fist opens, an arclight springing to life between his thumb and little finger reflected by his palm into Emerald's face.
"Now, Aegis!" Union yells as he continues his diving run, his armor's sensors registering the outpouring of electrical energy from Aegis' armor into the stunned teenager.
The combination of Union's blinding flash and Aegis' electrical attack further staggers Emerald, leaving him vulnerable to a leaping charge from the now free Ravdna. Seconds later Dark Angel creates a cage of solid darkness, and as quickly as the battle began, it ends. Ensnared in Dark Angel's ebon bonds, the youngest Avenger is unconscious and, for the moment, of no threat whatsoever.
Still somewhat shaken, the Avengers assemble near Emerald and the pit begun by Duststorm, ready to determine their next course of action.
"I'll need to repair my machine," Victor says, "it might help us with this mind controlling going on."
Victor turned and rushed over to his device and pulled some tools out of his pouch and started feverishly working on it. This time he was modifying it so that it would project a psionic shield around all of them. _You fool Victor_, he thought. _Leave the hand to hand fighting to those combatants that specialize in it. Now get busy and reconfigure this thing so that you don't appear totally useless to the group._
He knew how to do it, it was just a matter of time to setup a psionic shield projector that could cover the entire team. "If only I were in my lab, I could do this much quicker and easier," he said talking to himself out loud a fair distance away from the group.
Janet was glad she hadn't had to use her powers on any of her friends directly. Even throwing up the rock wall hadn't seemed to stop Ravdna too much, just slowed her down a notch. Again she thanked the powers that be that these people were her friends and on her side as well.
She waited patiently in the hole gathering more metal debris to her to complete the golem cocoon. She also caused a couple of golems of rock to spring to life. They could do the job of being first contact if it came to that. At least they can't be mind controlled, Janet thought. With the golems taking up watch at the bottom of the hole, Duststorm lifted herself out of the pit and floated above it, waiting for orders from Union. Victor appeared to be tinkering again, obviously a good sign as his mind was alert. She was thankful that the aliens hadn't tapped into his massive intelligence, for they might have gleaned the ability to escape from their imprisonment.
Aegis exhales softly, letting go of unneeded tension as it seems the emergency is overfor the moment. She continues to keep an eye on the ground where the team has been working, in case of a different kind of assault. Whatever was down there, itthey?was obviously both sentient and malign.
"Ravdna, can you tell us what happened?" She wonders if they are observed even now, what sort of senses these things possess....
"Thy monstrosity buried below thrust his mental might upon me as a mortal man may yoke a beast of burden. I felt empowered by sinister mystic energies...had I been in the being's thrall any longer I believe it may hath used my form as a conduit to channel those black powers to attack our noble band. It is most unclear though we were in tune with one another but I fear _another_ creature of blackness seized the mind of Emerald."
Under his helmet Adrian started gnawing on his lip. "Magic. Blast. But at least we know there are two of them, at least. There might be more at the island for all we know."
Victor snapped his head towards Ravdna as he heard her say that the being used magic to control them. He grumbled and started back to work making other adjustments to his device. Magic was hard to counteract with technology. He would do his best while everyone made plans. Surely their leader, Union, would come up with something.
He thought about that for a moment and turned towards Union and raised his voice a bit to cover the distance, "Perhaps these beings aren't trapped per say in the physical sense. Like in some chamber or cave, but instead are trapped within the body of the earth itself. Like some sort of sub-dimensional merger. It might explain the two locations that are far apart. The Atlantic Island and here in Albany."
"I'll take you word for it that that's possible. Is there any way we can tell if or where a third such might be?" Union asked the Latverian scientist.
"What I was suggesting is that the entities might be imprisoned within the planet's crust. Location might not matter at all. They may be able to act and react to things anywhere within our dimension," Victor answered.
"But that is just a theory, I have so little data to work on here," he says.
"And in the event that these creatures take over my mind, allow me to clearly explain that I no longer possess my phasing abilities. I apparently have heightened strength on the level of Ravdna and some minor body armor that protects me from both physical and electrical injury. So if you need to take me out, do not use physical force or electricity in doing so. I also feel quite a bit more athletic as well. My stamina has apparently been enhanced. Whether these changes are permanent or not, I do not know." Victor was fully aware that he might be relaying the same information to these aliens, but he had little choice. His teammates needed the information even more.
Union filed Victor's description of his powers for later use, right next to his discussion with Stark about the way Victor's phasing powers worked. _There are just too many different types of superhuman abilities being manifest for me to make any sort of real analysis of them. Maybe Delta V can do something with this later._
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© 2001 Mark L. Chance et al