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Chapter VII

05/17/10

Chapter VII

 

            Colonel Courageous soared through the city skyline.  Sometimes he allowed himself to be impressed with how magnificent a city it was.  It still had its rough spots, but, with his help it could be a future city. 

            Colonel Courageous weaved between the skyscrapers that dotted the sky.  He dropped his altitude by a hundred feet and flew closer to ground level.  At night it was harder for the people on the streets to see him when he flew high, and they needed to see him.  Colonel Courageous gave the people hope.  He gave them protection.  He was their savior, and he needed to remind them that he was always near. 

            The screams caught Colonel Courageous’ attention has he looped around St. Ariel’s Cathedral.  The sounds originated from the Orion St. subway station entrance.  The Colonel rolled his body to the left and angled himself downwards.  He kicked his speed up a notch, being careful to not move so fast as to create wake turbulence or a mini-sonic boom.  The station was 15 blocks west of his current position.  He would be there in six seconds.  

            The subway travelers ran in mass panic away from the madman that attacked anyone within reach.  Many people were knocked to the ground by those trying to escape, unaware of the danger that was only a few feet away. 

            The tires of a Future City cab screeched as the driver tried in vain to stop the car from hitting a frightened commuter as he blindly ran out into the early morning traffic.  The ambitious businessman was thrown into the air by the impact.  His body twisted as he flew up and over the other cars on the street.  Colonel Courageous caught the man before he hit the ground and carried him down next to the cab that had struck him. 

            The Colonel quickly examined the man’s body with his x-ray vision.  He was alive, but severely injured.  The Colonel opened the backdoor to the cab and slid the injured man inside. 

            “He has four broken ribs and his hip is broken in three places.” Colonel Courageous said to the cab driver.  His voice was strong and forceful.  He didn’t have to say “take this man to a hospital”, it was understood. 

            “Tell them to be extremely careful when moving him.  He has a collapsed lung, and one of his broken ribs is very close to his heart.” 

            “Yes sir.” The cabbie said as he sped off. 

            Colonel Courageous turned his attention the person that was the cause of the panic before him.  It had been less than fifteen seconds from when he first heard the screams, and three people were already dead.  The Colonel looked at the carnage around him.  Two of the people had their bodies ripped apart in an almost inhuman manner.  The third victim’s body was still intact, and was being used to terrorize anyone within reach.  The orchestrator of the carnage held the third victim by the ankle and whipped their body around like a child’s doll. 

            The killer wasn’t what Colonel Courageous expected.  With the exception of the blood on his hands and clothing, he looked like the average citizen of Future City.  He was semi-professionally dressed, and well groomed.  The look in his eyes told the Colonel that whatever humanity he once had was long gone. 

            “Put her down!” The Colonel bellowed. 

            Kenneth turned to look at the Colonel.  He stopped swinging the dead girl and dropped her body to the ground. 

            “You.” Kenneth said with an eerie smile.  His voice was gravely and empty.  His words were direct and without inflection of emotion.  “I know you.” 

            Colonel Courageous stared at the crazed superhuman.  There was no point in asking him to surrender or turn himself over.  They never did.  Not this type of monster.  Why should he waste his breath?  That was how the Colonel rationalized it, but the truth was, he didn’t want him to give up.  This madman had killed members of his city, and he wanted him to hurt. 

            Kenneth took a step towards the Colonel.  It was all he needed.  The Colonel shot forward, covering the twenty feet in half a second.  He slammed Kenneth in the chest with an open palm.  The assault knocked Kenneth backwards, but not as far as the Colonel expected. 

            Kenneth was knocked back only a few feet, coming to rest against a parked car.  Kenneth grabbed the car’s door by its handle and ripped it free.  He flung the door sideways at Colonel Courageous like a disc.  The Colonel knocked the projectile from the air with a downward slap. 

            Kenneth was on top the Colonel before he knew it.  A sticky reddish-brown hand clamped around the Colonel throat and started to squeeze.  The other hand delivered a blow to his face that momentarily stunned the city’s protector. 

            Colonel Courageous grabbed Kenneth’s wrist and twisted it clockwise, forcing him to relinquish the hold he had on his throat.  The Colonel continued to twist and pull down on Kenneth’s arm, forcing him to his knees.  The Colonel realized that whoever Kenneth was, he was far stronger and tougher then he looked.  He wasn’t going to hold back anymore. 

            With blinding speed, the Colonel yanked Kenneth into the air and slammed him down to the ground.  Colonel Courageous shuddered and was taken aback.  He held in his hand Kenneth’s left arm.  He suddenly regretted his decision to not hold back and was afraid he’d gone too far.  Kenneth answered his concerns with an upward punch to the midsection that sent the Colonel several stories into the air. 

            Colonel Courageous stopped his forced ascension and hovered in the air.  He looked down at Kenneth, or what remained of him, and gasped.  Down on the street Kenneth rose to his feet.  His left arm wasn’t missing, but different.  The arm was gnarled and jointed in an inhuman fashion with a four fingered hand at its end.  The skin was a mustard green with large cord like veins that ran along the surface of the skin and curved along the outer side. 

            The Colonel looked down at the arm in his hand.  It wasn’t an arm, but a fleshy husk that had pulled away under force. 

            The Kenneth creature growled sharply.  It reached up with its alien hand and grabbed the skin on the right side of its face.  The skin pulled away with sickening ease.  The ripping skin made a sound akin to the tearing of wet fabric.  The Kenneth creature finished shedding the remaining bits of its human skin, staring up at Colonel Courageous the entire time.  Now that it was free of the Kenneth shell, it seemed to grow in size and build by over a foot.     

            A series of small horn like barbs protruded from the top of its head that started at the top of both eyes, and ran backward into a single line that went down the center of its back.  The creature’s shoulders hunched forward helping to support the massive arms that hung down to just past its knees. 

            The face, like much of the creature, was humanoid in nature, but perverted into a mad scientist wet nightmare.  The top of its head elongated to where it almost blended into the shoulder hunch.  As the upper part of the head shifted backwards, the jaw and chin flattened and moved forward.  Its teeth protruded and were reshaped into long sharp flat blades that curved upwards.  The upper teeth stretched forward, without movement of the lips or gums, to close the mouth area.  The eyes had narrowed to near slits, and extended backwards along the sides of its head.  The creature had no ears, only four recessed holes just under the back of the eyes. 

            For some reason it looked strangely familiar to the Colonel. 

            Colonel Courageous tried to get his head straight.  Whatever it was that had attacked the city, and was now causing trouble for him, wasn’t finished.  The creature couldn’t fly, but that didn’t stop it from try to reach the Colonel. 

            The creature hunched down and sprang up into the air.  It landed on the third story wall of building to its right, northwest of Colonel Courageous’ position.  The creature’s long thick fingers dug into the brick and mortar of the building wall, securing itself.  It began a quick ascent up the side of the building, moving with unnatural speed.  The creature’s fingers scraped the brick, breaking off golf ball sized chunks and showering them down on the street below.  Its feet pounded into the wall rattling the windows.

            Colonel Courageous found himself unconsciously watching as the beast moved with such uncanny speed and ease that it was hard not to be impressed.  The monster stopped around the seventh floor and looked over its hunched shoulder at the Colonel.  It turned sideways on the wall and stared directly at the Colonel.  The beast tucked its legs under its lower body and sprang from the wall using its trunk like feet. 

            The Colonel was caught off guard, still marveling at its resemblance to something from the past, and its incredible feat of speed and agility.  The monster grabbed a hold of the Colonel by the neck again, this time with both hands and squeezed.  The strength and pressure was even greater than when it tried to strangle him earlier.  The beast forced a stumpy foot into the Colonel’s chest, forcing out the air in his lungs. 

            The Colonel reached to grab the beast and realized that he was still holding the husk of arm he had ripped off moments earlier.  He dropped the molted skin and stretched his arms out wide.  Colonel Courageous suddenly brought his arms together, and delivered a hammer blow with the underside of his fists to the beast’s sides.  The creatures grip around the Colonel’s neck relaxed, but it did not let go completely.  The monster howled in pain.  Its pain made the Colonel smile.

            The Colonel had started to fear that nothing he did could hurt the monster, and that he might not be able to stop it.  That was no longer the case.  The Colonel took a deep breath and filled his lungs to their maximum capacity.  Now, it was the Colonel’s eyes that narrowed as he focused his energy vision on the monster’s shovel like teeth.   The creature winced in pain and tried to tighten its grip around the Colonel’s neck and force his attack to stop.  With his lungs filled, Colonel Courageous could easily go for an hour without drawing a fresh breath of air.  The Colonel ignored the beast’s futile attack and countered with a head butt to the flat noseless area between its eyes and mouth. 

            The beast was temporarily dazed and relinquished its hold of the Colonel’s neck.  It fell backwards, dropping towards the ground seven stories below.  The Colonel flew after it.  He snatched the beast by a stumpy ankle and tossed it high into the air. 

            The Colonel was going to have his fun now.  He was going to beat the creature for all its worth, and parade his victory around the streets to show his superiority to his devoted worshippers. 

            The Colonel raced into the upper sky after his opponent.  Several hundred feet in the air and the creature was nowhere to be seen.  Colonel Courageous froze.  He couldn’t have tossed him that far away.  He started to wonder if maybe he had angled his throw too much and sent the monster over into another part of the city. 

            No!  He had to find the creature before it was too late.  He couldn’t let it get away.  If the creature escaped him, there was no telling how many people it would kill before he caught up to it again.  It would be more cautious now and not as brazen with it killing. 

            The Colonel’s eyes grew wide as he used his telescopic and x-ray vision to scour the city for any trace of the monster.  It was no use.  The creature could have gone anywhere. 

            Colonel Courageous closed his eyes and focused on the sounds of the city.  He listened for sounds of fear, aggression, and violence.  It may have been able to hide from him visually, but not audibly.  It was too large and unrestrained for that. 

            Nothing.  No sounds save for the usual rapid pulse of a city that wouldn’t sleep till it was dead.  The sounds of the city were slightly more adventurous and obnoxious at night than during the day.  This made it harder for the Colonel to filter them all out.   

            The city was so “quiet” that the Colonel almost ignored the high pitched buzzing that resonated behind him.  He turned towards the hum right as the creature was on him.  The beast slammed into the Colonel and let loose a flurry of punches and slashing attacks.  The attack put the Colonel on the defensive and prevented him from planning a counterattack. 

            The Colonel flew backwards in the air, trying to block and dodge the relentless onslaught of fists and claws.  He tried to evade the creature, flying higher and dropping quickly, but it was too close on him for him to outmaneuver. 

            The monster grabbed Colonel Courageous and sunk its claws into his upper chest.  The creature brought its legs up and forced them against the Colonel’s stomach.  The beast’s sharp toenails dug into the Colonel’s skin. 

            Colonel Courageous tried to fight against the pain.  He could feel the high winds stinging into his various cuts and scratches.  As hurt as he was, his ego was taking the biggest beating.  Not only was the battle not going to be as quick and easy as he thought, but he creature was hurting him.  Despite what he had done to it, the monster continued to fight on.  The beast’s body kept adapting to every attack he threw at it. 

            The Colonel looked at the monster before him.  It now had two sets of insect-like wings that protruded from under its hunched shoulders.  The neon lights of the city shimmered in the membrane cells of the wings.  As they flapped furiously in the air Colonel Courageous thought they looked like the Aurora Borealis wavering in the night sky.  They reminded him of space.  They reminded him of…

            “No.” The Colonel said aloud unconsciously.  His eyes revealed his fear to the creature that held him in a death grip. 

            “You remember us.” The creature smiled.  “This time will be different.  We will kill you all.” 

            The monster tightened its grip and drove its claws deeper into the Colonel’s skin. 

            “No.” The Colonel said again.  “We stopped you.  We trapped you on your world.” 

            The creature laughed at the Colonel’s words.  The laugh was ragged, and sharp like the dying wheeze of a man whose lungs were filled with coral and broken glass.  Ominous and deadly. 

            “We are here.” The creature snarled. 

            Colonel Courageous shook all over.  His fear was quickly replaced with anger.  He drew his right fist back and snapped it forward with all the strength he had.  The blow forced the monster off of him, ripping out small pieces of flesh as it was pushed away. 

            The Colonel had hoped to put a hole in the beast, but was satisfied to at least be free of its grip.  He moved in quickly, taking advantage of the turning tide and pressed the attack.  Colonel Courageous rammed into the monster, driving his left shoulder into the beast’s chest.  He continued to push the monster backwards and sandwiched it against the rooftop edge of the Corinthian building. 

            “Who are you?!” Colonel Courageous demanded.  He forced his forearm under the creature’s chin and pushed up.  Despite what the monster had said, it couldn’t be them.  It couldn’t be. 

            The monster gave one last valiant attempt to escape.  It used the roof’s edge and the Colonel’s body to push against, and went up over the outside of the ledge and onto the rooftop.  It ran across the asphalt and tar roof and spread its wings.  The creature’s wings fluttered as it prepared to take flight again. 

            Zarggk!  Zarggk!

            The sound was piercing and comical.  Colonel Courageous recognized it immediately.  He flew up and saw Major Tom hovering in the air over the rooftop.  His 1940 style spaceman outfit, complete with calf high leather boots, twin canister rocket pack, and a raygun that looked like it came straight from a child’s imagination was unmistakable.  Below him the creature was doubled over in pain; two of its wings lay at its feet. 

            The Colonel watched in semi delight as Major Tom’s gun made that ridiculous firing sound three more times.  The turquoise colored rings that projected from the three discs that surrounded the barrel burned three holes through the creature’s back.  The beast fell over dead. 

            Major Tom swooped down and landed next to the body.  He pushed it with his foot, making sure it was dead.  The severed wings under his boots began to shrivel up.  Tom pulled a capsule from his utility belt and broken it open over the creature’s body.  The teaspoon of liquid quickly spread over the body and encased it in a yellowish cocoon. 

            With the beast’s body contained, Major Tom holstered his raygun.  Colonel Courageous flew down and landed next to him.  Major Tom ignored his presence and continued with his actions. 

            “It’s a good thing you came when you did.” The Colonel began.  “I didn’t even know you were back on Earth.” 

            Major Tom didn’t speak.  He pushed a series of buttons on his belt and activated the tractor beam ray in the palm of his left glove. 

            “Tom?” Colonel Courageous questioned.  “Do you know what this thing is?  It said things.  Familiar things.” 

            Major Tom aimed the tractor beam over the dead body and lifted it into the air.  The jets of his rocket pack ignited their heatless flame and Major Tom started to rise into the air. 

            “Tom, where are you going?” The Colonel lifted off the roof, keeping up with Major Tom.    “Is this a Cyksiks?  Tom, is Terror IX back?” 

            Major Tom continued to ignore Colonel Courageous and his questions.  He started to fly off, dragging the monster’s body behind him. 

            Colonel Courageous flew out in front of Major Tom and blocked his path.  The Colonel was in no shape to fight Major Tom, especially not with whatever energy he fired from his raygun, but he wasn’t going to let him leave without an answer. 

            “Tom, what the hell are you doing?  What’s going on here?  Is Terror IX back?  Is Terror IX back?!” 

            Major Tom shoved Colonel Courageous to the side with his free hand and blasted off into the night sky.  The Colonel raced after him.  Major Tom took one look behind him.  He pushed a button on his belt, and quantum jumped out of reach. 

            The Colonel gave up his pursuit and stared at the red and purple energy trails as they disappeared into the night. 

            “Damn you, you alien bastard.  What the hell is going on?”

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