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The Nemesis Mind.
It is a dimensionless assembly of some of the angriest minds
throughout the world. A random, non-corporeal entanglement of bodiless,
semi-conscious minds whose only connection is their one, final,
all-encompassing desire upon the moment of their deaths.
A hundred or so of mystical mental imprints left behind when their
bodies finally gave up the ghost; chaotically clumped together in a
mish-mash network of endless bloodlust and potent desire that
mathematically should not exist. Dozens upon dozens of magicians,
conjurers, sorcerers and other masters and manipulators of the mystic
arts with one final bone to pick with the whole of creation.
Tyrrus the Omnipotent. A would-be monarch who had visions of his own
brother plunging a dagger into his left lung long before his sibling
usurped the throne.
Eugene Zeezer. Lunatic cult leader, sacrificed by his own brethren
for perverting the black arts.
Crimson Witch. Her end remains lost in the mists of time, but her
hatred burns brightly across the decades, a shooting star of anger and
black desire that will never be satiated.
Doctor Pylon. A footnote in mystic history, his end was an
embarrassment to all practitioners of the craft. He remains the newest
recruit as well as the weakest link of the chainlink psychosis that is
the Nemesis Mind.
Four of a hundred disembodied minds. All dreaming of one collective
goal yet all unable to even lift a finger in this concrete jungle; all
unable to take a step along the enlightening path of righteous vengeance
upon the world.
And so they have formed a half-remembered pact. Their fragmented
minds have come together to form an intangible crystal lattice structure
of mystical knowledge, world-weary cunning and pure, undiluted insanity
and crimson desire spanning untold centuries. And they will bestow this
centuries-old, tried and tested knowledge and lunacy-fueled power upon
any such person who would wake them from their endless, unseen slumber
and make their restless dreams concrete reality. All it costs is a bag
of flesh and a soul.
So when the Painqueen snatched the Nemesis Mind while the boss and I
were busy tackling the Red Hermitage folks, we knew we were pretty much
A few weeks ago, the Red Hermitage crazies burst in through the front
door of our little Mantic Gallery, just by looking for and finally
finding something that wasn’t there. My boss, the genius he is, never
really thought to have any security systems or high-tech surveillance
stuff. I mean, I’d’a settled for a half-assed incantation or
something to keep out the riff-raff. But no, he has to go with the logic
that since the Mantic Gallery perceptually doesn’t exist, no one will
try to enter.
Ah, but then again, if the boss actually thought things through, he’d
have no need for back-up. Maybe I’m lucky that way.
Still, it looks like the Bone Machine finally wisened up that
once-blonde boss a’mine up a bit. Even if they had to go mobile and
damn near merge themselves to his aged, fragile body to actually keep
him alive long enough to learn his lesson.
The Gallery now displays something besides the mystical happenings
across all the local dimensions. It also doubles as a security
surveillance system, scanning the horizon around and above the Mantic
and flashing images of anything threatening. And the whole deal works
off a multi-refraction, laser targeting magical motion sensor network,
scoping out anything and everything within a two hundred mile radius.
So far, it’s only caught a few foxes and jackrabbits who decided to
get a little uppity now and again. Ah, those little desert animals.
Often, they sense something not quite right going on in their dry
Arizona hometown. The way they act sometimes, it seems as if they
suspect something’s up. Ha! If only they knew what kind of
technomantic world was being shielded so easily from their heightened
But what the hell do I know? I’m kinda wasted at the moment.
“To the…to beating down the Red Hermitage….” my boss slurs
drunkenly as another pint of beer saunters down his throat.
“Y’know, ya shhhouldn’t be drinking so much, there, Ashtray
Head,” I joke at him, probably sounding as stupid as he does, “The
Burn Machine might’ve fished you up all nice and new, but yer body’s
still over-strained as it is, pushing about a thousand years old a few
“Mean the Bone Machine, right, Zitney?” the putz smiles, trying
to push my buttons. It works, but I won’t tell him that.
“It’s all the shame. And didn’t…didn’t we shelebrate the
downfall of those crazies right after we got back home?” I point out.
“That we did, and two more times since then. But it’s worth
another party, don’tshu think?”
“Free beer, I’m not complainin’” I smirk as I down half the
can. I’ve long since stopped feeling the sour taste crawling through
the backdoor of my sinuses.
Party to my good boss Metalscream here means getting’ piss drunk
and seeing how much technomancy we can hammer out before we go to bed. I
suppose “pass out” is more the reality than anything else,
I mean, parties can be fun an’ all, but most of the time we just
get a little tipsy before we call it a night. Ever since the Hermitage
incident though, Metal-boy here’s been packing them back like there’s
Probably because, in using the energy of the Red Hermitage’s circle
to both soup up the bone-dry life support system of the Bone Machine and
nuke those crimson crazies off the face of the planet, he kinda, sorta,
accidentally exposed the secret world of the occult-tech to the cynical,
greedy eyes of the world around our little technomystical corner of the
universe. One the one hand, it gave the Bone Machine enough juice to
revive my chronologically-microwaved boss and give him a new lease on
life, restoring a semblance of his youth and vigor to him. Hair was
still gray, though, which sucked. On the other hand, the cynics and
mystically-challenged people of the world now know where the real power
is, and it’s been right under their noses the whole time. Y’see,
most anyone can learn magic and technomancy if they want it bad enough.
And make no mistake; they’ll want a piece of the wizard’s pie too,
no doubt about it.
But we aren’t gonna give our secrets up that easily. Not without a
fight. That’s pretty much why the Bone Machine picked Johnny-boy here;
to do their work in the field and protect the art of the techno-mantic
underground by being perverted by those in power.
Hence, we do the magic thing.
Magic, of course, requires constant practice and training. Learning
how to overcome obstacles and the like. What better way to overcome
challenges and scale obstacles than packing down a few and practicing
precision magic while the room spins around you in a drunken haze?
“Oookey-dokey, my graying little rogue,” he mutters sadistically
about the glaring white hair I’ve got growing in my head, “Let’s
shee what you’ve got. That offensive attack I taught you earlier.”
He lets out this hilarious belch I try not to giggle at. He stumbles
into a sitting position; his legs crossed, back straight. He gives me a
smirk. I know what’s coming.
I raise my shaky right hand which is rapidly being engulfed in fiery
hues of red and black. Geometric energy vectors mystically guide the
magic coursing through my fingers as I recite the simple spell in my
mind, like I’m reading a math equation backwards on a schoolroom
holo-screen. His eyes light up with pride as mine light up with magical
know-how. I focus on the vase in front of me. I’m going to destroy it.
A ten dollar, mass-produced, synthceramic clone, artificially created
from the intricate vision of a long dead sculptor who sold out his
secrets to the corps. No one’ll miss it.
I work the equation as the technomantic power dances in the veins and
arteries of my outstretched fist. The room spins and topples at ninety
degree angles, but I don’t pay much attention to it. Nor do I really
mind the churning and bubbling in my stomach. It’s odd. There’s
something very sobering about magic.
As I solve the unfriendly numbers in my spinning mind, I fire a shot
off at the vase. The bundles of boundless mystic energy curve in a
perfect arc….in the wrong direction. A gallery picture-frame fifty
feet away shatters like glass.
John slaps his palm to his head. I’m thinking he might be a bit
Yep, I’m in trouble.
“Litany Kirkpatrick, I’ve told you a thousand times…” he
shoots up from the Gallery floor and almost convinces himself he’s
sober before he staggers and falls flat on that funny-looking face of
his. I don’t bother holding it in this time; I’m on the floor,
kicking and screaming and laughing my ass off.
“Something funny?” he mumbles with his face still buried in the
Tears fall from my eyes, “Just a little.”
The man with TV static for a heart forces himself to a kneel….and
he cracks a smile.
“Heh. I guess it was,” we start giggling and sobbing like old
friends right there on the ceramic with the living frames keeping us
company. When we’re winding down and our lungs hurt like hell, he
lifts a hand like it’s nothing new and suddenly the shattered
picture-frame melts together and stands upright and the buzz of white
noise and static is replaced by a red-tinted shot of an out-of-the-way
Red tint. Picture’s probably pissed that I damn near killed it.
“Best thing ‘bout living technology….it combines the best of
both worlds. Hell of a shelf life and easier to repair than that flesh
and blood stuff,” he’s still wiping the tears from his eyes. Then he
ruins it by turning all ‘solemn-teacher’ on me, “You’ve gotta
get your technomantic equations in order.”
“I did! Solved them upside-down and forwards just to check myself.
No way I was wrong!”
“I told you, Litbit!” Litbit he calls me. Ugh. Someday I’m
gonna pay him back for all the small-fry cracks, “Y’can’t solve
them by yourself. Occult-technology’s not designed like that. You
gotta remember, you’re the conduit. You’re just a guide at this
point. You can’t get down and work the nitty-gritty of this magic. The
bits and pieces of technoformula shift around too fast for human
perception. You gotta step back and look at the big picture. Just lay
down the law and let the pieces guide themselves. Let the magic work for
you and you’ll never miss. Observe.”
He gives me a direct feed into his mind. Telepathy, I guess they call
it. The magical kind. It’s only a temporary spell but it shows me all
I need to see. I watch him bark orders at the same unfriendly numbers as
he lifts his hand, letting all the old juice surround it. He flicks his
fingers as the formula falls into place. The vase liquefies on its
pedestal, smoke curling up into the Gallery air.
“Like I said, Litbit, you’ll never mi—“
The room explodes.
More smoke than I can imagine pours up from the ruined Gallery. I
cough the soot out of my lungs and look up to see two things. The first
is that the Gallery frames are still somehow in one piece, although I’m
getting a very bad vibe from them. Like they’re afraid or nerve-racked
about something. The second thing I see… is that something.
She’s five foot, four inches of living gothic nightmare. She’s
charging in from some other dimension, probably guided by some mystical
homing beacon or tracking spell or some jazz. She’s surrounded by some
hellsent, screaming, slick-blue energy; eyes aglow with some dark ocean
blue hatred, astral knives and chainsaw blades symbolizing her psychotic
hatred for my master.
She calls herself the Painqueen, and she tells Johnny-boy that’s
she’s his worst nightmare.
Real nightmare is her wardrobe, the slut. I mean, thigh-high
black-boots and a cleavage line almost to her navel? And the stilettos.
I mean, what kind of self-respecting sorceress practices magic in
I ditch the daydream and catch the phrase, “The Nemesis Mind”.
Static-Brain told me about it once.
Said he’d keep an eye on it, though. Through the Gallery’s eyes.
Looks like we missed some things. Probably while we were taking down
those Red Hermitage bozos. Damn fine thing to let slip, this.
As the master and the psycho go off in typical hero-villain
exposition; a very important protocol in the technomantic handbook mind
you, I crawl off and grab my trusty heat-sink plasma gun. I’m just
lucky I left it in the Gallery before we got attacked.
She boasts insanely about the century of violent, angry magicians
backing her up her endless psychoses like it’s a good thing. I aim at
the back of her skull and fire. She doesn’t even look back as the
impossible happens behind her. The shot goes wild and arcs back toward
my outstretched gun before I can even feel the wave of nauseous,
severely unlucky déjà vu crawling all over my body. At least the
Gallery isn’t hit this time.
“Nice try, ‘apprentice’,” She sneers on the word ‘apprentice’
as my beloved gun turns into a pile of smoking skunk intestines. I can’t
drop the damn thing fast enough as I back away, totally awestruck. Like
a deer in headlights, I am now a sitting duck. Dammit! “Metalscream,
you really ought to pick your trainees more carefully. I mean, a gun?
What kind of magician uses a gun?”
Painqueen, huh? Man, she really peeves me off.
Metalscream starts the nitty-gritty as he launches the first attack,
fiery technomantic energy screaming into her hastily-assembled pentagram
shield. The contact burns my eyes it’s so damn bright. I need
sunglasses just to watch this free-for-all.
Ashtray-Head yells over the nuclear spiraling dragons heading toward
him at mach, “My, my. Looks like you couldn’t take your mind off me
since our last scuffle. Care to dance?”
“Insolent scab!” She screams over the boss-man’s trademark
smile, “You dared make an enemy of the Painqueen! Now, you suffer
“The waltz, then?” He smiles. Jagged lightning spits out of his
palm and slaps the crazy bimbo right in the shoulder.
She screams an expletive in some otherworldly tongue as the field of
electric fire around her expands, blasting the boss back into the wall.
Hard. I realize I may actually have to help him this time.
I teleport into the Armory, the little pet name I’ve given to the
bureau in my room with all my “toys” in it. ‘Toys’ including a
couple technomantic dyslexia bombs; specially-made by the boss-man for
my own personal self-defense which double as two bouncing bastard jokes
about my own lack of magical prowess. That putz. Another Unfolding Edge,
folded up now in its harmless, book-sized shape. And a gun that Screamy
took from a few Arizona scavenger-boys that gave him some trouble one
That, and their dignity. Man, that was a funny little scuffle. You
can guess how amazed I was when this thing ended up wrapped as a
birthday present last year. I’ve been saving the plasma bolts for
But, Queeny’ll hafta do.
I shove the whole arsenal into a backpack I left laying on the floor.
It isn’t much, but hopefully Metalscream can pick up the slack.
But the time I ‘port back, John’s lying unconscious on the
wreckage, and the Painqueen’s electric bubble surging red. It seems I’ve
interrupted the killing blow.
“Hey ugly!” I yell, launching twin dyslexia bombs at the crimson
skank. She gives me a look that could kill an elephant before losing all
vector control of her magic.
She launches a blast that would wipe me off the face of the planet.
It spins out of control, taking out the wall behind me. Well, what do
you know? The bombs actually work.
I fire plasma bolts at her ugly, steaming face as she tries in vain
to hit a target she can’t track. I run around the wreckage, backpack
bouncing along my spine, trying very hard to keep firing into those
burning, insane red eyes. As I jump over a pile of fused tile, I
suddenly realize her blasts are becoming more accurate.
An explosion deadens my ears as the ground beneath my feet screams
into the air, taking me with it. My backpack rips and flies forward as I
don’t. My face ends up half-buried in very sharp ceramic.
I hear her crazy voice and pull myself out of the wreckage.
It’s over. I’m dead.
“It’s over, ‘apprentice’,” Same sneer. Same goddamn sneer!
“You’ve distracted me for the last time. I’ve done things to stop
your heart, seen things to freeze your veins, felt things to shatter
your useless soul…!”
She chatters on endlessly, driven insane by the whispers of a hundred
invisible ghosts inside her skull. Crazy, irritating pusbag. She’s
just prolonging the inevitable.
Then I see it.
My beautiful little gun.
I’m not going to my grave without getting at least one last shot
“…how could you ever hope to stop me, to defeat me? Now that I
have centuries of techno-mysticism working in harmony with my needs and
desires, flowing through my veins, bending to my will! Foolish mortal.
“Once I’m done with you, the Nemesis Mind will let me crush
Metalscream. And then we can get on with settling all the old scores
from centuries past.”
She’s fuming. I can feel the sweating, awful, sticky heat from her
neon red bubble. My eyes dart again to the one plasma-spitting hope I
have, just barely within reach. My arm feels bruised, shattered. It
hurts so bad as I reach for the gun. She raises her hand. It’s now or
never. With all the popping and cracking of my tired muscles, I lunge
for the gun.
…just as it falls and folds into the opened Unfolding Edge. Must
have fallen out of my backpack ahead of the gun! Jammit! Jammit all to
“The time has come, lackey,” the bitch says, raising the blur of
mystic razors and ball peen hammers above her head. If only I had
another gun! “Goodbye.”
I hear a whisper in Latin and the Painqueen instantly loses all
bodily control. Just as I’m wondering what the hell’s going on,
Metalscream dramatically uncloaks behind the floating bimbo, hard-wired
to the mobile Bone-Machine and bleeding necromantic energy like he has
plenty to spare. Such a friggin’ showoff.
“Wh-what’s happening?” Painqueen’s voice switches pitch
between every syllable.
“Lemme tell you about a guy I know named D’Ellustus,” The
boss-man says as I painfully crawl up to a kneel.
“He was a simple sorcerer contracted by the Roman Empire in the
interests of…well, you could call it national security. Y’see, the
Roman Empire was making peace treaties with the nomadic Germanic tribes
that kept sporadic settlements along the outskirts of Roman territory
about two thousand years before any of us were born. Always good to have
some allies, especially in those days.
“However, other tribes who spoke more obscure, indecipherable
dialects and languages simply kept attacking the outskirts of the
empire. There was just nothing the prevailing government could do.
Couldn’t reason with people they couldn’t understand. Worse, these
tribes were beginning to wisen up. Some of these tribes had begun to
work together to topple their mutual enemy. The Romans projected that if
all the renegade tribes put aside their differences and united into a
cohesive force…they’d have a real problem on their hands.
“Of course, that’s where D’Ellustus came in,” John says with
a smirk as the Painqueen goes into electric hemorrhages.
“He came up with this really NASTY incantation. Called it…the
Disunity Spell. Often, rival gangs and forces with a common enemy will
put aside their own goals and interests, even their hatreds for each
other, and UNITE TOGETHER to take down an enemy neither could touch
alone. So…guess what the DIS-unity spell does?”
Painqueen’s scarlet aura fades into a crackling electric violet.
But she doesn’t notice much of anything at the moment. She’s
shaking, eyes rolling back into her head. In-between convulsions, she
spits out an argument in dozens of different accents, dialects, even
other languages. Looks like the Painqueen and the Nemesis Mind are
having their first disagreement.
“Metalscream must die!”
“Shut yer mouth, Painqueen! My own brethren sacrificed me! ME! How
DARE they do this to their own leader! It is they who must die first!”
“Vengeance...Vengers, Vengeance…Vengers, Vengeance…”
“Useless rotters. I’ve been waitin’ fifty yea’s to waste tha’…whajacall’t?
Sentinel? The Sentinel that killed me! Fifty yea’s of not havin’ a
body a’my own, and y’know what? Y’know what…?”
“I’m sick of it! I’m sick of it all!”
Her violent aura begins to pulsate, screaming with the souls of a
hundred psychopaths. As the gothic horror show continues screaming at
herself, I notice the Gallery pictureframes begin to shake and flash
bright scarlet. Even they’re terrified, it seems.
Wait…is there something moving in those frames?
A wild shot from Painqueen’s lunatic bubble sends me screaming
backwards. Not a direct hit. I got lucky.
John didn’t. I see the smoke rising from the crater a few feet
“Bloody hell! Who are you to – ?!”
“Tell y’all what. I’m gonna kill y’wretches first, then I’m
g’nna get that back-stabbin’ sister a’mine…”
“No! We must kill my brother first! He stole my thro--!”
“Mata Alejandro. Ahora!”
“I’m in charge here, you ancient little pusbags! So if I want
someone dead, you all better damn well…!”
“Umm…s’cuse me, but could we stop by and pay Necrosis a visit
first? I’d kinda sorta like to…”
Blood free-flows from Painqueen’s nose as she straightens up, her
pupil-less orbs looking blindly to the Gallery ceiling. A final jolt
travels the length of her spine. Her aura surges; electric violet
screaming in its final death throes, and finally fades, sending the
floating bitch crashing into shattered tile.
I breathe out. Jammit, that was intense.
I think I’m frozen for a moment, just looking at her lifeless
corpse spewing smoke into the Gallery air…until I hear some labored
coughing close by.
It’s Metalscream. He’s ALIVE!
I whip around as he slowly pulls himself out of a small crater.
Luckily, I notice the stupid tears running down my face and wipe them
off before he sees me.
“Did we get her?” He smirks, coughing a bit.
“…yeah,” I exhale, finally feeling the bruises along my
abdomen, “What the hell did you do?”
He pulls himself out of the tile sinkhole and dusts himself off, “Heh,
I just skewed their priorities up a bit.”
“Tss, you’re such a show-off,” I joke. I push of the ground,
lifting myself up.
My knees slap hard against the broken ceramic. Something’s badly
bruised. Damn. Must’ve been that last blast from the Painqueen’s
bubble. Hell. It just bleedin’ figures.
“Litany, you alright?” Metalscream stumbles toward me on busted
Litany. He called me Litany. I catch myself smiling.
Then I suddenly see why the cracked frames are still flashing red.
Screamy must see it too, because he stops in mid-stride, wobbles, and
falls right on his ass. Heh. At any other time, that’d be funny.
Doom’s lackeys are surrounding the building. His armored SHIELD
troops. What the hell do they want with us? Not like Doom’s got
anything wrong with the heroes of this century. Hell, he’s got that
steroid Punisher freak on his payroll. The new Minister of Punishment,
if I’m not mistaken. What, we lacking in the bad guy kill count or
I don’t have time to ponder. I see the missile headed straight at
the Mantic Gallery from four different angles.
Ragnarok hits the upper floors and shakes my entire world. The
endless rumble sends Metalscream flying in the other direction. He yells
something. A crack in the ceiling yells louder above my head.
The ceiling caves in. He’s in no shape to get at me in time….
The world fades.
It’s been a month since those SHIELD bastards killed me.
No, not in the small-minded literal sense, mind you. They saved that
pleasure for John.
I close my eyes. I remember it all like it was yesterday.
The ceiling came rushing toward my head. I couldn’t move. My
bruised stomach was pounding, beating and making me wince and cry in
tune with my thundering pulse. No way I was getting up.
‘This is it,’ I’d thought, ‘This is how it ends.’
John was yelling, screaming, begging for more time. Begging for me to
be able to get out of the way before half a ton of Mantic Gallery came
to rest on my shattered corpse.
Funny thing about death and magic. Sometimes, they really sober you
My heart was pounding when I initiated the teleportation spell. I
ended up just behind my mentor, coughing up a lung and wiping pounds of
dust off my tattered clothes. He went to his grave thinking I didn’t
see the tear running down his cheek when he turned away from the
crashing rubble and saw me alive.
“Still in one piece, boss,” I choked out among the wreckage of
the Gallery. His face turned serious. I’ll never forget the last words
he said to me.
“Litany, listen to me. The Bone Machine’s almost out of juice and
the armors’re pounding at the door. Even if we escape, they’ll never
stop looking for us. Besides, there’s only one escape left. For both
“Static-Heart, what do you…?” Next thing I knew, I was in some
lonely, tripped-out dimension with the Bone Machine strapped to me like
glue, barely holding my bruised insides together. The son of a bitch
teleported me when I wasn’t looking. I screamed and pleaded with the
Bone Machine to let me go back and help him face down the SHIELD
They said that was suicide. They let me watch instead.
John came screaming out of the Mantic like a bat out of hell, saying
I was dead and that someone’d hafta pay. It took me awhile, but I
finally figured out why he did it. As long as we were alive, the Nazis’d
come looking for us. And, no offense to the Bone Machine but, no one
puts out APB’s on dead guys.
The anti-magic ludgate rods ate the knives and daggers his hands were
vomiting in blind rage. He knew it was a suicide mission from the start.
It took watching my best friend’s brains splattered across the Arizona
desert sand for me to get it.
I watched in disbelief as the Mantic Gallery powered down, the whole
set-up keyed into his own life force. A few of the corporate scabs got
caught under the building when it toppled off its shattered supports. I
cried like a baby.
When they searched the dead house, all they found were some useless
trinkets, a whole wall of darkened, shattered glass and about five
floors of endless rubble.
They knew that Metalscream had an apprentice. But they had no idea
who. How could they? They’d never seen me before.
So when they found the Painqueen’s shattered, eyeless husk under a
mound of rubble in the once-bright, happy castle, they didn’t ask too
many questions. Third-rate other-dimensional mystic shacking up with a
top-notch technomancer? The apprenticeship made perfect sense.
Painqueen, that stupid bitch. Guess she really did get her revenge
That was the night I died. It fits, I suppose. In this far-away
dimension, I spend all my free time with three millennia's worth of dead
guys. Funny thing, that.
Still, the Machine really knows what its doing. One of the elder
sorcerers discovered this place along his travels in the
multi-dimension. Alejandro the Greater, he calls himself. An egotist for
sure, but he makes me laugh.
He calls this place the Dream Zone. The laws of physics on my plane
have very little influence here. I can recreate reality to suit my
whims. I’m just lucky so few people know about this place. It’s so
very quiet. It lets me concentrate on my training.
The Metalscream mantra has been passed. I’m now the Bone Machine’s
only conduit to any of the physical realms. I’m the only one left to
prevent the perversion of the occult-tech. I’ve just gotta master the
art itself first.
The Bone Machine speaks to me now, teaching me all the secrets of
techno-sorcery from the perspectives of countless generations. They’re
really getting me up to speed quickly. I can shoot in a straight line
now. The technomantic equations fall into place like I’m not even
there. And the Surgeon’s taught me some really handy incantations…
Still, Metalscream showed me by example that it’s not about the
mysticism of it all. We live in a jacked-up world; a world that
routinely takes the magic away.
I pet my Alphaglock Model Twelve. Sweetest handgun in existence. I’ve
taught it to spit hellfire, gamma rays, necroviruses, and the like. But
under all the spells, it’s just a really reliable gun that fires
plasti-steel bullets at the speed of sound toward anything I need dead
at the moment.
I’ve got some old-school .54 Magnums attached to two assemblies on
each forearm that pop out into my eager hands whenever I flick my wrists
a certain way. I have a microwave gun hidden in a holster on my hip. And
a small arsenal of uglies the Bone Machine was nice enough to store away
in subspace for me.
Let them use the ludgates. When I’m ready, I’m gonna make them
all pay for what they did to John. Until then, I’ll just keep learning
the spells the Machine has to offer. I’ll keep ‘porting in and out
of my old world, stealing a new arsenal right from under the noses of
the people who let me die. I’ll fight against the perversion of the
technomantic arts and show the world exactly what kind of magician uses
a gun. I’ll keep up the good fight.
Just let them try to take my magic away.
And so ends the Metalscream trilogy, started and continued in old
school 2099 Unlimited #4 and #7, respectively.
And in this end, so is there a new beginning.
I always thought Metalscream was a really sweet character. Leave it
to Warren Ellis to bring such a fresh perspective to the world of magic.
I mean, we have this slick, high-tech new world about us…wouldn’t it
be right for the mystic domain to evolve along with the world of
And so he combined sorcery into technology to create a whole new
branch of magic: The occult with a heavy emphasis on merging with the
wild new technologies 2099 had to offer. And all the crazy extras he
thought up: the Bone Machine, living Gallery picture-frames, the
Unfolding Edge…it was some wonderful stuff.
The character of John Flanel was particularly appealing. Here is this
light-hearted guy who never takes himself or his apprentice too
seriously, and always knocks the crap out of the bad guy in the end. At
least, until Apocalypse…
Man, that was a hell of an issue. Slapped me across the face much
like a freight train would do to a not-so-bright squirrel on the tracks
at night. Here go four powerful icons of 2099 sauntering off brutally
into the night. It was a very poignant issue to me. It really hit home
that the bad guys were playing by an altogether different set of rules
this time. I mean, the simple “YIELD” on the SHIELD guns are a far
cry from the “Don’t yield, back SHIELD” cries of a century’s
past. The world of tomorrow was much worse than the world of today.
Of course, I was never happy with the way they handled Litany’s
death in that particular issue. Just “You killed Litany! You bastards!”
And that was that.
That overlooking of this hilarious side-character from the
Metalscream shorts in Unlimited really got me thinking about Litany. She’s
exactly what you DON’T want in an apprentice. I mean, you’re trying
to teach this girl about the finer arts of technomancy….and then she
goes and uses a gun on Necrosis and the Red Hermitage priests. That’s
just some funny, funny stuff.
I guess it was then that I really started liking the character of
Litany Kirkpatrick. I wondered….who was she? What makes her tick? Why
does she do what she does? And…was she REALLY killed in that Mantic
Gallery bombing? I mean, she can teleport, right?
And that brought up a whole bunch of other questions. Why, after the
Red Hermitage snuck into the Mantic Gallery and came within a hair’s
breadth of killing Litany and Metalscream; why oh why would Metalscream
allow that to happen a SECOND time, NOT by a bunch of techno-mystical
priests, but by wage-crazy lunatics with guns and missiles. The Arizona
desert is flatland. They’d see the enemy coming a mile away. Why would
Metalscream, a mystic, be caught off-guard with his pants down?
Further, what is Painqueen doing nowadays? She said she’d remember
him for his unjust attack on her in #4, when John mistakenly marked her
as Dr. Pylon’s killer. Screamy kicked the crap outta her. Obviously,
she’d be mad. And coming from a hell dimension herself, it would make
sense for her NOT to take this attack lightly. She’s out for blood,
ready to make sure that not killing her the first time they’d met would be
the last mistake he’d ever make.
And suddenly, a story was born.
This is what I thought Metalscream deserved. One last hurrah and one
final tale to tie away all the old loose ends. This is my final ode to
John Flanel, the funniest mystic this side of the multi-dimension. I’m
hoping you guys enjoyed the final adventure of Metalscream as much as I
Magic never dies, of course. There will always be someone there to
take up the torch.
Let’s see what Litany does with it.