As time drew further, so did the depths of Lord Nihilex’s power. The abstract doorway to the Abyssal Realm grew as well, and doing so gave ‘Wiseman’ substantial energies to work with. For eons he’d but morsels to work with, but that had changed. Though he’d yet to reach his peak, he was still able to push the boundaries of what they’d accomplished this far.
Fingers the age of dust raked the aura of the crystal ball, shifting the flow from the orange spectrum and into a poisonous, algae-tinged green. With words older than words he commanded those powers outward, and to the target set in the eye of the prism.
The glassy vision presented the image of Chorack crawling from the bushes and brushing the dirt from his shell. He did not expect to be the subject of Wiseman’s machinations, nor did he understand the supernatural force pouring through his body. His hands inflated and his thoax bloated.
“I don’t feel so good,” he clicked.
Wiseman continued his conjurings, pulling dark mass from the Abyssal Realm, and channeling it into the monster’s body. He watched through the eye as the creature quantified; his stance widened, and his height shot in line with the treetops.
“W-what’s happening to me!”
Chorack grew, equal in density and strength as in size, until he stood eye to eye with the skyscrapers. What humanity had assembled over the course of years, the forces of darkness could now annihilate in seconds.
Lord Nihilex pumped his fists in the air. “At last! The power to create titans is ours once more!”
Fantom leered at the vision in crystal. “Not just one titan, my Lord; but several.”
They watched as the cockroach clapped his hands together, dividing on the spot and amassing several twins. They clicked and giggled in monstrous delight before turning their collective attention toward Crescent Valley.
Lord Nihilex sat, and opened his legs wide. “Chorack might be an insufferable weakling, but even at this size he can serve our purposes! Let the destruction begin!”
Red Fang stared into the sky, stupefied. Only a moment ago they’d delivered a finishing strike; now the cockroach stood above the castle, the forest, everything! And not just one cockroach, but five; each shaking the earth under their heels.
“It’s like the Super-Freak all over again,” she gasped.
“Worse than the Super-Freak,” Blue Fang said.
“Lord Nihilex’s regained the ability to turn monsters into titans,” Pink Fang said.
Their voices were heavy with experience, for this was the kind of enemy faced by the old Master; more than some petty ‘general’ assigned to ruffle feathers, but a living weapon to threaten civilizations. The evil of Lord Nihilex knew no bounds.
“We’ll summon our familiars,” Red Fang said. “Then we go toe to toe with these things!”
The team gathered around her. Fangs Blue, Pink, Yellow and Green placed their hands on her shoulders, along with their trust.
“Just close your eyes and call to them,” Yellow Fang said.
“Your familiar is linked to you,” Green Fang said. “They will come.”
Lindsay fixed her eyes shut and sat in the hollow of her chest. Her heart called out like a siren in the night, desperate for salvation.
“Hear me, Red Bat,” she said. “Fang Force needs your help! Please, give us your strength, for the sake of Crescent Valley and all who live there!”
The great Red Bat sprung from the ether, as though anticipating her, as did the others; Blue Wolf, Yellow Beetle, Pink Spider and Green Mountain Lion. One by one the living machines lined up to await their hosts. They sat pointed toward the city, ready to strike.
Red Fang smiled. She bounded to her familiar, and into the cockpit. “Thank you, Red Bat!” she said.
The robot screeched with appreciation, and flapped its metal wings, lifting them into the sky.
In formation honed by centuries of practice, the other fangs took to their consoles and charged toward their enemies. For each other the five rampaging roaches there was a warrior machine; good odds for any hero.
When Chorack’s feet struck the ground it crunched the same as sand. The topsoil gave under his weight, and trees cracked into toothpicks. All the world was tissue-paper, and came apart with no effort. What power!
Chorack and his doppelgangers clicked. “This is for all the bugs stepped on by you weak humans!”
A sweep of his leg tore a street of houses from their foundations, spreading the debris for miles. He imagined it similar to the delight in toppling an ant hill, or the joy humans took in washing his brethren down a sink. How sweet was the taste of vengeance; how swiftly he meted it out, five at a time.
From below his notice, a hard, gleaming shell collided with his ankles. Its pincers locked around him. The first of the duplicates went crashing into the earth, sending out shockwaves as wide as the city. He fought against the beetle, and with two sets of arms held its jaws at bay.
Yellow Fang’s voice broadcast from the mouth of the machine. “The only one getting stepped on is you, Chorack!”
The vermin’s other selves rushed to his aid, only to be intercepted by two familiars; the Blue Wolf and the Green Mountain lion. The mechanical beasts struck the underbellies of the twin Choracks, tearing at them with teeth-laden jowls that could shred steel.
“You won’t be hurting anyone today,” Blue Fang said.
Green Fang sneered. “You’ll never get the chance!”
With three of his ilk down, the two remaining Choracks screamed. One charged toward the skyscrapers, leaving his other duplicate behind.
He clicked and bellowed. “Even if I’m going down, I’m taking you all down with me!”
Asphalt crunched beneath his toes as he sprinted to the heart of the city. He threw his multiple arms wide, shattering windows, scattering shards like rain. A million tiny screams stoked his passion. Humankind would suffer his wrath!
Chorack wailed as he tumbled toward the earth, but never landed. Just before the moment of impact he found himself caught by one string across his sternum, and another across his chest. A series of near-invisible threads stretched between the building, and he’d fallen right into them.
Just then, another string pulled down across his wings; then another across his shoulders. That was when Chorack finally saw it – a pink mechanical spider, rolling on wheels at the end of its legs, leaping from point to point, even scaling the side of buildings, while projecting its web back and forth. It swiftly wrapped the creature, giving him little room to move.
Pink Fang hummed. “You’ll have to do better than that, darling.”
Only one Chorack remained, sitting square in the sights of the Red Bat. Lindsay pressed the stick forward to full throttle. The familiar offered itself to her control, and together they spiralled through the sky. The end of the battle was at hand.
Flames burst from the bat’s wings. It shifted momentum into a cartwheel. The great ring of fire plummeted from the sky, directed toward the overgrown pest.
“Red Bat Flaming Boomerang!” the pilot roared.
That should have been the end of him; a blow like that should have ended Chorack, just as it did the Super-Freak, but it didn’t. In the final moments before impact, the monster clapped multiple hands together, dividing his body in two.
One side stepped the Red Bat in a graceful twirl; the other landed his fists into the familiar with a haymaker.
Red Fang clutched the controls, but by then it was too late. “I’m hit!”
The other fangs cried out. “Lindsay!”
Red Bat hurtled into the mountains, crashed through trees into the dirt, and into bedrock. Lindsay groaned. She was hurt, and the familiar had it just as bad. They came to a stop with a hard clunk.
Lindsay was beside herself. She barely knew where she was, let alone what hit her.
The remaining vermin multiplied, and turned the tide on their oppressors. What was once five was suddenly ten; more than equal to a Fang Force sans their leader.
One monster appeared at the back of the Yellow Beetle, and pried the machine off the other Chorack. Together they turned the metal bug on its back and held it down, leaving it ripe for attack.
“Uh, guys? I could use a little help,” Yellow Fang said.
The first creature leaped into the air and threw out his upper arm.
“Oh yeah, brother! Flying elbow drop!”
He came down, hard, delivering the brunt of his weight into the belly of the beetle. Yellow Fang groaned, just as rattled as his familiar, while his twin foes celebrated. Multiple hands clapped together, turning high fives into high tens, twenties, and thirties.
Meanwhile, the Blue Wolf and the Green Mountain Lion were relentless in their mauling; their pilots pressed forward, determined to rend the roaches to pieces. They might have succeeded if another pair of Choracks hadn’t materialized behind them. The two snatched the machines by their hind legs.
Green Fang jumped. “What the-”
“Brace for impact!” Blue Fang barked.
With a mighty pull, the monsters swung the living constructs from the ground in the direction of one another. The familiars were helpless against the momentum, and crashed into one another with screams of twisting metal. Both they and their pilots alike rolled to the base of the hillside, bruised and beaten.
Only the Pink Spider remained. The pilot guided the familiar to turn on its wheels and scan its surroundings. It would be foolish not to anticipate another Chorack, or to leave any corner uncovered from which to spring.
“You’ll find I’m not such easy prey,” Pink Fang said.
When the final monster appeared it was not to his left or his right, nor in front or behind. Chorack dropped from his perch upon the rooftops, and brought his weight down on the familiar. Blows by the dozens pummeled the arachnid, rattling the machine, its pilot, and the surrounding environment.
Five on five gave Fang Force the edge, but five on ten tipped the scales. All the roaches stood together and pumped their myriad fists high.
His voice echoed to the horizon, and he spoke in unison: “Behold! I am Chorack! I am legion! I am victorious!”
The mood had shifted in the shadowy throne room. Where once there was resignation, there was anticipation. That Fang Force’s secret weapons were collectively face down in the dirt was a rare sight indeed, and one that Lord Nihilex savored.
He snatched his step-son by the back of the neck, and pressed him toward the crystal ball. “Do you see that, boy? That is how battles are won! That is what we’ve needed all this time to claim victory!”
Lord Nihilex pulled close to his underling, so that the condensation of his breath formed on his half-mask. “And you; you thought yourself up to the task? Ha! After all your efforts, you’ve been outclassed by a lowly cockroach!”
Fantom knew better than to speak. Often his liberation was the path of least resistance; go limp, allow Lord Nihilex time to gloat, and then leave to live another day. Words were simple to endure; more than anything else the shadow conqueror could dole out.
When Wiseman spoke, all knew to listen; even Lord Nihilex. “We will not claim victory this day,” he said.
The room fell silent. Lord Nihilex released his queen’s progeny.
“So what you mean, sorcerer!”
“Chorack has reached the height of his power,” said the sage, with no shift in tone. “Fang Force is soon to reach theirs.”
It took all the shadow conqueror’s faculties had to restrain his temper. Of all in his court Wiseman was the most trusted, and the most capable; yet there he stood, informing him of an inevitable loss. How dare he!
Lord Nihilex opted instead to march to the Queen’s chambers. There, perhaps, he would find a moment’s respite.
To be continued…