by CM Towns
“Okay boss, what now?” asked one of Fliopts Harkin men.
“It’s too heavy to move and sooner or later Reina is going to bust in on us,” Liola added.
“I’m thinking, I’m thinking,” Fliopt said checking the etchings on the massive statue. It was stuck into the ground so it was hard to know the exact height but Fliopt had remembered it being intimidating inside the temple Barritis. It had to be about eight or ten feet tall but it’s width was what made the most impression.
Fliopt, Liola and two of his Harkin soldiers were inside a caved in sewer, little below where the Daily News’ former printing press was located. This area had been damaged from the invaders years ago and had not been serviced by the various maintenance and construction crews like other parts of the Manhattan underground had been. The ongoing renovation process slowed due to economic issues, Union issues and a fear by some of what exactly existed down below the streets.
“Okay-I think I have this figured,” remarked Fliopt before uttering an incantation. It was a couple sentences long and the rough translation was “I INVOKE THEE! I INVOKE THEE WAR POWERS! RISE GREAT MANHUNTERS! TAKE YOUR PLACE BESIDE YOUR MASTER! WAR POWERS ARISE!” which was spoken in a dead dialect.
The statue shook, a low droning noise came from its helmeted head. Its arms broke free from the ground and it pulled itself out. From it’s left, chunks of concrete smashed away and a second statue hauled itself up out of the ground.
“Isn’t it beautiful? Machines of the old ones. The Wise Masters. Lifeless machinations meant to serve! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!” Fliopt was very impressed with himself.
“What are those symbols on their chests? A star-that one has a broken circle,” Liola inquired.
“That’s what differentiates them. Manufacturing numbers if you will. The star is a, I guess you can say newer model while the fragmented circle is a slightly older model,” Fliopt explained.
The older model spoke and Fliopt took a moment to figure out what it had said.
“I don’t speak the old language too well… Umm…” Fliopt nodded and said in the proper tongue, “I have awakened you! I Fliopt, master enchanter and alchemist. There is work that needs to be done!”
“What are you?” asked the Starred Manhunter.
“I am a Harkin, from a planet called Niebleheim in a solar system close to this planet,” he explained.
“Other planets outside the vast?” the Fragmented Manhunter asked.
“Like the master believed! It is true!” the Starred Manhunter said.
“Are we on the third planet or home on the Red?” asked the Fragmented Manhunter.
“Third,” Fliopt answered.
The two bellowed.
“Where is Tomian!?!” They shouted in unison.
“The Wise Masters have long sense perished or have gone missing. There is little knowledge of them in this age,” explained Fliopt.
“How long have we been asleep?” the Starred Manhunter asked.
“I can’t say for sure but a slumber that covers multiple millenia.”
“And humans? Do they still exist?”
“Yes. They are the primary beings in this solar system or what you called the Vast,” Fliopt answered.
“Then we kill them all,” the Fragmented Manhunter said.
Fliopts expression soured quick.
“That’s-what? No-if you do that then there will be little life in this galaxy.”
“We were created to destroy the humans, their Gods and the two-Jerole and PZIAVL. We will finish the work,” the Starred Manhunter said.
“No! No! No! That’s not going to happen! I didn’t bring the pair of you back so you can go kill my clientele! I brought you back to work for me! To ensure my control and power,” Fliopt told them.
“You want us to work with you?” asked the Starred Manhunter.
“Yes. That is what I want. I need you two to help me control my interests while keeping the heroes and my competitors off my back,” further explained Fliopt.
“What’s happening?” one of his men asked.
“I’m bringing them up to date. There is some confusion as to what what I need from them,” Fliopt answered.
“These beasts-Harkin you said-they work for you?” asked the Starred One.
“Indeed they do,” Fliopt answered.
The Fragmented One grabbed one of Fliopts men, slammed them head first into the ceiling above and dropped him at Fliopts feet.
“Weak beings. You must be weak yourself,” the Starred One said.
“We choose to continue with our mission,” the Fragmaneted One added.
“Good luck with that,” Fliopt said grabbing Liola’s hand and saying, “We’re out my dear.”
A quick enchantment into his crystal ball, smashed into the ground and the two disappeared. The other Harkin ran for the exit the moment his teammate was murdered.
The two Manhunters looked to one another before they jumped up and smashed through the ground up above, and then farther up until on the streets of Manhattan. The two stood on Hanover Square and both were mesmerized by the site of it all. They turned and looked-noting the structures, the signs, the machines. The Manhunter with the fragmented O on his chest grabbed a car, picked it up easily, looked to the other Manhunter. He tossed it into the side of the building.
“Much has changed. The humans are not primitive, drooling, and their structures are more advanced!” the Starred Manhunter said.
“All for naught. The massacre starts today!” the Fragmented Manhunter replied. He raised his hand toward the sky and black smoke formed from nothing, taking shape and materializing into a giant hammer. It dropped into the monsters hand and the weight dug the Manhunter into the street. The Starred Manhunter summoned a flail with a spiked ball at the end in a similar manner.
“They run faster than they once did,” the Starred Manhunter noticed.
“Evolution worked? Who could have expected that!” the other responded.
A blast hit the Starred Manhunter and Huntsman landed with his gun aimed. He was soon joined by Flash-Man and then Mr. Monster.
The two Manhunters talked among one another.
“You got a plan, second-in-command?” Flash-Man asked.
“My plan is to not get hit. Huntsman hit’em hard!” Mr. Monster shouted.
Huntsman fired on the two and they stumbled back.
“They got a good base. Lets see how fast the are,” Mr. Monster said and snapped his fingers. Flash-Man zoomed in and around, the two watched and prepared to strike but chose to stand by as he zipped passed them.
“Not good-they’re smart. Not dumb machines,” Mr. Monster commented.
Huntsman flew in and tackled the Fragmented Manhunter. He was pushed off easily before being hit with the hammer. It sent Huntsman into the corner of a building. That didn’t stop Huntsman who fired back with a few shots, the third hitting his enemy in the chest. Mr. Monster dodged attacks from the flail while Flash-Man tried to consider an offensive strategy that could topple one over.
An arrow hit the Starred Manhunter and it exploded. Ichi Senshi dropped from the sky and hit the Manhunter in it’s leg with his sword, buckling the metal beast to one knee but it responded with a back hand. Ichi moved quick but caught a little bit of the blow, enough to knock the wind out of him. Kestrel dodged the flail which extended further in an attempt to nail the caped hero. Flash-Man shook his head, before running toward the winded Ichi and pulling him from a different attack.
Gravity Woman dropped a car on the other Manhunter, it slowed him only a bit and from there he took a couple more blasts to the chest. It shouted and launched up and away. The second Manhunter followed.
“PUSSIES!!!” Huntsman shouted at them.
“We scared them off? That wasn’t so bad,” Gravity Woman remarked.
“Don’t pat yourselves on the backs just yet!” Jessie shouted.
“What’s going on with you?” Kestrel asked.
“Got hit by some bad juju,” she answered as she joined up with the group-now wearing sunglasses rather than a domino mask.
“You okay girl?” Gravity questioned.
“I’m fine,” answered Jessie.
“So why did they run? They had strength, power, stamina and were not stupid,” Flash-Man wondered.
“They ran up against Huntsman here who was packing serious heat and a group of oddities called the Guard. They expected to just go and start killing but we being here is a sign that they have some sort of opposition. They only just being resurrected-they need time to adapt,” Jessie said before looking to Kestrel and asking “You got that list of address’ from earlier?”
Kestrel gave it to Jessie and Jessie said, “Huntsman and Gravity Woman are in the sky. You catch wind of them you contact the police, and then us. Cops will get evacuations in order and that is the main priority. Do not engage until we all meet up. You got that?” they nodded, “Good. Mr. Monster take Kestrel, and Ichi. Find a place to hold up. Wait for word.”
“What about me?” asked Flash-Man.
“I need you on the street. Moving fast but careful,” Jessie said handing him the slip of paper, “You check the first address on this slip. Its possible Fliopt moved into this location. If not, I need you to make your best judgment in trying to track him. He woke them up-its possible he can shut them down.”
“What about you Canary?” Mr. Monster asked.
She pulled out a badge. “I’m going to do my job. Now go.”
The team dispersed and Jessie turned to the incoming police cruisers. She raised her hands and shouted- “SYLIA STINGRAY! DEPARTMENT OF ADVANCED HUMAN AFFAIRS!”