donderdag 28 februari 2013

GODLING # 6: LAST WORDS


GODLING # 6:  LAST WORDS
By Jochem Vandersteen


Godling was heading for Monica Sawyer's apartment. He was going to
say goodbye to her and confess just how much he loved her. Earth was
going to be destroyed in about 12 hours by a madman from another
planet, just to prevent the human race from going too far into space.
The madman, Captain Wrakk, was convinced Earthlings would try to
conquer his planet. Also, he seemed to be invincible, armed with
amazing telekinetic powers, an army of robots and a powerful spaceship.
      How he would miss Monica's fantastic smile. How he would miss
the powerful hugs she gave with her slender but strong arms. How he
would miss her waxing on endlessly about the last fantastic book
she'd just read. How he would miss the philosophical discussions with
her. How he would miss the lovely way she smelled. How he would miss...
Yearning for her?
      He hovered in front of Monica's apartment building. He could
see her through the window. She was lighting a candle. Then he saw Wade
Hudson hugging her, kissing her neck.
Godling clenched his fist. He'd come at the wrong time. Monica and
Wade were clearly planning on spending a romantic night. They probably
deserved it, they'd both been under quite some stress after Wade's
confrontation with the Airsharks. Who was he to intrude on them? Who
was he to spoil what could be their last romantic night ever with his
bad news and his need to confess his love.
      No, he was a hero, right? And a hero has to do the right thing.
So he was going to suck up the bad feelings and get the Hades away from
there.

                                     *

Just an hour ago he'd been a regular punk kid, just causing a bit of
trouble on the streets of New Troy. Now he was flapping his bat-like
wings, flying towards an amazing spaceship in the sky. He needed a cool
name, just like the Airsharks had, or the Speed Demons. Or like Panzer
and Icepick just to have. How he loved those supervillain-dudes. They
were the ultimate anarchists, the real rebels. They had all those
powers, nobody could tell them what to do or kick their butts. Well,
except that Godling guy that seemed to be appearing on the News every
single day now. That guy has some amazing powers as well, but he lacked
the kick-butt attitude. More like what The Fresh Prince was compared to
50 Cent.
      He was nearing the strange ship now. He could make out the
strange antennas on it, could faintly make out the circuits running
around it. He started to flap his wings faster, eager to learn what was
inside, eager to please Master Destiny. If he did very well maybe he
would grant him even more powers.

                                      *

Inside the ship Captain Wrakk saw the winged human getting nearer. He
sighed. "Another flying visitor. There was hardly ever anything about
these people having the power of non-mechanical flight. Odd. Of course
it only emphasizes what a dangerous race it is. I have no wish to grant
another one of these beings access to my ship."
      He made grand hand gesture at one of the robots manning the
ship's control. "Disintegrate him."

                                      *

A purple beam was fired from one of the ship's antennas. The flying
kid's eyes opened wide. He screamed loudly as the beam engulfed him,
burning his wings, setting his insides afire. Then, the pain was gone
and there was nothing left anymore of him except ashes, floating on the
wind.

                                      *
It was quite a flight to New York. It offered Godling, or maybe better,
Quentin Alexander a lot time to think back about his childhood. When
his mother died of cancer his father befell the hard job to raise two
teenagers in New York, two teenagers who had a hard time coping with
the death of their mother. Quentin hid in his books, devouring every
book about mythology, obviously an escape from the daily life in the
poor neighborhood where they lived, trying to bury himself in tales
about forgotten times, wondrous creatures and places, occupying his
mind with legends so he didn't have to face up to the hard reality in
which he had to live every day.
      His older brother, Jake, had another way of coping. Jake hit the
streets. He soon became known as the local bully, beating up kids to
get their lunch money, eventually graduating to doing some odd jobs for
local gangsters, dealing some drugs. Their dad was so busy earning
money to make sure his kids would be able to get a good education in
case he'd die that he forgot to pay attention to what his sons were
doing.
      Until that dark day, more then a decade ago. Jake robbed a money
transport truck, killing a guard in the process. He went to jail for
life.
      Their dad just couldn't live with the fact all his work had
been for nothing. All the money he'd earned wouldn't put Jake into
college now. Worst of all he'd been so busy he hadn't even noticed
what kind of man his oldest son had become. The day Jake got his life
sentence theid dad shot himself through the head. Quentin had never
managed to forgive his brother. Now he was heading for the prison Jake
was jailed, with the intent to say goodbye to the only family he had
left before the Earth would be destroyed.

                                      *

Master Destiny just couldn't believe it. The kid had just been
disintegrated by that ship! Where the hell did that ship get that kind
of power? It seemed to rival his Spear. Was that ship really a
spaceship from outer space then?
      He ruminated the possibilities it could bring him. Already he'd
managed to spawn incredibly intelligent scientists using the Spear, but
if he could get his hands on alien technology the power he'd amass
would just be fantastic.
      He left his control room, walked through a long, red-carpeted
corridor and into another room. Four guys were playing poker. They
looked like pretty tough specimens, all tattoos, muscles and scars.
      "Gentlemen, the time has come," he told them.
      The tough guys looked up. One of them spoke up, "Not now, I'm
just winning."
      Master Destiny swung his Spear, sweeping the man off his chair,
cutting his face in the process.
      He pointed the Spear at the man, now lying on the floor. "You
want power, you don't second-guess me."
      "Yeah, nobody messes with me, certainly not some pansy in a
fancy suit!" the man said and drew a knife. "I used to be one of
the most dangerous men of the Warlocks biker gang. I eat guys like you
for breakfast!"
      Master Destiny sighed. With one simple movement he gutted the
biker with the Spear. The biker crumbled to the floor, the Spear
sticking out of his body.
      Master Destiny pulled out the Spear. "I'm sure you will all
be ready to cooperate better?"
      The three remaining toughs nodded enthusiastically.
       "Good, I have an important mission for you."

                                              *

Godling changed back to the form of Quentin Alexander just before he
entered the prison building. He was just in time for visiting hours,
thank Zeus for the time difference. His stomach was in a knot, more
nervous then he was fighting the Airsharks. He hadn't visited his
brother in about two years. He always found another excuse not to go
and visit him, but of course the real reason was he just hadn't been
able to forgive his brother's part in his father's suicide. What a
Greek tragedy. How ironic for a mythology professor.
       He went through the usual administrative routine and security
process and just a little later he was sitting in front of his brother,
separated by armored glass . Jake still had the same drooping mustache
he used to have, the same stubble on his chin, the same unkempt long
hair. Prison tattoos adorned his forearms.
       He gave Quentin a cold stare. "Look what the cat dragged
in."
      "Hello, Jake. Wish I could say you were looking good."
      "Yeah, being jailed for life, trying not to get raped in the
shower, sleeping on a bed that feels like concrete and eating crap
every day can do that to you."
       Quentin sighed and rubbed his eyes. Feeling tired. "I'm
sorry. I got off on a wrong start."
       Jake shrugged. "Don't matter. I'm just curious what made
you visit me all of a sudden after two damn years. Guilt eating you?"
      "No, that's not it. I just got some information recently.
There's a chance I won't be around anymore tomorrow."
      "What?" Was that really worry in Jake's face?
       How was Quentin going to explain it? How was he going to tell
his brother he had the power to change into some mythical hero and had
spent the evening fighting an alien spaceship captain bent on
destroying Earth. Jake was going to laugh in his face. Better to tell a
half-truth. "It is possible there's a disaster coming up. One that
will destroy a good-sized part of the population."
       "Huh? I don't get the news a lot around here, but I'm
pretty sure I would've heard something when something like that would
happen. Where the hell did you get that information?"
       "That's not important. I just wanted to say goodbye."
      Jake smiled an ugly smile. "You're going to forgive me?'
      Quentin was silent. He thought about it. He should forgive his
brother. He was the only family he had left. He had to forgive him, let
them both die with that piece of history settled. Then he flashbacked
to his entering the living room of his dad's house. His dad's body
on the lifeless on the cheap carpet, all that blood against the wall.
The pain and grief he felt. He looked at his brother, the man whose
laziness, unwillingness to make something out of his life cost him his
father. Zeus help him, he just couldn't forgive his brother for that.
"I'm sorry, I can't."
      "Then what the hell are you doing here? Coming to gloat again
how you became a big-shot professor and I'm just a lowlife con
withering away in jail? Does that make you feel good just before you
die?"
      Quentin held up his hand. "Listen, Jake... I just..."
      Jake slammed his fist against the glass, earning the attention of
a guard. "I don't know what that stupid 'we're all going to
die' story is coming from, but I don't want to hear it! You've
just let me rot in here for the past couple of years, I've got
nothing to say to you and no desire to hear from you!"
     The guard walked over. "Is there a problem here?"
      "No," Quentin said and rose. "I was just leaving."

                                                    *

The news cameras had been filming from the ground for a few hours
already when the first news helicopter went in the air. People were
looking for a good viewpoint, getting on roofs, hanging from windows
with binoculars, all to get a glimpse of the strange UFO that was
hovering in the sky above New Troy City.
      A good looking anchorwoman was being filmed on the street, just
beneath the UFO, surrounded by curious onlookers, police cars and other
reporters. "What is this strange machine above us? Is it an alien
spaceship, visiting us from outer space? An experimental aircraft,
manufactured by the Army? A terrorist attack? Or just a promotional
stunt for a new science-fiction movie? So far, its origin is still a
mystery."
      Wade Hudson strode onto the scene. His walk confident as ever,
looking very photogenic in his blue uniform. "Please, make some room
here. We need some space to set up our command post."
      "What are you exactly going to do then?" the anchorwoman
asked. "Do you know what that ship is?"
      "So far, no. And since it isn't answering our hails to
identify itself we'll have to take it out of the air if they don't
answer soon."
      The anchorwoman's microphone was so close to his mouth Wade
could almost swallow it. "Then you have information the UFO is a
hostile..."
      He broke her off with a cool "no comment'' and had her
removed by a few officers.
      He glanced up at the sky. He had no idea what that ship was, but
he had a really bad feeling about it. For some reason he felt it would
spell trouble. Where the hell did it come from anyway? Was there no end
to the weirdness visiting New Troy these days? He wouldn't be
surprised if that costumed idiot Godling had something to do with it.
And that news helicopter was getting pretty close to the UFO. He
wasn't sure that was a good idea, better warn them that... A purple
beam shot from the ship, totally disintegrating the helicopter.
      The onlookers gasped.
      Wade's suspicions were confirmed. This UFO meant trouble. Loads
of it.

                                                                  *
Quentin was having some coffee and a burger in a diner close to the
prison. The other customers consisted of cops, attorneys and guys with
faded prison tattoos. Not the best atmosphere but he hadn't eaten for
half a day.
       A small TV in the corner was showing the news. The pictures
seemed familiar. He recognized it, it showed New Troy. The UFO, then
Wade Hudson. So the police was responding to the strange appearance.
Seemed like Wade and Monica's romantic night was cut short anyway.
Then he saw the disintegration of the helicopter. His head filled with
guilt. Shouldn't he have been there to save the people in it? Of
course, it wouldn't have been much use, they were all going to die
anyway. And how much did that matter? It wasn't like Earth was that
great a place nowadays, with all the wars, famine and disease all over
it. And who was he going to miss, he'd just estranged his brother
even more, seeing Monica only brought him pain...
      He thought about his dad, not able to face the way of life his
oldest son choose. He thought about his brother, not able to cope with
his mother's death and choosing a life of crime to run away from it.
Then he thought about his mother, just before she died. He was sitting
at her bedside, she knew death was coming for her. He was holding her
hand. He was so proud of her, the way she'd always fought the cancer
eating at her, never giving up hope.
      "Please, my boy," she said. "Please, never give up hope. I
know I'm going to die, but at least I know I will die with the
knowledge I fought the disease right until the end, giving you the
right example. Showing you to never give up. Please, never give up."
       Those were her last words. Never give up. Quentin clenched his
fists. He'd promised his mother then to heed her words and never give
up. So he wouldn't. A plan started to grow in his head.

                                                                  *


For hours Godling was at work in an old junkyard. Smiting, engineering,
bending steel, sharpening it, fashioning it in the way he wanted to.
He'd gone up against Captain Wrakk unarmed, the powers of the Gods
seemingly ineffective against the alien's telekinetic powers. So
maybe he'd need some equalizers, some tools to help him with the
fight against the alien destroyer. Channeling the powers of Hephaestus,
smith and armorer of the gods he'd decided to fashion the most
amazing pieces of weaponry Earth had seen. And when they were done, he
was going to war!



      NEXT ISSUE:
      THE BATTLE FOR EARTH!

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